Gypsy is a musical fable with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The show is loosely based upon the memoir of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, focusing on her upbringing by her show business-obsessed mother Rose. The musical first premiered in 1959 on Broadway and is largely considered to be one of the greatest American musicals. 

Credit: Andreas Lambis

Jason Denvir’s set consists of brick and wood, with the stage extending further out into the auditorium than I’ve seen before at this theatre. With a bold stage door sign, the set gives the feel of a backstage area. Lighting by Nic Farman is truly spectacular, electric blue floods the stage at times, and at others, reddish tones warmly illuminate the stage, both of which give a glamorous flourish to the production. Small lightbulbs are built into the set and frame the stage beautifully to emulate the speakeasy stages of the 1920s.

The production begins with a bang as the cast bursts on stage, it feels like rather a large cast for a small stage, but Joseph Pitcher’s direction ensures the space is utilised well, with the entire auditorium used, with entrances and exits taking place through the audience. The scene transitions are smooth, keeping the momentum of the show up throughout, despite the use of many props these never feel clunky or elongated.

The talent on display by the young performers is very impressive. The Newsboys (George Clarke, Joshua Rowe, and Samuel Logan at this performance) had infectious energy. Young Louise (Aimee Brain at this performance) looks incredibly similar to Evelyn Hoskins (Louise) it adds great continuity to the production, as there is no doubt at all who is who. 

Rebecca Thornhill gives a masterful performance as Rose, bringing out the humour within the script and truly is a force to be reckoned with on stage. Her version of Rose is pushy, but not quite brash, I do feel like she could have turned this up a notch. Rose has some of the best songs within the show and Thornhill performs them effortlessly – the short snappier lines are delivered flawlessly and her rich vocals are pitch-perfect throughout. 

Credit: Andreas Lambis

Evelyn Hoskins plays an endearingly awkward Louise, and the audience watch captivated as she builds her confidence into a burlesque performer. I would have loved to have seen her confront her mother toward the end, as instead, the scene felt slightly lukewarm as she cuts professional ties with Mama Rose. There could have been more drama as I feel the production had been building up to that – but unfortunately didn’t deliver; although I do feel this is more due to Laurents’ book and the writing of this particular scene, rather than the performances.

The costumes, designed by Natalie Titchener, are wonderfully reminiscent of the 1920s-30s period. They are vibrant and colourful, using a variety of materials and the attention to detail is exquisite, you can tell much work has gone into these. They are truly the highlight of the show during Gypsy’s Strip Routine, where the audience watches in awe, consistently surprised by the next costume to appear, in a series of rapid outfit changes. 

Pitcher finds ways for his choreography to impress despite the relatively small stage size in this intimate venue. It’s performed slickly, with no move out of turn (except when it’s meant to be – which is probably no mean feat to pull off).

Styne’s score is a joy to listen to, many of the songs are the epitome of great musical theatre. Act One’s closing number ‘Everyone’s Coming Up Roses’ is a showstopper, which doesn’t just make you want to return from the interval afterwards, it compels you to. 

Credit: Andreas Lambis

Although the material is very strong within this production, Laurents’ script has strands of the storyline which feel largely unsolved by the end of the production. We never find out what happened to June, and Herbie (who feels like a minor character throughout), his relationship with Rose is a largely unexplored subplot; his story is left open, without satisfying conclusions. 

However, Pitcher’s production is a delight from start to finish; it’s impossible to watch without a smile on your face, and Sondheim and Styne’s material proves very strong. It’s a luxurious production, sizzling with glamour, and makes for the perfect summer spectacle.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gypsy is on at the Mill in Sonning until the 15th of July – tickets include a delicious 2 course meal! Find out more here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE

Leave a Reply