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.
"I think it is absolutely brilliant. It's the appeal Gypsy has that Doug capitalizes on and brings forth in a very delicious way."
– Lane Bradbury, "Dainty June,"
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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.