Gypsy was written in 1959 with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It is loosely based on the 1957 book, Memori of Gypsy Rose Lee and tells the story of the ultimate pushy mother Momma Rose, who carts her children around the American Vaudeville theatre circuit, putting on shows and trying to make them a headline act. Many years go by and the daughters become young women (although insist on stage they are still ten years old). Cracks start to appear in the family, the children grow up and want to go their separate ways but one thing is for sure, Momma Rose isn’t going to let that happen without a fight. She has been living through her children for years and doesn’t intend to stop now. Gypsy is a story of desperation and a mothers love that may or may not be as genuine as she believes is it.
Imelda Staunton gives her entire self to every performance she takes on. Playing Momma Rose in the West End transfer of Gypsy is a huge task and not something she takes lightly, with every note sung like its her last. This lady can do no wrong after a string of West End successes (Sweeney Todd, alongside Michael Ball, Good People, which she was nominated for an Olivier Award) and Gypsy goes to show she has no signs of slowing down. Ether Merman originally played the role on Broadway and Angela Lansbury performed the London premiere in 1973.
Lara Pulver does a great job as (sing out) Louise. She plays both the pain and glamours girl perfectly and could have easily been mistaken for two separate people. Star of stage and screen Peter Davison plays Herbie well, giving a passive performance and then a great moment of explosion at the end.
With more than five minutes of music before the show starts, the overture could do with being cut in half as it caused people to roll their eyes and comment to each other on its length. The set design is fairly basic and the transitions are at times a little clunky but as I saw a preview performance these issue could have been ironed out before opening night.
Gypsy is a beloved musical that will pack out the Savoy Theatre for its limited West End engagement and with Imelda Staunton at the helm of the show, audiences certainly won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson
Gypsy is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 18 July 2015. Click here for tickets
Check out OfficialTheatre.com’s round up of what other people thought of Gypsy here