Whose turn is it? Where Gypsy’s finale came from, and where it went

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Previously untapped primary sources and recent interviews with key members of Gypsy’s creative team allow for a more nuanced understanding of the creation and long-lasting impact of the show’s finale, ‘Rose’s Turn’. In 2010, when Stephen Sondheim described the number’s creation as ‘the high point of my theatrical life’, he signalled an unusually central role for the credited lyricist, but sources also point to a complex and intensive collaboration among many creators across a year leading up to the show’s opening. Moreover, manuscript sources and videorecorded performances show how book writer Arthur Laurents continued to adjust the number’s staging and surrounding dialogue in subsequent productions that he directed. Meanwhile, grasping Sondheim’s role helps to throw into relief how he himself applied the lessons of ‘Rose’s Turn’ to the denouements of his later shows where major characters discover self-knowledge, rather than romantic confirmation, in the finale. From this perspective, ‘Rose’s Turn’ may be construed as offering a paradigm shift that resonated on Broadway for at least five decades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Musical Theatre
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Arthur Laurents
  • Ethel Merman Angela Lansbury
  • Gypsy
  • Jerome Robbins
  • Jule Styne
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Music
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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