Published in English
Gigi (pronounced: [ʒi.ʒi]) is a 1944 novella by French writer Colette. The plot focuses on a young Parisian girl being groomed for a career as a courtesan and her relationship with the wealthy cultured man named Gaston who falls in love with her and eventually marries her.
In 1951, it was adapted for the stage by Anita Loos. Colette had personally picked the yet unknown Audrey Hepburn on first sight to play the title role. Her Aunt Alicia was played by stage legend Cathleen Nesbitt, who was to become Hepburn's acting mentor from that time on. Opening on 24 November 1951 on Broadway at the Fulton Theatre, the play ran for 219 performances (finishing on 31 May 1952) and Hepburn's debut on Broadway earned her a Theatre World Award.
Seven years later, a musical film version with a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner and a score by Lerner and Frederick Loewe won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This film version starred Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan. The story of a girl being groomed to be a courtesan by her grandmother made producer Arthur Freed doubt making it as a straight drama would be acceptable to the American censors, so they "cleaned it up" and turned it into a musical.
Lerner and Loewe adapted the film for a 1973 stage musical that proved to be unsuccessful.
A pre-Broadway production of the musical, newly adapted by Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife, Cranford, Upstairs Downstairs) and directed by Eric D. Schaeffer (Follies, Million Dollar Quartet) is planned to run the Kennedy Center in January 2015.
References and notes
- Gigi at the Internet Broadway Database
- "Vintage reissue of 1953 edition". Retrieved 2009-04-15.
- According to Caron in an interview on TCM, [producer] Arthur Freed came on the set of Lili and said "I don't know what they're doing. They're ruining the image I worked so hard to create. I made you a star, I made you glamorous, and you look so pathetic in this grey dress and straight hair and no makeup, you look just pitiful; I've got to make another film to restore you to stardom. Any ideas?" She suggested Colette's story Gigi, having acted in the play in London and loved the story.
- Gans, Andrew. "Pre-Broadway Engagement of Gigi, Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Will Play Kennedy Center" playbill.com, November 6, 2013
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