May 2015

At The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina presents Gypsy

Author: Laura Jacobi | Photographer: TR Media World

Let the cast of Gypsy entertain you at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. The blockbuster musical will run from April 29 through May 24. The Tony Award-winning musical is loosely based on the true story of Mama Rose and her efforts to raise daughters June and Louise under the bright lights of show business. The matriarch takes her children and their act from city to city and stage to stage, always looking for the next big break.

Gypsy has been on Broadway five times since it premiered in 1959 and continues to delight audiences with its mix of comedy, music, theatrics and heart. With memorable numbers such as “Everything’s Coming up Roses,” “Small World,” “Let Me Entertain You,” and “Rose’s Turn,” many would say it’s one of the most beloved musicals to have graced the stage.

The legacy of this musical clearly lives on, according to Casey Colgan, director of the Arts Center’s upcoming production, as close to 500 actors came out to audition for the show. “That’s a true testament to this story and the Arts Center,” Colgan said.

Island audiences might remember Colgan recently directed the Arts Center’s highly popular production of Singin’ in the Rain this past December. Other Arts Center productions he has directed include 42nd Street, Anything Goes, Les Miserables, Hairspray, Aida, and West Side Story, among many others.

Colgan says he’s wanted to bring Gypsy to Hilton Head Island since he began his career here about 25 years ago. “It’s probably the best-written script ever and includes some of the industry’s finest music,” he said.

But Colgan also has emotional ties to the show and especially the role of Mama Rose. His own mother, Mary Colgan, played Mama Rose when he was in high school. Colgan clearly remembers running lines with her and rehearsing those pivotal scenes and fantastic songs. The admiration he has for this character comes through as he describes her.

“Mama Rose drives the entire show,” he said. “Everyone else is just a side player to her story.”

Mama Rose is one of the most sought-after roles for an actress on Broadway. Legends such as Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and Patti LuPone have won Tony Awards for their performances.

Shannon Lee Jones will grace the Arts Center stage as Mama Rose. Many might recognize her as she most recently played Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes.

In the first act, the play focuses on Rose and her two daughters, Baby June and Louise. Rose is the stereotypical stage mother, dragging her girls and their act through the country’s vaudeville circuit in the early 1920s. Baby June (Rachel Stratton) is clearly the star as she is the center of everyone’s attention—especially her mother’s. Louise, the older sister (played by Delaney Yurco), is more reserved, shy and often pushed into the background to play one of June’s “Newsboys” when they perform. When Rose meets Herbie (Stephen Day), a former agent, she persuades him to become the girls’ manager and take their act to the next level.

But June feels trapped under her mother’s thumb and runs away with fellow act member, Tulsa, to pursue her own career. Audiences will be pleased to know that talented tap star Nic Thompson is returning to the Arts Center stage to play the role of Tulsa. Thompson recently won Best Supporting Actor for the Arts Center’s production of 42nd Street and was in Broadway’s Mary Poppins as well as on the National Tour.

Although June’s departure hurts Rose, she vows the act will live on with Louise as the newly proclaimed show stopper.

In the second act, Louise is now a young woman and continues to utilize whatever gimmick she can to be the star in her mother’s eyes. Audiences may remember the lovely actress Sarah Claire Smith playing (grown up) Louise, as she most recently played Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain. Smith has also appeared on the Arts Center stage in My Fair Lady and Anything Goes.

Rose takes Louise down a twisty path in order to become the star, but through it, Louise becomes more secure and confident in her own ability to entertain.

According to Colgan, it is no coincidence that another word for gypsy is wanderer. Throughout this story, Mama Rose wanders from place to place, searching for something to fill the void. By the end of the show, Colgan says, everyone in the audience should realize the character who possesses the most real talent is Rose.

However, she lacked the confidence to stand on her own and follow her dreams, which is why she was forced to live them out through her daughters. 

Audiences will have the opportunity to be entertained by Mama Rose and all the stars of Gypsy April 29-May 24. Tickets are $55 for adults and $39 for children. Purchase tickets today by calling (843) 842-2787 or visiting

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article