|Amanda Glen, Kelli James, and Scott Hyder|
photo by John Groseclose
Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 24th.
"... Gypsy. This backstage story that focuses on how the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee came to become a star is receiving an incredibly solid production from Theater Works in Peoria that features Kelli James in a stellar turn as the mother of all stage mothers....Director Rusty Ferracane does very good work to ensure that all of his leads deliver realistic, nuanced and truthful performances. Kelli James is superb as Rose. Her singing voice is beautiful and strong..With James' laser-focused eyes, there is the constant knowledge that her Rose is always thinking about how she can manipulate and use the people around her to better herself and her daughters. When the reality of what she's done finally sinks in toward the very end of the show, James' piercing sobs turn her portrait of this broken-down woman into a heart-wrenching and incredibly moving performance. Amanda Glen's transformation of Louise from the shy, mousy and quiet tomboy to the woman who realizes she can use sexual innuendo to her advantage is expertly done. As Herbie, Scott Hyder delivers an emotionally rich performance filled with warmth and heart. Kathlynn Rodin fleshes out June more than I've seen in other productions. ...Ferracane's direction is exceptional. He doesn't rush the emotional moments yet also ensures the comical scenes and lines deliver big laughs. ...Theater Works' production of Gypsy is a superb testament to the power of this exceptional musical. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"...Gypsy...this new Rusty Ferracane directed production..had its small share of technical flaws ... the overall impression.. is that Theater Works has truly delivered. And more than anything, it’s the cast that makes it so....The show may be called Gypsy, but the focus is really on Rose, the brazenly self-deluded mother of all show biz mothers. As played by veteran Kelli James...,the complex nature of Rose’s monstrous actions are high-lighted in ways that don’t always fully emerge in a typical regional production....James brings moments to the insufferable character where you actually feel sorry for her, and that’s a considerable achievement. ..there’s also the much put upon father figure to the girls, Herbie (Scott Hyder..a sympathetic performance that feels natural, making Herbie seem all too real), Louise, the title character Gypsy (Amanda Glenn, with perhaps the most difficult role considering she has to convincingly downplay any sense of real theatrical talent throughout most of the show) and the support of Louise’s sister, June (the perpetually goldilocked Kathlynn Rodin...)...There’s power in that final number, Rose’s Turn.. a terrific moment brought to life by James’ passionate portrayal. But the true heart of what Gypsy is really about comes just before the intermission.
...with a feverish Everything’s Coming Up Roses. ...As Rose continues to sing, and brings the house down in the process, Louise runs into Herbie’s arms for support. All they can do is look on in shock, ..The moment is horrifying, but when it’s done well, it’s great theatre, and in this Theater Works production, it’s done really well.." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"...Kelli James,..has a gorgeous voice, and she brings whirlwind intensity to the iconic character, the ultimate stage mom who pushes her daughters to the point of breaking on the road to stardom...features a winning performance (and crystalline singing) by Amanda Glenn..as Louise, a mousy girl who, the audience well knows, will transform herself into a star stripper on the burlesque circuit at the end of the show. The supporting cast isn’t quite as strong. There’s a lot of hammy acting ..As for those burlesque scenes, both the costumes and the staging shy away from anything too risqué. " - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)