New set provokes new view of 'Gypsy'

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The Augusta Players are finding flexibility in familiarity.

Debi Ballas, Kara Willis, and Brette Bryant (Left to Right) rehearse a scene from Gypsy Monday evening at the Columbia County Library.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Debi Ballas, Kara Willis, and Brette Bryant (Left to Right) rehearse a scene from Gypsy Monday evening at the Columbia County Library.

Friday, the community theater will open its production of Gypsy at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center in Evans.

Although the organization has staged Gypsy several times, this is the Players' first time working in the Evans theater. Richard Justice, the musical's director, said adapting to an unfamiliar theater has produced challenges and rewards.

"The whole concept of the show had to change to accommodate the space," he said. "We just couldn't do it the same way again."

The Players have taken a surrealistic slant this time, imagining the play as happening in the theatrical world stage mother Rose Hovick has constructed in her head.

"We've been forced to go outside the box," Justice said. "It certainly has opened a new chapter for me and this show."

For Debi Ballas, who is playing Rose for the third time, the prospect of a new staging for a role she is so familiar with has been exciting, challenging and a little frightening.

"Yes, it has been all those things," she said. "But it has really become about all those things that make live theater so wonderful."

Melissa Canas plays the titular role of Rose's daughter, Gypsy Rose Lee. The last time Ballas played Rose, the larger-than-life mother of a budding vaudeville performer, her own daughter played Gypsy and she was able to feed off the natural chemistry.

Similar chemistry is in play this time.

"This hits home for me," Canas said. "I'm very fortunate, because I do look to Debi as a mother figure. She is an important person in my life. It makes it special and meaningful."

Ballas said evolving as a person and, more specifically, a mother have altered her approach to Rose.

"Yes it is a new space and a new cast," she said. "But the thing is, the first time I did this I was the mother of young children. Now I'm the mother of grown women. It has given me new perspective, perspective I know I didn't have before."

Onstage

WHAT: Gypsy, presented by the Augusta Players

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.

COST: $35

MORE: www.augustaplayers.org, (706) 826-4707


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