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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gypsy (2015)

A stage mother (Imelda Staunton) with a steely drive and determination pushes her two daughters June (Scarlet Roche then Gemma Sutton) and Louise (Lara Wollington then Lara Pulver) toward the stardom she wants for them at any cost. One of the great musicals of the Broadway stage with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, first produced in 1959 with Ethel Merman. In addition to the 1962 film version with Rosalind Russell and a 1993 TV version with Bette Midler, it has seen several revivals on Broadway. This is literally a filmed play, an archival record of the 2015 London production which won 4 Olivier awards including best actress for Staunton, perhaps best known to American audiences for her Oscar nominated performance in VERA DRAKE. While Staunton may not have Merman's belter lungs, her singing voice is more than decent. But it's her ability to act her songs rather than just sing them that makes her performance so sensational. For the first time, I fully got Rose's Turn! Staunton's Mama Rose's frustration and rage spews forth and we can see the Freudian logic that set her on this path. I was also impressed by Lara Pulver's Louise/Gypsy, believable as both the awkward adolescent and the burlesque star. Directed by Lonny Price adapting Jonathan Kent's stage direction. With Peter Davison, Dan Burton and Anita Louise Comb, Louise Gold and Julie Legrand as the three over the hill strippers with the show stopping You Gotta Get A Gimmick.  

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