Who has the right to tell your story? Especially when it’s the same story told from the differing memories of two legendary show business siblings? And one sister’s version is about to become a big, Broadway musical that is also destined to become legendary? June Havoc was famously ambivalent about the show Gypsy, which her sister, the burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, referred to as her legacy. And in Fable, which is itself a fable about the creation of that musical fable, the sisters’ loyalty to each other is tested in a mounting battle that takes place in rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, onstage, backstage, and all in the memory of the aging Ms. Havoc as she faces her imminent death, still battling with fiction and truth in order to keep her own legacy alive.
- Cast Size: 2M 4W 1G
- Running Time: 90+ minutes
- Royalty Rate: $75 per performance
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About the Playwright
A member of The Dramatists Guild, Doug is a two-time O’Neill Semi-Finalist (Fable and Just A Rumor), Semi-Finalist for Barrington Stage Company’s Burman New Play Award, Normal Avenue’s New American Play Series, and Campfire Theatre Festival (Phillie’s Trilogy,) Semi-Finalist for B Street Theatre’s New Comedy Festival (Goddess Of The Huntand Upper Division), and Semi-Finalist for We Screenplay’s Diverse Voices Competition (The Fierce Urgency Of Now).
In addition, he has won Fresh Fruit Awards of Distinction for Outstanding Play (The Fierce Urgency Of Now) and Outstanding Production (Fierce… and Phillie’s Trilogy) as well as the Inaugural (and so far only) Scrap Mettle Arts Emerging Playwrights Competition (Phillie’s Trilogy.)
Doug is currently an advisory board member for All Out Arts, and formerly an Artistic Director for Westside Repertory Theater. His work has been seen in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Jersey, Connecticut, and London, and has been developed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC (Mark Bly, Gary Garrison, Jacqueline Goldfinger, and Caleen Jennings), and at ESPA/Primary Stages in New York (Robert Askins, Rogelio Martinez, Winter Miller, and Michael Walkup). He has also studied with Karen Hartman, Lyle Kessler, Jeffrey Sweet, and Eric Webb.
A legend may live on, but a fable has a lesson for us all. FABLE is a love song from Doug DeVita to the people who gave one of the greatest shows — musical or otherwise — and it teaches us is that even with harsh words, abuse, neglect, and self-doubt, there is a bond between them that is told in a way that touches us all. I loved remembering the story of “Gypsy,” but more, I felt like I finally knew the people that made it come to life.
DeVita is a fearless playwright, always pushing boundaries, tweaking formats, and challenging norms. While he outright tells you that FABLE is a fable about a fable, you get so swept up in the high drama (and the delicious comedy) that you simply refuse to accept anything else as the truth. This has to be the way June’s story unfolded behind the scenes. This has to be the way all of these famous (and infamous) characters behaved because anything less isn’t worth exploring. I expect June Havoc would be elated to be remembered this way. Absolutely brilliant. Highly recommend.
June Havoc’s long distinguished career as a stage and screen actress was eclipsed by Baby June, the child vaudevillian portrayed in “Gypsy.” She fights to prevent that from happening and to be remembered on her own terms in this marvelous play. The personalities onstage are strong adversaries. The clever dialogue is sprinkled with a word here or there that reminds you of the musical, but after reading this I’ll never see “Gypsy” the same way again. I want to see a double-bill. “Fable” at a matinee, “Gypsy” in the evening. It’d be swell. It’d be great.
Is it better to be remembered, even if the memories aren’t true? Doug Devita has crafted a rollicking, theatrical speedboat of a ride through the mind and memories of the older June Havoc — one of three versions of June, who fights for a truthful portrayal of her younger self in the musical GYPSY — but we can’t be sure her memories are accurate, either. The dialogue is witty, laugh-out-loud funny and touching in just the right places. The characters (including the musical’s historical creators) are sharply drawn and hilariously ruthless; actors will have a blast speed-switching between them.
Fable is so gorgeously theatrical; I love the framing of the piece which mirrors the content so well. It’s a story of someone who is barely a footnote in theatre history, and that is a damn shame. It’s at turns hilarious and heartbreaking; the closing moments resonate deeply. This play features excellent roles for women over forty and presents exciting design opportunities.
I think it is absolutely brilliant. It was fascinating to me because of course I was a part of it (I played Dainty June in the original Broadway in 1959), but it was the appeal that ‘Gypsy” has that Doug capitalized on and brought forth in a very delicious way.
How do you want to be remembered? The way you really were or how you’re portrayed in a Broadway musical about your more-famous-sister’s life?
You’d think it’d be a great problem to have!
June Havoc, respected character actress and sister to Gypsy Rose Lee, would disagree.
DeVita brilliantly frames her story like a dance marathon. Rousingly theatrical, the storybook atmosphere makes the details sting with truth… whether they’re true or not. FABLE is a fable about a fable about two very real lives. The dialogue sizzles, the drama soars, and these sisters brand your heart.
For fans of the musical Gypsy, Fable can read as an irresistibly dishy behind-the-scenes making-of piece, as two legendary sisters battle over whose version of the truth will be remembered. But that reading would only scratch the surface of the highly theatrical and deeply personal exploration of memory, ambition, fact, and fiction Doug DeVita has given us here. The stagecraft imaginatively and expertly underlines the artifice, authenticity, and relentless effort that go into defining one’s life and legacy. “We’re all liars”, their mother tells them, and boy, does that ring true.
I’m so grateful that DeVita had the phone conversation with June Havoc and that he has given us a gift with his beautiful play Fable. Myth and truth and the grey area between the two are excellently represented in this touching biography of one sister’s request to be remembered more truthfully. And yet, as Rose states so well, truth doesn’t always sell tickets. But it does sell this gem of a play and what a treat that would be to see Gypsy: A Musical Fable and Fable on the same marquee for an extended run.
A great fable is when a story and a message come together to create alchemy and Doug DeVita delivers in spades with Fable. Imagine not only the reality of Rose Hovik and her famed daughters of Gypsy Rose Louise and Dainty June but the fictionalized ‘characters’ that Arthur Laurents brought to life in the masterpiece, Gypsy, crisscrossing in an evening of amazing theater. Fact, fantasy, who knows…The ghosts of these women come together to question what is and what was. Kudos! GREAT THEATRE. Let this play entertain you!
Richard Skipper Celebrates
It is incredibly rare that a piece of media about ANOTHER piece of media ever comes close to the power of the original. While almost nothing can compete with the towering monolith that is Gypsy, Fable comes damn close – and in the effort, it presents us with a haunting rumination upon legacy, family, and the crumbling facade of celebrity. The added bonus here is that DeVita’s script is an absolute hoot, filled with metatheatrical mayhem, spot-on characterizations, and some of the finest behind-the-scenes tea spilling you’ll see. Highly recommended.
Fable weaves an incredible history around the making of the iconic musical Gypsy. Having three June Havocs on stage at different ages, all tortured souls, has heartbreaking impact. The play is full of the biting wit that fans of DeVita’s work (myself included) love! It is a treasure trove of award winning roles for women and a playground for a director.
The real truth gets in the way of a good story. And that’s the truth.” So much amazing dialogue throughout DeVita’s epic, tour de force. The staging is also incredibly impressive, making creative use of actors and props with lighting, shadows and dance. Placards seamlessly move us from one location to the next and the story of these women is captivating and moving.
“None of us are gonna be remembered for who we really were, or who we thought we were. We’ll be lucky to be remembered at all.” Nothing about this play is forgettable.
Doug DeVita’s play is such fun. It’s rare I’ll laugh out loud reading a script (actually rare I’ll laugh at all), but Doug’s rapid-fire, zany love letter to musical theater had me doing just that – with its spot-on caricatures of notables like Jerome Robbins and Ethel Merman, and its effortlessly virtuosic dramaturgy. What is truth? asks the play, and what is fable? So many balls being juggled as we don’t know whose truth is being told and whose lies. A bit Rashomon-like, the play suggests that truth is largely a matter of one’s perspective.
This seven-character play soars and succeeds in its ambition to bring to the fore the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee, both sisters immortalised, for better or worse, in the musical Gypsy. Picking out real life facts, DeVita uses a dance marathon and vaudeville stage framework for this bitter sweet interrogation of the choices and compulsions when your lasting memorial is as a ‘character’ labelled ‘Baby June’ in somebody else’s show. Dynamic and insightful, drawing attention to its own theatricality, it manages to feel like a truthful portrayal and a rueful interrogation of show business and the nature and dangers of fiction.
“Fable” has weaved truth and fantasy so perfectly together, I sometimes can’t be sure where one lets off and the other begins… and I was there!
As the original “Baby June” in “Gypsy” on Broadway with Ethel Merman, I was privy to many of the wild moments between the creators and performers…the tension, the crazy eccentricities, the excitement and even some tender moments as we went from rehearsal to performance.
Mr. DeVita, you have recaptured and recreated all these super egos in such a hilarious entertaining fashion, I think “Fable” might be the perfect postscript to the saga of the “Gypsy” story.
Fable stands the test of context and exposition, in that anyone with a love of theater, movies, or fly-on-the-wall, backstage show biz would “get it” whether they’d ever heard of Gypsy or not. The trifecta? The play is a boon to audiences, actors, and creatives who should all delight in watching, playing, or staging this show. I particularly liked the device of rival sisters sharing the stage with a common figure, at different times and places, so we can watch each spin agendas, simultaneously. Kenneth Anger would be proud of the sophisticated, tabloid web that is woven. I can tell Mr. DeVita had as much fun writing it as I did reading it!