Topic: College of Fine Arts

March 19, 2019

Ball State University students and faculty will perform “Gypsy” from March 22-24 and 26-31 at University Theatre. The play will be the directorial finale to the illustrious career of George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Theatre Beth Turcotte, who is retiring.

“Gypsy,” set in 1920s America, is one of the quintessential musicals of the 20th century. Based on the true story of the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee and her demanding mother, Rose, it tells the tale of a stage mother fighting for her daughters’ success in the fading vaudeville industry while secretly yearning for her own. The show will feature Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Johnna Tavianini in the role of Mama Rose.

“Some theater historians argue that it is the perfect musical,” said Tavianini. “In many ways, I think they’re right. It’s a fascinating story based on real people. It has some of the most iconic musical theater songs ever written. Even a person who doesn’t necessarily go to the theater knows ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You.’

“Beth has been my mentor since I started teaching at Ball State. To do this performance knowing this is her final show is a gift for me, but I also hope it can be my gift and my thank you to her. There are faculty, students, and even alumni working on the show, so this production has elements of the past, present, and future of Ball State. It feels very special and provides a lovely tribute to our fearless leader, Beth.”

During her 37 years at Ball State, Turcotte earned accolades in both professional and educational arenas. One of her best known projects is mentoring the immersive learning experience that produced “The Circus in Winter,” an original musical inspired by the novel by Cathy Day. ‘Circus’ made its profession debut with Goodspeed Musicals in 2014.

“My last directing experience with ‘Gypsy’ is certainly going to be bittersweet,” said Turcotte, “and I’m anxious but excited to move on to my next act, whatever it may be. After almost four decades at Ball State, I want to leave my students with the message that they should be creatively strong and brave, and most importantly, always be true to themselves. If I was able to impart that message to them, I’ll be able to retire happy in knowing that I did a decent job.”

Show times are March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., March 24 at 2:30 p.m., March 26-29 at 7:30 p.m., March 30 at 8 p.m., and March 31 at 2:30 p.m. Purchase tickets by visiting the box office in the lower lounge of University Theatre, visiting or calling 765-285-8749.

By Emily Gralak