Date 21st September 2017
Society Inspirations Theatre Co
Venue Mansfield Palace Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Joshua Mason
Musical Director Melanie Gilbert
Choreographer Gabrielle Mason and Rebekah Petrillo


Author: Joyce Handbury

Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist. It focuses on her mother, Rose, as she travels round America with her two daughters as they struggle to create and maintain a vaudeville stage act that will support them financially and catapult them to Rose’s dream-driven obsession of success.

The show opens with a group of children auditioning for a talent show and here we first meet Rose’s daughters June (Baby June) and Louise (Baby Louise). Amelia Elvidge (Baby June) and Zoe Frost (Baby Louise) were so cute and they sung ‘May We Entertain You?’ with such confidence. Amelia reminded me so much of a young Shirley Temple, definitely a star in the making and when Zoe’s rather large hat fell off, when she was being ‘Uncle Sam’, she just picked it up and carried on - a real trooper.

The demanding role of Rose is pivotal to the show and so it needs a person who can cope with this exacting character. Nicola Smith was that person, but she more than coped with the role, she absolutely nailed it. She effortlessly dominated the stage and both her singing and acting were superb. It was a most convincing performance - she totally portrayed the aggressive, pushy and determined mother but when called for showed a more softer, wheedling, side of the character, particularly in her relationship with Herbie. Her final song, ‘Rosie’s Turn’, when as a broken and tormented mother, was just so movingly and powerfully delivered.

As Herbie, Patrick Laidlaw managed to show the warmth, the vulnerability and level headedness of the man perfectly until in the end, realizing that his love for Rose was just not enough, most dramatically stormed out. Gabrielle Mason excelled as June in both her singing and dancing and her balletic skills, especially ‘on points’, were exquisite. Chloe Worstenholme superbly turns Louise from a shy, awkward, insecure girl to the tough and assured lady that becomes the star, Gypsy Rose Lee. I loved her singing of ‘Little Lamb‘ and the duet with June, ‘If Momma Was Married‘ was great.  A standout performance came from Matthew Szadura as Tulsa. Although he appears in only one number, ‘All I need is a Girl’, his singing and particularly his dancing was outstanding. ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ was hilariously performed by Rebekah Petrillo, the balletic Tessie, Freya Lancaster, complete with flashing lights, as Electra, and Emily Gray as the trumpet playing Gladiator, Mazeppa - what a trio! Named people played ‘Multiple Roles’, and this was how it was stated in the programme. In these various roles, they all gave wonderful and essential support to the main principals.

It was a very lively, colourful, thought provoking show in many ways, with a great cast, an excellent band, good sets, props, lighting and sound. One concern however was with the sometimes lengthly scene changes and possibly adding to this was the fact that there were some very quick, necessary costume changes but, as this was the first night, I’m sure these issues would be resolved. All in all, a very entertaining and well produced show. Well done to the production team and everyone involved.