Bay Area Musicals opens its fifth season with the classic “Gypsy” in its old-fashioned glory at the Alcazar Theatre.
Company founder and artistic director Matthew McCoy directed, choreographed and staged-designed this welcome, engaging and entertaining production of the 1959 show by Jule Styne (music), Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (book) about the early vaudeville days of real-life burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee.
Though the show sadly isn’t often produced locally, musical fans know the great songs, from “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” to “Together Wherever We Go” to “Let Me Entertain You.”
They’re done here with power and finesse by a top cast, starting with the excellent Ariela Morgenstern as Rose, playing theater’s most famous stage mother with heart and soul added to the bluster.
She delightfully enters through the house, coming down an aisle (carrying an adorable real dog, Teddy Bear McNguyen as Chowsie, almost stealing the show) hollering instructions to her children rehearsing their iffy song-and-dance act.
The kids are good, too. Animated Emma Berman as Baby June and Chloe Fong as Baby Louise morph into their older selves: Tia Konsur nails the dilemma of young woman who’s outgrown the act’s juvenile leading role, and Jade Shojaee as her lesser talented, older sister Louise – who unexpectedly finds fame after the act accidentally is booked at a burlesque, not vaudeville, theater.
As Herbie, Rose’s sweetheart, and the family’s agent who makes that fateful booking, DC Scarpelli is sweet, smooth and empathetic. (With Richard Fong, Scarpelli designed the set’s most notable element: projected signs that flash at the sides of the stage, revealing the theater and city where the family is appearing.)
Rounding out the action with finesse are Jean Paul Jones as song-and-dance man Tulsa; Elaine Jennings, Olivia Cabera and Glenna Murillo as the funny strippers who educate in the ways of burlesque in “You Gotta Get a Gimmick”; and Mark Robinson as show-biz guys Uncle Jocko and Mr. Goldstone.
Junior and senior corps members – Juan Castro, Dakota Colussi, April Deutschle, Cassie Grilley, Phillip Leyva, Benjamin Nguyen, Veronica Ortiz, Ernie Tovar, Amber Lee Wunderlich and Kayla Yee – nicely work their numbers as newsboys, farm boys and theater folk.
At the back of the stage, music director and pianist Jon Gallo leads the hard-working band, including Sonja Lindsay and Rachel Doolittle on trumpet, Jack Madden on trombone, Amar Khalsa and Larry De La Cruz on reeds, Christina Owens on violin, Jonathan Salazar on banjo and guitar, Kyle Wong on bass and Randy Hood on percussion.
Presented by Bay Area Musicals
Where: Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary St., S.F.
When: Varied times Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. most Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Dec. 8
Tickets: $40 to $85