Imelda Staunton talks of her stage experience in “Gypsy”
Dolores Umbridge actress Imelda Staunton is no stranger to the stage, having previously starred in such productions as Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. At the moment, she of course is starring as main character Rose in popular musical Gypsy, which had a limited run at the Chichester Festival Theatre late last year and is now currently residing in the West End, London.
In a recent interview with Broadway.com, Staunton discusses her experience while working on this classic stage show and why she feels so passionately about the role. When asked how she manages to give such a performance eight times a week, she responded,
I just take each day as it comes. You do have to put most of your life to one side so that after each performance you can regroup for the next one. The thing is, this isn’t like any other job, and you sort of know that going in.
Linking to that response, she was then asked how she finds the stamina, to which she replied,
You just try not to do too much. It’s not as if I feel that I’ve got to be silent all day; it’s more to do with self-discipline because I would be so pissed off with myself if I [weren’t] absolutely at the top of my game every day.
On the opening night of Gypsy back in April, the performance was honored by the presence of acting legend (on both the big and small screen, as well as stage) Angela Lansbury, who also played the character of Rose in London back in 1973. Staunton commented on the appearance of the actress on that special night:
I was so moved by her being there and by how gracious and generous she is as a woman. We had a very special half an hour or so after the performance where we shared a drink onstage with everyone.
She continued talking of previous actresses to play Rose when highlighting that she saw the show in Broadway, the character at the time being portrayed by Patti LuPone.
Patti did it in 2008, and I was so impressed that I saw her twice and thought to myself at the time, ‘That [performance] is so brilliant that no one needs to do [the role] again!’ People had said to me, ‘Do Gypsy,’ but it wasn’t until 2011 that it really entered my head.
Staunton met with LuPone back in 2012 and was given an important piece of advice to playing Rose:
I remember Patti saying, ‘The only thing you need is vitamins,’ and I took her at her word. She was right. That and things like the occasional throat massage and acupuncture. I have a warm-up I do before each performance and a cool-down afterwards.
During the interview, it was pointed out to her that quite a number of audience members were unaware of the storyline of Gypsy but still responded well to the performance and narrative.
I think that’s right, and it is nice to be performing to people who may have no idea what’s going to happen as opposed to an audience who’ve all seen the show many times before and know exactly what it is: you’re reminded all over again how well the piece works.
You can read more from this interview right here.
You can see Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre, which has extended its run until November 28, 2015.
Have you already seen Staunton in the role of Rose? What are your views? Let us know below with your comments!