Review: Gigi, New Earswick Musical Society, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York
Friday, 8 April 2005
THIS show was staged by the New Earswick Musical Society – and what a performance it was!
Right from the start it was obvious to the packed theatre that it was to be a show worth settling into the large comfortable seats for.
Set in 1901 Paris, the story is a shortened version of the film Gigi, in which Maurice Chevalier played the role of Honore Lachailles.
Last night it was John Fryer who filled this role admirably.
While not having the sexy French accent and overall presence of Chevalier, he did recreate the character with passion.
The story is narrated by Honore and tells of the passions and sexual encounters of his nephew Gaston Lachailles, played by a wonderfully vocal Stephen Kenwright. Gaston is seen to be the eternal playboy around Paris, loving and leaving mistresses wherever possible.
The title role of Gigi was played by Nicola Pittman, who showed how a gawky innocent teenager grew up and left her fun-loving antics behind to eventually become a woman and “get her man”.
There was a lot of humour in the play, which seemed to be missed by the audience, partly due to bad delivery of lines. This was a shame because the lines were funny and, at times, were crucial to the plot.
However, we were very impressed by the clever use of minimalistic scenery, complemented by a huge projected image of Parisian life relating to each scene – all works from the masters of the time.
The singing was superb and the acting professional. In fact everyone, including the brilliantly supple can-can dancers, contributed to a great show.
However, we felt that the final line-up on stage was wrong – changing the last three people on for a final bow to include John Fryer would work better and give him the status he deserved for his input in the show.
Preview: Gigi, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York. April 6-8
Friday, 1 April 2005
New Earswick Musical Society applies a French polish to its spring show next week at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.
Gigi is set in Paris in the early 1900s, at the height of the era that not only the French called La Belle Epoque: a time of beautiful clothes and the peak of luxury living for a select few. Nicola Pittman takes her second leading role with the society, playing Gigi, whose development from naive teenager to desirable young woman has demanded plenty of study by the drama and singing student.
“Gigi is very different from my last appearance with the society as Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz,” says Nicola. “The writing is very different. There’s more depth to Gigi and the transition from teenage spirit to society elegance is a stimulating challenge.”
Stephen Kenwright plays opposite her as Gaston, having performed major roles with the society in My Fair Lady and Kiss Me Kate (as the rumbustuous Petruchio).
Producer Ann McCreadie can call upon experienced hands aplenty in her cast. Beryl Long reprises the role of Mamita, having played her for York Light Opera Company, and will be singing the romantic duet I Remember It Well with John Fryer, whose dapper little Irishman lit up Finian’s Rainbow last April.
Ann herself is in the cast, playing Aunt Alicia, the woman who intends to prepare Gigi for a career as a courtesan. “I’ve worked with the society over seven productions and it’s always stimulating,” she says.