Brooke Robertson

Everything’s coming up roses in San Luis Obispo this Valentine’s Day, when the national touring cast of “Gypsy” makes a stop at the Performing Arts Center.

A classic by any other name, “Gypsy” has been one of America’s favorite musicals since it first debuted at New York’s Broadway Theatre in 1959. The show features some of the biggest songs in Broadway history, including “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” and “Some People.”

“It’s one of the greatest musicals of all time,” said Peter Wilt, interim director of Cal Poly Arts. “Every song in it is good.”

The play is based on the memoirs of famous actress and burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, who was known as much for her intelligence and wit as she was for her striptease act.

It follows the story of Mama Rose – the stereotypical, overbearing stage mother – in her quest to make her two daughters the brightest stars of vaudeville. She focuses the majority of her attention on her youngest, Baby June, who headlines the show while big-sister Louise (Gypsy) is stuck in the chorus.

Following some “contract disputes,” Rose has no choice but to put a reluctant Louise in the spotlight. Once there, Louise flourishes and eventually transforms into the world-famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.

“She was a stripper – but she was a high-class stripper,” said Wilt, who recalls seeing the real Gypsy Rose perform on television.

Over the course of its many revivals, “Gypsy” has collected three Tony Awards and featured such big names as Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and the original Mama Rose, Ethel Merman. Daly won a Tony in 1990 for her portrayal of the role.

A nostalgic trip back to a time when vaudeville ruled the American stage, the play also explores some of the darker aspects of the human condition. Jealousy and the loss of innocence are themes addressed within the story. Other prominent themes include ambition, loyalty and family dynamics.

Tomorrow’s performance promises to be an entertaining treat for Broadway fans of all ages. It also makes an excellent date for slackers who haven’t made plans for Valentine’s Day.

To sweeten the deal, any seats available one hour prior to the 8 p.m. show time will be made available to Cal Poly Students with a valid student I.D. card as $8 student rush tickets. So now it’s a cheap date. No excuses.

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