The book — sharp, involving and loosely based on a real incident — revolves around fictional Gypsy fortune-teller Dominique St. Marie (Lisa Raggio) working in Los Angeles when soothsaying was illegal. St. Marie is trying to teach the business to her headstrong teenage daughter, Olivia (Tia Texada), when an undercover policeman (Josh Cruze) arrests St. Marie.
Her court-appointed lawyer (Dan Gerrity) finds she’s determined to fight the law — and he falls in love with her. That causes problems with his fiancee (Donna Cherry), a meticulous TV executive. When the undercover officer is shot and killed as St. Marie predicted, and Olivia, disgusted with anything Gypsy, is running around with the wrong boy (Manley Pope), St. Marie’s situation worsens.
The music by Ron Abel and lyrics by book author Lissa Levin are complex and multilayered, advancing the story more often than merely underscoring a moment. As directed by Ron Link, with choreography by Valerie Landsburg, each song is an event.
Link, too, lends a sense of sensuality and theatricality to the effort and connects the characters’ hopes to a feeling of fear.
Raggio and Gerrity anchor their characters with charisma and grace, even as they joust with wit. Texada imbues the daughter with an oh-so-sure fight for independence. When she sings “That’s Where I Belong” in duet with Raggio, it’s clear she’s an exceptional find within the impressive cast.
Set designer Cara Hoepner brings much artistry to her craft, creating an Old-World Gypsy feel and tying in the live band, high on its own platform, to the action below. The tiered staging areas allow a viewer’s imagination to leap to different locations quickly.
Ken Booth’s lighting fits in with the unique production design. Costume designer Judith Brewer Curtis must have been in creative heaven in coming up with so many expressive outfits.
Completing the lively ensemble is the band, surrounded by tires and steel drums and feeling very much a part of the whole.
A spiritual adviser might tell all these folks larger theaters and a cast album is in their future.