Gigi

PLAY: Original London West End Production with Leslie Caron 1956

PLAY: 1st London West End Revival with Veronica Quilligan 1976

MUSICAL: Original London West End Productionwith Amanda Waring 1985

MUSICAL: London Revival (Open Air Theatre) with Lisa O'Hare 2008


Based on the novel by Colette. Capturing the romance and chivalry of fin-de-siecle Paris from around the turn of the twentieth century. Gigi is being groomed to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a famous courtesan - but then she captures the heart of a rich playboy.

The PLAY version was adapted for the stage by Anita Loos and was first staged on Broadway in 1951 starring Audrey Hepburn in the title role in a production that run for some six months. The play premiered in London's West End in 1956 with Leslie Caron in the title role.

In 1958 the MUSICAL film version was produced by Arthur Freed at MGM with music and lyrics by Fredrick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the cast featured Leslie Caron in the title role (having already played the role in the non-musical version in London two years previous) and Maurice Chevalier as 'Honore'. The film went on to win nine Oscars including for 'Best Picture'. The musical version includes the songs I Remember it Well; The Night They Invented Champagne; and Thank Heaven for Little Girls.

Lerner and Loewe's other West End musicals include My Fair Lady, Paint Your Wagon and Brigadoon.


PLAY - Original London West End Production 1956

Opened 23 May 1956, Closed 1 September 1956 at the New Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)

The cast featured Leslie Caron as 'Gigi', Ena Burrill as 'Mme. Alvarez', Kathleen Michael as 'Andree', Tony Britton as 'Gaston Lachaille', Esme Percy as 'Victor', Estelle Winwood as 'Alicia de St. Ephlam' and Jessie Evans as 'Sidonie'. Directed by Peter Hall with designs by Disley Jones.


PLAY - 1st London West End Revival 1976

Opened 5 May 1976, Closed 26 June 1976 at the Fortune Theatre

The cast featured Veronica Quilligan as 'Gigi', Mary Kerridge as 'Mme. Alvarez', Anna Sharkey as 'Andree', Simon Williams as 'Gaston Lachaille', Clifford Parrish as 'Victor' and Lila Kedrova as 'Alicia de St. Ephlam'. Directed by David Giles with designs by Kenneth Mellor and lighting by Howard Eldridge.


MUSICAL - Original London West End Production 1985

Previewed 31 August 1985, Opened 17 September 1985, Closed 19 April 1986 at the Lyric Theatre

The original cast featured Amanda Waring as 'Gigi', Beryl Reid as 'Mamita', Jean-Pierre Aumont as 'Honore Lachailles', Geoffrey Burridge as 'Gaston Lachailles' and Sian Phillips as 'Aunt Alicia'. Directed by John Dexter with designs by Jocelyn Herbert and lighting Andy Phillips.

Diana Coupland took over the role of 'Mamita' from Beryl Reid for the last last couple of weeks of the run.

The film musical had already been presented as a 'full-blown' stage production on Broadway in 1973 but it had closed after only three months - for this London staging it was thereforeespecially adapted as a smaller 'chamber-style' musical.


MUSICAL - London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 2008

Previewed 6 August 2008, Opened 14 August 2008, Closed 13 September 2008 at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park

The cast featured Lisa O'Hare as 'Gigi', Millicent Martin as 'Mamita', Chaim Topol as 'Honore Lachailles', Thomas Borchert as 'Gaston Lachailles' and Linda Thorson as 'Aunt Alicia' with Paul Bentley as 'Dufresne', David Lucas as 'Duclos', Amy Ellen Richardson as 'Liane', Richard Pettyfer as 'Manuel' along with Rachael Archer,Jennie Dale, Nina French, Francis Haugen, Shaun Henson, Jo Morris, Zoe Rainey, Myra Sands, Laura Scott, Kate Tydman and Kerry Washington. Directed by Timothy Sheader with choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Yannis Thavoris, lighting by Simon Mills and sound by Mike Walker.

"Topol is as firmly associated with the musical Fiddler On The Roof as Maurice Chevalier is with Gigi, Lerner and Loewe's followup to My Fair Lady. Since both spend a great deal of time chummily addressing the audience, casting the former in the role made famous by the latter is not quite as daft as it sounds... He seems to plead our indulgence as he rattles through the unfortunately titled Thank Heaven For Little Girls and he makes an entertaining old roue with his infectious beam and his gouty tremble - even if his singing diction sometimes suffers in its attempt to convey Frenchness. But the strength of Timothy Sheader's production is not the attention-grabbing casting so much as the confidence with which it displays the grubby underbelly of belle epoque Paris. That was always the theme of Colette's novella about a girl groomed as a mistress-for-pay by her courtesan grandmother and great-aunt... As a sailor-suited Gigi, Lisa O'Hare has to convince a modern audience she has no inkling of sex as she turns 16, but she makes it work - a playful, coltish waif who turns into a terrified swan as soon as her rich friend Gaston (Thomas Borchert) notices she is a woman. The stand-out performance is from Linda Thorson as Aunt Alicia, a gloriously ruthless diva dressed in a seriously shocking pink. Her number, The Contract, has a dark-centred wit that is far more sophisticated than the better-known songs from the show." The Daily Express

"Gigi's granny and great-aunt, meaning Millicent Martin's kindly Mamita and Linda Thorson's commanding Alicia, may want their protegee to follow the family tradition, which is (Alicia's words) not to get married at once but maybe to 'get married at last'. But Lisa O'Hare's Gigi has the self-respect to resist becoming the plaything of Thomas Borchert's Gaston; and Gaston has the respect and love for her that transforms him from glammy lover into prospective husband. Lerner and Loewe saw Gigi as a thematically similar follow-up to their My Fair Lady, and it has some good hums to offer... but it's not quite as sophisticated as its creators thought. Myself, I tired both of their knowing tributes to the gay Paree, whose epicentre is Maxim's, and of the ladies and gents who endlessly patrol the stage in their Belle Epoque costumes, adding period prettiness to Timothy Sheader's slick revival. Still, Thorson makes a fine monster in her magenta dress... and O'Hare is sweetly demure after her Gigi has hit adulthood. However, her earlier attempts to play the bouncing gamine in a tomboy suit seemed forced." The Times

"Everyone knows the songs, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, from the multi-Oscar-winning 1968 film. But what boosts the simple story of how young tomboy Gigi wins the heart of determined and very rich bachelor Gaston is the wittiest of scripts, also by Lerner... Lerner's lyrics are brilliant, too, injecting such songs as I Remember It Well and I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore with such joie de vivre that middle-aged members of the audience might actually start looking forward to their pensions. Lisa O'Hare - a star in the making if ever there was - is a perfect Gigi, every bit as cute as the movie's Leslie Caron. She has a fine voice and her ballet training ensures she can dance the rest of the cast into oblivion. Millicent Martin, as her grandmother, and, especially, Linda Thorson - once of The Avengers on TV - as her scheming aunt, provide classy support." The Sun

The musical Gigi in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 6 August 2008, opened on 14 August 2008 and closed on 13 September 2008