Review: 'Gypsy'

Footlight’s Term 3 show was an experimental production of the musical 'Gypsy', which tells the story of two sisters and their journey into show business, spearheaded by their relentless mother. The show focuses on one of the sisters, Louise, who goes onto become the famous strip-tease artist, 'Gypsy Rose Lee.' The musical follows her rise to stardom.

Gypsy marked the end of what has been an extraordinary year for Footlights. From their outstanding Northcott Production of 'The Producers' earlier in the year, to their 30th Anniversary Gala, it was interesting to see how they would maintain their high standards whilst also offering something slightly unique. As was demonstrated with the incorporation of young children, as well as having the orchestra on stage as part of the ensemble, the production team took many risks in order to make it an individual and memorable piece of musical theatre. And the risks surely paid off. 

Right from the offset, the use of children proved to be a successful and innovative addition to the musical. Any scepticism among the audience when the musical opened with about 8 young children under the age of 10, quickly proved to be unwarranted. Young Rosa Hitchings, who portrayed Baby June, took our breath away with her opening performance of ‘May We Entertain You’, and the rest of the young cast followed suit with their talent and proffesionalism. 

The production itself was spectacular. The use of strobe lighting to depict the ‘changeover’ from the young cast to the adult cast was incredibly visually effective. The set was minimal yet used inventively, and the variety of costumes – from the donkey costume to the strippers light-up underwear – were testament to the creativity and vision of the ambitious team. In order to close the show, large flats came down spelling out the name 'Rose', which had a fabulous lightbox effect. 

The cast, however, were the heart of the show. Stand out performances include the incredible Charlotte Blakeman, who portrayed the mother character ‘Rose’, whose flawless vocals stunned the audience on numerous occasions. A truly beautiful performance was given by Louise and June of ‘If Momma was married’ followed by a hilarious rendition of ‘You gotta get a gimmick’ by the exceedingly talented strippers. The choreography was of consistenly high quality, right up until the final bow, and contributed to the seamless flow and perfectly paced production. 

Overall, the show was flawless. Although nearly 3 hours in length, the way the story was told by both the cast and the production team seemed to make the time fly by. Everyone involved should be proud of their magnificent work, and we look forward to seeing how Footlights will undoubtedly go on yet again to top their amazing year...