Rose is a delightful and quirky musical written by Sarah Wilson and Mike Ross, based on a children’s book by Gertrude Stein. They worked on the piece for three years and you can see the love and passion infused in this delightful tale of a girl who can’t say her own name so she goes on a classic hero’s journey to find the answers.
Mike Ross creates a beautiful score and the music is lively and wonderful. It has a similar feel to Spoon River and Alligator Pie. If the formula works, why change it and this formula most certainly works.
Filled with poetry, over the top characters and inventive staging this play not only appeals to children but also adults. When Hailey Gillis, who plays Rose, sings the final song about trying to find her way, I was bawling my face off. Whether you are nine or ninety, I think many of the struggles Rose faces are universal. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing?
Gillis nails Rose and imbues her with equal parts innocence and grit. Peter Fernandes plays the role of Wille, Rose’s best friend. Fernandes continues to dominate every stage he acts on. He is a special kind of actor who is filled with so much joy and presence you can’t take your eyes off him. Oliver Dennis and Raquel Duffy were hilarious as the gym buffs and Dennis was also wonderful as Billie the Lion, Jonathan Ellul was sublime as Rose’s dog Love.
Lorenzo Savoini was responsible for creating a magical set which was striking in blush and pink tones and was a lovely surprise when the curtains parted. He also created the dreamy lighting and the inventive projection design of children’s illustrations, it was like being inside a story book.
Gregory Prest does a remarkable job directing this lively piece. Lots of bodies on stage all choreographed precisely. Rose climbs a mountain made of moving tables which I am sure required a lot of creativity to have it run smoothly and safely.
I left Rose thinking this is what we need in the world right now. Stories of fighting through obstacles, of being there for your friends, of making mistakes and forging on anyway. I laughed and I cried and I left the theatre full. What a lovely piece of magic.