The Scotsman 17 May 2023

Here’s a quiz question for you: how many classic Broadway musicals are there in which all the central roles are played by women? You have to discount those where a man calls the shots, which rules out, for example, My Fair Lady and The Wizard Of Oz, despite their prominent female leads. And you cannot include anything from the last 30 years, which takes out 9 to 5, Heathers and Six.

Hard to say what the answer is, but you are certainly left with slim pickings. Slim enough to pause my conversation between actor Shona White and director Ben Occhipinti when the question comes up. With more time, we might have thought of Annie, Mame and Nunsense, but we would have been hard pressed to find many more.

Gypsy is another of these rare exceptions. It is a show driven by Mamma Rose, the ultimate showbiz mother, and her two daughters June and Louise, aka Gypsy Rose Lee. Yes, it is men who manage the vaudeville circuit where the women ply their trade, but Mamma Rose runs the show. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).