Gypsy is coyly dropping her gloves on a Glasgow stage for the first time in thirty years.
The original backstage musical has aged well, held aloft by a sharp book by Arthur Laurents, a memorable score by Jule Styne and rhythmic, complex lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim. Owing more to the Merman interpretation than the recent, unhinged and manic LuPone, the Apollo Players’ production is distinctly vaudeville, straightforward and nostalgic, in both style and content.
Stepping into the heels of the matriarchs of Broadway, Glaswegian singer Terry Neason fills the indomitable yet comic role of Madame Rose surprisingly well. Her booming voice pleasantly shakes like a burlesque girl’s tassels and, although far from perfect, this delivery brings something to the character: like Sally Bowles in Cabaret, the role benefits from a rough edge, nodding to the character’s failure to succeed in show business.
As a pro-am production, it understandably does not have the design budget boasted by professional tours and suffers, at times gravely, to technical mishap and directorial blindness. However, there are moments of sheer pleasure. Gypsy Susie Thompson-McMahon’s rendition of “Little Lamb” outstrips any other version that I have heard, and Lindsey Ross, Elaine Wilkie and Jennie Wilkie are gloriously comic as the gimmicky, damned burlesque artistes.
John Carlyle’s production breaks little new ground but headlines a wonderful piece of musical theatre heritage.