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Lerner and Loewe's "Gigi" Is Revived at the Neil Simon Theatre
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Lerner and Loewe's "Gigi" Is Revived at the Neil Simon Theatre

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Jenna Segal, Segal NYC Productions
Ilya Mikhailovic Productions, Eion and Mia Hu
et al.

Vanessa Hudgens
Victoria Clark, Corey Cott, Dee Hoty,
Howard McGillin, and Steffanie Leigh

(Gigi Website)

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe

Adaptation: Heidi Thomas
Based on the novel by Colette

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed by Eric Schaeffer
Choreography by Joshua Bergasse
Music Supervision by James Moore

At the
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street

Scenic Design: Derek McLane
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Kai Harada
Wig and Hair Design: David Brian Brown
Makeup Design: Jon Carter
Voice and Dialect Coach: Ben Furey
Assoc. Director: Joe Barros
Assoc. Choreographer: Alison Solomon
Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen
Music Direction: Greg Jarrett
Music Arrangements: Matt Aument
Arrangements: Sam Davis
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting, CSA
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan Brown
Advertising: SPOTCO
Marketing Director: Type A Marketing
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
Production Stage Manager: Bonnie Panson
Company Manager: Katrina Elliott
General Management:
Foresight Theatrical/Allan Williams/Lane Marsh

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 14, 2015

The opening of the musical revival of Gigi at the Neil Simon Theatre was unfortunately close to the opening of the new musical, An American in Paris, with its mix of ballet and song. Gigi actually had great, original Lerner and Loewe songs to work with and a straightforward plot, but, again, unfortunately, opportunities were wasted. Most importantly, a musical set in Paris and Trouville, with all the characters native French, could not muster a quasi-French accent among them. That is, Honoré Lachaille (Howard McGillin), sang “I Remember It Well” with Mamita (Victoria Clark, as Gigi’s grandmother), like they were singing “Yesterdays”. In the role of Gigi, now 18, is Vanessa Hudgens, dressed like the storybook Madeline, dashing to and fro like a teen in a television sitcom. As the peripatetic playboy, Gaston, Honoré’s bored nephew, Corey Cott has something of a teen façade himself. Gigi’s retired, courtesan Aunt Alicia, Mamita’s confidante, is Dee Hoty. There’s no Louis Jordan, Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Hermione Gingold, or Eva Gabor here, who, respectively, played Gaston, Gigi, Honoré, Mamita, and Aunt Alicia in the 1958 hit, Vincente Minnelli, musical film, itself based on Colette’s 1944 novella and 1951 Anita Loos play. Alas, tonight, not even a whiff of ennui or savoir faire.

Gigi is supposed to be a courtesan in progress, trained by Aunt Alicia in the pouring of coffee from a sterling silver pot directly into a porcelain cup, held en air. Gigi’s hand trembles, as she’s tutored for high society, now of age to seal her fate with a wealthy, fine-suited man. The primping and plotting finely pay off, when Gigi matures before our eyes “, “Gigi”, the title song, sung by a swooning Gaston. On the way to Gaston’s swooning, the audience swoons at Derek McLane’s scenic Bois de Boulogne, Le Petit Palais, Maxim’s, and the beach in Trouville. I have actually visited some of these same venues and enjoyed Mr. McLane’s detailed, elegant interiors, exquisite landscapes, and Parisian effervescence. Champagne flowed onstage, in song, and in spirit. Ms. Clark, as Mamita, stole the show, singing her solo, “Say a Prayer” (which Gigi had sung in the film). “I Remember It Well”, for Mamita and Honoré, her former lover, who’s trying for a reunion, sung here in flat English, lacked sensuality and luster, although Mr. McGillin is poised and talented. Mr. Cott, a success in the youthful show, Newsies, seemed dressed for a prom tonight, lacking panache and joie de vivre. His favorite coquette, Liane d’Exelmans (Steffanie Leigh), may be in her breakout role here, very charismatic in nuanced, jealous gesture.

Other than Mr. McLane, scenic designer, and Ms. Clark, there are additional stars, like Catherine Zuber, costume designer, who created lush gowns and accessories for Maxim’s, Trouville, and Paris strolls. Natasha Katz illuminated the festivities in deep red light, evocative of courtesans and can-cans. In fact, choreographer, Joshua Bergasse, infused Maxim’s with one of the wildest can-cans on Broadway in some time. As the stage was usually busy, choreography was confined, but robust. Kai Harada’s sound was fully crisp and sumptuous, and Greg Jarrett’s orchestra made the most of the Frederick Loewe tunes, thanks to James Moore’s music supervision. Eric Schaeffer has (third “unfortunately”) directed with little Parisian flair, except in Maxim’s, at times, that is. Gigi, the character, is supposed to be endearing and ingénue, not hyper and brash. Which brings me back to that other new musical about Paris. I’d love to see a great choreographer, maybe Mr. Bergasse is up to the task, of creating Gigi, the ballet! This story would be ripe for revealing itself in balletic mime to this ebullient, effervescent score. Then, maybe it would be ready to return to Broadway, with authentic French actors in tow. “Say a Prayer”.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at