Date 7th November 2019
Society Maghull Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Little Theatre, Hoghton Street, Southport
Type of Production Musical
Director Betty Hall
Musical Director Andrew Standeven
Choreographer Alexandra Ashall


Author: Jim Briscoe

Gypsy is a 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.  From the title you would probably think that the musical is about the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee when in fact it actually centres on her driven and determined stage mother, Mama Rose. In the beginning Rose concentrates on her talented younger daughter, June, leaving the older and less talented Louise out in the cold.  But, when June tires of the act and the life they are leading, she runs away leaving Mama Rose to then sets her sights on Louise - determined that one of her daughters will become a star!

Some overtures just come and go without notice....but that couldn’t be said of this production!  Andrew Standeven (Musical Director) and his outstanding orchestra gave this production an overture to remember! I must admit, I was a little concerned that this fast, very loud, very imposing overture may reflect during the performance, but those worries where soon alleviated – sound and balance was perfect and accompanied the performers ever so well!   Congrats to Andrew and all concerned.....

Gypsy can’t really be described as a ‘company’ show as the focus concentrates on the main characters; but having said there was little or no doubt that whenever or wherever the ensemble were used they were used effectively, efficiently and throughout the production they enhanced the scenes they were involved in. They all sang and moved very well and it was obvious from the start that everyone on stage was enjoying being part of the well done one and all. 

The four main characters all gave confident performances.....

The demanding role of ‘Rose’ is so pivotal to this show.  It requires a person who can cope with all the challenges that this complex character throws up.... Becky Barrie playing her first ever principal role demonstrated all the qualities required and provided us with a great interpretation of this iconic character.  I thought Becky appeared a little nervous to start, but quickly over came those nerves to ‘give us’ a great Rose!  Good stage presence, great singing voice “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Roses Turn” were indeed her strongest moments for me...  well done Becky, great job!

Freya Garrett played the part of ‘June’ and Phoebe Hill the part of ‘Louise’.  Again ‘fundamental’ to the success of this show that these roles are well cast and well cast they were.  Freya had good stage presence from the start, good movement and looked totally comfortable in the role.   Phoebe took us on a journey from the shy, awkward, insecure girl in Act 1, to the tough, confident, assured lady who becomes a ‘star’ in Act 2. A well judged performance, again, good stage presence, great characterisation, loved her rendition of ‘Little Lamb’ and the ‘strip routine’ was done really well. Congrats to both.....

Lee Ashall was a ‘perfect fit’ for the role of ‘Herbie’... warm, vulnerable; level headed all the characteristics needed to make ‘Herbie’ believable. Worked well with Rose and the girls, good stage presence, good diction....well done sir!

The three Burlesque strippers... ‘Tessie Tura’, ‘Mazeppa’ and ‘Electra’, who teach Louise the benefits of having an act with a gimmick, were played well by Vicki Ridland, Kayleigh Ginley and Suzanne Morris respectively.  All three had good stage presence, good singing voices... their rendition of the ‘iconic number’  ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ was a ‘little safe’ for me and left me wanting a little more.... but overall a good job!

There was ‘nothing safe’ about Matt Christiansen interpretation of the role of ‘Tulsa’.  Matt gave me everything I wanted and more!  ‘Tulsa’ is at best a supporting role, probably more a ‘cameo’... but Matt took it and made it his own.  His rendition of “All I Need is the Girl” was a ‘highlight’ for me... stage presence aplenty, great diction, great dancing and great singing...a perfect example of how to make the most from a smallish role!  Well done ever so proud!

The cast also included Brian Brady (‘Uncle Jocko’); Chris Barrie  (‘Georgie/Phil’): Bob Cleverley (‘Pop’); Ian Culshaw (‘Weber’), Graham Heap (‘L.A./Chorus); Liam Rabbette(‘Yonkers/Chorus/Boy Scout’); Alex McKillop (‘Angie/Chorus); Sophie Grant (Agnes/Chorus/Balloon Girl); Sandra Heap (‘Marjorie May/Chorus); Yasmin Cranny (‘Dolores/Chorus’); Ryan O’Sullivan-Glynn (‘Boy Scout/Chorus’)Helen Lloyd (‘Renee/Chorus’); Dan McWaters (‘Mr Goldstone’/Chorus’); Bill Murphy (‘Kringelein/Boucheron’); Sally Lane (‘Miss Cratchitt’);  Colin Kilbride (‘Cigar’); Stephen Henshaw (‘Pastey’) ; Patricia Freckleton (‘Chorus’) Elliott Heap (‘Chorus’); Ingrid Cleverly, Gill Culshaw, Gaynor Hale and Carol Kennedy (‘Mothers/Restaurant Guests/Waitresses’).

I must congratulate everyone concerned in ‘staging’ this production – Betty Hall, (Director) for her understanding of this musical, Andrew Standeven (Musical Director) and his orchestra for some amazing sound which supported the actors so well and Alexandra Ashall (Choreographer) for some great, yet simple, choreography. 

Congratulations also to Nick Evans (Stage Manager) and his Stage Crew for some slick and efficient handling of the scenery.  To Matt Hughes on Sound and Andrea Claire on Lighting all good guys...well done!  I loved the ‘projection’ for the ‘car ride’... well done Paul Shacksmyth.   Costumes were really good and in keeping with the era and helped enhance the show... congrats to Charades and Jan Monkley... ‘Props’ were excellent – congrats to Ingrid Cleverly and Bill Murphy.   Not sure who was in charge of the ‘haze’ during the Railway Station scene... just a little over cooked I think......

Thanks you so much for inviting my wife and I ...we really did enjoy the show and a ‘special thanks’ to Audrey Russell for looking after us before and during show.   If I don’t see you before, have a great Christmas... see you all in the New Year...looking forward to your next production.