It is the role no singing actress seems able to resist. Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone will play her this summer at Chicago's Ravinia Festival. Former Mamma Mia! star Karen Mason will offer her version at the St. Louis Muny in July, and even soap star Kim Zimmer will have a go at the role at the Barn Theatre in Michigan July 25-Aug. 6.
The role, of course, is Rose, the stage mother of all stage mothers, in the Arthur Laurents-Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy.
Now comes word that Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones may play Momma Rose in a film version of the classic American musical. Liz Smith reports that The Weinstein Company is interested in producing a remake of the film with "Chicago" director Rob Marshall at the helm.
Marshall, of course, directed Zeta-Jones in one of her biggest triumphs, the film version of Kander and Ebb's "Chicago." Zeta-Jones won an Academy Award for her performance as merry murderess Velma Kelly. No official casting or timeline have been announced, but gossip columnist Smith says Harvey and Bob Weinstein think Marshall "can do something as magical with Gypsy as he did for Bob Fosse's Chicago."
Zeta-Jones has expressed interest in playing Rose previously. While in New York in December 2002 to promote the "Chicago" film, the actress was asked whether she would like to star in another movie musical. At that time she replied, "Well, I've done it, you know, not that I never want to revisit it. I've done it right now, and I'd like to do something, maybe straight theatre on Broadway and then come back with a musical. I wanna play Momma Rose. I'm just growing towards that. I'm hoping that the revival's gonna be coming around again, so I can play it."
Gypsy features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical with Ethel Merman as Rose bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances before closing at the Imperial Theatre, where it later transferred, on March 25, 1961. Subsequent revivals have featured Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and Bernadette Peters as Rose. A 1962 film featured Rosalind Russell as Rose with Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee; a 1993 TV version cast Bette Midler in the lead role.
Born in Wales, Catherine Zeta-Jones starred in the West End production of 42nd Street before landing a role in the hit Yorkshire TV program "The Darling Buds of May." She received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in "Traffic," and her other screen credits include roles in "America's Sweethearts," "The Mask of Zorro" and "Entrapment." Zeta-Jones was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work as Velma Kelly in the Rob Marshall-directed Chicago.