Review: New Buxton Opera House musical Gypsy is simply stunning

It's opening night. And expectation is bristling at Buxton Opera House for the start of a new production - Gypsy.

Friday, 8th July 2022, 3:11 pm
Updated Friday, 8th July 2022, 3:25 pm
Joanna Riding plays Mama Rose
Joanna Riding plays Mama Rose

The performance also heralds the start of Buxton International Festival and on this mildly sweltering evening it's glorious to hear the orchestra fire up for the opening chords of this musical based on the memoirs of legendary burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee.

It's clear from the outset we are in the hands of an immensely gifted and respected performer in two time Olivier award winner Joanna Riding who plays Mama Rose - the 'Ultimate Showbusiness Mother'.

And playing the young Gypsy Rose and her sister June are Sienna May and Lucy Mcloughlin - who look as if they were born for Vaudeville as they recreate the sisters' early performances with bundles of electric energy.

The show runs until July 24

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    Often referred to as the greatest American musical the songs explore the complex and charismatic personality of Mama as she wills her daughters to succeed in showbusiness at all costs.

    With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents we are shown the journey of how Gypsy Rose Lee ended up finding a career in Burlesque as she is pushed to perform.

    The older June is tonight covered faultlessly by understudy Lisa Dent - stepping in for Hannah Everest.- while talented mezzo-soprano Monique plays Louise (who becomes Gypsy Rose Lee) eliciting real empathy for her predicament as she is pushed towards burlesque.

    Bombastic hilarity and belting vocal performances come from Aiesha Pease, Tiffany Graves and Rebecca Lisewski who play three more practised burlesque performers who show Gypsy the ropes. Meanwhile, David Leonard is authentic and nuanced in his role as Herbie.

    The production is based loosely on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee

    This first night feels more as though the performers are already mid-run and well settled into their roles. The cast are a real delight with some stunning individual performances. There is some real West End level sophistication in this production and its clever staging. The production runs until July 24. Miss it at your peril.

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