Imelda Staunton stars in GYPSY at Chichester Festival Theatre – Round-up of Reviews
Chichester Festival Theatre’s revival of Gypsy has opened to rave reviews.
Jonathan Kent’s new staging sees him reunite with Imelda Staunton following their triumphant work on Sweeney Todd.
Imelda stars as ultimate stage mother ‘Mama Rose’ in the show, alongside Lara Pulver as Louise and Kevin Whately as Herbie.
Based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, this 1959 show features a score by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.
To say that there are rumours of a West End transfer for the show is understating it! Let’s hope it comes to town, but where’s it gonna go?!
Gypsy runs until 8 November 2014.
REVIEWS ROUND-UP"The specific joy of this production is that it reunites Imelda Staunton with Jonathan Kent, who directed her so memorably in Sweeney Todd; and the first thing to say about Staunton’s Momma Rose is that it is a superb piece of acting. With her piratical hat and bustling gait, Staunton captures all of the character’s determined jauntiness. But it is in the two big arias that close each act that Staunton shows her hand. In Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Staunton displays a rhapsodic, teeth-baring glee only just this side of mania and in Rose’s Turn, in which she mimics the kind of striptease that has made Louise a burlesque star, she suggests a woman on the verge of breakdown." "Everything about Kent’s production slots perfectly into place. Anthony Ward’s design uses a false proscenium arch to remind us how the characters’ lives are confined by theatre; Stephen Mear’s choreography, especially in the elbow-jutting Together Wherever We Go, pays hymn to the showbiz past; and Nicholas Skilbeck’s pit band has a magnificent, brassy ring. We go to modern musicals seeking sensory stimulus. Gypsy shows that the form, at its best, can also be an exploration of character."
"Staunton's Rose – a pint-sized bundle of pugnacious indomitability, who thinks nothing of eating dog food and carting round a pantomime cow's head – shows you what is winning, and to root for, in the woman's pioneering spirit. At the same time, she gives you unnerving glimpses of the demons that drive her - the terror, as child abandoned by her own mother, of ceasing to absolutely central to her daughters while being certifiably defended against the idea that she is doing all this for herself rather than them."
"Just as Momma faces every trial as a gift, every set-back as an opportunity, so Staunton takes everything in her stride: the full-throttle showstoppers (“Everything’s Coming Up Roses” included), the whip-crack humour and the growing sense of isolation as she faces the blind-alley nature of ambition and pushy parenting. She bathes the character in charm even as her eyes glint in steely-minded opportunism. It’s her night, but there’s fantastic work across the board. True, Kevin Whately – TV’s Lewis - is a bit subdued as Herbie, the family’s reluctant agent and her ageing love-interest. But elsewhere, there’s energy and showbiz assurance aplenty – not least from Lara Pulver as the suddenly ravishing, teasingly confident Louise and, on opening night, a hilarious Georgia Pemberton as the insufferably cute Baby June, high-kicking, cartwheeling and squealing away in pursuit of fickle adult adoration. Highly enjoyable, highly recommended."
"Miss Staunton’s moment of self-knowledge and redemption arrives. The little sparrow soars. As they say in burlesque, we have lift-off, and a great closing tableau, beautifully lit. But it may all need some tightening and clearer diction before any transfer to the West End."
Date: 16 October 2014
Written by: WestEndTheatre
Tags: Chichester Festival Theatre, Gypsy, Imelda Staunton, reviews round-up