Sunday, 19 October 2014

cabin in the country and a few musical numbers


I could tell we were in the countryside.

"Do you have any hunting guns with you?" came the request from the check-in desk.

...or maybe I'm in an episode or Eastenders?

No, we were in West Sussex, about to stay in some wooden cabins before heading to a show in a nearby Chichester.

The potentially rustic room had a modern twist, and gave us a sound base for our evening.

Then to Chichester Festival Theatre, where we watched the show 'Gypsy', featuring Imelda Staunton excellently playing the Momma Rose mother
to Gypsy Rose Lee. I had to admit that I've never seen any production or movie so it was an entire surprise to me.

I last saw Imelda Staunton in that recent Brit-com Camden Town gays support Welsh miners movie "Pride" where she played the Welsh town committee ringleader. In Gypsy she gets some really big songs and plays them for keeps. The other cast members, which includes Kevin Whatley as Bernie the agent, play well but are at least a notch or two below Staunton's performance.

I think the original treatment is from 1950-something. To my mind there were a few curious jumps in the logic of the production, which I suppose is in the nature of musicals, but here somehow mildly confused my sense of the story. That's not to say it wasn't easy enough to follow, but it did feels as if the main Acts had been somehow gaffer-taped together.

None of that detracts from the wisecracking Sondheim lyrics and the surprisingly elaborate staging, with West-End level false perspective rotating rooms and stage entrances via whizzy platforms.

There was also a very strong orchestra and a less common nowadays overture at the start of each half.

So, an evening's entertainment, and a cracking performance from Staunton, before we headed back to the far from silent wooden huts in the countryside.

6 comments:

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I have seen many many productions of "Gypsy"--it has one of the GREATEST Ovetures ever written for the Musical Theatre, in my humble opinion---I saw the Original---with Ethel Merman, and I saw Angela Lansbury do it, and Tyne Daly, and Betty Buckley and Patti Lupone, and of course, the film with Roz Russel and Natalie Wood....It is a "Star" Vehicle! And I would love to have seen Imelda S. play this part.
It sounds like they truncated this production in some way---Everything flowed from one time to another without any seeming glitches or awkward transitions in all the productions I have ever seen.... and Jule Styne's music is perfect for this terrific story....And of course, my Musical Theatre God, Sondheim,--his lyrics are fabulous!
And the so-called 11 o'clock number, "Roses Turn", is or can be, a killer! In my experience---Patti Lupone was the best Madam Rose I have ever seen---even surpassing Ethel Mermen, for whom this show was written. The long gone Broadway tradition of writing 'book' shows for real Theatre Stars is all over now. The Broadway Musical of the Golden Age is gone now, too. What we have now are many shows that are Disneyfied or with music NOT specifically written for the Theatre. To me, that is very very sad. Of course, there are a few exceptions, but....generally speaking, the Golden Age of Broadway is over, except for, Thank God, revivals, such as "Gypsy".

rashbre said...

Hi Naomi,

I wondered if you'd seen a few versions of the show! I think you'd have enjoyed this one too. Imelda Staunton did a first-rate job as Mama.

I'll have to watch the movie now as a further reference. I was sure I'd have seen it before but embarrassingly not!

Best!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I don't think the film is as good as the show is "on stage", but...it is worth seeing!
I really would LOVE to have seen Imelda Staunton....Did you see her do Sweeney Todd? I heard she was fabulous!!

Pat said...

I'd love to have seen this.

Pat said...

Fascinating to read Naomi's comments.

rashbre said...

Pat I think you would like the show, which is currently only in Chichester. I agree it is fascinating to read Naomi's account and preferred choices.

The whole 'writing for the star' and format of this type of show has been changed in more modern musicals.

Actually, a lot of London shows are stunt-cast juke-box musicals in any case to appeal to the vast quantity of oversees visitors.