Jonathan Kent’s award-winning production of the classic musical Gypsy—a record-breaking sellout during its acclaimed London run—comes toTHIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS on the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)
The first London production to be seen for 40 years, the musical opened at England’s Chichester Festival Theatre before moving to the West End’s Savoy Theatre. This critically acclaimed West End production featuresImelda Staunton as Rose, as well as acclaimed turns by Lara Pulver as Louise and Peter Davison as Herbie.
Critics were unanimous in their praise of Staunton and the production. “Every facet of the character is caught by Imelda Staunton who gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in musical theatre,” raved The Guardian. And The Times enthused, “If you like musical theatre, I urge you to see this stunning revival of one of the greatest Broadway musicals. If you don’t like musical theatre, see it anyway.”
With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show was suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. The score features songs that have since become show standards, and helped launch the career of Sondheim. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together, Wherever We Go” and of course “Rose’s Turn” are among the musical highlights.
The London production was honored with five Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival, Best Actress in a Musical (Imelda Staunton), Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Lara Pulver).
The role of Rose is often called the ‘King Lear’ of the musical theatre canon. The show continues to be produced by regional theatre companies around much of the U.S. A London production had not been seen in the West End since 1973.
Imelda Staunton, OBE, is an Academy Award-nominated English actress best known for her performances in the films “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (as Dolores Umbridge) and “Vera Drake.” For the latter, she drew widespread critical acclaim, earning a number of awards including the BAFTA and Venice Film Festival Awards.
She has twice before received an Olivier Award for roles in two 1985 productions: “A Chorus of Disapproval” and “The Corn Is Green” and for the 1991 “Into the Woods.” Films include “Peter’s Friends” (1992), “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), “Twelfth Night” (1996), “Bright Young Things” (2003), “Shakespeare in Love” (2004) and “Freedom Writers” (2007).
The production was filmed by Emmy Award-winner Lonny Price for Ellen M. Krass Productions with Serpent Productions and Shout! Factory, in association with the BBC.
For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television,Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.