Okay, I know it’s criminal to go and see something for a second time when there are so many good shows around with too little time to see them all. I plead Guilty! I am not going to repeat everything that I wrote after seeing Jonathan Kent’s faultless production in Chichester (see review posted on this site on 22 October 2014) but, reading that review again now and comparing it with what critics in the national press have written, I feel the need to apologise for having underrated it. It is a tribute to the good taste of London theatregoers that box office records at the Savoy have already been broken; perhaps they fear that the leading performance is so phenomenal that its like will never be seen in this city again. Perhaps they are right. The Savoy is much more compact than the Festival Theatre in Chichester and, with its proscenium arch and art deco fitments, it suits the show’s story perfectly. The choreography loses something on the smaller stage, particularly when Tulsa (Dan Burton) performs All I Need is the Girl, serenading Louise in Gene Kelly style just before eloping with her sister. However, for those small drawbacks, there come massive compensations when the theatre’s intimacy magnifies the intensity of the emotional outpourings towards the end. I continue to rave about Lara Pulver’s performance, her transformation from Louise to Gypsy being pure magic. Peter Davison has now taken over from Kevin Whateley as Herbie, but he brings exactly the same qualities to the role. Nicholas Skilbeck’s orchestra sounds just as good, particularly its wonderful brass section and the standing ovations come in exactly the same places. Yet, for all those wonders, the question most people ask at the end is something like “how on Earth does that lady do that for eight shows a week?” The lady is Imelda Staunton, still playing the lead role of Rose.
Performance date: 13 May