News that Barbra Streisand may inhabit Mama Rose’s persona in an upcoming film version of “Gypsy” should come as no surprise to anyone following or in the business of show.
This triple-threat diva who’s never suffered fools gladly, can sing, direct and produce with her eyes crossed, and is tailor-made for the role of the mother of all stage-mothers. Scratch a veteran Hollywood producer and you’ll be privy to horror stories of Mme Streisand since before her days married to that hairstylist/producer, what’s-his-name. This dame knew what she wanted when she was a gawky teen in the then-prestigious Erasmus High School. A school whose reputation was on par with Ivy League universities.
How do I know? Research, dear readers. That plus my mother was a student there in its heyday and she never let me forget what a remarkable school it was. Regardless, it churned out notable names in fields of entertainment and Miss Barbra was the main stah of all stahs birthed there. So no surprise she’s been eye-balling this classic mother/daughter love/hate story for a decade.
The story has been told in stage (many times) and screen, and the 1962 celluloid version further solidified the already beloved Rosalind Russell’s Hollywood reign, despite reviews implying her take was softer than the stage version. So just imagine Streisand cloaked under the mantle of this foreboding, larger-than-real-life drama queen. How could she not do justice to a character so beloved and hated at the same time?
That the rumor mill has also leaked Tom Hanks as a possible Herbie foil, should come as no surprise. Hanks does nebbish like Jack Benny did cheap, and would bring an eager audience to catch the fireworks sure to be ignited by Mama Barbra.
Gypsy Rose Lee (the real deal, not the tweaked-up stage or film version) may as well be Streisand’s Godmother, created from the fabric of Narcissis, that good-looking (but self-absorbed) god. Lee took a stripper’s life from broadcloth and home-spun a million bucks of tacky gimmickry that will not die. Burlesque is again riding the nostalgia wave of golden-hearted strippers who can actually sing, thanks to that piece of treacle passing for a movie, “Burlesque.” A movie so bad it makes “Showgirls” look like “Citizen Kane.”
Admittedly, Cher should be awarded the best frozen-face trophy since that Star Wars character was frozen in whatever-that-was. Does she not have one honest person in her entourage who can honestly tell her she looks like a character in Vincent Price’s “House of Wax”? Just put the Botox down Cher, and age with dignity. Do it for your fans. We understand you’re dealing with some heavy mother/daughter-turned-son drama, but we’d still like a hint of that exotically beautiful countenance that once graced the screen, both small and larger-than-life.
We miss that Cher! Let her out of that waxworks, if only for a season, please?
Enough of Cher. This is really about La Streisand and what she will most likely bring to this dream role: professional respect and gratitude to a woman whose stripper’s reputation for molding burlesque queens into rickety stars brought criticism, insult and hate from Hollywood insiders and audience members alike.
Mama Rose was a force of nature that could not be contained. Remind you of anyone? Say, Miss Barbra perhaps? I say let the queen have her reign over this upcoming Gypsy re-make. If nothing else, it will remind youngsters what power one tiny, Brooklyn-born natural talent continues to hone. Without a nose job.