Gigi at the Kennedy Center

I saw an article a couple months ago about Gigi the musical being revived on Broadway this spring. I love Gigi the movie and have seen it several times, so I was excited to hear it was coming to the stage. Then I heard that they were planning to preview the production in DC for a couple months before it went to Broadway. Bingo!

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Since my parents are also Gigi fans, it was a perfect excuse to trick them into visiting me. We had a quick but tasty pre-theater dinner at District Commons in Foggy Bottom, then headed to the Kennedy Center for the show!

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The big name in the production is Vanessa Hudgens who stars as Gigi. I believe this is her big Broadway debut (or at least debut in a leading role on Broadway). Hudgens is of course known for her role in High School Musical and other Disney productions. She does all her promotional shots in that black dress but it’s actually not in the production, it’s her curtain call dress. It’s not really true to the period which explains why it isn’t in the actual show, but I’m not sure why they decided it was a good look for the promos… Besides Hudgens, there are a few Broadway names, but no other headliners.

First of all, I enjoyed the production. Second of all, they made some rather significant song changes that threw me for a loop. In the movie version, Maurice Chevalier plays Honore LaChaille, the narrator and wise older uncle to Gaston Lachaille (the leading man). He sings one of the signature songs: “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” In this production they gave that song away to Gigi’s Aunt Alicia and Grandmother Mamita, and it lost a lot of the Chevalier charm in the process.

Also, in this production, Gaston is interested in science and technology and spends a lot of time at the “Exhibition.” I’m not quite sure why they made that addition because outside of a little dialogue here or there it doesn’t do much to the plot at all.

Of course every revival is going to have changes, but overall I thought it was a solid production. Hudgens was good, and I think Corey Cott who plays Gaston has potential. His songs always ended really strong but he needs to be a little more consistent throughout. In the movie Gaston is played by a much older Louis Jourdan but it was clear that they wanted to make the Gaston/Gigi relationship a little more plausible for the current audience (apparently a 30 year age gap just isn’t the norm anymore…).  I thought the costumes and sets were great and made several nods to the original movie which was nice.

Though it might have lost some of that “je ne sais quoi” from legends like Leslie Caron, Chevalier, and Jourdan, and I think it’s definitely worth the trip. It’s a great love story and period piece that makes me want to watch the movie again!

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Beautiful

The day after the Tony Awards this year, I called my mom and requested that we see the musical Beautiful for my birthday in August. Since Jessie Mueller, the lead in Beautiful, won the Tony for best actress, my mom moved quickly and got two tickets right on my birthday.

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Last week was my birthday, so here’s the scoop! I enjoyed it! It’s basically a juke box musical about Carole King’s early life/career. I am a big Carole King fan, so I can listen to her music all day long. I will say, however, that the show was a little long, and dragged during the first act. They performed every song in it’s entirety and sometimes twice. I think that was a little much. They could have cut down the length of the songs, or done a couple of medleys to save some time and the audience’s attention span. They did some huge hits, but they also picked some B records. I think the lesser songs were meant to help with the plot, but I had less patience sitting through those performances.

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This show is a similar concept to Jersey Boys since it’s about the life of singer/songwriter, and the songs are worked into the show relatively organically as actual performances. Jersey Boys, however, had a much more compelling plot to fall back on, where as Beautiful was basically about Carole King marrying her writing partner, having about ten difficult years of marriage, then getting divorced and moving to California. I think the large number of songs in the show took time away from developing the plot further.

All that being said, there are four main characters in the show who are all fantastic. They play Carole, Gerry Goffin (her writing partner/first husband), Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann (another set of writing partners who are friends and competitors with Goffin and King). There were a lot of funny jokes between the four of them.

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I thought Jessie Mueller was great, but I also thought Jarrod Spector, the Barry Mann role, was especially funny and has a really good voice. And guess what. I looked up his bio, and he set the record for doing the most performances as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on Broadway. I am nothing if not consistent!

I think it’s definitely worth the trip if you’re a Carole King or 1960’s music enthusiast. If you’re not a Carole King or 1960’s music enthusiast, you might want to re-evaluate your life choices up to this point.

A Little Obsessed…

So a *few* years ago I saw the musical Jersey Boys on Broadway as kind of a 21st birthday party. I know, I’m wild. I actually did the traditional night out for my 21st, then went to see the show during a break from school a few months later.

I digress.

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I loved Jersey Boys on Broadway! I made my friends and family listen to Frankie Valli songs for months after I saw it. I think there were mixed feelings about this development, because if you’re not in the mood for Frankie, you might not be a happy camper. He has a very specific sound…

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This summer I was so excited to hear it was coming to the big screen. I realize this is belated because it came out last month, but I love it! I am obsessed all over again! It has all of my favorite things: New Jersey, a boy band, 1950’s/1960’s era, music, and everybody has a phenomenal Jersey accent. I will take a NJ/NY accent over an exotic foreign accent any day of the week.

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I was so excited to see that they cast three out of the four Four Seasons with actors from the various casts of the stage production. And Frankie is the Frankie that I saw in the original cast on Broadway. John Lloyd Young is the best! Clint Eastwood directed it, and kept it very similar to the stage production. And unlike many “juke box” musicals that incorporate a band’s songs into a  random storyline (i.e. “Mamma Mia” or “Movin’ Out”), this is just the story of the band and they preform the songs when they perform in the story. So it’s a musical, but the singing is not in spontaneous outbursts. It all makes sense.

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I went to see the movie with a good friend from Jersey, and by the end we were both picking out our favorite band member (mine is Frankie/John Lloyd Young). It was just like we were 13 picking our favorite member of ‘NSYNC or BSB. Boy band fangirl rituals are completely transcendent, no matter what the era!

Go see it! If you need someone to go with, take me! I would see it a million times!