News Column

Joplin Little Theatre presents story of original showbiz mom

September 20, 2013


Sept. 20--JOPLIN, Mo. -- The competition at tryouts for the role of Louise in "Gypsy" were intense, said director Greg Swartz.

"That role is a dream role for any woman in musical theater," Swartz said. "It's a part they dream of doing. It's the King Lear of musical theater, the part they dream about doing before they die."

"Gypsy," the story about America's original show business mother, will be presented next week at Joplin Little Theater. The musical is based on the 1957 memoirs of the striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, which details how her mother, Momma Rose, raised two daughters to be in the spotlight.

As Rose boils over with her own ambition, she channels her energy into turning her two daughters into stars. The role has been played on stage by legends such as Ethel Merman and Angela Lansbury.

The actress who landed the important role of Louise for the Joplin Little Theatre production is Mollie Sanders, who captures the range of experience well, Swartz said.

"The character starts out as awkward and naive," Swartz said. "Molly shows that transition to the biggest burlesque star in the world. Her performance is amazing, how you see that growth."

Swartz, a veteran actor with the theater, is taking on his first directorship with "Gypsy." The musical has long been one of Swartz' favorites. Although he intended to do something a little smaller for his first production, he said he has appreciated how theater members and volunteers have helped out.

"It has all fallen into place," Swartz said. "It's one of those shows that's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to do. We don't do it very often because it's so hard to do."

Playing Rose is Lisa Olliges Green, who performs the showbiz mom with aplomb, Swartz said. The production includes a cast of about 40, including 13 children and a dog.

Other cast members include Lindsey Daniels, Allison Dodge, McKenna Shaw, Kenny Timbrel, Tiffer Andrew, Bruce Graber, Charlie Heil, Wyatt Hensley, Langley Miller, Kyle Richardson, Logan Clem, Aubrey Goswick, Vivian Holt, Sarah Ketchum, Anne Marie Wright, Marilyn Marshall-Six, Kelly Musick, Jade Nicholas, Jesse DeGonia, Neal Ruggeberg, Kelly Purser, Greg Green, Tyler Thulin, Chet Fritz, Abbi Epperson, Adelle Kanan, Emma Claybrook, Amaris Grant, Andrew McGowan, Kyle Newby, Marti Frazier and Jason Leggett.

Musical direction is under Clint Newby, and Kaye Lewis designed choreography.

Want to go?

"Gypsy" will be shown Wedensday through Sunday, Sept. 29 at Joplin Little Theatre, located at 3009 W. First St. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15, $13 for students and seniors, $6 for children.


(c)2013 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

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