Date: 30th October 2015
Venue: Heworth Grange School, Gateshead
Type of Production: Musical
Producer / Director: Wayne Shellard
Musical Director: Jonny Winter
Choreographer: Wayne Shellard
Review Author: Foster Johnson
Felling Stage Society followed up last year’s award winning production of Chess with an excellent and vibrant staging of Gypsy. Based on the life and career of successful burlesque and striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee and her domineering and success-driven mother Rose , along with others in their lives who followed in their wake, it was another “tour de force” for the Society. From the rousing overture to the poignancy of the closing scene and finale the show had the packed audience enthralled.
Leading the way was Bea Atkinson in the lead and pivotal role of Rose. She commanded the stage throughout and delivered an outstanding performance as a stage mother who would do anything to achieve success and bask in the reflected glory. If there was a part made for Bea this was it and it was a fitting tribute to her 50 years in amateur theatre.
However this was not just a one woman show. There were other fine individual performances in the leading roles.
Lisa Givens (Gypsy/Louise) was excellent in her portrayal of the second and somewhat unloved sibling who transformed into the world renowned artiste. Her change of character was particularly good especially during the multi strip sequence which was cleverly staged.
Colin Coulson as Herbie showed his acting prowess as the down-trodden Manager/Agent who is in love with Rose, and he elicited every ounce of sympathy from the audience for this careworn and hapless character, especially when he broke free and finally stood his ground.
The Show also showcased a fine supporting cast and a number of cameo parts. Kay Davison as the second sister June held the stage well and her interpretative singing and dancing to reflect a character who was not very good at either was spot on. Similarly good was Holly Skiggs as the baby June and based on this performance she has a bright future. Ty-Roach Thompson showed a maturity beyond his years as Tulsa and his all round acting/singing/dancing were exceptional for one so young.
Of these I have to say however that the pick of the bunch were Michelle Coulson (Tessie Tura) Claire Wharton (Mazeppa) and Kim Robinson (Electra) the three aging burlesque artists whose interpretation of “You Gotta Get A Gimmick” was outstanding and was for me the highlight of the highlights. It had the audience in tears of laughter. On top of this was a fine orchestra well marshalled by Jonny Winter and similarly a fine singing and dancing chorus especially the younger ones who played the various age range news boys support cast in the show.
Here are some of the photos taken by Stagedoor Photography during our dress rehearsal