Everyone has their favorite Mama Rose. I would not fight them. We all need our own Mama Rose. And I grant you, I never saw Merman nor Tyne Daly in the role. But – for me – (and this time’s for me) – the definitive Mama Rose is Miss Angela Lansbury.
Now, the thing is, of course, I saw her (repeatedly) when I was a child. Now, the thing is, of course, my own Auntie Mame, my Sissie, took me. Now, the thing is, I had never seen a professional musical with a book and a score and a cast and direction the caliber of this production of “Gypsy” – which remains one of my favorite musicals; the book and score of which I think approach perfection. And Miss Angela Lansbury was there – five thousand percent of herself – and one of the times I saw it was in the round at Painters Mill (or Shady Grove – one of them) and she did the ending of “Rose’s Turn” right into my eyes – my weeping, stunned, deer in the headlights, worshipping eyes.
Angela Lansbury made me want to BE THAT and DO THAT and MAKE THAT magic. Look at this miraculously discovered footage and look at her looking at it. Needless to say, I am weeping. I love you Miss Lansbury and thank you for giving me so much beauty and joy and purpose in my own life.