Junior musical theatre majors Lily Wessel (front left) and Micheal Hassel (front right) perform during a dress rehearsal of the musical "Gypsy" March 14, 2019, in University Theatre. Weseek and Hassel, June and Tulsa, are love interests in the musical who run off to get married. Molly O'Connor, DN.
Ball State director presents final production with 'Gypsy'
Beth Turcotte started her directing career at Ball State with the play “Tintypes” when she was 29 years old.
Now almost 40 years later, Turcotte will direct the last musical of her career, “Gypsy,” with the help of 32 actors.
“I had the opportunity to play Louise and Mama Rose in different productions when I was younger,” Turcotte said. “Getting the chance to do this show again from a directing perspective is like visiting an old friend.”
The Department of Theatre and Dance will present "Gypsy" at 7:30 p.m. March 22, 23, 26 and 29. There will also be showtimes at 2:30 p.m. March 24 and 8 p.m. March 30. Tickets can be purchased on the Department of Theatre and Dance's website.
“Gypsy” is a musical from the 20th century that tells the story of a stage mother who is determined to get her daughters into show business. Set in America in the 1920s when vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born, the plot follows Mama Rose’s journey of ambition, love and acceptance.
“I know the show very well,” Turcotte said. “I think it’s a fabulous script and score, one of the best.”
While the show is Turcotte’s last, it is also junior musical theater major Lily Wessel’s first production under Turcotte’s direction. Wessel was cast as June, a talented stage child who feels trapped by Mama Rose's dreams for her and eventually leaves to start her own act.
“It’s been great for me to work with [Turcotte] because I never got the chance,” Wessel said. “She creates a very fun environment, which makes me enjoy going to rehearsal. She does a really good job of making the entire cast feel like they belong and are worth being there.”
Wessel said she feels like Turcotte’s direction has given her the ability to build and portray her character in a way that honors the iconic show while still being true to herself.
Michael Hassel, a junior musical theater major, also said he has seen himself in his character, Tulsa.
“He’s ambitious, and he’s ready to leave and do his own thing,” Hassel said. “I humanize him a lot because his character is the idea that everyone has a dream and not everyone gets to share it, but he gets to share his.”
Even though “Gypsy” is an older play, Turcotte decided to interpret it as a memory of Mama Rose’s life through the eyes of her daughter, Louise. She said her goal is to get the audience thinking about what kind of message they would send their younger self if they could.
“I like some of the moments that have been created between young and old Louise when they say the same line that means the same thing to each of them,” Turcotte said. “We never lose that child within us who wants to be loved and noticed by their parents or loved ones.”
Hassel said he is excited to be a part of Turcotte’s final production because he has had the opportunity to work with her multiple times.
“I appreciate her as a director because I’ve learned to trust myself as an actor,” Hassel said. “It feels like the first time you go to the playground as a kid when your mom sits on the bench and watches you have fun.”
Turcotte said she plans to celebrate her directing career at Ball State during the second weekend of the show. An alumni event will be held as a farewell to her students, and both her daughter and her mother will be in attendance.
“To me, it’s the perfect show to end my tenure here at Ball State on many levels,” Turcotte said.
Contact Molly O’Connor with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.