As she hits 70 years of age next month, Barbra Streisand may be a bit old to play a pushy stage mother, but she harbours a desire to bring the classic musical Gypsy to the big screen, although hopefully she’ll change things so she can play a pushy grandmother to make it slightly more realistic.
Now she and producer Joel Silver have set Academy Award-winning writer Julian Fellowes, of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey fame, to pen the screenplay adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ Tony Award winning musical. Streisand will play Momma Rose in the new version, which will surprisingly be her first musical film since Yentl, which she starred, produced, co-wrote and directed way back in 1983.
Fellowes isn’t a complete musical novice, as he worked on Disney’s stage production of Mary Poppins. Now he’s taking of the show that’s been a classic ever since it first Broadway run in 1959 with Ethel Merman. Since then the show, based on the memoirs of the famous striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee, has spawned numerous incarnations including a 1962 film starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood, four Broadway revivals, as well as a made-for-television movie starring Bette Midler in the role Streisand is taking on.
Gypsy is one of the those musical classics that’s still waiting for the definitive film version, and that’s what Streisand hopes she can create, and getting Fellowes involved seems a good move.