This falls into the character of another of those Great Finds. (tm)
As most people know, Ethel Merman is the actress who created the starring role of Mama Rose in Gypsy, and is the star most associated with it. However, 15 years later in 1974, Angela Lansbury starred in the first revival of the show and to much acclaim. She won the Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical, toured the country in the show (I saw her do it in Chicago -- and yes, not shockingly she was tremendous), and then took Gypsy to London, where she starred in it on the West End.
One of the most memorable and famous things about her performance is the end of the classic “Rose’s Turn,” where Mama Rose has her breakdown in an enthralling number by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim. And at the end, of course, the audience goes wild. Somewhat surprisingly, though, Lansbury broke character and acknowledged the bows. And as the cheers continued, she kept noting them and continued to bow. Finally, of course, the applause dies out -- yet she kept bowing. At first, it was awkward and made audiences uncomfortable, at her milking the moment...but as she kept on bowing, they eventually caught on, and realized that she wasn't breaking character at all, nor acknowledging their applause. But it was Mama Rose continuing her breakdown, bowing and bowing and bowing to non-existent acclaim. It was famously risky for Lansbury, because it risked the audience not "getting" it and seeing her as a ham. But ultimately, it worked.
And the point of all this is -- here are six minutes of Angela Lansbury onstage in that 1974 revival of Gypsy.
The audio isn’t exactly synced up, but the sound is clearly live, not synced to the cast album, since there is audience reaction. It’s excerpts of three songs – “Some People,” “Together Wherever We Go” and…yes, the end of ”Rose’s Turn”!!
(Alas, the video cuts out as the applause die out, so we don't get to see her continue her bows in silence. But you still can get the point of what's going on, since I think you'll note how somewhat odd it is that she appears to be stepping out of character and not only bowing, but bowing SO low. And if you look closely at her face, I think it's pretty clear that she's not actually acknowledging their applause at all, but seems to be looking elsewhere, off in the distance.)
A couple of notes: in "Some People," she's asking her father for $88 to help fund the dream she had one night for an actor for her kids. At the end, he says no and leaves, and she eventually storms out -- but then storms back in. What she's doing is stealing something of value off her father's wall which she plans to hock for the money.
Also, The other performers in "Together" are Rex Robbins as Herbie, and Zan Charisse (daughter of Cyd Charisse) as Louise.
And the performer through it all is -- Angela Lansbury.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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