Review: Buxton’s New Opera Musical Gypsy Is Simply Stunning
The performance also heralds the start of the Buxton International Festival and on this slightly sultry evening it is glorious to hear the orchestra blaze up for the opening chords of this musical based on the memoir of legendary burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee.
It’s clear from the start that we’re in the hands of an immensely gifted and respected performer in two-time Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding who plays Mama Rose – the “ultimate mother of showbusiness”.
And playing young Gypsy Rose and her sister June are Sienna May and Lucy Mcloughlin – who look like they were born for vaudeville as they recreate the sisters’ early performances with beams of electrical energy.
Often referred to as America’s greatest musicals, the songs explore Mama’s complex and charismatic personality as she wants 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’re shown how Gypsy Rose Lee eventually found a career in burlesque as she was driven to perform.
The eldest June is covered tonight without fail by understudy Lisa Dent – replacing Hannah Everest. – while talented mezzo-soprano Monique plays Louise (who becomes Gypsy Rose Lee) sparking real empathy for her plight as she’s pushed into burlesque.
The explosive hilarity and beltline vocal performances come from Aiesha Pease, Tiffany Graves and Rebecca Lisewski who play three more experienced burlesque performers who show Gypsy the ropes. Meanwhile, David Leonard is authentic and nuanced in his role as Herbie.
This first night gives more the impression that the performers are already halfway through and well settled into their roles. The cast is a real delight with stunning individual performances. There’s a real West End-level sophistication to this production and its clever direction. The production lasts until July 24. Miss it at your peril.
For more information visit: https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/gypsy-a-musical-fable