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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

at Open Air-Regents Park

By Michael Leech

  Lisa O’Hare’s /PH: Alastair Muir

Ah, it is ever fascinating to take a time trip and with the musical Gigi one does just that - backwards to the time of the Belle Epoque in a Paris shimmering like an exotic turn-of-the-century dream. That remarkable chronicler of love for sale, Colette, wrote her romance about a young girl being groomed for such a career in a Paris she had discovered for herself was a hard, practical place with a price on everything, including love..

She creates an intriguing family with a past - two sisters who have been 'kept women' and Gigi, a lively pretty teenager discovering life for herself, while her sophisticated aunt grooms her - love, she knows, is a business like anything else. Fortunately, despite the canny bargaining, she triumphs to the surprise of all.with the rich young man - Gaston - and catches him.

After their fabled success with My Fair Lady in the Fifties, and success with Camelot in the Sixties, the celebrated and witty team of Lerner and Loewe launched Gigi with Alfred Drake on Broadway in the Seventies, which I was fortunate enough to see after lining-up for a standing room ticket.

Gigi still carries a shining style and gives out an array of parts, especially for the girls which the actresses here rise to with great panache and fine voices. As the old charmer recalling his associations and who smiles with pleasure at his memories Chaim Topol (of Fiddler on the Roof fame) is a joy of an old boy, and so are Millicent Martin and Linda Thorson as once glamorous old girls themselves, now eager to get Gigi launched. Lisa O'Hare is a competent Gigi.

The raft of good songs are well sung, costumes are splendid, and the sheer delight of the performers in ther roles gives this revival a great boost: as staged by Timothy Sheader this Open Air production in Regent's Park runs to mid-September. A show still as heady as one of its good songs - "The Night They Invented Champagne" - Gigi still sparkles and is most charmingly and eleganty played in this latest version. Well recommended


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