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Curtain up... light the lights!

PUBLISHED: 08:32 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:32 22 June 2017

Appeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre, June 21-24. Picture: JONATHAN TERRY

Appeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre, June 21-24. Picture: JONATHAN TERRY

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Gypsy, by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, presented by Appeal Theatre Group at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich until Saturday, June 24

Appeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre, June 21-24.Picture: JONATHAN TERRYAppeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre, June 21-24.Picture: JONATHAN TERRY

Gypsy, music by Jule Styne, lyrics Stephen Sondheim, book Arthur Laurents, is presented by Appeal Theatre Group at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until Saturday, June 24

Noel Coward entreated Mrs Worthington not to put her daughter on the stage but it was advice blithely ignored by ultimate pushy showbiz mother, Rose, who puts both her daughters on the stage.

The musical, based loosely on the memoirs of striptease artiste Gypsy Rose Lee, tells of her mother’s endeavours to make her little girls stars. Mama Rose pays most attention to saccharine-in-satin Baby June with her signature (you soon get to know it) Let Me Entertain You, while Louise is designated the one with no talent.

Apart from the costumes the sisters’ Vaudeville act changes little over the years... except that the boys in the chorus start shaving and singing baritone. There is a clever musical transition when the children turn into teenagers.

Appeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre. Picture: JONATHAN TERRYAppeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre. Picture: JONATHAN TERRY

This acclaimed musical, with its story of ambition, fame and failure, has some great numbers including evergreens such as Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Together (Wherever We Go).

When June rebels, marries and leaves to pursue an acting career, Rose turns her attention to a reluctant Louise.

Much rests on the actress who plays Rose being able to get under the skin of the comic but largely unsympathetic character. Kerri-Ann Lees, who is rarely off stage in the role of Rose, reaches a crescendo with a storming last scene.

There are fine performances from Catherine Roberts as Louise/Gypsy Rose and Ellena Bacon as June. Darren Nunn gives strong support as Herbie, the girls’ agent who carries a torch for Rose, hoping one day to marry her. Will Rose find love and make him her fourth husband?

Appeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at thr New Wolsey Theatre. Picture: APPEAL THEATRE GROUPAppeal Theatre Group stage Gypsy at thr New Wolsey Theatre. Picture: APPEAL THEATRE GROUP

And what of Louise? Well, as her career changes course, the audience gets to see a lot more of her.

The chorus of young people, with Ruby Lowery as Baby June and Lily Dickie as little Louise, was accomplished, lovely to watch and technically spot-on. The male dancers were tremendous; great tapping. Jon Bingham, as Tulsa, is masterful in his song and dance number All I Need is the Girl.

And the cameo roles of burlesque artists Mazeppa, Electra and Tessie Tura in the very funny You Gotta Get a Gimmick were a hoot. It will be a while before I forget that gladiatorial trumpet playing.

The splendid band is good and brassy and the costumes are great. Being a late 1950s musical, Gypsy is not short show but brisker scene changes might have helped to keep up the pace.

LYNNE MORTIMER

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