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« USC Scripter Nominations | Main | Art Directors Guild: Period, Fantasy, Contemporary »
Wednesday
Jan052011

Mama's Getting Hot: Babs for Gypsy?

Fockin' BarbraBy now, should you have a known predilection for movie musicals or Barbra Streisand as musical comedienne (we endorse both predilections, though we can do without Babs otherwise), someone has undoubtedly forwarded you something saying along the lines of "OMFG. BABS. GYPSY. SQUEEE (and/or) EWWW."

According to Playbill, she is in talks to star in a new film version about the ur stage mother "Mama Rose". Other reports have the diva, currently atop the box office charts in her Meet the Fockers role, directing and producing as well. That Babs, always multi-tasking. We heartily approve of Babs returning to musical comedy, her true yet abandoned once-in-a-century gift, and we get that she'd want to scale the musical Mt Everest of "Mama Rose". Many divas have tried their hand at the enormous role. Streisand, at 68 years of age, would definitely be the oldest filmed Mama Rose. Which isn't a big deal since you do need a BIG performer except that the musical is about a mother's tempestuous relationships with her young children who she carts around on the vaudeville circuit as child and then teen performers until the elder kicks free of Mama (and clothing) to become the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

Well, maybe she'll pull it off. She did famously sell herself as "Second Hand Rose" already.

The major Mama Roses to date (Gypsy never stays away for long):

  • Patti Lupone (2008 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Bernadette Peters (2003 Broadway revival, Tony nomination)
  • Bette Midler (1993 TV movie, Emmy nomination, Globe winner)
  • Tyne Daly (1989 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Angela Lansbury (1975 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Rosalind Russell (1962 Film, Globe winner -- snubbed by Oscar)
  • Ethel Merman (1959 Original Broadway musical, Tony nomination)

Which was your favorite? (I've only see Russell, Midler and Peters and, despite her divisive reviews, Bernadette Peters was my favorite. How about them eggrolls?)

(Remember when Hugh Jackman had super long hair? Hee.)

Hey you know what?

Forget Babs. Wasn't Sigourney Weaver supposed to star in a non-musical version sequel of sorts called G String Mother? That one was about Mama Rose's daughter "Gypsy Rose Lee" in her later years after retiring from stripping. Maybe that project got cancelled? It no longer has an IMDb page. Sadness. That sounded interesting.

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Reader Comments (41)

Just watched her AFI Award acceptance speech -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi0CyAKGu3Q -- and was reminded how a true comeback has got to happen. So pumped.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercinema adventurer

Just watched her AFI Award acceptance speech -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi0CyAKGu3Q -- and was reminded how a true comeback has got to happen. So pumped.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercinema adventurer

I'm having a difficult time imagining the present day Streisand as Mama Rose for most of the musical, but it would be interesting to see and hear her take on "Rose's Turn."

My favorite Roses (in order):
1) Lupone (genius)
2) Lansbury (classic)
3) Midler (great performance, not so great production)
4) Merman (you can't deny that voice--too bad there's no performance video footage)
5) Russell (honorable mention)

I'm not all that familiar with Tyne Daly's turn and only know Peters' from a few YouTube clips. She was amazing, though.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

i saw both lupone and peters and BY FAR preferred peters. she brought such a melancholy undercurrent to the character and really made you realize the squashed dreams mama rose had for herself. lupone was on stage being lupone. she brought absolutely nothing to the role that i didn't expect and had no real shading. she was pretty one note. and an intense one note at that. i cant wait to see what babs can do with it and think she'll knock it out of the park.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterzach

Some musicals become a movie more than once and Les Miz doesn't even have one film adaptation? I will never stop complaining until it happens.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Peters totally killed "Rose's Turn" in that Tonys number. We played it endlessly in our apartment.

In an unexpected link between two of today's posts, Gregory Peck's blond, blithely anti-Semitic assistant in Gentleman's Agreement is played by June Havoc, the younger sister of the real-life Gypsy Rose Lee.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

She's just so old. I remember an interview in which LuPone said she got the nickname "Grandmama Rose" because she'd been the oldest to ever play her, and she was 59. If Streisand had done this 10, 15 years ago? Brilliance. It needs someone like Annette Bening who can really give the musical its due in a proper film.

That being said, the soundtrack may be the best thing ever.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Having seen Lupone's second and third stabs at the role (City Center and B'way), I would definitely not call it a one-note performance. She brought colors to the role that I hadn't seen (or heard) in any previous incarnation. The character made sense in a whole new way.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'd have to say, based on what I've heard, I think Angela Lansbury is my favorite Mama Rose. It was Ethel Merman for years and years, but someone linked me to some really grainy Angela Lansbury footage where she almost stopped the show during a comedic dance break in "Together Wherever We Go." I rather like Bernadette Peters, too. She just did a really different interpretation of the character that turned people off (much like Lupone in the production that led to her Broadway revival, only she scaled it back before coming to Broadway).

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOtherRobert

I guess if Joan Rivers can still be pushing her middle aged daughter into the spotlight so can Madame Rose.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Toni Collette comes to mind as someone I would love to see take this on. I think its probably because I've been dying to see her take on a movie musical since I read that she auditioned for Mrs. Lovett for the Sweeney Todd movie

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames

James -- have you ever watched any of the various clips i've posted of her singing from THE WILD PARTY? she is *SO* perfect for movie musicals. shame that's going to waste.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Easy cast: Lea Michelle as her daughter

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLouis

In theory I like the idea because it's been much too long since Babs has been on the big screen. I've seen the film and read the books, but only seen clips of the Broadway performances of which Peters always stood out for me. And one of the reasons for that was that she had the sensuality that made you sort of believe that Rose did "have it". But, then, who knows...maybe she can still play sexy...heck, who knows that her interpretation will be...the age is a worry, but, it's Baaaaaaaaaarba.

But I can't wait to here her sing "Rose's Turn"...and who she'll cast as the daughter, would that mean she'll cast someone old as Herbie?

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I'd prefer a Peters/Hathaway film version myself, but I'll be interested to hear what happens with this.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Kurt Hummel.

Seriously, i don't even watch Glee but that performance was amazing.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Count me in the Peters camp for Mama Rose. I was actually AT the Tony Awards when she did Rose's Turn, and you could have heard a pin drop in Radio City while it was happening. I am still pissed off that she lost that Tony :-)

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

This screams third acting Oscar nomination. Who cares if she's too old to play it-this will be heaven, and I think in order to get it greenlit, putting Lea Michele in as Gypsy Rose would be solid.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

"though we can do without Babs otherwise"

@Nat - Remember "The Way We Were"? Sorry, but that was one of the defining films of my childhood. I definitely could NOT do without that.

I don't know that she's too old - 68 doesn't look 68 anymore, at least not on someone like Babs. I'd be interested to see what she could do with it. God knows she's been wasting her talent long enough.

@James - Toni Collette also auditioned for - and nailed - the lead for the film version of Chicago, but The Powers That Be decided they need a bigger star in the role for the box office. (Because "who is best for the role" is SUCH an unimportant consideration, right? *sigh*)

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

John T -- i love Lea Michele actually but i'm quite disturbed at the growing meme that all new musicals should use her. There are just so many stars with musical talent and they just never get to display it. I will never understand Hollywood's weaknesses here. They will regularly take chances on building new action stars or new comedy stars or whatever. grumble grumble.

Janice -- oh right. THE WAY WE WERE. i can't live without that either. sorry Babs!

January 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yes, please. And Meryl in SUNSET BLVD the musical. What movie musical should Anne Hathaway do?

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

This has me so excited I can't stand it. Is it true? About the age thing, how "young" do we think Barbra can pass as? Maybe 45 or 50? God knows she knows all about makeup, lighting, and, er, therapeutics to make her look the best she can. I'm hoping the end result is more Meryl in Mamma Mia than Lucy in Mame. (How old were both of them?).

And for a Gypsy, if this is really going Theatrical not TV, she'll need a very big star to get this thing going. Yes, Anne Hathaway would be a good choice. Lea Michele is better for the TV version, starring Cher.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

I actually like them all... but I saw Angela Lansbury in the role & it was astounding.
http://nopoboho.blogspot.com/2010/10/born-on-this-day-october-16th-my-bff.html

Swell blog!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

All I can say it "YUCK!" She can't even really sing anymore (Her voice actually went downhill starting in 1975). As for Lea Michelle, double and triple yuck. If you want a great CURRENT musical comedy star then look no further than Sara Ramirez -- probably the single greatest singing Broadway actress I have ever seen and I've seen everybody. Talk about wasting your talents. Being on Grey's Anatomy is a travesty for her.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Wow - enough already - Bab's is way too long in the tooth to play Mama Rose - give the ego a rest please - Saw Tyne AMAZING - Bernadette was great, but had a hard time playing 8 shows a week. She got pretty sick and her understudy filled in a lot - Bette added something that the others skipped, Mama's lunacy. Her Rose was nuts. Especially when singing "Some People". Would have loved to see Merman - too bad everybody gets miked on stage these days. Ethel played to the last row. Ms. Russel was great in her own way - too Merman was too big for the screen

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarlota Ttendant

I think Barbra's voice has always been there, and it fact its held up pretty well, she just has chosen bad material and the wrong mikes and production. Her records HAVE been awful since about 1975, but she's made a pretty great comeback with her new album Love Is The Answer. The flip side with just a jazz combo is the best thing she's done since the early 70s (much as it grieves me to praise Diana Krall. ;-)

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Jonathan -- don't even get me started on Greys Anatomy -- they totally steal the great broadway singers and keep them locked up on bad soap operas. See also: Audra McDonald on Private Practice.

January 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think Barbra can pull it off..hell she has pulled it off her whole career...although I have only see Lansbury do Mama Rose in person, and really liked her playing this part, I have heard all the Mama Rose's in recordings and like Patti Lapone the best, with Bette Midler coming in second...

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrichardb

1) Tyne Dailey Sheer guts
2) Patti Lupone Ferocious
3) Angela Lansbury A Class Act
4) Rosiland Russell Fierce

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeebob

"Gypsy' is the "Hamlet" and "King Lear" of musicals combined as Rose is the greatest role ever created for a singing actress. Babs certainly has the chops for it. And while vaudeville was before her time she had quite tempestuous relationship with her mother that she can easily draw on. She's worked with both Arthur Laurents and Sondheim, and just closing my eyes and imagining her doing "Rose's Turn" give me chills.

Chris Colfer was indeed spendid doing it on "Glee" and God Himself (aka. Stephen Sondheim) loved it.

SING OUT LOUISE!!!!!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Ehrenstein

I was privileged to work as an usher at the St. James during Tyne Daly's run -- truly amazing. Her performance (along with Jonathan Hadary's) remains my favorite.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterD Beverly

David -- i was actually going to include Kurt's version here but it's surprisingly hard to come by since GLEE (which always goes viral) is so adamant about pulling youtube videos.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Here it is Mr. Rogers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hrr6LIIPGS8

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Ehrenstein

@ Nat - You are forgiven, sir!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

People are forgetting Linda Lavin, who took over for Tyne on B'way, she was pretty damn good.

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeeVee

Wow, I saw Patty and thought she was missing something, it was the balls that Bernadette has. Patty was having way too much fun being herself playing Mama, looks like Bernadette got in there deep and ripped everyones heart out.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Na Taraja

Just catching up here via the January recap....not a fan of Gypsy at all but would love to see Streisand do another musical. From that same special My Name Is Barbra, "How Does the Wine Taste", a song from a failed musical. Brilliant and better than her studio version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2nLsn1Ljxg

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

I like your site, but I LOVE Barbra. So I can actually do without your Barbra putt downs. She was the top box office woman in the late 60's and 70's and made a huge impact in film. Maybe you're not aware of these things. I'm looking forward to "My Mother's Curse" and any other film she attempts!

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Matt, I love Barbra. I'm not sure where you get the idea that I don't. I live for Funny Girl and The Way We Were.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Nathaniel, great :-). Did I mention that I really do like your site? I'm obsessed with it during the days leading up to Oscar nominations.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

be happy and love. kiss

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommentereffinkFrokina
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