Gypsy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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This left-handed salute to showbiz craziness brilliantly contrasts Gypsy Rose Lee's "ugly duckling turns swan" tale of escape with the scary saga of Rose, stage mother from hell. Seldom have sharper lyrics (Stephen Sondheim) been paired with better tunes (Jule Styne) in a sturdier bio-book (Arthur Laurents). Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago's revival makes up for its scenic slackness with industrial-strength make-believe thanks to Rebecca Finnegan's carnivorous Mama Rose. Though shaky at the start, she draws strength from a superb supporting cast and churns "Rose's Turn" into molten gold. Mick Weber is plaintive as Herbie, the proverbial second banana, while Jess Godwin's lacerating performance as the famed stripper exposes the way a star is made, not born. Through 10/30: Fri-Sat 7:45 PM, Sun 3 PM. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. $27-$30.

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