Two new openings on the art scene provide pathways to American history. One is in the form of entertainment, and the other showcases facts about our local World War II heroes.

“Gypsy,” which has its final performance today at the Ritz Theatre in Gadsden, represents musical history. The redesigned Pearl Harbor Room at the Berman Museum shares a true story in our history that should be important to everyone.  

Last day for ‘Gypsy’ in Gadsden

“Let us entertain you,” the actresses sing in Theatre of Gadsden’s production of “Gypsy,” “and we’ll have a real good time.”

We let them entertain us last Sunday. It was a real good time, we concluded, as we left the theater humming the familiar songs.

The adults and children on stage, the 12-member orchestra and numerous production workers have given us a lively show with both comedy and touching moments. About 27 people involved in the production are from Calhoun County.

The musical takes place in various cities as Rose and her daughters perform throughout the United States. The music is by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.

 “Gypsy” is frequently considered to be one of the primary achievements of the mid-20th century’s conventional musical theater art form, according to Jared Vaughn, president of the board for TOG. Theater critic Clive Barnes observed that “‘Gypsy’ is one of the best of musicals and Rose is one of the few truly complex characters in the American musical.”

The plot is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, focusing on her mother, Rose, and Rose’s efforts to raise two daughters to fame on stage — but really seeking her own recognition.

“Rose is a stage mom like no other,” said Mike Beecham, the show’s director.

We see Gypsy Rose Lee (portrayed by Mahaley Tucker) as she grows up and changes from a shy girl who’s been pushed into the background into a star performer, a little selfish and loving the spotlight.

Tucker is a senior at the Donoho School and plans to pursue an acting career with a musical theater major in college.

Casey Shehi, who portrays Rose, has performed as a dancer and singer on cruise ships, in theme parks and regional theaters all over the United States. Her home is in Gadsden.

Curtain time is 2:30 today. Theatre of Gadsden asks that you be at the theater (310 Wall St., off of U.S. Highway 431) by 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 -$17. Make reservations by calling 256-547-7469.

“Curtain time” takes on new meaning with the new stage curtain of plush red velvet specifically made for TOG. The black curtain across the back of the stage has also been replaced. The Oxford Performing Arts Center and Trent Thrasher Construction assisted with the installation of the new curtains.

Auditions for next TOG production

Auditions for “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Theatre of Gadsden are Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre. Production dates are Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7. More information is on the TOG website, theatreofgadsden.org

Single tickets on sale for OPAC shows

Single tickets are now on sale for 45 shows in the upcoming season at Oxford Performing Arts Center. Prices range from $15 to $85. Call the box office at 256-241-3322 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

CAST’s annual Randy Awards

The annual night of awards by CAST community theater will be July 30 at 7 p.m. at Longleaf Botanical Gardens. Light refreshments will be served. Tickets are not being sold; instead, everyone is welcome to come and help celebrate the past season.

New Pearl Harbor exhibit at Berman Museum

In an effort to share the knowledge of the Japanese attack and the loss of the USS Arizona during World War II, an updated and permanent exhibit at the Berman Museum opened July 12. Viewers saw artifacts and personal items belonging to three local sailors who lost their lives.

“People were interested in the local connection,” said David Ford, director of the Berman Museum. “I think the additional element of men in our county and their service really brings the exhibit home.”

Tragically, 1,177 men were lost in the sinking of the USS Arizona; 33 were from Alabama. Two from Calhoun County were Seaman 2nd Class W. Francis Roberts of Oxford and Seaman 2nd Class Frank W. Hindman of Piedmont. Seaman 2nd Class George W. Ingram of Eastaboga was killed at Kaneohe Naval Air Station.

Pearl Harbor survivor George Murray, now 100 years old, cut the ribbon for the opening of the exhibit. Brothers of George W. Ingram — Bob Ingram and Jay Ingram — also attended.

The Pearl Harbor Room features artifacts and personal items of these men. There are two Purple Hearts earned by George W. Ingram as well as letters, telegrams and a camera purchased for a hoped-for Christmas celebration. A large photograph hanging above the exhibit cases reflects President Franklin Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War. There are also photos of Hawaii before the attack.

An item you see immediately is a Zenith radio. Its owner, Jo Rhea Ford, told viewers of its significance. “It was my father’s. He was John Colonna Jr., then of Newport News, Va.,” she said. “He bought it just weeks before the attack and heard its broadcast about the Japanese bombing the afternoon of Dec. 7.”

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.

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