New York Post
Give up on ”˜Gypsy’, Barbra Streisand
By Johnny Oleksinski
April 12, 2016 | 4:31pm
Ready or not, here comes Barbra.
A new film version of the classic 1959 musical “Gypsy,” starring Barbra Streisand, might finally happen.
Variety reports that STX Entertainment is in “advanced negotiations” to make the movie starring Streisand as the larger-than-life mother of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.
Put that one on the WTF pile next to “Indiana Jones 5.”
Babs, 73, has long campaigned for the role of the ultimate stage mother, Mama Rose, but various forces prevented her from tackling it. One of them was the show’s book writer, Arthur Laurents.
Not long after telling The Post’s Michael Riedel “she has my approval,” the famously volatile Laurents had a change of heart. Laurents, who died in 2011, told the Hartford Courant how “Gypsy” lyricist Stephen Sondheim persuaded him to nix the project.
“You want a record because the theater is ephemeral. But that’s wrong,” Laurents recalled Sondheim saying. “The theater’s greatest essence is that it is ephemeral. You don’t need a record. The fact that it’s ephemeral means you can have different productions, different Roses on into infinity.”
Tell it like it is, Sondheim! Besides, there are enough recorded versions of “Gypsy” already. Rosalind Russell played Rose in a 1962 film, and Bette Midler did it on TV in 1992.
But Laurents did another about-face, and gave the movie his final blessing in the weeks before his death, leaving the door open for Barbra to slide in.
“Gypsy” is, for me and many others, the finest American musical. There’s a reason it’s been revived on Broadway four times. There’s even talk of the acclaimed West End production starring Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge in “Harry Potter”) coming to New York in the near future. Fabulous!
Why ruin it now?
Pardon me while I rain on your parade: In a photo-realistic medium like film, someone on the cusp of 74 shouldn’t portray the prime years of a woman whose real-life counterpart, Rose Hovick, died at 63.
You can get away with that onstage, perhaps. Even so, the youngest Broadway Rose was Tyne Daly, then a spry 43. The oldest was Patti LuPone, who was 58 when the 2008 revival opened, still 15 years younger than Streisand is now. But moviegoers’ demand for reality on-screen makes a 73-year-old mother of a 5-year-old unpalatable.
Another thing: Not all divas are created equal. LuPone, Bernadette Peters and Angela Lansbury are divas because of their gargantuan personalities and talent. Streisand, her enormous talent aside, is lately better known for her glamorous lifestyle – architectural coffee table books and all. Hardly the person one sees as Mama Rose, lover of Chinese takeout.
Rose is ferocious, as charming as she is deadly. In the middle of her life – traveling the decrepit Orpheum Circuit – she’s forced to confront the fact that her daughter’s fame can’t make her own life any less banal. Pretty harsh stuff. Rose’s tragedy, so American, is that she’s just an average, forgettable mom.
Streisand taking that on?