Lauren of Team DC went to see Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre in London:
Imelda Staunton takes the iconic role of Mama Rose in Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, London – the epitome of a stage mother, pushing her daughters June and Louise into numerous shows on the Vaudeville scene, with the hopes that June will become a star, and fulfil all of Rose’s wild dreams of stardom and financial security.
It’s an exploration of the change in the Vaudeville scene during the depression in America, and the emergence of burlesque, as well as the overall question of to what extent does those unfulfilled dreams of a parent influence the life of a child? Further to this, the plot discusses issues that seem equally as relevant to today’s society as the 1920s and 1930s: role delusion plays in the search for stardom, and the insistence that a star can be made, regardless of who it is what their ‘talent’ is.
The plot twist is that June gets fed up with her mother transferring her own dreams onto June’s, and restricting June’s own dreams of becoming an actress. She reaches breaking point and leaves, leaving Rose with no one else to focus her attentions on but Louise – the mousy sister who has always stood at the back of the stage, in the shadow of her sister. It is Louise that makes Rose’s dreams come true and evolves into the renowned burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. In doing so, however, she holds a mirror up to Rose’s dreams and shows the flaws in her plan, that mean that Gypsy Rose Lee reaches a pinnacle of stardom where she no longer requires her mother’s management, encouragement or influence.
The staging of Gypsy is incredible, with scene changes happening swiftly and with plenty of vivacity and detail to make each new setting immersive. The cast is fantastic, showing that when a musical has been absent from the stage for so long, the only way to do it is to do it fantastically. Lara Pulver is captivating in her journey as Louise – from shy, support actress, to someone who embraces her mother’s ambitions and becomes a fully-fledged star in her own right. But Imelda Staunton is the stand-out, the one who keeps the pace going through the duration of the show, showing Rose’s fluctuations in moods from ambitious, to manic, to teetering on-the-edge. For anyone familiar with the show, the big moments you anticipate are bigger and bolder than expected.
Overall, it’s a production that constantly delivers throughout and is well worth the visit.