Gypsy Grand Opera House York – Until 1 July. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Pick Me Up Theatre brings the Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy to the Grand Opera House for the first time in 25 years.
Gypsy is based on the true story of the legendary burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee. It tells the tale of Momma Rose, the pushy stage mother trying to live vicariously through her 2 daughters, Baby June and Louise, travelling from town to town with their vaudeville act, with the help of Herbie, Nick Lewis. Unfortunately for Momma Rose times are changing and the 2 girls have very different ambitions in life.
Susannah Baines plays the lead with her powerful vocals, shown to full effect with numbers like Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Rose’s Turn. We meet the 2 girls as youngsters with Baby June, Allyssia Hanley, appearing to have all the talent and being the blue-eyed girl, whilst poor Louise, Flossie Attwood, is the awkward, “ugly duckling”. Everything revolves around Baby Jane and her signature tune Let Me Entertain You, which is fine when a small girl, but becomes more and more implausible as she gets older and is still doing the same routine. We see a transition from the young Baby June and Louise, to their older selves, Maya Tether and Maren Fageras Naevdal, this was very clever how they achieved this on stage, with a dance routine.
The first act revolved around Baby Jane’s career, and Tether portrayed it well, becoming disenchanted with pretending to be so much younger than she really is, before rebelling and eloping with a member of their troupe. For the second act, we see Momma Rose heap all the pressure on a very reluctant Louise, that is until their booking at a burlesque club, then it really all changes. From being the talentless performer Louise, she truly turns into a gorgeous swan and becomes Gypsy Rose Lee. We see Naevdal transforming before our eyes and are thoroughly convinced of her seduction in the apparent seedy world of burlesque.
At times the scene changes were a bit cumbersome and too long, but on a more positive note we all loved the cow. There seemed to be a slight problem with the microphones most of the show, but it wasn’t really that noticeable and hopefully that will be sorted for future shows.
It was great to see the use of a live orchestra and they did a fantastic job. I always enjoy going to see local productions and whilst this isn’t the best I’ve seen there are some solid performances, decent singing and some good chemistry from the hard working cast.
Showing in York until Saturday 1st July.