Theatre Latté Da’s reimagined production of “Gypsy” features Twin Cities talent

As part of local Theater Latté Da's Broadway Reimagined Series,

Photo Courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

As part of local Theater Latté Da's Broadway Reimagined Series, "Gypsy" comes to the Pantages Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis to tell a story about vaudeville and the American Dream.

Theater Latté Da’s reimagined production of “Gypsy,” visually engaged the audience and featured the best local talent Minneapolis had to offer. “Gypsy” is the story of Rose (Michelle Barber), and her daughters Louise (Cat Brindisi) and June (Shinah Brashears) as they travel the country like gypsies performing their vaudeville act. Rose was the original stage mom, and she lives vicariously through her daughters raising them to achieve the stardom she never had. The plot of “Gypsy” was based upon the lives real women performing on vaudeville circuits, and these women likely performed at the historic Pantages Theatre on Hennepin where this performance took place. In a sense, the performance of the musical was a coming home of sorts.

At one point in “Gypsy,” Rose’s dog refused to cross the stage and so Rose’s boyfriend Herbie (Tod Peterson) had to drag the dog attached to the leash. At several points, the performance dragged on just like the dog. The ensemble occasionally lacked believability, which caused disconnect and took the audience out of the performance, which also contributed to the  slow pace of the musical.

I don’t know if I’d say that “Gypsy” is the greatest of all American musicals as praised by several critics, but Gypsy most definitely is great, and it most definitely is American.”

— Leo Driessen

The one character whose believability seldom wavered was Rose. Michelle Barber had some big Broadway diva shoes to fill, but she put her mark on the role. Cat Brindisi, who played Louise, was relatable and possessed the vulnerability that made her the perfect underdog one couldn’t help but root for. The children actors were satisfactory, but didn’t make anyone jump out of their seat.

One of the easiest ways for Theater Latté Da to reimagine “Gypsy” was through its technical elements. The Pantages Theater is small in comparison to theatres like the Orpheum, but the set maximized the space and took advantage of all of the theatre’s assets. All of the backdrops that flew in from above the stage were visible to the audience at all times, as well as the ropes that fly them in and out. While for other shows, this may look tacky or unprofessional, for this musical it worked.“Gypsy” has “show within in a show” concept, and so being able to see the goings-on of the musical really helped bring the show to life.

The overall impact of the costumes was nothing short up superb. From the fit of the clothes, to the accessories, to the patterns, every piece felt natural. All of the costumes the children in the vaudeville productions wore helped to show how tough times were back in the 1920’s; this was shown by the costumes either being ill-fitted or mismatched while still staying within a general color palette.

I don’t know if I’d say that “Gypsy” is the greatest of all American musicals as praised by several critics, but Gypsy most definitely is great, and it most definitely is American. The production values and the overall performance that Latté Da created was inspiring and refreshing. If Theater Latté Da is representative of what all Twin Cities theatres are up to these days, the Twin Cities have no reason to worry.