Review by Tulis McCall
10 April 2015
Let me get this straight. Gigi, based on the novella by Colette, is the story of a young woman coming of age in Paris, 1900. How delish. This young woman is being raised by her grandmother because her mother, well, who knows? She was, ahem, not married. Gigi (Vanessa Hudgens) is fortunate because her grandmother, Mamita (Victoria Clark) is a simple woman who makes her living through calligraphy. And what she wants for her granddaughter is only the best. Gigi’s great Aunt Alicia (Dee Hoty) also wants the best, and for her that means to be the highest quality mistress in all of Paris. The perfect choice of the man is Gaston Lachaille (Corey Cott), the sugar baron, who has been friends with Gigi and Mamita for years – he is Mamita’s former student. Gigi has been growing up in front of his eyes and when she blossoms both older women want him to be the first one on the scene.
Of course it will all work out for the best because this is a Lerner and Loewe musical. In the end (spoiler alert) Gaston realizes that he cannot go through with the proposition – to which Gigi, pure as she is, has agreed because she would rather be miserable with him than happy without him – and he gushes a proposal at just the right moment.
Seriously? You betcha. Welcome to Broadway.
The production has done everything it can to sublimate the story. There is a positively Walt Disney quality running throughout the production. Gigi is positively perky, singing, dancing and twirling around in French schoolgirl clothes until the moment of the womanly unveiling. But at the unveiling the only elements that change are sartorial. Gaston is so clean he nearly glistens, and is more of a good natured chum, with a fabulous set of pipes, than a man whose sexual conquests litter the streets of Paris. The only glimmer of impropriety comes from Aunt Alicia, but Hoty is having such a delicious time swanning around in some seriously gorgeous costumes that it is easy to forget she is talking about auctioning off her grand niece. Even our narrator, Honore Lachaille (Howard McGillin) has morphed from being a 70 year old man with a wandering eye into a sporty gent without one sensual bone in his body.
The costumes are heavenly, the set is an extraordinary play on Tiffany and the Eiffel Tower, and the music is Lerner and Loewe – whose musical My Fair Lady opened two years before the original film. You can hear the echoes of much of that music here. And isn’t it WONDERFUL to hear an orchestra, not to mention an overture.
Everyone tries their best, but Heidi Thompson, who has achieved a great success with Call The Midwife, has adapted the stuffing out of this story. She even takes the iconic Thank Heaven For Little Girls away from the senior Lachaille and gives it to Clark and Hoty. Another iconic duet I Remember It Well lacks the remembrance of passion that Mamita and Lachaille once shared, and their I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore positively plods. There is little chemistry between these two “old” birds. (Bring back Hermione and Maurice!!) One wonders when Victoria Clark will get another musical of her own. Her voice is rich and crystal clear, and she knows exactly what to do with it – if given the chance. Ditto Ms. Hoty.
This is a Gigi, unfortunately, a sleight of hand production that tries to be all things to all people so that you can bring your daughters to the theatre – because in the end the gal gets her man and keeps her honor. The result is a rather bland soufflé that is too hard on the outside and too soft at the center.
"Pretty and pleasant revival."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"The show is like a hyperactive French poodle. Sit! Stay! Charm! S’il vous plait! No such luck."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"This honorable 'Gigi' may be a good pick if you can’t get into 'Wicked' on Take Your Daughter to the Theater Day."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Eric Schaeffer’s revival... rescues the show from the dustbin of history and moves it to a recycling bin of the present."
Adam Feldman for Time Out New York
"It's all about the bubbly Champagne. Everyone keeps singing about it but when it arrives, it's lukewarm and flat. Thank heaven for other choices."
Mark Kennedy for The Associated Press
"A lazy eye roll is about the most extreme reaction likely to be provoked by this pretty but charm-deficient revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical, which plants an all-American, too-contemporary Vanessa Hudgens in a wanly unatmospheric Belle Époque Paris."
David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter
"Prudish American audiences can relax. There’s nothing to offend their tender sensibilities in this antiseptic version of 'Gigi.'"
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...