Show/Venue: Gigi at the Neil Simon Theatre
Date: Saturday, March 21st, 2015 @ 8pm
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Corey Cott, Victoria Clark
Sometimes in the city, your plans fall through; so what’s better to do than to go see a show. Ever since seeing Corey Cott in Newsies, he quickly became one of my Broadway crushes, so I had been waiting to see him in Gigi. Additionally, my 2007-2008 self, in all my High School Musical fandom, was interested in seeing Vanessa Hudgens in her Broadway debut as Gigi. The TKTS Booth in Times Square always saves the day, when I want to see a last minute show and they didn’t disappoint this time; I got second row, center for the third preview show.
I had not seen the movie with Audrey Hepburn, so I sadly had to use Wikipedia to learn about the story of the show. The Neil Simon was a packed house, with a lot of HSM fans sitting around me, eagerly buzzing about Vanessa and their expectations for her performance.
The premise of Gigi, is about a young girl, Gigi (Vanessa Hudgens), growing up in Paris under the eye of her grandmother, Mamita (Victoria Clark). Mamita also has a friendship with the city’s most desired young man, Gaston (Corey Cott). In the opening of the show, Gaston is given advice by his own grandfather, Honore Lachaille (Howard McGillin), to love being in love and not to settle for one woman, because there is no need (“It’s a Bore).
We are then taken to Aunt Alicia (Dee Hoty)’s apartment, where Gigi is learning proper Parisian etiquette, which the young girl does not have the taste for. From Alicia, Gigi is instructed on the finer things in life, like jewelry and how to pour a proper cup of tea. Gigi’s patience wanes and she laments about her life in Paris and not understanding their customs (“The Parisians”).
The audience then sees that Gaston has fallen for Liane d’Exelmans (Steffanie Leigh), even with Gigi in tow. They arrive at Liane’s “singing lesson,” where it’s clear that something more is going on with Liane and her instructor. The newspapers are a buzz of Gaston’s relationship with Liane (“The Gossips”), which is more than he can take. Gaston decides to head out to Maxim’s, an exclusive nightclub, to help make his troubles disappear. To his surprise, Liane is already there with her singing instructor, which basically ends his relationship with Liane (“She Is Not Thinking Of Me”).
When Aunt Alicia and Mamita learn of Gaston’s new bachelorhood, they setup a plan to have him court Gigi. Alicia will continue Gigi’s etiquette lessons, while making sure that Gaston notices the changes in this young girl. In the meantime, Mamita and Honore reconnect and the audience learns of their love, from when they were young (“I Remember It Well”).
Back at Mamita’s apartment, Mamita, Gaston and Gigi have a little celebration and Gigi tries champagne for the first time. This leads in to the Act One Finale of “The Night They Invented Champagne,” which is a big dance number that was a lot of fun to watch, including the can-can influences and when all the female dancers leaped into splits right at the front of the stage!
When the show resumes in Act two, they are at the beach in Trouville, and Gigi is experiencing all the fun that Gaston’s money has to offer, while they enjoy a life of leisure (“I Never Want to Go Home Again”). Then, back in Paris, Aunt Alicia is plotting how to make sure that Gaston will fall for Gigi. She and Mamita begin to work on a new look for Gigi, which leaves Gaston stunned and he insults Gigi’s new dress, before realizing that he’s fallen for her and that’s really what threw him off his guard (“Gigi”).
Once Gaston has realized his feelings for Gigi, he creates a sort of pre-nup with Aunt Alicia and Mamita (“The Contract”), which is a funny number involving lawyers and Aunt Alicia securing a very rich fortune for young Gigi. However, this plan backfires, as Gigi does not want to be courted just like all of Gaston’s previous women. Gaston then works to win Gigi back and they figure out a way to be together (“In This Wide, Wide World”).
Overall, I was very impressed with Vanessa Hudgens acting and performance. All of the things that may have been annoying about her in High School Musical (the overacting, her giggle), those things worked well for her character in the show. She really made the transition from young Gigi to the young woman that Gaston falls for with ease.
But my hands down favorite part of the show was Corey Cott’s performance. Right before “The Night They Invented Champagne,” he broke character after breaking a champagne glass on stage, and he was still adorable! As soon as the glass broke, he looked directly into the audience and said “Previews!” Which everyone laughed about and the other actors quickly recovered and brought him a new “glass” to drink out of.
There was a couple next to me who were seeing Corey perform for the first time and when he was done singing “Gigi,” the woman kept exclaiming “his voice!” and she gave him a standing ovation during the curtain call, so I was not the only fan in the audience. It was easy to see why this show made the quick leap to the Broadway stage after just starting a run in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center. And I would easily recommend it to friends to go and see.
2. It’s a Bore
3. The Parisians
4. A Toujours
5. The Parisians (Reprise)
6. The Gossips
7. She Is Not Thinking Of Me
8. Thank Heaven for Little Girls
9. Paris Is Paris Again
10. I Remember It Well
11. The Night They Invented Champagne
1. I Never Want to Go Home Again
2. Thank Heaven for Little Girls (Reprise)
4. The Contract
5. I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore
6. The Letter
7. Say a Prayer
8. The Gossips (Reprise)
9. In This Wide, Wide World