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Critic's Pick

'Gypsy'

January 25, 1998|Kevin Thomas

The landmark musical's Mama Rose is getting to be a little like Hamlet. It's a great role that over the years has allowed a number of legendary ladies to bring their own personalities and interpretations to that ultimate stage mother, whose daughters grew up to be Gypsy Rose Lee, the classiest stripper of them all, and the distinguished actress June Havoc. While there may be no definitive Mama Rose, it is nonetheless crystal clear that Bette Midler (center, with Cynthia Gibb, left, and Jennifer Beck) was born to play her. Her Rose comes to life as vividly as a flashing neon sign in this splendid three-hour 1993 TV movie. With music by Jule Styne, book by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (CBS Sunday at 8 p.m.).

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