Goodbye small town, hello world!
Let me entertain you! – the musical`s hit song is practically the evening`s motto. As soon as the overture begins and the curtain rises, the audience knows: THIS is grand musical theatre! From the very first second “Rose” Susan Rigvava-Dumas, her children “Louise” (Annemieke van Dam) and “June” (Lisa Habermann) and the rest of cast and ensemble appear, they conquer the stage and win the audience over – groovy tunes, vivid dance numbers and strong voices rule the evening.
When in 1959 “Gypsy” celebrated its world premiere at the “Broadway Theatre”, critics praised the singers as well as the staging – the original production was referred to as “one of the most influential stagings of a musical in American theatrical history”. The show received eight Tony Award nominations, for example “Best Musical”, “Best Actress in a Musical”, “Best Scenic Design” and “Best Direction of a Musical”. The plot is as follows: during America`s Twenties and Thirties, Rose, an ambitious helicopter mom, travels from one theatre and TV event to the next, wanting to push them towards a career as singers and actresses. Especially June, the younger and more talented girl, is being supported and receives preferential treatment. Without any financial protection, they move from one audition to another, even when Rose gets to know Herbie, a former agent, whom she convinces to represent her daughter`s act. One day, June and a boy from the ensemble run away and shortly afterwards the other dancers leave, as well. Rose is left alone with Herbie and Louise, who now becomes her new “project”. After many failures, Herbie manages to sell Louise`s act to a “theatre” – a burlesque theatre, as they find out later. When an opportunity to jump in as the main star of a show arises, shy Louise is being pushed into the burlesque world. What originally had been seen as an opportunity to earn money, turns into Louise`s career-start – she gains recognition and fame as “Gypsy Rose Lee”, becoming the scene`s star. In the end, Rose accepts that she is not needed anymore and understands that her years of pushing and excessive “supporting” was her way of living out her own shattered dreams.
There are usually three components for a successful musical-theatre-opening night: a well-cast ensemble, an appealing set design and an empathetic orchestra. Klagenfurt`s “Gypsy” possesses all these features. Directed by Igor Pison, who attaches special significance to the emotional development of the generations on stage, the musical convinces the audience, who especially appreciates the flexible, authentic set (Jürgen Kirner) as well as the diversity of costumes (Katja Wetzel). However, the evening`s indisputable queen is “Rose” Susan Rigava-Dumas, who has already been celebrated as “Norma Desmond” in Klagenfurt`s “Sunset Boulevard” (2013). The Dutch musical singer with operatic “roots” shows a broad spectrum of emotions, audibly as well as visibly, presenting an incredible vocal range and a big, strong voice. By her side: Nigel Casey. Embodying “Herbie”, he develops from a desperate lover to a disappointed man, a strong presence equally in singing and dancing. “Louise” is sung and played by Annemieke van Dam, one of the German-speaking world`s musical stars. Respectable, how convinced and confident the young singer-actress drops off all her clothes in front of an audience while being both vocally and theatrically outstanding. Lisa Habermann as “child prodigy” “June” is no less remarkable, while “Baby June” and “Baby Louise” (Lynn Heinrichs and Lara Körner) do a great job as Rose`s young daughters. The ensemble`s talented dancers and singers, of which Bettina Schurek as “Mazeppa” and Lukas Zuschlag as “Tulsa” should be named, joyfully slip into several different roles. The Carinthian Symphony Orchestra bring life to the pit and show their wide range from soft to groovy. Under the baton of Mitsugo Hoshino, the audience experiences marvellous instrumental soloists as well as homogenous orchestral sounds. Hurricanes of applause for a successful opening!