June 2, 2015


Neil Simon Theatre
May 30, 2015 matinee

Happy Tony Awards week, everyone! This past weekend, I saw the revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical, Gigi, which is currently playing on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre following a short run at the Kennedy Center in January. Gigi was originally conceived by the French writer Colette in her 1945 novel, and the novel was later adapted into an Academy Award winning movie and then a Broadway musical in 1973. The musical ran for only 110 performances on Broadway. 

My interpretation of Gigi evokes themes of female empowerment and feminism, and although these themes are often present on a Broadway stage, perhaps they are not present often enough. The story begins with Gigi as a young, carefree girl begrudgingly taking “society” lessons from her Aunt Alicia, who wishes to mold Gigi into a high class mistress, a common pursuit for privileged women in 1900’s Paris. Gigi is bored by the apparent obsession with “making love” in Parisian society, and prefers to explore the world beyond Paris. Gigi spends much of her time with her grandmother, Mamita, and the nephew of her grandmother’s former lover, Gaston, who is a rich socialite. Aunt Alicia and Mamita conspire to mold Gigi into a high-society woman, so that she may catch the eye of Gaston. Before long, Gaston falls in love with Gigi, and the clandestine plan is effective until Gigi decides that she does not wish to be someone’s mistress; rather, she desires something more meaningful. Gigi and Gaston must decide if they have a future together. 

I enjoyed this production of Gigi very much. First of all, the costumes by Catherine Zuber are stunningly beautiful. In particular, Victoria Clark (Mamita) and many ensemble actors wore gorgeous turn-of-the-century hats that I wish were still in style so I could have an excuse to wear one. (Costumes- Major Tony snub). I enjoyed all of the music and choreography. I think that Lerner and Loewe’s score is a bit underrated and I will very likely add this cast recording to my collection of Broadway music.   

Although this is a revival of an old musical, the production is youthful (like its lead character), energetic, and new. It doesn’t feel “old” or outdated at all. As Gigi, Vanessa Hudgens gives a respectable and solid performance. Unlike some movie stars cast in Broadway musicals, Hudgens can actually sing and dance and act, which is refreshing, and she appears to be working very hard to give a Broadway-caliber performance. Her performance is youthful, vibrant, and spirited. I enjoyed watching her perform on stage. 

Tony-nominated Victoria Clark is pretty much perfect in this part. She is the epitome of class and grace. In addition to wearing stunning costumes and hats, her voice is like butter, her singing is perfectly effortless. What I liked most about her performance was that it didn’t only serve the purpose of portraying Gigi’s grandmother and telling Gigi’s story- her character possessed a unique story of her own and offered the audience some depth and intrigue. 

Coming from the recent Broadway production of Newsies, Corey Cott was fantastic as Gaston and I enjoyed seeing him tackle a more mature role on stage. After seeing him in two shows, I really think he has the potential to have a long and productive career on Broadway. It’s hard to put into words, but he has an impressionable stage presence. His second act number, “Gigi”, was lovely. 

As Aunt Alicia, Dee Hoty nailed this comedic character. I particularly enjoyed her scenes with her “sister”, Victoria Clark- they had good chemistry together. Howard McGillin as Honore was also very good, and I also enjoyed his scenes with Victoria Clark. Come to think of it, Victoria Clark had good chemistry with everyone on stage. Though not the most likable character, Steffanie Leigh was very entertaining as the over-dramatic and wandering mistress of Gaston, Liane. 

Gigi was a very enjoyable afternoon at the theatre. I hope that you will consider checking it out at the Neil Simon Theatre!

1 comment:

  1. After seeing the Tony performance of Gigi, I really wanted to see this! Sad it closed...will have to hope for tour or local production now!