ShareThis Page

Soap opera actors reunite in Pittsburgh CLO's 'Gypsy'

| Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
John Paschal
Actress Kim Zimmer
Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera
Actor Robert Newman

For Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's next production will give them an opportunity to revisit roles they have played before.

No, they're not starring as Reva and Josh in “Guiding Light — The Musical.”

Instead, the long-running, fondly remembered daytime-drama couple will play Rose and Herbie in CLO's production of “Gypsy” that will play July 10 through 19 at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

Based on the memoirs of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical made its Broadway debut in 1959 with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Set in the show-business world of the 1920s and '30s, it focuses on Rose, the ultimate stage mother, a woman driven to give her two daughters the chance she never had to be a headliner on the vaudeville circuit.

The score contains tunes from the golden age of musicals, such as “Everything's Coming up Roses,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “You'll Never Get Away from Me” and “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.”

Zimmer had played Rose in 2006 at the Barn Theatre in Augusta, Mich., and was eager to have another crack at it.

“It was one of the most challenging and rewarding shows I have ever done,” Zimmer says.

While appearing as Mme. Morrible in the national tour of “Wicked,” Zimmer learned that CLO had put “Gypsy” on its schedule.

She had never worked at CLO but had heard lots of good things about the company. She asked her agent to let them know she was available.

Newman, already a CLO veteran, having previously appeared in “A Little Night Music” in 2005 and “The Full Monty” in 2007, also was eager to have another go at the musical after playing Herbie opposite Tovah Feldshuh's Rose in 2011 at the Bristol Theatre in Bristol, Bucks County.

“I love the dialogue. It's very smart. I enjoyed playing the role the first time,” he says. His goal is to have his lines memorized by the time rehearsals begin. “I want to spend the time working on character development.”

For a long time, neither Zimmer nor Newman knew the other was interested in or was being considered for the CLO production.

“We were both in the dark,” Newman says. “By the time she signed on, I knew they were approaching her.”

Though they are doing this show together for the first time, it's not the first time they have appeared on stage together.

Earlier this year, they performed the lead roles in the musical “Curtains” at Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., along with Amanda Rose, who will play the grown-up Louise in “Gypsy.”

In mid-May, Zimmer and Newman were part of the ensemble for “Putting It Together,” a revue of Sondheim songs in a joint production of the Delaware Theatre Company and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra in Wilmington.

Both are looking forward to working together here.

“There's such a trust component. Neither of us will let the other fail,” Zimmer says.

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, acarter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.