An outstanding reputation precedes director Jonathan Kent, with Olivier’s and WhatsonStage Awards to boot, and now he has the sensational Imelda Staunton in tow for a second Sondheim classic. We see them once again create stage magic as they did in Sweeney Todd two years ago and they’re quickly becoming the dream team of the stage. I saw the Chichester production of Gypsy, here's what I thought about it:
In the theatre, seated and excited, the animated Nicholas Skilbeck conducts a full Broadway brassy overture and you’re immediately transported to the 1920s vaudeville circuit. Gypsy tells the story of legendary Momma Rose (Imelda Staunton) and her two daughters June and Louise, for whom she has high aspirations of fame. It begins with an energetic rendition of ‘May We Entertain You’ filled with squeals and baton twirling that is performed flawlessly by young stars Georgia Pemberton and Holly Hazelton and we first see the driven/pushy ‘showbiz mom’ in Momma Rose.
At only 4' 11" Staunton really belts out the classics to spine-tingling proportions in this story of determination, ambition and heartbreak. Her drive becomes obsession and we see her push away her chance of love with humble Herbie (Kevin Whately) who comes with a promise of marriage but her priority is her daughters’ success. At first I was dubious of Whately’s performance, however although his American accent left a little to be desired, he provided real warmth to the role that you simply found endearing.
As a grown up Louise, Lara Pulver is phenomenal as she transforms from side-kick tomboy to sell-out burlesque beauty, she really steals the second act. The final scene with Momma Rose, after a fall out, is greatly touching and I’m not ashamed to say had me opening the tissues.
Gypsy is Broadway musicality at its best that will have you reaching for the soundtrack the minute you get home. It really has everything- a big band, toe tapping songs, great humour, glitz and glamour, and even a cow. I haven’t gushed about a performance like this in a long time, if you don’t enjoy it I shall eat Louise’s large fringe-brimmed hat.
Not seen in the West End for 30 years, this is not one to miss. So make sure you grab your tickets to the spectacular Gypsy at Savoy Theatre and ‘Let Them Entertain You’!
By Rebecca Usher