book by Arthur Laurents lyrics by Stephen Sondheim music by Jule Styne,
Savoy Theatre Savoy Court Strand WC2R 0ET To 18 July 2015.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 50min. One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7674.
Review: William Russell 17 April.
Staunton triumphs as Momma Rose.
Jonathan Kent’s fluent staging of this splendid musical, not seen in the West End since 1973, is a model of its kind, beautifully set, fast-moving and strongly cast.
The reason it has not been seen in the West End since Angela Lansbury played Rose is probably that Gypsy demands a diva to play Rose, the stage-mother from hell, who dragged daughters Louise and June round the 1920s American vaudeville circuit in a series of dreadful child acts.
Chichester, where this production started, found one in Imelda Staunton, who delivers a powerhouse performance, reveals a voice to rattle the rafters, albeit helped by a first-rate sound system, and makes Rose a woman to pity, not just a monster to despise.
Gypsy is one of the great musicals, with a first-rate book by Arthur Laurents, as good lyrics as he has ever written by Stephen Sondheim, and a Jule Styne score packed with first-rate songs. They really do not make them like this any more in the age of the juke-box, back catalogue musical.
It is Staunton’s evening, but it is not just a one woman show. Lara Pulver is touching as the ugly duckling elder daughter, Louise, who becomes celebrated stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee, once she manages to escape her mother’s clutches, and Peter Davison is a warm presence as Herbie, the man in Momma’s life who manages the act’s dates.
Staunton seems to be on stage all the time, but the book is constructed to give her time to catch breath. In those gaps we get a nicely done dance routine, ‘All I Need is the Girl’, by Dan Burton as Tulsa, the boy who helps Baby June escape Momma, then the hilarious Burlesque house interlude with strippers, Electra, Tessie Tura and Mazeppa, the one who does it with a horn.
Louise Gold’s Mazeppa is a thing to marvel at, while the other two, Julie Legrand and Anita Louise Combe, also take the breath away. Add inventive sets by Anthony Ward and an orchestra to die for, to the delight that is Staunton and one has an evening to remember.
Uncle Jocko/Cigar: Billy Hartman.
Georgie/Kansas: Damien Poole.
Baby June: Isla Huggins-Barr/Scarlet Roche.
Baby Louise: Holly Hazelton/Lara Wollington.
Momma Rose: Imelda Staunton.
Pop: Harry Dickman,
Mr Weber/Boucheron: Tom Hodgkins.
Herbie: Peter Davison.
Louise: Lara Pulver.
June: Gemma Sutton.
Tulsa: Dan Burton.
Yonkers/Pastey: Kieran Jae.
L.A.: Roger Dipper.
Little Rock: Luke Street.
Mr Goldstone/Rich Man: Jack Chissick.
Miss Cratchitt/Electra: Julie Legrand.
Agnes/Toreadorable: Natalie Woods.
Marjorie May/Toreadorable: Clare Halse.
Geraldine/Toreadorable: Danielle Morris.
Tessie Tura: Anita Louise Combe.
Mazeppa: Louise Gold.
Delores/Waitress/Toreadorable: Lauren Hall.
Mother/Stripper/Showgirl: Lucinda Shaw.
Swings: Liz Ewing, Lauren Ingram, Tom Murphy, Philip Catchpole.
Children’s ensemble: Lauren Henson, Katie Mann, Caitlin Garcia, Lara Wass, Lucy Billington, Molly May Gibson, Joseph Adams, Henry Austin, Dominic Bryant, Ewan Hawkings, Patrick Lee, Jonah Mitchell,
Harvey Pearce, Owen Pennington, Max Robson, Alexander Stuckey.
Chowsie the Dog: Nessie & Scampie.
Director: Jonathan Kent.
Designer/Costume: Anthony Ward.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Paul Grotius.
Musical Director: Nicholas Ski beck.
Choreographer: Stephen Mear.
Video: Ian William Galloway.
Associate director: Lloyd Wood.