REVIEW - Staging barely seen Gypsy is brave move by Birmingham's Crescent Theatre - The Solihull Observer

REVIEW - Staging barely seen Gypsy is brave move by Birmingham's Crescent Theatre

Solihull Editorial 13th May, 2024   0

BECAUSE of its complexity and demands, Gypsy is a rarely done musical – even the dedicated musical theatre companies avoid it, so it’s a brave (some might say strange) choice for the Crescent to make for their once-a-year musical outing.

Although the story concerns the accidental rise to fame of the most celebrated stripper in history, Gypsy Rose Lee, it is more about her mother Rose’s mission to get her daughters into the world of vaudeville theatre.

Take a big bow Kimberley Maynard, who really gave us a tour de force of a performance as the matriarch herself. It’s fair to say that Rose, rose up above a distinctly underwhelming act one.

Act two was much better, maybe a team talk had taken place because the lights seemed to come on in the acting as well as from the gallery. Ava Bryan shines as June the protégé who quits and Joanne Brookes totally nails the transition from wallflower to orchid as she owns the stage as the Gypsy herself. Paul Forrest also puts in a warm performance as Rose’s long-suffering boyfriend and agent Herbie.

A special shout out to the hubble-bubble trio of hard-core strippery, Bev Heynes as Elektra, Michaela Redican as Mazeppa and Amanda Nickless as Tessie Tura.




They were quite delightful and engaging.

Director Kevin Middleton makes much of the tender moments under his immediate control but some of the bigger scenes seemed a tad wooden and under rehearsed. For instance, if you want a routine to be funny because of its clumsiness, it must be as tight as a drum in the first place, so we get the joke.


Likewise the music is very difficult and daunting. There was some disconcerting cacophony from the pit in the overture; not a happy beginning for musical Director Chris Arnold, but the band grew in confidence under his baton as the show progressed.

James Booth designed a set which offers some splendid spaces and moves the show along seamlessly but some of the actual finish could do with more accomplished brushwork. The catwalk-come-apron built over the pit and lit like real old-time cabaret was a touch of genius.

The frocks by Pat Brown, Angela Daniels, Vera Dean, Rose Snape and Crescent wardrobe team were, of course, fabulous.

I am sure given a few more performances everything will go up a few gears and it is an opportunity to catch a theatrical rarity.

***

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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