But even mediocre production values can't undermine the genius of Gypsy's score. When McArt sings "Goodbye to blueberry pie," the haunting refrain from "Some People," the song inspires chills at the thought that in 1959, Broadway offered us a woman who wanted more than a clean kitchen and a reliable husband. (In fact, Arthur Laurents's book paints a world that's more psychologically complicated than any Broadway musical from the past two decades.) This lone collaboration between Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, each of whom would go on to compose entirely disparate bodies of work, is one of the last musicals to create a coherent universe with its songs alone.
From gentle ballads ("Little Lamb," sung in a heartfelt turn by Bradley-Cheda) and novelty songs ("Mr. Goldstone, I Love You," in which Mama Rose delivers the last word on egg rolls) to its showcase, reality-defying anthem ("Everything's Coming Up Roses"), there's not a clunker among them. Given the likable voices at the Royal Palm, it's too bad the production falls so far from the grace notes of the score. Unfortunately buying the cast album is not an option.