Gypsy, which features a book by Arthur Laurents (inspired by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee), music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, tells the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist and her relationship and struggles with her ‘showbiz mother’ Mama Rose.
In my opinion Gypsy is a very difficult show for an amateur society to perform. It requires a very small and talented cast of dancers, singers and actors, there are demanding children’s parts and there’s even a dog! That’s not to mention the role of Mama Rose, which requires a true leading lady. However, Chatswood Musical Society do a fabulous job of bringing this show to life within the limited confines of the Bailey Hall.
What immediately stood out to me while watching this show was the work of the ensemble, so often a let down in community theatre. Here the very young ensemble do an excellent job of moving the action along and what’s more they are all into it, no one’s hanging back here. This is wonderful to see and really helps in setting the scene and bringing the show up from just another community production.
Chatswood have also been lucky to secure some very talented performers. The star of the show is easily Caitlin Street as Gypsy Rose Lee. Caitlin sings and acts extremely well and the show lifts every time she is on stage. Her dramatic final scene with her mother is a highlight. Another mention must go to Scott Dias as Tulsa. This is an unfortunate role as no sooner has he done his big song and dance number he disappears from stage never to return. A real shame as Scott is a very talented performer and his number, ‘All I Need Is The Girl’ was the highlight of the show for me.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Robyn Lassman, who does a marvellous job as Mama Rose, really coming into her own in the second act, and Cassie Mullins, Sarah Kirtland and Jillian Freed who do a fabulous job in their scenes.
I’m not a huge fan of the musical itself. I think it takes a little too long to get going and fails to capitalise on a few things (for example the potential relationship between Gypsy Rose and Tulsa), however the passion and talent of this cast and production allowed me to see past that and it is certainly well worth seeing.