LONDON: (4th April 2015): “Curtain up! Light the lights!” on Jonathan Kent’s phenomenal West End Revival of ‘Gypsy’

There are certain experiences in life that you know you’ll never forget. This was one of them. Jonathan Kent’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Gypsy’ is not to be missed.

The story is suggested by the memiors of world famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, and details her rise from a lonley childhood career in Vaudeville in the 1920’s (when her name was ‘Louise’) to headlining at Minskey’s World Famous Burlesque. Gypsy’s Mother, Rose Hovick, is determined to see her children become stars. She focuses her energy on Gypsy’s younger sister June, but what will happen when June gets tired of this and elopes?

Imelda Staunton really brings her best to Sondheim’s classic score as the character of ‘Momma Rose’, especially in numbers such as ‘Some People’ and ‘Rose’s Turn’. With regards to her acting, she is able to evenly balance the comedy aspects of ‘Rose’ with the bitter and somtimes psychotic. This show was the only one I’ve ever seen where the audience ‘Ooo’ed with fear.

Peter Davidson (otherwise known as ‘The Fifth Doctor’ in BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’), plays the role of ‘Rose”s long suffering love interest ‘Herbie Sommers’ to a T. His mix of loyalty and power towards the character of ‘Rose’ is really something.

Lara Pulver (‘Louise/Gypsy’) and Gemma Sutton (‘Dainty June’) command the stage in their performances. Lara strives to make the audience feel for shy ‘Louise’, and it’s amazing to watch her blossom into the sexy and outgoing ‘Gypsy’ in the second act. Gemma’s portrayal of ‘Dainty June’ is a real piece of acting. Her cheesy onstage presence in her act is hilarious, but her resentful monologue before ‘If Momma Was Married’ gives you chills. Speaking of that number, the vocal talents that are demonstrated in the duet are amazing. The harmonies are marvellous.

Dan Burton takes the role of ‘Tulsa’, one of the boys in the act, who eventually runs away with ‘Dainty June’. His performance of ‘All I Need Is The Girl’ is truly something. Even without the tap (he does it in a more soft shoe style), he really makes it his own.   
The ‘You Gotta Get A Gimmick’ number which is performed by washed up strippers ‘Electra’ (Julie Legrand), ‘Tessie Tura’ (Anita Louise Combe) and ‘Mazeppa’ (Louise Gold) is enough to make you split your sides. And they know it!

When handing out all of this praise, one can’t forget the youngest members of the cast, the actresses who portray ‘Baby Louise’ and ‘Baby June’. The roles are shared by Scarlet Roche/Isla Huggins-Barr (‘Baby June’) and Lara Wollington/Holly Hazelton (‘Baby Louise’). I’m not sure which pair I saw, but both girls were fantastic. ‘Baby June’ was the most hammy little performer I’d ever seen. She was perfect!

The show’s promtional poster.

It’s not just the performers that make a show, however. Anthony Ward’s designs are incredible. The authenticity of the sets do so much. Most of the sets are individual rooms that get brought on accordingly. Also, it was refreshing to hear Sondheim’s score with new orchestrations which were devised by Nicholas Skilbeck and Tom Kelly. I can’t wait for the release of the cast album!

After a 42 year absence from the West End stage, Jonathan Kent’s stunning revival of ‘Gypsy’ is a great welcome back to the show that some would call the pinnacle of American musical theatre. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter how, pick up a ticket and go and see ‘Gypsy’ at The Savoy Theatre London!


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