Reviewer Ed Farolan
(Inset: Alex McLeod, Cecilia Smith & Ruth Nichol reunited on stage since 1969 when they were in the Carousel production of Theatre Under The Stars).
What a delightful season opening show! And standing ovations to boot at curtain call! When you have a talented cast mixed with veteran actors, you have magic. And that's exactly what this show was all about. The actors, even if they were reading the script, spoke their lines as if they'd rehearsed for more than six weeks. But rehearsals for the productions of Applause musicals are only two weeks long, which just proves how talented these actors are.
It was delightful to see Ruth Nichol as Inez Alvarez (Mamita) with her comedic punch lines. I couldn't stop laughing at her comic antics, and her laugh-line timing was perfect. Alex McLeod, I felt, did a better job than Maurice Chevalier in the original film version. He was dynamic, funny and charming. Cecilia Smith as Alicia, for some reason, reminded me of Leslie Caron in a film that came out two or three years ago. In fact, a lady beside said the same thing. Caron played Gigi in the 1958 film.
Melissa Braun as Gigi had a beauiful voice, but spoke her lines too fast. Gaelan Beatty was perfect as Gaston, the playboy, which Louis Jourdan portrayed in the film. He sang the popular hit "Gigi" with passion. Carmine Bernhardt who recently appeared as Antigone at the Fringe Festival, played various roles. I could see from her posture that certain discipline one picks up studying acting for classical theatre.
Seth Drabinsky and Kevin Louden played various roles, from waiters to salon hairdressers, but I liked their roles as the lawyers Duclos and Dufresne in the scene where they sang "The Contract" with Alicia and Mamita. Although the film had a huge success, the stage version in 1973 wasn't as successful.
But I believe that if this show is done today, it'll be a hit. And I think Artistic Director Scott Ashton Swan is ready to move on to Musicals 201, a practicum course for full-blown musical productions a la Broadway for the Applause Company.
© 2008 Ed Farolan