PITTSBURG — Director Linden Little is no stranger to “Gypsy” — the musical he’ll be producing for PCT's 35th anniversary. It was his first show when Pittsburg Community Theater produced it in 1991.
Gypsy is a show about show business. It spins the tale of the overbearing Mama Rose on her quest to make her daughters, June and Louise, stars on the Vaudeville circuit. And the show itself has a cast full of stage mothers, child stars and folks — like Little — who grew up in the biz.
Little’s stage manager for the show is Deanna Grotheer. “Gypsy” will make her third time stage managing — her other two shows were also directed by Little — and her daughter, Morgan, plays the overshadowed of Rose’s two daughters, Dainty Louise.
“Dainty Louise has grown up with June, so she’s used to being in the background,” Morgan said. “Her mom has told her she doesn’t have any talent, and she’s awkward, but she goes with it.”
This is Morgan’s fifth summer with PCT and she’s been doing theater since sixth grade. Her first role was as the back end of the caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland.”
“I am so Dainty Louise in real life,” Morgan said. “I’m so awkward, and I was really shy when I was younger.”
But Morgan said her mother is nothing like Mama Rose. Deanna, who also grew up doing theater, said she never expected her daughter to take an interest.
“I did plays in high school and was pretty successful, then went on to work in TV,” Deanna said. “I was surprised when she told me she wanted to audition for ‘Alice in Wonderland.’”
Morgan’s counterpart in the play is Cassie Hurt-McLarty. She plays the more talented Dainty June who captures the attention of audiences and Mama Rose. Cassie and Morgan have also grown up together in theater and ballet as members of Midwest Regional Ballet in Joplin.
While Deanna doesn’t show tendencies toward Mama Rose, another actress in PCT’s “Gypsy” said she does at times. Sarah Hall performed as a Newsboy in the 1991 production of “Gypsy” alongside Director Linden Little. For the 35th anniversary, she is taking on the role of Miss Cratchitt while her daughter, Bella, plays a Newsboy.
“I took an extended break from theater to start a new business and then had Bella,” Sarah said. “But I was just waiting for the day she was old enough to start auditioning.”
Sarah is the one who came to Little with the idea of doing “Gypsy” as his production this year. She said it is her favorite play and it seemed perfect for an anniversary show.
“It’s a show about show business,” Sarah said. “It just brings everything full circle.”
She said it’s also been a running joke between her and Little that she is Mama Rose.
“It’s funny because when she started at 6 years old in ‘Wizard of Oz,’ I was always referencing the fact that I’m Mama Rose,” Sarah said.
But Bella doesn’t mind her mother’s passion. She enjoys theater just as much.
“I like that you get to be in front of a crowd and make your hair and make-up look nice,” Bella said.
“Gypsy” has one of the largest casts of any PCT production at nearly 70 members, and it is full of stories like these, which make it seem perfect for an anniversary celebration. Little said he couldn’t be more excited for the show.
“It’s the 35th anniversary, we’re going to have a party on stage,” he said. “With the audience, of course. Everyone’s working really hard.”
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.