Entertainment & Arts

Gypsy's five star return to London's West End

Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Angela Lansbury went backstage after the show to greet Imelda Staunton

Gypsy has returned to the West End for the first time in 40 years, winning rave reviews for Imelda Staunton.

Angela Lansbury, who starred in the original London production, was among the first night audience at the Savoy theatre.

The production, which had transferred from Chichester, won a standing ovation from the audience mid-show.

The classic musical is about striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee and her overbearing mother, played by Staunton.

Jonathan Kent's production also stars Peter Davison and Lara Pulver.

Staunton had won excellent reviews previously but Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph said Staunton's performance was even better than in Chichester.

"Not only does Staunton display greater leather-lunged force in the show-stopping numbers such as Everything's Coming Up Roses... She also packs more into this whirlwind-restless, tormented spirit," he said.

He gave the show five stars and called seeing it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity".

Image copyright Publicity
Image caption The musical features classic songs including Let Me Entertain You and Everything's Coming Up Roses

Broadcaster and critic Libby Purves tweeted: "It blazes, it blooms, it has London leaping to its feet. Nothing beats GYPSY for wow 'n wisdom. Staunton superb."

In her review she notes there were three standing ovations and thought the production was even better than when it was on in Chichester.

"It is, if anything, even more kaleidoscopically irresistible set in the Savoy's weary gilt-and-velvet."

Dominic Maxwell in The Times also gave it five stars calling Staunton's performance "staggeringly good".

"Staunton's fierce but wounded Rose doesn't just gaze into the abyss, she sings and dances, bosses and bullies, sweet-talks and schemes into the abyss. She gives us enough pain and defiance to fuel a Greek drama couched in the showbiz trappings of Jule Styne's music, Stephen Sondheim's lyrics and Arthur Laurent's witty, sounding book. In a word: 'wow'."

Image copyright Publicity
Image caption Imelda Staunton plays Momma Rose who harbours resentment over her daughter's success, thinking she could have done the same or better

It is the first time the musical has been seen in the West End since the UK premiere production in 1973, which starred Angela Lansbury.

This production, which started in Chichester last year, reunited Staunton with the team behind the award-winning Sweeney Todd.

Time Out and What's On Stage also give the show five stars, as did Stephen Collins from BritishTheatre.com, who called the Savoy Theatre "a perfect home for this Gypsy".

"The places where Rose might want her troupe to play might have looked like the Savoy does, and, as an encapsulation of wonderfully grand theatricality, it has a lot going for it. The sight of Rose alone on its vast, darkened stage is powerful indeed."

He said this version is "superior in absolutely every way" to its previous Chichester production and gushed it is "likely to be the definitive production of Gypsy for a generation".

David Nice at The Arts Desk said the audience was "beguiled to cheering point" by the show "because everything in this London transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre, parody included, is solid gold."

"Imelda Staunton dazzles with truth and vitality in a near-perfect musical," he added.

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