Look who raised her ugly mug last week!Of course, that's the lovely and talented Leslie Caron as prostitute-in-training Gigi. The 1958 film contains a respected score by Lerner and Leowe, who wrote it as one of only two they composed strictly for the movies (the other was The Little Prince in 1974). But though our guys thought they were done with Gigi once the film was completed, they weren't, or at least, their score wasn't.
|Soap opera ingenue Karin Wolfe was chosen to|
bring Gigi to Broadway in 1973. She should have
stayed on Days Of Our Lives.
Attempts to adapt the movie into a stage version didn't go so well the first time. Back in 1973, a stage adaptation toured for a while before landing on Broadway for a rather inconsequential run (Agnes Moorehead, bless her, gave her final stage performance in it, before succumbing to cancer).
|Maria Karnalova and Alfred Drake, both Tony winners, could not save the stage version of Gigi.|
A reinvented version will open at the Kennedy Center in 2015 (they like to plan ahead), to be directed by DC's own Eric Schaeffer. There will be a new book, apparently, but surely all your favorite tunes from the movie will be present.
Gigi the film is not one of my favorites, which is surprising, since it stars one of my Favorite Ladies of a Certain Age, Hermione Gingold, and has some fun performances by Maurice Chevalier and a young Eva Gabor. I'm afraid, though, that the film adaptations of Lerner and Leowe musicals leave me cold.
|When you ask Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood|
to sing, you deserve what you get. Paint Your
Wagon is considered one of the worst movie
My Fair Lady is considered a classic musical film, but I find it a bit of a sludge to get through (that sucker is looooong), and the less said about Paint Your Wagon, the better. When Brigadoon was adapted for the movies, it was reinvented as a dance show, to accommodate stars Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
But back to our gal pal Gigi. Director Vincente Minnelli certainly delivered his usual high quality product, but I find the story just a little icky.
|Gigi was one of a number of "Francophilia" films of the 1950s.|
And its old man / young girl romance was not new; I wrote
about that yucky theme in this Dance Party, again starring
Lesley Caron, this time paired with Fred Astaire.
It is, after all, about the training and coming of age of a hooker, however elegantly you style it. And the romance which blossoms between the romantic leads adds to the ick factor; there is a substantial age difference between the characters played by Louis Jordan and Lesley Caron, and my modern sensibility looks upon the relationship as a bit predatory.
|Aunt Alicia checks Gigi for pimples,|
common in a teenager, but unacceptable
in a courtesan.
Still, everyone loves the music, and the original film broke the record for Oscar wins (9).
|Gingold won the Golden Globe; she was the only|
actor to win anything for the film.
When the new and improved stage version shows up year after next, you can bet the casting will be along very different lines.
|The stage Gigi was revived in 2008, in Regent's Open Air Theatre in the UK. That's Millicent Martin and Linda Thorson (remember Thorson? She was the poor woman who had to replace Diana Rigg in The Avengers).|
|Gingold and Chevalier were well-known for their cabaret and|
revue work, but they had "character voices" which one rarely
finds in professional musicals today. These two were to re-team
in the 1964 rom-com I'd Rather Be Rich.
Directors don't put up with hiring Actors for musicals these days, they want singers with chops, so the new Gigi cast will presumably be filled with Broadway-type belters. While we wait, enjoy this week's Dance Party, one of the memorable moments from 1958's Gigi. The song is well-known; two old lovers are unexpectedly reunited.