Gypsy

Date 28th April 2022
Society The Christie Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Lowther Pavilion
Type of Production Musical
Director Peter Taylor
Musical Director Edward Rugman
Choreographer Di Barron

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Author: Joe Clarke

Stunning, fantastic, joyful, outstanding… these superlatives do not justify just how good The Christie Musical Theatre Company’s production of Gypsy is at the Lowther Pavilion this week! The whole production is visually and vocally stunning as are the performances from the entire cast. Originally pulled from production at the dress rehearsal on the night that the global pandemic hit, almost the entire cast have remained in roles to see out this epic musical. Directed by Peter Taylor, this production had everything! What really stood out for me was the pace, tension, storytelling and characterisation. The scene changes were expertly woven into the fabric of the production, often taking place on stage by the cast themselves without being noticed or hindering the action. The cast were outstandingly well drilled in scene changes which helped with the overall pace and tension. I also loved the transition scene when the younger cast morphed into the adult cast – this was excellently directed and executed! The only ever so slight negative for me was the continuity of locations. At times, cast were going on and coming off from different entrances and exits from the same location. However, I’m being very picky here and I highly doubt any of the audience noticed this. I loved the way in which the action was sympathetic to all sides of the audience (set in the round) with the cast always moving so that we could be taken on their journey. I cannot say just how good this production was! A huge well done to Peter Taylor for your vision and creativity – Stunning!

The choreography for this production was equally outstanding! I loved the various styles that were used, and I have to say that every single actor on stage was well-drilled and worked in unison to convey humour, tension and style. I loved the repeated patterns and phrases used which added to the overall humour and it was clear that a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into all aspects of choreographic devises which enhance the visuals. Choreographer, Di Barron has worked wonders and deserves full praise. Her work with Nat Ingham (Tulsa) for ‘All I need is the Girl’ was a standout! Wow!

I loved watching the orchestra on stage working hard to play the epic score. Musical Director, Edward Rugman was excellent in conducting this stunning score. In my opinion, you need a brilliant brass section to showcase the songs in this production and I certainly wasn’t disappointed here! The brass section were particularly brilliant. A huge well done to all involved.

The lighting design was fab. I loved the way in which the lights used aided the style. I also really enjoyed the use of shadows and darkness to add to the tension. I really liked how the lights were gradually turned on when the action moved from the stage to the floor – a nice touch.

The sound for me was a little hit and miss. Whilst I don’t doubt this is a frustrating venue to sound, due to the acoustics, there were a few times when mics were incorrectly cued or slightly late. I also question the levels of some of the mics, however, this may be due to the cast moving them. Overall though, the balance of the levels between the orchestra, main cast and audience was great.

I really liked the way in which this was staged. We didn’t have a set as such, but we didn’t need it. As I mentioned above, the cast helped bring on and strike the set and props, of which there were many, and at no times did anything negatively stick out. I loved the styling of the costumes for everyone, particularly Louise. I also thought the standard of wigs was excellent, particularly those of Rose and Louise.

The young cast were brilliant. Each played their part, and each positively contributed to the whole production. It would be unfair to mention everyone by name in this review, However, I have to single out Lola Shaw. Her Baby June was not only beautifully danced, brilliantly performed and wonderfully sung, her stage presence and comic timing was wonderful to watch! One to certainly watch out for in the future!

The Newsboys were very strong, and each had brilliant stage presence – they honestly commanded the stage in every scene! Nat Ingham’s Tulsa was just a joy to watch. Nat has so much natural ability and beautiful dancing and singing that gave me all the feels; he certainly entertained throughout! If this guy isn’t in a West End show in a few years’, I’ll eat my hat!

I loved the three strippers in that of Tesse Tura (Caroline Heywood), Mazeppa (Cheryl Naylor) and Electra (Gail Carter). Each were fab in line delivery and stage presence. The styling of make up and costumes were fab too!

Derek Winward was commanding as Herbie, the love interest of Rose. Derek had brilliant stage presence and physicality to his character – I loved the way in which he carried himself. His rapport with Rose was very believable and I really felt that they really cared about each other, something that is often missed in other productions of Gypsy. A great performance!

Jodie Hamblet took on the role of Dainty June very well from the younger version of this character. It can be hard taking over from another character and continuing with the character traits, but Jodie was great with this. She was able to showcase great vocals throughout. The harmonies in ‘If Momma was married’ were particularly brilliant!

What was really striking was the journey that Charlotte Dalton took us on with the character of Louise, particularly in the second Act. I totally believed Charlotte’s interpretation of this character and really appreciated all of the subtle nuances that she used to show vulnerability and respect etc. The transformation from wallflower to burlesque impresario was excellently directed and wonderfully showcased!

Which brings me on to Emma Norman… I mean, come on! Her interpretation of Mamma Rose was JUST slap you in the face, throw you on the chair and fill you full of wonder(ful)! If you didn’t get a ticket to watch Emma in this role, then you certainly missed out! Stage presence, charisma, comic timing, I could go on (and on). Her acting through song was exemplary! There is nothing more to say other than this was a tour de force performance and one that will stay with me for a very, VERY long time!

I think by now, you can tell that this was one of those special shows in which every department came together to produce greatness. It took a long time to finally get back onstage, by my goodness; it was certainly worth the wait!

I thank The Christie Musical Theatre Company for their wonderful hospitality. My guest and I were brilliantly looked after (thank you Gill Rowland). I wish them all the very best for their next production of Rent in October 2022.