This highly acclaimed production may be heading into its final weeks at the Savoy Theatre but if the full house and standing ovation at the end is any indication it is a show that could run forever.
Based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee (the famous striptease artist) and her rise to fame as well as her relationship with her mother, the musical Gypsy is filled with great energy, stunning choreography and wonderful vocals from Imelda Staunton as Rose.
The show begins with Louise and June auditioning for a children’s variety act, performing ‘Let Me Entertain You’ – which doesn’t seem to go down well with the audience. But that doesn’t stop Rose (Imelda Staunton) encouraging her children to keep going – it is clear at this early stage she is a pushy parent.
Imelda Staunton’s performance as Rose is passionate and comical, but at the same time she is still likeable despite the constant fixation of making her children become stars. As the show goes on and her obsession begins to drive the people she needs to make her act work away, the bitterness becomes clear and the reasons for her pushing her children make for some touching scenes towards the end of the show – really showcasing Staunton’s talents as an actress.
Staunton’s vocals throughout are impressive and in control, particularly during numbers such as ‘Some People’ and ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’, showing off her character’s strength and determination.
But she is supported well by Peter Davison as the long suffering agent whose love for Rose is never really fully returned. His performance draws the audience’s sympathy at being used but it does leave the question as to why he was attracted to such a domineering character such as Rose. Meanwhile Lara Pulver as the neglected Louise, spends a lot of time hovering in the background during the first act, and it would have been nice to have seen more of her as the story is essentially about her.
However, there is a complete change in the second act as we see Louise begin to grow in confidence and start her career on her own terms. Pulver’s vocals are strong and consistent throughout and she really brings the character out of her shell effectively. The contrast between Staunton and Pulver’s characters compliment each other and work extremely well.
Gypsy is a show that has been expertly directed by Jonathan Kent and moves effortlessly from scene to scene thanks to the wonderful designs by Anthony Ward. It has plenty of energy and pace throughout and filled with some wonderful choreography by Stephen Mear, particularly during sequences such as ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ (performed wonderfully well by Julie Legrand, Louise Gold and Anita Louise Combe) and ‘All I Need is the Girl’.
But it has to be said that at the beginning it is a struggle to really get into the performances, particularly during ‘Let Me Entertain You’ which felt a bit over the top and got a little bit carried away in places. It also felt a bit emotionless in places except in scenes such as when Herbie realises he has had enough or the touching scene between Rose and Louise aka Gypsy Rose Lee at the end.
However the music is fantastic and brings a smile to your face and is impossible not to like. Really captures what the characters are going through at that particular moment, such as Imelda Staunton’s performance of ‘Rose’s Turn’ really leaves you wanting more.
Overall, Gypsy is a pleasure to watch and filled with a lot of young talent held together by Staunton’s wonderful performance as Rose. It will be a shame to see this show leave the West End.
Gypsy is at the Savoy Theatre until the 28th November.