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Awards Nominees & Winners

A Dream Come True: Leslie Uggams As Mama Rose In Gypsy

Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!) has entertained and inspired countless audience members over her 65 year career, including writer and director Arthur Laurents (West Side Story, Gypsy, La Cage Aux Folles). Laurents had the opportunity to work with Ms. Uggams in Hallelujah, Baby! and was so moved by her performance that he was compelled to write her a letter in 2004 in which he stated that he would love to see her play Rose in Gypsy.

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Sadly, Mr. Laurents died before his wish came true, but one year ago this July, Leslie Uggams got her turn in Gypsy at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

“Mama Rose”, like many iconic characters in the American musical theater, was not written as a specific race. Therefore, everyone who is able to best tell the story should have the opportunity. This is not only essential for artists, but also for patrons attending the production so that all people get to see representations of themselves on stage. This awakening in the theater, albeit gradual, is refreshing and impactful because it allows a society’s art to parallel life. People of color are more than what centuries of mainstream America thought — in fact, we are nuanced and complex human beings. Our artists are capable of full and complex characters and stories, such as “Mama Rose” in Gypsy.

Hopefully, last year’s production wasn’t the last time we see Leslie Uggams in Gypsy, nor other artists of color inhabiting beautifully layered characters.

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