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Published 16 April 2015

What’s it all about?

Two women. One, a persistently strong-minded woman determined for success. The other, a consistently strong performer who’s already had her fair share of it.

The first, Momma Rose, finds herself at the heart of this rarely performed piece with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. A furiously driven mother, she is determined for her children to make it in the world of vaudeville and leads them on a journey across America in an attempt to fulfil that destiny.

The second is the astonishing Olivier Award-winning leading lady who brings her critically acclaimed performance as the brash overbearing matriarch, first seen at Chichester Festival Theatre last autumn, to the West End.

Who’s in it?

If you’ve been on Twitter in the past 18 hours you’ll already be well-acquainted with the star of this spectacular show. The words ‘Powerhouse’ and ‘Tour de force’ are never far from her name. Neither are ‘On fire’, ‘Awesome’ and ‘Brilliant’.

So, Imelda Staunton is pretty darn good in the role of Momma Rose, the epitome of a pushy parent. Her ruthless determination to turn her daughters into stars mixed with her comic interfering in the various vaudeville acts she conjures for them is a pure joy to watch.

The actress, who’s won accolades for Sondheim musicals in the past and will no doubt collect a few more with Gypsy, receives excellent support from Lara Pulver. As the initially dismissed daughter whose sister steals the limelight, Pulver’s Louise undergoes an incredible transformation from an innocent child desperate for her mother’s affection to a confident and independent woman who takes the burlesque world by storm.

What should I look out for?

Err… Staunton. You’ll find her in a thesaurus under the word ‘Superb’.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Arguably the best-loved of Sunday’s Olivier Award winners, Angela Lansbury garnered the most excitable screams outside the Savoy Theatre as she prepared to watch Staunton in the role she played in the 1973 original London production.

Other guests included Linda Robson, Craig Revel Horwood, Alex Gaumond, Elaine Paige, Lenny Henry and, unsurprisingly, Staunton’s husband Jim Carter.

In a nutshell?

This is Imelda Staunton at her best. Which is saying something! The Olivier Award-winning actress shines in this triumphant production of the Styne/Sondheim/Laurents musical hit, the first in the capital for more than 40 years.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@TobyOlie I’ve never jumped out of my seat to give a standing ovation as quickly as I did tonight for Imelda Staunton in @GypsyMusicalLDN POWERHOUSE!!

@LPittPulford Now that is how you do it!!@GypsyMusicalLDN was a complete triumph tonight. Imelda Staunton…you are something else!

Will I like it?

Do you really need to ask?  You will cry with laughter at Momma Rose’s on-stage shenanigans as she constantly tries to improve her vaudeville act, cry with heartbreak as she’s left alone with little to show for the sacrifices she’s made for her daughters and cry with joy as she’s reunited with Louise for the musical’s final touching scene.

For all the crying you’ll bloomin’ love it!

Gypsy is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 18 July. You can book tickets through us.


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