WEST JEFFERSON — When Joe Clark was 16-years-old, he saw a high school from Washington perform a musical, and receive thunderous applause, while at a thespian convention in Indiana. It was called “Gypsy,” and Clark is now directing the Ashe County Little Theatre’s production of it, which will run at the Ashe County Civic Center June 20-24.
The musical is loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a striptease artist who achieved great fame in the 1950s and 1960s, and focuses on the relationships between Lee, her sister, Baby June, and their mother, Rose. Featuring music from Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the musical has featured actresses such as Ethel Merman, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters over the years.
Clark, along with producer Michael Malloy, started laying the groundwork for the show in December 2018, due to the amount of pre-production work that has to go into a musical.
“A musical is a whole different beast rather than a play. With a musical, we have to find the musicians, form the orchestra, set rehearsals for that and try to tie everything is a whole different dance,” Malloy said.
“The more you plan for something, whether it’s a production or a house, the better quality product you’re going to have at the end,” Clark said. “I had in my mind what exactly I wanted to see onstage.”
Malloy, a first-time producer who had been in other ACLT productions, was eager to jump on the production alongside Clark.
“I wanted to work with (Clark) for this, to bring his vision to fruition and I think he’s done a really good job of telling the story and giving direction to the cast,” Malloy said. He added that everything has been running smoothly, pointing to Clark, the production team and the cast’s prior experience with community theater.
Another person with a new role in the ACLT is actress Sue Revels, who plays Rose. Revels is not new to acting, having previously done theater-work in Galax, Va., but “Gypsy” is her first time with the ACLT. Revels said the role as Rose is right for her, feeling a connection with the character.
“I’m a lot like Rose. She’s very independent, very headstrong, she wants her own way and she’s a control freak. That would be me,” Revels said. “She is absolutely, heart and soul dedicated to her children. I have no children, but I get it. She will do what she needs to get her own way and her objective is to make at least one of her girls a star.”
Alongside Revels will be Les Miller as Herbie, Cynthia Harless as Louise/Gypsy, Ava Edgell as June, Linda Dreyer as Tessa Tura, Norma Allen as Mazeppa, Edie Miller as Electra and Anthony Gonzalez as Tulsa. The rest of the cast, playing a variety of roles, is Molly Andrews, Sarah Brandt, Alex Christophy, Baron Cooper, Olivia Cooper, Jeff Dreyer, Melissa Fields, Maggie Harless, Malorie Harless, Caitlin Hoffman, Owen Kolseth, Lilliana Mayberry, Alexis Rowland, Autumn Rowland, Stephanie Stolt and Renee Thompson.
Tickets for the show are available online at www.ashecountylittletheatre.org, by calling (336) 846-2787 or visiting the Ashe Arts Center. Tickets are $18 for adults and $5 for students.