Audra IS Mama Rose

Something I predicted a few years ago has finally come to fruition.  Audra McDonald is going for her seventh Tony Award (but who’s counting) by leading Gypsy.  It is often said that not enough time passes between Broadway revivals of Gypsy, so I thought why not look at the history.  The original with Merman opened on May 21, 1959.  The first revival hit Broadway on Sept 23, 1974 with Angela Lansbury.  For those of you without an abacus handy, that’s about 15 years.  Another 15 years passed before Tyne Daly got her turn – on Oct 27, 1989.  She was replaced by Linda Lavin, who finished the run.  Again, close to 15 year later, Bernadette Peters landed in a production originally offered to Patti LuPone.  That opened on March 31, 2003, and featured the current Mrs. Neil Patrick Harris.  When LuPone finally got her turn, it was only 5 years later – March 27, 2008.  And now, on December 19, 2024, Audra McDonald begins previews – after another 15-year gap.  She’s not the first Mama Rose of Color – in 2014, Leslie Uggams played Rose in an Equity production at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre

That Audra will be splendid is not in doubt.  The production will be directed by George C. Wolfe, so she’s in more than capable hands.  As for casting, I hate to be so on the nose, but couldn’t Norm Lewis join her as Herbie?  For the strippers, I’d love to see Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph – but, whatever you do, don’t call it a reunion.  As for Louise, that’s always a tough call.  I guess Zendaya is probably too big.  And Keke Palmer is probably too old.  Age may not be an issue since I hear discussions are ongoing for Denée Benton to take the role – which makes sense since she already plays Audra’s daughter on The Gilded Age.  Of course, this goes on the assumption that it will be an all-Black cast.  It could be one of those colorblind productions that folks love so much.



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