Gypsy - A Musical Fable Review
Review by Callum Stott
"Gypsy is the ultimate love letter to Broadway."
Broadway has come to Pitlochry this Summer in the form of the celebrated musical Gypsy. Filled with Broadway standards like Everything’s Coming Up Roses, this is a show that charts how far a mother will go to make her daughters stars.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre is one of Scotlands best-loved theatres. A prominent landmark nestled within the nature of the Pitlochry, one of Scotlands most beautiful areas, this theatre is the perfect escape from our big cities and is ideal for a day trip or weekend. Pitlochry is hosting a range of in-house productions this year including, Brief Encounter, A Streetcar Named Desire, and the jewel in the crown in this Summer’s offering Gypsy – A Musical Fable. Gypsy is one of the world’s most celebrated musicals winning countless awards including a Tony Award for its 1989 revival. Based on the memoir of the famed burlesque performer, Gypsy Lee Rose, this story went on to see many theatre stars playing the title character, Mamma Rose including; Ethel Merman in the original 1959 Broadway production and, recently, Imelda Staunton in the 2015 London revival.
The Pitlochry production fully transports you to 1920s America with the period music beginning before the production begins as you take your seat. In Ben Occhipinti’s direction of the production, Ben does a great job of capturing the heart of the show, whilst making a few tweaks to give his version its own identity. The stage design is quite ambitious in that we are presented with a smaller stage on the actual stage which can be spun around to reveal the back. This is present throughout the show and allows the audience to clearly understand what moments are acted like they are being played out to an audience, whilst when the stage is turned, we can see what happens behind the spotlight and the character interactions away from being on stage. This staging added a fluid element to the production. The small band/ orchestra doubled as supporting cast members and although this sometimes feels like an attempt to reduce the number of actors needed, it works well with this show, adding to the vaudeville nature of the musical.
When it comes to the actors on stage, you are treated here to many brilliant performances. Shona White gives a passionate performance as Mamma Rose. Having performed a wealth of leading performances both in the West End and internationally, Shona’s experience culminates in this starring performance. She embodies the chaotic nature of Mamma Rose whilst shining in the show's vocal mammoth numbers, in particular with Rose’s Turn, which was a real highlight of the production. She also deals with the show's softer moments well and is a all-round brilliant performer.
Returning to Pitlochry Festival Theatre is Blythe Jandoo taking on the role of Louise. Blythe is a fantastic performer that captures the shy nature of Louise’s character, and her chemistry with Shona’s Mamma Rose is natural. Her take on ‘Let Me Entertain You’ was a real highlight with her character arc being complete and delivered with passion. Ben Stock also shines as Herbie, as well as Patricia Panther, delivers a brilliant June. The full cast are strong, knowing that many are also performing in two or more shows this season shows how immensely talented the company are.
Gypsy is the ultimate love letter to Broadway. With timeless show tunes, standout performances, and unique staging, this is a fresh new production of one of Broadway's greatest musicals.