What do Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone have in common? They have all played the iconic role of Mama Rose in Gypsy, one of the greatest works in musical theatre history.
The latest great performer to take on Rose is English actress Imelda Staunton. PBS will air a live performance video capture from the 2015 London production of Gypsy this Friday, November 11 that features Staunton’s acclaimed take on the role. [The performance is also scheduled for multiple rebroadcasts.]
Staunton’s best-known film roles include the lead in Vera Drake and the supporting role of Delores Umbridge in two Harry Potter movies.
A celebrated stage actress, Staunton has graced London’s West End with many outstanding performances. She has earned 11 Olivier nominations and won 4, including 3 Oliviers for Best Actress in a Musical as the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods (1991), Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (2013) and Rose in Gypsy (2016). She will next appear in London’s National Theatre production of Follies, playing Sally Durant, in 2017.
New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley’s review described Staunton as a “scorching” Rose who brings a “fresh vigor” to the role that “gives her character a photorealist finish that makes Rose both more life-size and scarier than she’s ever been before.” Michael Billington of The Guardian stated that Staunton “gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in musical theatre” while Emily Diver of LondonTheatre1.com summed up Staunton’s performance was “simply magical.”
Musical theatre has also been good to Staunton on a personal level. In a 1982 production of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre, she met her husband Jim Cater. He is known to many Americans for his beloved portrayal of Mr. Carson in the television series Downton Abbey which also aired on PBS.