Original Cast Recording
|Lyrics||Alan Jay Lerner|
|Book||Alan Jay Lerner|
|Basis||Novel by Colette|
1985 West End
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Score|
Gigi is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. It is based on the novella Gigi by Colette and 1958 hit musical film of the same name. The story concerns Gigi, a free-spirited teenaged girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She is being groomed as a courtesan in her family's tradition. Before she is deemed ready for her social debut, she encounters the bon vivant bachelor Gaston Lachaille, whom she captivates as she is transformed into a charmingly poised young lady.
Gigi took several steps on its journey to the musical stage. It first appeared as a 1945 novel by Colette, which was adapted for the screen with Danièle Delorme in 1948. In 1951 Anita Loos adapted the novel for the stage, and the Broadway production starred Audrey Hepburn in her first major role.
Seven years later, while My Fair Lady was in Philadelphia prior to its New York City opening, Arthur Freed approached Lerner about a feature film musical adaptation. Although Loewe had vowed never to work in movies, he was charmed by the book and agreed to collaborate on the project. The 1958 film of Gigi proved to be a major critical and commercial success and the winner of nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Edwin Lester, founder of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, asked for a stage version of the film Gigi, and Lerner and Loewe then wrote the stage musical. They added four songs and a ballet for the stage adaptation. Gigi premiered at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco, on May 15, 1973, and then embarked on a six-month tour.
The musical opened on Broadway on November 13, 1973 at the Uris Theatre,where it ran for 103 performances and seven previews. Directed by Joseph Hardy and choreographed by Onna White, the cast included Karin Wolfe as Gigi, Daniel Massey as Gaston, Maria Karnilova as Mamita, Agnes Moorehead as Aunt Alicia, and Alfred Drake as Honoré. Arlene Francis replaced the ailing Moorehead later in the run (Moorehead died of cancer on April 30, 1974). An original cast recording was released by RCA Victor. Louis Jourdan starred in a production that toured the United States in the mid 1980s, not in his original role as Gaston, but rather as Honoré.
The West End production opened on 17 September 1985 at the Lyric Theatre, where it ran for seven months. The cast included Amanda Waring as Gigi and Geoffrey Burridge as Gaston, with Beryl Reid as Mamita, Siân Phillips as Aunt Alicia, and Jean-Pierre Aumont as Honoré.
A London cast album was released by First Night Records.
Honoré Lachaille explains that in turn-of-the-century Paris, marriage is not the only option. His nephew Gaston is a rich bon vivant, much like his uncle. But Gaston is bored with the high life and his series of mistresses. The one thing he truly enjoys is spending time with an old friend of his uncle, Madame Alvarez, whom he calls Mamita, and especially her granddaughter, the precocious, carefree Gilberte or "Gigi". Gaston's Uncle Honoré was involved romantically with Mamita, although advancing age has confused their recollections of the past.
Madame Alvarez sends Gigi to her Aunt Alicia's to learn to be a high-society courtesan in their family's tradition. Gigi is initially a very poor student, as she does not understand the reasons behind her education and finds Parisians' obsession with making love inexplicable. She does, however, enjoy spending time with Gaston, whom she treats as an older brother. Alicia is unhappy to discover that Gaston took Gigi and Madame Alvarez on holiday, as her sister had not consulted her. She insists that Gigi's education must increase dramatically if she is to catch a prize such as Gaston. Mamita is shocked, but sees the advantages it could bring Gigi and so goes along with the plan - though neither tells Gigi of their scheming. Gigi is miserable in her lessons, but puts up with them as a necessary evil, though she still seems awkward and bumbling to her perfectionist aunt.
Gaston visits and is shocked to see Gigi in an alluring white gown. He tells her she looks ridiculous and storms out, but returns later and apologizes, offering to make it up by taking her to dinner. Mamita refuses, telling Gaston that, with his reputation, a young girl seen in his company might be labelled in such a way as could damage her future. Gaston is enraged again, storms out, and wanders the streets of Paris in a fury.
Gaston realises that he has fallen in love with Gigi. He returns to Mamita and strikes a business arrangement to take Gigi as his mistress, promising to provide the girl with luxury and kindness. He visits Gigi later, but she tells him she does not wish to become someone's mistress; she wants more for herself than to be passed between men, only desired until they grow tired of her and she is moved on to another. Gaston is horrified at this portrayal of the life he wishes to give her, and leaves stunned. Later, however, Gigi contacts him; when Gaston returns, Gigi says she would "rather be miserable with [him] than without [him]."
Later that night Gigi emerges from her room prepared to accept her fate and take up her role as Gaston's mistress. For the first time, she appears as a woman, not a young girl. Gaston is enchanted when he picks Gigi up to take her to dinner at Maxim's, a popular Paris restaurant. Gigi's awkwardness is gone and she seems perfectly at ease. Nevertheless, patrons' stares make Gaston uncomfortable as he realises Gigi's interpretation of things may have been accurate after all. He discovers that his love for her makes the idea of her as his mistress an unbearable one. Angered by Honoré's comments, Gaston leaves the party with Gigi in tow, taking her home without explanation. A weeping Gigi begs to know what she has done to offend him, but Gaston does not answer until he arrives at Mamita's and humbly asks for Gigi's hand in marriage.
Awards and nominations
- Tony Award for Best Original Score (winner)
- Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical (Drake, nominee)
- Tony Award for Best Scenic Design (nominee)
- Tony Award for Best Costume Design (nominee)
- Green, Stanley; Schmidt, Elaine. "'Gigi', 1958" Hollywood Musicals Year By Year, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000, ISBN 0-634-00765-3, p.219
- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3825 Find A Grave website, page for Arthur Freed
- Suskin, Steven. "'Gigi' Album Notes" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed January 20, 2011
- Barnes, Clive. "'Gigi Is Here Again as Stage Musical" New York Times (Article Preview), November 14, 1973, p. 39
- Gigi ThisIsTheatre.com
- Nightingale, Benedict. "'Gigi' on London Stage" New York Times (Article Preview), 19 September 1985, p. C36
- Gans, Andrew. "Pre-Broadway Engagement of Gigi, Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Will Play Kennedy Center" playbill.com, November 6, 2013
- Gigi at the Internet Broadway Database
- 'Gigi' Production and Synopsis at Tams-Witmark
- 'Gigi' at Ovrtur.com