Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Gigi

A Visual Delight, but Not Enough Intellectual Stimulation
By Lauren Yarger
In what is the biggest snub of the 2015 Tony Award nominations, Gigi snagged only a Best featured Actress nomination for Victoria Clark, but failed to get a nod for its beautiful costumes by Catherine Zuber or Parisian sets designed by Derek McLane.

This Broadway revival is a sensory delight, so the oversight is a bit baffling. The book and lyrics Alan Jay Lerner with a score by Frederick Loewe are pretty unremarkable, though a few songs, like "I Remember It Well" and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls"  live on. An old-fashioned overture opens the show.

The action directed by Eric Schaeffer, is insipid. But the gorgeous sets, which look like artist sketches and works of art in a gallery and those meticulously created costumes are worth the price of the ticket. The show was robbed as far as the Tonys go (Zuber did receive Drama Desk nomination.)

Gigi began life as a 1944 novella by Colette, was adapted for the Broadway stage in 1951 as a straight play by author Anita Loos and starred an unknown Audrey Hepburn in the title role. In 1956 as Gigi, it became Lerner and Loewe's first screen musical. turned it into the musical, "Gigi," as their first musical written for the screen and it swept the Oscars.

Now a plot that was fresh and exciting in 1951 doesn't always revive well onstage, so Heidi Thomas of TV's “Call the Midwife”) was brought in for a new book adaptation, It still doesn't work. The story and music is fairly uninteresting (people were getting up and walking out to use the facilities during the show) and the jokes don't work.

Gigi (High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens) is an effervescent young girl in turn-of-the-20th century Paris who is being groomed as a courtesan in the tradition of her Aunt Alicia (Dee Hoty) and grandmother, Madame "Mamita" Alvarez (Clark).

OK, I'm out. The idea of offering up this young girl as a sex object to some man is not a good plot for anything in my opinion.
Complications ensue as Mamita's old flame, for lack of a better word, Honoré Lachaille (Howard McGillan) and his dashing nephew, Gaston (Corey Cott) become involved in the lives of the women. Gigi realizes she has fallen in love with Gaston, but Aunt Alicia wants her to wait until a deal is struck.

Gaston initially courts Liane d'Exelmans (Stefanie Leigh) but finds that he too has fallen in love with the little girl he has known so long -- who has grown into a beautiful woman (made plain by Zuber's stunning gown). Gigi balks at the offer of being only his mistress, however.

The always excellent Clark does her best with the role and delivers a moving rendition of "Say a Prayer." Hudgens has a lovely voice and shows amazing breath control while doing Joshuah Bergasse's choreography,

But while I enjoyed watching the show, I didn't enjoy it. I and Gigi needed something more.

Gigi plays at the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm;  Tickets are $75.75 - $156.75: http://gigionbroadway.com.

Full disclosure: One of the show's producers, Pat Addiss is a personal friend. 

Christians might like to know:
-- Besides the whole courtesan thing, no content notes.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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