Musical ‘Gypsy’ opens this weekend at Palace

“Let Me Entertain You” can be heard from the street as a 50-plus member cast and 12-member orchestra rehearses for “Gypsy,” the Palace Theater’s 18th Annual Fall Musical. The show opens at 7 p.m. Friday (Oct. 11) and will run for three weekends through Oct. 27 in Hilo.

Such a large cast and orchestra is unique for a live musical, but “Gypsy” is not your average musical. It’s a big, old fashioned, family-friendly musical comedy.

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“Gypsy” is one of musical theater’s most acclaimed and enduring works.

This landmark show, with a celebrated score by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, is based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee. The New York Times called the score “one of the best for any show ever.” Classic songs include “You Gotta Get A Gimmick,” “Let Me Entertain You” and the show-stopping “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

Heading the talented cast is Jeri Gertz as Mama Rose and Saul Rollason as Herbie. Both actors actually played their roles 15 years ago when the Palace presented the show in 2004.

The idea of casting actors who had played the roles in a previous production seemed daunting to the production team as it might inhibit the chance to start anew and create the show from the ground up. But after their auditions, when the team saw their chemistry, they knew it was a perfect opportunity to rekindle this now-historic pairing.

The cast is being led by Dayva Escobar who plays Louise and Meili Aspen Caputo who plays Dainty June. Escobar recently appeared in “Rent” at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Caputo recently starred as Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin” for Center Stage. They are joined by Anna Braun and Olivia “Livi” Rosehill as the younger Louise and June respectively. Other cast members include Kaiulu Tiiogangco as Tulsa, Justine Thompson as Mazeppa, Lina Manning as Tessie Tura and Michelle Escobar as Electra.

Larry Reitzer, who is directing the show, is a television writer and most recently directed “Aladdin” at UH-Hilo and earlier this year directed a production of “The Lion King” at the Patchogue Theatre in New York.

Joining him is Michael Misita, the show’s legendary choreographer. Misita, a veteran singer-actor-dancer, has appeared on Broadway in shows such as “Follies,” “Applause,” “Equus” and “Pippin.”

Reitzer and Misita worked together on “Aladdin” when Reitzer invited Misita to stage two numbers for the show.

The vocal director is Lisa Katherine Taylor who served as the musical director on “Aladdin” and recently starred in the Hilo Community Players’ production of “Bare.” In addition, she heads up the Anuenue Children’s Chorus and Glee Glee Club. She is assisted by new island resident and professional opera singer, Marlise Ahuna.

Musical direction is by Armando Mendoza who musically directed “The Flower Drumsong” at KDEN as well as “Evita” and “Miss Saigon” at the university.

“Gypsy” kicks off this weekend at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Additional performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 18-19 and Oct. 25-26, and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.

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Tickets are $15 general admission, $25 side reserved, and $30 center reserved. All adult tickets will be $5 more on day of show. Children 12 and under are $5 in advance and $8 day of show.

Tickets are available at the Palace Box Office, over the phone at 934-7010, and on the Palace website at hilopalace.com.

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