Did we need another recording of Jule Styne & Stephen Sondheim’s GYPSY? The answer is a big yes, because for me this is the best and most complete rendition of the score.
I have the versions with Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury (my favorite until now), Bette Midler, Tyne Daly and Bernadette Peters, but none of them, with all their talent, can be compared with Patti Lupone’s amazing tour de force. Her Rose it’s all it should be, she’s simply perfect and that’s that.
But there’s more to this new recording than Patti. There’s more music in it than in every previous version and it has a deep theatrical feeling that is kind of missing in the other recordings. The orchestrations sound better than ever and this unforgettable score becomes even richer and more powerful than it usual is.
At Patti’s side, Laura Benanti is the best of all Louises, giving all her talent to the role and it feels like, for the first time, Rose should really be jealous of her daughter’s success. As Dainty June, Leigh Ann Larkin is perfectly irritating and her “farmboys” number is delicious. Boyd Gaines’s Herbie sounds true and his singing is a perfect match for Patti. The three strippers are simply terrific and Tony Yazbeck is a sweet Tulsa. In conclusion, the cast couldn’t have been better.
One final word for the bonus tracks, where for the first time (at least for me) we hear Rose singing “Smile, Girls” and wonder why they cut it from the show; the song is really good and funny. There’s also a delightful Christmas song, “Three Wishes for Christmas”, beautifully sung by Yazbeck and we have a burlesque song, “Tomorrow’s Mother Day”, sung by the “babies”. Gaines gives us a great “Nice She Ain’t”, another song that I wish hadn’t been cut from the show. Besides “Smile, Girls”, Patti also delivers another strong character song, “Who Needs Him?”.
In conclusion, this is a great cast recording of one of the best scores ever written for a musical and only a fool would miss it. Highly recommended!