BWW Reviews: GYPSY - Curtain Up On A Once In A Lifetime Theatre Experience
If the purpose of a review is to help you decide whether to see a show - then let's make this one simple. I could tell you about the design, the direction, the lighting. I could highlight costumes and narrative choices, and the orchestra, energetically led by Guy Simpson. I could find little faults in certain scenes or analyse this actor's choice or that. Or I could just say, and make it clear - get yourself a ticket to GYPSY, and get it right now. Because if you have an interest in musical theatre, or any theatre at all, you owe it to yourself to experience Caroline O'Connor as Mama Rose.
There are of course other things you'll like in this show, other moments that are deserving of praise. The lighting is indeed an asset, simple and evocative as it is. The costumes too, from Oscar winning costume designer Tim Chappel are stunning - in fact half of them I'd like to wear home.
And the GYPSY score itself is delicious, filled with showstoppers and enough Sondheim quirk to keep your ears on alert. The company is solid, and without doubt there are standout moments here; the gimmick girls nail it with their weary sass, and Nathan Pinnell's Tulsa dance solo is a delight, as is watching Matt Hetherington grow into his role as Herbie, the long-suffering paramour of Rose. His last scene in particular is pitch-perfect, affording Herbie the kind of ennobled defeat his character deserves.
But ultimately this is Rose's show. O'Connor's show. Every scene she's in, every song. And then that last, magnificent moment, the exhausting, exhilarating force of nature that is Caroline O'Connor delivering Rose's Turn. Buy your ticket just for this, people. Pay double if you have to - for this is a once in a lifetime audience experience. You're in the company of genius those few minutes, and you'll know it. Or rather you'll feel it. When Rose breaks, she'll break your heart, too. O'Connor's commitment to that scene is simply stunning. Truthfully, I've never seen anything like it.
So yes, I could tell you that with acclaimed director Gale Edwards at the helm, The Production Company has successfully reduced this GYPSY to its essential parts, distilled an American classic to its finest points. I could ask whether in the age of the blockbuster, we even know what it's like to watch a book musical anymore, a character-driven piece that manages cute kids, dance routines, stellar songs and a grown-up story you invest in - and then give thanks to The Production Company for bringing such a musical back to remind us.
Or I could just say - simply - get yourself to GYPSY. Experience the magnificent Caroline O'Connor in a role she clearly loves, playing a woman she clearly respects. When her Rose proclaims, "Here she is, boys!" and steps into the spotlight, you'll understand just why this is a show you could not have missed.
Caroline O'Connor as Mama Rose, image Credit Jeff Busby
The Production Company Season 2013 presents
Caroline O'Connor in GYPSY
6th to 14th July
Arts Centre, Melbourne
For tickets and more information, click here.