Venice Gondolier

Get ready for little girl, a lamb and 3 older strippers

A little girl, a lamb and three middle-aged strippers’ steal the show, “Gypsy, a Musical Fable,” at Venice Theatre’s Ian-necessitated temporary theater in the Raymond Center.

Diane Dawson returns to Venice Theatre for the first time since 2007 when she portrayed Cinderella in “Into the Woods.”

In “Gypsy,” she may not be an ugly stepmother but she certainly plays the role of one of the pushiest of stage mothers in history.

While her character, Rose, manages to damage many a young psyche along the way, Dawson’s great voice and years of stage experience “sing out” as she constantly says to Louise, played by Channon Maloney.

Gypsy, 2023

Actors have been known to worry about a youngster in the cast who steals the show. That youngster is on stage in the Raymond Center, in the role of “Baby June.”

Cora Clinch, a nine-year-old gymnast and Venice Elementary student, is a member of a family of talented performers at Venice Theatre. Cora Clinch is perfect in the role of the little star who eventually will be outshone by her overlooked older sister.

That this little 9-year-old has some competition in the “steal the show category” from some middle-aged ladies in outrageous if somewhat skimpy costumes, is another reason to try to secure a tickets to a performance of “Gypsy” at Venice Theatre.

The ladies are Kim Kollar who portrayed Mrs. Cratchit and Mazeppa; Sandy Kenny as Electra; and Dawn Carpenter as Tessie Tura and also as an ensemble player.

Gypsy, 2023

Tony Boothby as Herbie, Derek Dutcher in several roles and John Lemon as Pop, Mr. Goldstone, Pastey and others, added much to this show. So did Picasso and Pixie, the dogs who alternate as Chowsie and an unnamed baby lamb.

Consider that at this point the only way to obtain tickets could be to literally stand by in the lobby in hopes that someone will fail to show up.

The temporary space in the Raymond Center holds just 132 but because of the presence of the Raymond Center and the incredible theater staff, the space was created within just 55 days of the hurricane.

Hurricane Ian totaled the 432-seat newly renovated William H. Jervey Jr. main stage area on Sept. 28, inflicting a total of some $7 million in damages.

This classic Broadway musical might have been easier to perform on the larger mainstage, but it could not have been more entertaining.

Directed by Venice Theatre’s general manager/director of diversity Kristofer Geddie, who has plenty of performing and directing experience as well as a recently acquired master’s degree in arts administration from Goucher College, this show is all it can and should be.

That the stage is just two inches off the floor and a stagehouse does not exist, did not deter these thespians from mounting an excellent show.

With another clever set by Tim Wisgerhof that allows subtle but just-right scene changes, lighting by John Michael Andzulis in a space missing adequate height, sound by Nate Blawiess, costumes by Ross Boehringer and Francine Smetts, plus a large cast with many playing multiple roles, it is a shame that more people will not be able to see this show.