Spirited tribute to Gypsy

THISTLES Musical Theatre chose that musical favourite, Gypsy, for their latest production at the Kenneth More Theatre last week. And the old gal went down a storm, with packed houses applauding to the rafters. Directed with confidence and a generally deft

THISTLES Musical Theatre chose that musical favourite, Gypsy, for their latest production at the Kenneth More Theatre last week.

And the old gal went down a storm, with packed houses applauding to the rafters.

Directed with confidence and a generally deft touch by Bernie Paveley, this was a spirited, affectionate tribute to burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee.

The old lady got off to a slightly shaky start during the performance I saw, with some sound and timing issues blunting the impact of the opening scene, which introduces us to the young Gypsy Rose - born Louis - and her sister June.


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The performance picked up in pace and impact as it went along, although I felt it never quite reached the high-octane rating this lively show needs.

Elaine Gilbey, who has produced so many memorable performances on the KMT stage, was Gypsy's mother Rose, the stage-mother-from-hell in anyone's book.

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This was a strong and charismatic performance for the most part, marred slightly in places by problems with Stephen Sondheim's taxing score.

Elaine seemed nervous on occasion, and this led her to rush her dialogue in places - a pity, since this part is a cracker.

Claire Taylor sparkled as June; this performance was assured, well timed and beautifully calibrated. And Georgia Permutt as Louise/Gypsy proved again what a versatile and talented performer she is, developing the shy, gangly Louise into the saucy, mature burlesque performer of legend.

Both these performers have beautiful voices that they used to wonderful effect in numbers like If Momma was Married and Let Me Entertain You.

Frazer Freeman was magnificent as the long-suffering Herbie, Rose's lover and friend who tries hard - but ultimately unsuccessfully - to lure Rose from her theatrical ambitions.

This was another nicely nuanced performance by Frazer and it made a lovely counterpoint to Elaine's angry and thwarted Rose.

Megan Parker and Lucy Shepherd were terrific as the young June and Louise and Paula Duncan, Sue Ridge and Juliet Dover thrilled the audience with their raunchy portrayals of strippers Tessie Tura, Mazeppa and Electra, although to me their Toreadorables number stopped short of the usual full-on va-va-voom.

Joanna Paveley produced some lovely choreography and Ruth Williams' baton kept everyone to time.

- SUE LEEMAN

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