Reviewed on Thursday 16th April 2015
Following a run in Chichester last year, Jonathan Kent's revival of Gypsy has transferred to the West End's Savoy Theatre which is the perfect home for this bold and glitzy Broadway musical.
Loosely based on the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents' musical centres around Momma Rose - the ultimate showbiz mother - and her dream of creating a star.
Lara Pulver (Louise) and Imelda Staunton (Momma Rose)
Imelda Staunton is setting West End audiences on fire with her portrayal of Momma Rose. To say Staunton's performance is triumphant would be the understatement of the year. From the second she steps foot on stage, it is clear Staunton means serious business and is not to be messed with. Every word she says, every lyric she sings and every breath she takes is 100% believable.
Following in the footsteps of Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone, Staunton fearlessly belts out 'Some People' and 'Everything's Coming up Roses' in the first act before performing an overwhelmingly striking and moving rendition of 'Rose's Turn' at the end of the show. She reminds us exactly how you earn a true standing ovation. A formidable talent, Staunton looks set to win every award going for her performance in Gypsy, I have never witnessed anything like it.
Elsewhere Lara Pulver dazzles as Louise who, at first, lives in the shadows of her sister June (played superbly by Gemma Sutton). After June leaves her mother to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress, Louise comes into her own - eventually becoming Gypsy Rose Lee, the highest paid striptease artist in the industry. Pulver deals with her character's development effortlessly, wowing with her performance of 'Let Me Entertain You' which is when Stephen Mear's incredible choreography is taken to the next level.
Dan Burton impresses as Tulsa (it's a shame the role isn't bigger - Burton looks set to become one of the West End's next major leading men) and although Peter Davison isn't the strongest singer, he is a good addition to the cast performing with natural charm.
While there are poignant moments, it's worth noting that Gypsy is very funny throughout - the cast seem to be having a great time. The big numbers are mesmerising, whilst the lighter songs such as 'Together, Wherever We Go' are joyful. Anthony Ward's design smoothly sweeps in and out whilst the orchestra sound sensational under the direction of Nicholas Skilbeck. It is a treat to hear the overture performed in its entirety - the orchestrations are sunning.
There isn't another musical like Gypsy. Kent's production is jaw-droppingly outstanding and Staunton's unmissable performance is worth the ticket price alone.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Gypsy is currently booking at the Savoy Theatre until Saturday 18th July 2015.
Please visit www.gypsythemusical.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson