Runs 2hrs 40m. One interval
to 15 April 2012
Review: Ian Spiby, Friday 16 March
A hit, a hit, a palpable hit!
Why is Paul Kerryson such a superb director? Let me count the ways.
Firstly, he has the uncanny ability to surround himself with top-notch artists both on stage and off. Every person connected with this production of GYPSY was of the highest calibre. It would have been so easy simply to rely on the actor playing Mama Rose (Caroline O’Connor) and indeed she gives a dazzling performance – there is a real sense of star quality every moment she is on stage. But then everyone else is exceptional too – even the children were outstanding. How does he do it? Where did he find such talent in Leicester?
And then there’s the designer (Sara Perks) who understands perfectly that in theatre these days we no longer require mere imitations of reality. Her series of screens depicting American advertisements of the 1930s together with curtains and simple furniture and props were far more effective than any elaborate scenery. And Lighting Designer (Phillip Gladwell) – I found my jaw dropping several times at the stunning effects he achieved. Choreographer (David Needham) provides us with a superb range of dance sequences, from the sophisticated number “All I need is the girl” to the hoofing in Mama Rose’s dreadful but hilarious vaudeville routines. Add to this mix, musical director (Michael Haslam)’s masterly reading of the score and we really do have a production with the highest West End values.
But to return to Paul Kerryson. He exhibits in his direction a sure-fire touch. He knows how to bring out the best in his actors certainly, but he also understands how to gauge the temperature of each scene, where things need to be fast and slow, where tension needs to be created, where climaxes need to come and how to achieve them. In other words, he is master of his craft and nowhere is it demonstrated more it seems, than in his handling of stage musicals – particularly this one.
I would be delighted if I could use the well-worn phrase: “this show will run and run” but alas, it will end all too quickly. Instead, I will resort to the equally time-honoured phrase: “Beg, borrow or steal a ticket”. Shows of this quality don’t come along every day of the week.
Cast: Rose: Caroline O’Connor, Herbie: David Fleeshman, Louise: Victoria Hamilton-Barrit, Dainty June: Daisy Maywood, Mazeppa: Lucinda Shaw, Electra: Jane Fowler, Tessie Tura: Geraldine Fitzgerald, Uncle Jocko/Kingelein/Pastey: Stuart Ramsay, Tulsa: Jason Winter, Pop: Anthony McGill, Yonkers: Matt Gillett, Angie: Matthew Caputo, L.A: Ryan Gover.
Children. Louise: Demi Hylands/Olivia Price/Hollie Pugh, Baby June: Mollie-Mae Bone/Hannah Everest/Lulu-Mae Pears.
Other Children: Sapphire Barclay/Sophia Gascoigne/Tia Bennett/Ben Culleton/Morgan Devlin/Molly Henry/Nicolais Kerry/Joseph McErlean/Danielle Smith/Lucas Ward/Joshua Waterfield.
Creative Team: Director: Paul Kerryson, Choreographer: David Needham, Musical Director: Michael Haslam, Designer: Sara Perks, Lighting Designer: Phillip Gladwell, Sound Designer: Ben Harrison, Video Designer: Arnim Friess, Costume Supervisors Chris Cahill/Jackie Holt, Wigs Designer: Richard Mawbey for Wig Specialities, Company Stage Manager: Simon Gillies, Deputy Stage Manager: Leanne Fagan, Assistant Stage Manager: Lucy Neale, Dance Captain: Mat Gillett, Photography: Catherine Ashmore.