City Theater Company puts a new spin on an old classic “Gypsy”

Fame is fortune for Mama Rose, and if forcing her daughter to strip earns her both, then so be it.


All I Need Is The Girl

City Theater Company’s 2013-2014 season—its 20th—continues with the epic “Gypsy” through Dec. 21. Hailed by critics as the great American musical (music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents), the show is based on the memoirs of legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. The classically structured play focuses on the ultimate stage mom, Mama Rose, and her obsessive drive to make her two daughters into stars at any cost. CTC’s take of the tale is anything but traditional. The 10-person cast is comprised of six actors who play June and Louise throughout, three actors who play several roles and CTC grand dame Karen Murdock as Mama Rose. Producing artistic director Michael Gray, who directs the piece, wanted to create an unsettling atmosphere that belied the backdrop of great Broadway show tunes, including “All I Need Is The Girl,” “Wherever We Go” and “Rose’s Turn,” that “Gypsy” is famous for. “At its heart, this story is very upsetting,” Gray says. “It’s about a woman so obsessed with fame that she manipulates everyone around her to achieve some measure of it. She begins by dragging her children all over the country in pursuit of vaudeville success and ends by pushing her young daughter into becoming a stripper. That’s pretty dark! Mama Rose takes no prisoners. And ultimately the only way she achieves lasting fame is a sugar-coated version of her life—the world of the play itself. In our version, time is fluid. The characters float in and out at different ages, roles and seminal moments, reflecting Rose’s version of events.” Cabaret and bench seating bring the audience in on the action, with the play performed in the round at the intimate Black Box at OperaDelaware Studios. Mama Rose’s mania covers every corner of the room. Murdock has been biding her time to perform this bucket list role. “I’ve turned down previous offers to play Rose because I’ve been saving it for CTC, with the understanding that we would treat it with the kind of grit and power it deserves,” she says. “We are involving the audience in the struggles of these odd and marvelous people in ways that they won’t expect and might not be prepared for. That’s what I love about the way CTC interprets plays. The audience takes the same journey that the characters do. They will be as exposed and exploited as Mama Rose feels she is, as her daughters feels they are, as everyone who comes into contact with this woman ends up feeling. There is no escape. That’s great live theater.”

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Gypsy stars Karen Murdock supported by Kerry Kristine McElrone, Dylan Geringer and Paul McElwee. Newcomers Zachary Chiero and Emma D. Orr make their CTC debuts, along with young actors Maura McCarney, Jessica Nichter, Kieran McCarney and Nicole Hemphill. The “Gypsy” orchestra is conducted by Joe Trainor and features Josh Dowiak, Chris Tolomeo, Michele Ferdinand, Bob Baronio, Jessica Eves, Barbara Benedett and Steve Smith. Dawn Morningstar handles choreography, Vicki Neal and Richard Kendrick handle the set and lighting, and costumes are designed by Kerry Kristine McElrone and Lauren Peters. Check them out. Tickets are available at


Here’s one great collaboration: The Christmas Oratorio will be performed by the Southern Delaware Choral Society and Newark Symphony Orchestra at Georgetown Middle School Dec. 14 and at Cape Henlopen High School Dec. 15. The concert was a long time in the making, and worth the wait. Three years ago Clem Edgar, then president of the Southern Delaware Choral Society, contacted Simeone Tartaglione, the new appointed music director of the Newark Symphony Orchestra to urge a collaboration. Tartaglione, prepared in the European tradition, was busy with his position in other orchestras, so Edgar feared the conductor might turn him down, though they had worked together before. To his surprise, Tartaglione said yes—if they could do a concert in Newark. They worked out Sussex performances anyway, and that is a happy thing. Beth Maurer, current president of SDCS says, “This concert is going to be wonderful, probably the best since I started singing with the Choral Society. And the opportunity to sing with a chamber orchestra is just amazing.” A Christmas Journey features a series of choral works that loosely follow the story of Christ’s birth, the journey to Bethlehem, Jesus’ birth in a manger, and the journey of the three wise men. Stunning.  Tickets are available at and by calling 396-7619. Or visit Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Puzzles and Lewes Gourmet in Lewes, or at the door.

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Dec. 14
Event [IN Wilmington Promotional Pick of the Week] Even among classics, it’s a classic. Chrysalis Players present “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Wilmington Drama League… More
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Event The most wonderful time of the year gets a little more wonderful when The Midtown Men put their rock ’n’ roll groove on holiday hits at the DuPont Theatre More
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Event First State Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker, featuring spectacular dancing by the company’s 22 professional dancers, Tchaikovsky’s glorious music and beautiful costumes created in RussiaMore


Dec. 14-15
Event The ballet story “Snow Queen,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, tells how a young girl’s love saves a friend from a cold life. There is ballet, indeed, but also tap and jazz dance. Wow. See it at The Tatnall School in Wilmington… More

Dec. 15
Event Various ensembles from The Music School of Delaware join the choirs of Congregation Beth Emeth and Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington to present seasonal favorites from various traditions during their Winter Choral Concert More


Event Opus One Vocal Arts presents Around The World In Eighty Christmases, explore the traditions and music of Canada, Appalachia, Nigeria, Australia and more at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Newark... More

Dec. 19
Event Secrets of the Brandywine River Museum Railroad spills all the choo-choo gossip you can handle by the man who knows, Steve Clarke, who puts the delightful display together each year... More
Event Enjoy sweets, create a holiday ornament and hear the classic story “A Charlie Brown Christmas” during Cocoa, Cookies and Story Time at the Biggs Museum of American Art. What kid wouldn’t love it?... More


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