Yes, we know Barbra Streisand can do anything. She is capable of mesmerizing audiences on film and live in concert.
But now Streisand is reportedly taking on the role of Rose, the hard driving former vaudeville star and stage mother of Gypsy Rose Lee, in a film version of “Gypsy.”
There’s only one problem. Streisand is 73 years young this month. In the famous stage musical directed by Jerome Robbins, Ethel Merman was 51 years old. In the 1962 film, star Rosalind Russell was 55. Subsequent Rose’s (Bernadette Peters, Tyne Daly) have been around the same age. Bette Midler was 48 when she played Rose on TV and won a Golden Globe Award. Patti Lupone was 58.
Imelda Staunton, coming to Broadway next year in an acclaimed British stage version, is 60.
Rose has two daughters, famously: Louise, and Baby June. Louise tops at around 3o on stage, but is younger on film. Baby June is a teenager. They can’t be aged up too much, because of course June goes on to be a star. Laura Benanti was 28 when she played Louise on Broadway, in 2008, and won a Tony Award.
Streisand has chosen Oscar winning director Barry Levinson to take charge of this “Gypsy.” Levinson is one of favorite directors, and certainly up to the challenge of making a terrific film. Barbra will no doubt rise to the occasion with carefully chosen actors around her. (I guess in this scenario Benanti could play Louise again– she’s phenomenal.)
But I’m surprised Streisand didn’t to direct “Gypsy” herself. She’s certainly capable. I guess this way she can concentrate on singing all those incredible songs– the soundtrack alone will be the cherry on the sundae. (Columbia Records could start taking orders for it now.)
Richard LaGravenese is writing the script; he made one of my favorite films, “Living Out Loud.” (Rent it now.) He also wrote the last movie Streisand directed and starred in, “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” in 1996.