Vanessa Hudgens WOWS as "Gigi" at the Kennedy Center

A revival of “Gigi,” the 1973 musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, is in on its way to Broadway, but its first stop is here in Washington, D.C. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  If last Saturday night’s show is any indication, the show is Broadway-ready.

Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical fame) is the undeniable star of the Parisian-inspired musical, but the cast is full of additional star-power, such as Tony Award winner, Victoria Clark as Gigi’s grandmother; Steffanie Leigh as Liane, a rival of Gigi; and Corey Cott, as Gaston (“Newsies”). On a side-note, just commenting: Corey Cott is H-O-T....HOT! The graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama landed acting gigs immediately after receiving his diploma, and is immensely talented.  

The plot of “Gigi” is centered on a coming-of-age concept. Gigi makes her first appearance on stage as a teenage girl, improper in her manners in almost every way. Yet her grandmother and aunt have high expectations for her and debate her place in high-society.

Gaston does not initially present himself to Gigi as a love interest. Instead, he is a close family friend, as a former pupil of her grandmother.  Gigi also does not initially consider him as a romantic option.  After all, Gaston is in a relationship with Liane.

But Liane, while rich and beautiful, is a flake; she cheats on Gaston with her music teacher.  This act of infidelity persuades Gaston to end their relationship, and news of the breakup appears in the social section of the newspapers, a recurring theme in the play, as all members of Paris’ high-society must be very concerned with appearances.

Enter Gigi, who begins to change under the guidance of her aunt and grandmother.  She becomes womanly, transforming from a young pixie into a sophisticated young woman. This transformation catches the eye of Gaston, now free from Liane.  Gaston woos her, and predictably, wins her affections with a fairytale-like ending.

While the story-line is predictable, the musical’s harmonious score, athletic dance numbers, and ornate staging and costumes are nothing short of spectacular, injecting huge life into the classics from the original production, such as “I Remember it Well,” and “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”  Anyone who saw the original will find much new in the show, thanks to British playwright and screenwriter Heidi Thomas, who brilliantly weaves many subtle comedic moments into the script.

“Gigi” re-starts on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater on April 8th.  If you missed the show in DC, this show is a great excuse to visit New York City!

[Image Credit: Joan Marcus & Margot Schulman]