With a transfer to the Savoy Theatre announced for Chichester Festival Theatre's Gypsy, I look forward to it's star, Imelda Staunton's much anticipated return to the West End.
Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents follows the story of a typical stage Mother, Rose played by Staunton, trying to push a family act to be successful on the 1920s and 30s vaudeville circuit.
With musical theatre classic standards such as 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' and 'Together Wherever We Go', Gypsy is tipped to be a sell out success when it transfers to the Savoy Theatre in March.
Seen by many as the greatest of all the Broadway musicals, the musical tells of Rose's dreams of success for her daughters, and her hope of reflected glory alongside the difficulties of life on the stage. The reviews of Staunton's performance at Chichester have been fabulous, and with Steven Sondheim himself virtually insisting she play the role, we can assume this is going to become the stuff of West End legend.
I was privileged enough to see Imelda Staunton's great musical talent back in 2011, when the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Sweeney Todd transferred to the Adelphi Theatre. Imelda played Mrs Lovett opposite Michael Ball's fabulous Sweeney in this wonderfully dark and imposing Sondheim classic musical. As a big Harry Potter fan, I had an idea that I would be in for a treat. It was a surprise however, just how much someone of Imelda's small stature would set the stage alight. Her characterisation and comic timing were second to none, and I just loved her interaction with both Sweeney and and the young apprentice Toby.
Sondheim musicals are notoriously difficult to perform, but Staunton has a wonderfully expressive voice, which takes you right to the heart of the characters she plays.
Rose, like Mrs Lovett has a decidedly unhinged side to her character and as the story unfolds we see her vulnerabilities and fears in much the same way. With Imelda Staunton firmly at the helm, Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre is likely to be a show not to be missed.
By Nicky Sweetland