Broadway Beckons Imelda Staunton in 'Gypsy'

Johan Persson
Imelda Staunton and company in 'Gypsy'

The Roundabout Theatre Company is in talks to transfer the acclaimed London revival, which won four Olivier Awards on Sunday.

Looks like everything will be coming up roses on Broadway once more.

According to unconfirmed reports, talks are underway between Roundabout Theatre Company and British producers Michael Harrison and David Ian to transfer the smash hit London revival of Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton, to New York.

Directed by Jonathan Kent, the production originated in 2014 at the Chichester Festival Theatre and transferred to London's West End in April last year, earning ecstatic reviews across the board. Michael Billington in The Guardian described Staunton's work as "one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in musical theatre."

On Sunday, the show won four Olivier Awards, the British equivalent of the Tonys, including best musical revival, actress in a musical for Staunton, supporting actress in a musical for Lara Pulver and lighting design.

If the brewing transfer happens, it would mark the belated Broadway debut for Staunton, a distinguished British stage veteran known for her acclaimed turns in Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd, among many others. While Roundabout reps had no comment on the negotiations, the production appears likely to find a spot in the 2016-17 season, making it eligible for next year's Tony Awards.

The revival closed at London's Savoy Theatre at the end of November but was filmed for British television, airing Dec. 27 on BBC Four. The film also is reportedly due to air in the U.S. as part of PBS' Great Performances series, though no date has been announced.

Often referred to as the greatest of American musicals, Gypsy debuted in 1959 on Broadway with Ethel Merman in the lead role of Rose, the pushy stage mother of two daughters playing the vaudeville circuit in the early 1920s. When the star daughter grows out of her cutesy Baby June act and runs away, Rose is left to focus on the comparatively shy and insecure Louise. As vaudeville makes way for burlesque, Louise gains confidence, blossoming into sophisticated striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee and leaving her suffocating mother behind.

Loosely based on Lee's memoirs, the show features a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The latter has a long history with Roundabout, which has staged productions of his musicals Sunday in the Park With George, Pacific Overtures, Company, Follies and Assassins on Broadway.

Gypsy has been revived on Broadway four previous times, with Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Linda Lavin, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone among those stepping into the role of Rose, considered the King Lear of musical theater. The most recent of those productions won Tonys for LuPone, Laura Benanti and Boyd Gaines in 2008.

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