Eugene O'Neill semi-finalist, 2021
June Havoc was famously ambivalent about the musical Gypsy, and in Fable (which is itself a fable about the creation of that musical fable) a mounting battle takes place in rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, onstage, and backstage as she struggles with fiction and truth in order to keep her own legacy alive.
Fable. A Fable About A Musical Fable was born out of that conversation. And while I would never lay claim to any truth-telling in this play – it is, after all, entitled Fable – I cannot deny that June, like her mother and her sister, was a bit of a fable spinner herself. But I hope I at least shine a spotlight on her side of the story and entertain you at the same time.
I never met June Havoc, but I did speak to her many times when she'd call
Abingdon Theatre Company, where I worked as Marketing Director.
One morning June called, and oh, was she in a mood. An(other) upcoming revival of Gypsy had her quite stressed, and she was going to talk to anyone who'd answered the phone. I knew about her antipathy towards the show. I'd read about her efforts to stop it from being done at all; indeed, we'd all been instructed never to bring up the subject of Gypsy with her in any conversation. But this was different: she brought the subject up herself. And while I listened to her raging, for the first time, I realized how deeply the show troubled her, even all those years later. She felt – and rightly so – her own life and reputation was misrepresented, and her legacy cemented in a fable that would never go away.