Fine ensemble cast and direction give Harlequin's 'Gigi' its charm

November 29, 1990|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

A very pleasant production of the charming romantic musical "Gigi" is on stage at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre through Jan. 27.

Directed with style and flourish by international artist Gavin Cameron-Webb, the show is distinguished by a fine ensemble cast with a notable, strong performance by baritone Bruce Evans as the rich and bored philanderer, Gaston.

Although the dancing and singing chorus is sparse, the quality of the choreography by Dennis Dennehy is good.

Adapted from the 1958 movie for the stage, the show, which debuted in 1973 on the West Coast before going on to New York, has retained all the charm of the Lerner and Loewe score with a few numbers added by the composers.

Based on the novel by French author Colette, the work was originally adapted for the stage by Anita Loos and starred Audrey Hepburn. Leslie Caron was featured in the Oscar-winning film, which also featured Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.

Gigi, a Parisian schoolgirl, is being groomed by her Great Aunt Alica, once the mistress of bankers and kings, to follow in her footsteps as a high-priced courtesan. In between her instructions in the ways to please a man, Gigi is often the frolicsome companion of Gaston, a wealthy young gentleman around town who has long been a friend of the family.

Gaston is constantly counseled by his playboy uncle, Honore, who loves the thrill and danger of the romantic chase. Soon Gaston's admiration turns to true love and the confused Gigi is pressured by her grandmother and great aunt to accept Gaston's generous offer to keep her in a grand (if unmarried) manner.

Gigi resists his advances for a while but then decides she would rather be miserable with him than without him. But Gaston has second thoughts and respectability wins out in the end.

The familiar songs include: "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "The Night They Invented Champagne," "I Remember It Well," "Gigi" and "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore." A show stopper is "The Contract" song hilariously rendered by Tom French, Jesse Foreman, Renee Martins, Patricia Pearce and chorus members.

Harlequin is using the Kurzweil 250 computer-controlled orchestra system and while this does not restrict the actors we still prefer the fully rounded tones of a live band.

Jeanette Simpson is a sweet playful Gigi making an elegant transition from girl to blooming womanhood. Renee Martins is a compassionate, loving Mamita. Patricia Pearce is very amusing as the manipulative, ambitious Aunt Alica and Robert "R.C." Torri is most competent if not particularly charismatic in the role of Honore.

Caroline Cash does well as a glitzy gold-digger and Jim Watkins is a properly snooty butler. David Hilder, Jeffrey Shankle, K.C. Bahry, Kathryn Dixon and Liz Schulman complete the talented ensemble.

Award winner

The White Marsh Dinner Theatre was the recipient of the Baltimore County 1990 Business Award for Tourism and Visitor Promotion. Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen made the presentation on Nov. 15. The award is sponsored by the Maryland Economic Development Council and the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.

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