You've undoubtedly heard the buzz about Barbra Streisand doing a remake of the film Gypsy -some comments are positive, some negative, and others ho-hum. What is not at all ho-hum and very positive is AMERICAN ROSE read by the very talented Bernadette Dunne and penned by NY Times best-selling author Karen Abbott (Sin in the Second City).
With a wealth of stage experience (The Kennedy Center, The Washington Shakespeare Company, etc) Dunne delivers a masterful voice performance bringing to life the characters with whom many of us are familiar - Gypsy, sister June and, of course, the indomitable Mama Rose. Dunne easily segues between characters, clearly delineating each as the story unfolds.
Abbott begins AMERICAN ROSE in 1940 when Gypsy was about to perform at the World's Fair, surely a landmark in her career. We learn that landmark was earned by Gypsy herself who excelled at self-promotion and skillful at creating the public persona she wanted the world to see. She was also a mistress of illusion or as Abbott puts it '....she knows that what she hides is as much of a reward as what she deigns to reveal.'
After the World's Fair the author takes us back in time to 1910 Seattle shortly before Gypsy was born (dates are a bit hazy as Mama Rose (Rose Hovick) didn't mind forging a few documents re her daughters' ages). Following Gypsy's early stage training we meet some fascinating men who were in and out of her life - Billy Minsky, Mike Todd.
Much of what is found in AMERICAN ROSE may well be remembered from the hit musical Gypsy. Nonetheless Abbott is apt at supplying details that could not have been included in the Broadway stage presentation and comparing Gypsy's days with that time in America. Give a listen - let Gypsy entertain you.
This is a very interesting and well written biography of Gypsy Rose Lee as well as a very well researched history of the Minsky brothers and their chain of burlesque theatres.
The author has done a very good job of researching Lee's life and digging out the real details behind the facade created by Lee and her mother, Rose.
Lee's mother was the model for the character played by Rosalind Russell in the movie version of Gypsy. The Rosalind Russell version was the image of her mother which Lee wanted to present to the world. The real Rose uncovered by Karen Abbott's research comes closer to the Bette Davis character in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.
Karen Abbott does a really good job of getting behind the character and image Gypsy Rose Lee created for herself. Abbott has also done a very good job of recreating the atmosphere of the times. She also writes a very interesting history of the Minsky brothers and the business of burlesque.
The audio book version of American Rose is very well done. Abbott's writing style is well suited to the spoken word and the audio book reader does an excellent job with the material.
Overall a very worthwhile book and audio book. I have a forty minute commute to/from work and I generally pass the time listening to audio books. I really enjoyed this one.