Maybe my hopes were too high. I had just seen C-R’s stunningly well acted and entertaining production of “The Mikado” and was expecting the same — and more — from their production of “Gypsy.” Glitzy musicals with stupendous costumes and athletic choreography are what C-R has always done best.
WHERE: C-R Productions, Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St., Cohoes
WHEN: 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, through April 18
HOW MUCH: $35-$25
MORE INFO: 237-5858, Ext 1, or www.cohoesmusichall.com
But that was then, this is now. I would like to put the great disappointments of their current show down to opening-night jitters, but it pains me to say the flaws in this production run too deep and are too glaring for such a facile assessment.
Was it “opening-night jitters” that caused their star, Mama Rose (Nancy Timpanaro-Hogan), to be all bluster and little substance? I don’t think so. Had I not been on duty opening night, I might have commented that Timpanaro-Hogan was a more than likable presence on stage. She is a woman that other women love to love.
No doubt a comedian of the first water (she wrote and starred in a show about the life of Totie Fields) and a winner of many awards, she was allowed by director Tony Rivera to run wild. Rose does tend to chew the scenery, but she is also a woman of deep passions and vulnerabilities. Rivera needs to be reminded that even the greatest entertainers must be coached in — and sometimes reigned in by — the subtleties of character development.
In truth, many of the actors on the set played their parts with broad swipes at the characters and very little understanding of who they were and where they came from — much less where they were going. Their movement was often undisciplined, and vocally some of them were just plain annoying.
In fairness, it must be said that Janie Wallace as Louise has a lustrous moment in the second act’s “Gypsy Strip Routine” when she blossoms from a shy, mumbling and stumbling novice stripper into a full blown entertainer on Minsky’s stage in New York City. This is probably the most consequential scene in the show, with lightning-fast costume changes and — finally — a true arcing of character.
Jerry Christakos is fine in the thankless part of Herbie, Rose’s loyal and patient agent and love, though one often questions why this quiet, unassuming man sticks with the bombastic Rose. Ryan Crimmins stands out as Tulsa and does good work with “All I Need Is the Girl.” And adorable sprite Chezmin Sheehan as Baby June has some of the highest kicks I’ve ever seen.
Costumes by Lena Sands are glitzy enough but occasionally — and sorrowfully — unflattering. The set by Jen Price-Fick serves the show, though some of the set pieces and backdrops are embarrassingly crude.
In short, the production is sometimes disorganized, often amateurish, and definitely not up to the standards that C-R Productions has set for itself.