Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Halenda

Posted by John Steils

Kathy Halenda, the wonderful Richmond-raised actress who starred in Barksdale’s recent productions of Mame and Disney’s High School Musical will be lighting up another stage about an hour down the road next week. Kathy is starring as Mama Rose in the national tour of Gypsy (see photo), stopping for one night at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theatre.

Her national reviews thus far have been unanimous raves:

Gypsy has at least three things going for it -- the beautiful melodies of Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim's witty lyrics, and American stage veteran Kathy Halenda, a woman big-voiced enough to sing the U.S. national anthem at Fenway Park, and bold enough to make us care about the original stage mommie dearest.” – London Free Press

“Great sets, great costumes and a great Rose!” – Binghamton Sun-Bulletin

“Everything’s Coming Up Rose!” – New Haven Advocate

“Halenda—taking charge the moment she arrives onstage—brings exuberance, energy and physical bravado to her character, making Rose larger than life. The other actors rarely show as much depth as she does, and rarely command such attention.” – Yale Daily News

Also appearing in the national tour of Gypsy is another Barksdale all-star. Rachel Abrams plays Mazeepa (the stripper with the helmet to the right of the photo). Rachel starred with Barksdale during each of the last two summers. She played Janis Joplin, Connie Francis and others in Beehive in 06, and the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods in 07. In Gypsy, she’s also understudying Kathy as Mama Rose.

Called “the greatest of all American musicals” by the New York Times, Gypsy is the story of a quintessential stage mother, her dreams for her children, and the daughter who dared to live her own dream. From the first trumpet blast to the last hot spotlight, this classic Broadway show packs a powerful wallop, serving up one popular standard after another—songs like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “You Gotta Have a Gimmick,” and “Together Wherever We Go.”
The Paramount performance will be Wednesday, November 7 at 8 pm. A group from the cast of Mame is planning on going up, and we hope lots of Richmonders will drive to C’ville to welcome Kathy back to her home state.

Gypsy was written by three virtuosos of American musical theater: Arthur Laurents (book), Jule Styne (music), and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). The original production starring Ethel Merman and directed by Jerome Robbins was an instant hit when it opened at the Broadway Theatre in 1959. Subsequent revivals have garnered a total of three Tony Awards and featured such talents as Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and Bernadette Peters in the role of Rose.

Tickets are $58.50, $61.50, $64.50, and $69.50. (Barksdale's prices are starting to look pretty good, aren't they?) Half-price student rush seats and group discounts are also available. Tickets are currently on sale online and through the Paramount's box office at 434-979-1933. Also, as of this writing, Chase Kniffen has a couple or three great seats that he needs to sell. You can reach Chase at C.Kniffen@BarksdaleRichmond.org.

--John Steils


pnlkotula said...

When I interviewed Kathy last winter during the run of Mame, she mentioned that she would like to play Mama Rose again to "get it right". I'm so thrilled that she is getting her wish. Yay Kathy!

Anonymous said...

Kathy Halenda was wonderful as Mame and Rachel Abrams was a perfect Baker's Wife. It's so good to see so many Barksdale All-Stars being recognized nationally for their talents. I can't wait to see them both back on the Barksdale stage when the national tour of Gypsy is over.