I’m not going to lie, me and musicals do not usually mix. If you heard me singing, you’d probably run out of the room screaming… if you saw me dancing, you’d probably compare it to a stomping elephant. When Milly first asked me to direct, I accepted without even knowing what Gypsy was about… (a travelling community I thought??). Gypsy, however, has changed my mind about musicals, and I have genuinely fallen in love with it.
In Act 1 we follow Rose’s two daughters, June (the star) and Louise (the forgotten older sister) along with a troop of young boys, attempting to gain stardom. Naff singing, unique dancing and a lot of charisma, this group really leave it all on stage. Following Everything’s Coming Up Roses, we move into Act 2 where the tone changes. June runs off with one of the boys and Rose in an ever-increasing maniacal state, and attempts to push Louise into stardom to replace her younger sister.
I had two aims with this musical: to get across Rose’s increasing mania throughout the play, culminating with the spectacular Rose’s Turn at the end, and to show a true character development of Louise from a timid child to a confident performer. I would like to thank Lara and Cecily for their stunning performances in these roles: they are two extremely talented actresses, performers and singers and they should be praised for the way in which they fully embody their characters. Congratulations must also go to Thomas Rainford for his excellent portrayal of Herbie- his facial expressions are always hilariously fabulous!
I would also like to thank the production team for their endless hard work. Constructing a stage, a rig and putting up flats is hardly an easy task when you’re in a dining hall. Thank you also to Luis, Lyn and Dan for their brilliant work with the band and vocals, and Clemie and Mia for their excellence in choreography. But there are two people who I feel need special thanks. First, my assistant director Harriet Fraser. She is such a skilled and talented director who amazes me with the cultural references she provides the cast to help them with their characterisations. My personal favourite came just this morning when she told Oggy to think of Danny Devito in Jumanji 2 to play Pops! Second: the amazing Milly Wicks, who’s done an outstanding job producing. Always organised, always bringing the party to rehearsals and always someone you can count on.
Rose is the part that any female actress wants to play at one point in their careers, and being the director of such a classic production has been an immense privilege. It’s also a musical that has not only a plot, but a genuinely good one (fairly rare for a musical in my opinion!) with fabulous character developments, and all based upon a true story. Thank you to all the cast for the hard work they have put in over the last term- I really hope I can work with all these talented people again. I hope you enjoy the show!
By Ben Cawood
Photo Credits: TCMS