Return to the golden age for Blue Mountains Musical Society

Blue Mountains Musical Society is gliding back to the glitzy, golden age of musicals with Gypsy which opens in October.

Based on the true tale of burlesque artist, Gypsy Rose Lee, the production promises superb songs and dazzling dance routines.

Dancers of BMMS' Gypsy rehearsing with choreographer, Catrin Phillips. Photo: John Dwyer

Dancers of BMMS' Gypsy rehearsing with choreographer, Catrin Phillips. Photo: John Dwyer

At the helm of the production is director, Aarin Starkey, who originally joined the society in 2003. The highlight of Starkey's theatre experience has been playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar in 2017. He is relishing his current position in the creative team. While he has directed shows for Macquarie Musical Society, the Adelaide Fringe, and his own start up called FishWife,Gypsy marks his directorial debut for Blue Mountains Musical Society.

"Gypsy is an iconic musical that is rarely performed in community theatre. We don't often get a chance to see golden age musicals," he said.

Starkey is delighted to be directing a musical that, despite its age, "places its female characters as the leads and driving force."

The heartfelt story of the strained mother-daughter relationship between the female leads is contrasted by the comedy and frivolity featured in the dance routines.

Choreographing Gypsy's dance routines is Catrin Phillips. The technically trained Ev & Bow graduate has previously appeared as a featured dancer for Blue Mountains Musical Society in shows such as Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar. She is currently employed as a dancer and dance teacher, and is thrilled to be bringing her choreographic skills to Gypsy. Phillips is excited by the array of dance styles featured in the show.

Dance teacher and choreographer, Bec Blackwell, is taking on the tap choreography of Gypsy. Her most recent choreographic credit is for 3 Weeks in Spring, which played at the State Theatre in August. Blackwell also choreographed We Will Rock You (which featured Phillips as her dance captain) for the society in 2018. For her current role in the production team, Blackwell eagerly explored the sophisticated tap style of 1920s America.

"The society has done a lot of current and trendy musicals in recent years, so Gypsy being from an older era fascinated me," she said.

Matt Herne returns to the society as the musical director for Gypsy. The high school music teacher and former The Voice contestant, was most recently seen in the lead role of C. E. W. Bean in 3 Weeks in Spring at the State Theatre last month. He is thrilled to be part of the team bringing a classic musical to life. Herne's previous onstage credits for the society include Killer Queen in We Will Rock You, and Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar. He was also the musical director of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. talented cast on a brilliant score.

Assisting Herne is Su Cho. Gypsy marks her first official show with Blue Mountains Musical Society, although she was briefly the rehearsal pianist for The Wedding Singer. The assistant musical director is in her final year of studying Music Education at the Sydney Conservatorium. Cho believes the music of Gypsy plays a huge role in conveying the story of a stage mother living vicariously through her daughters. The big band sound and catchy tunes drew her to Gypsy, and she finds it difficult not to sing along with the cast during rehearsals.

"The audience will be singing the songs for days after the show," she said.

Costume designer, Mitchell Wassink, is responsible for helping the cast to look the part. Gypsy is Wassink's 10th show with Blue Mountains Musical Society, which he describes as a family. After designing the costumes for Little Triangle's Merrily We Roll Along, and previously assisting with the costumes of other shows, Wassink is relishing his first role as part of a Blue Mountains Musical Society production team.

Blue Mountains Musical Society performs Gypsy at the Blue Mountains Theatre from October 19 to November 3. Tickets are available online at www.bmms.org.au, by calling 4723 5050 or in person at the venue. The cost is $46 for adults, $42 for concessions and $36 for children. A 10 per cent discount applies for groups of 15 or more, and there is a special price for one night only, Friday October 25, when all tickets are just $36 each.

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