HOUSTON -- Though Gavin MacLeod thought he did solid work as Honore in the 1996 revival of Gigi at Paper Mill Playhouse (New Jersey), in hindsight, he says, he may have been too solid.
"I'm less rigid -- not so formal now," he concluded to a group of well-wishers at the opening night party of Theatre Under The Stars' production of the Lerner and Loewe classic musical, which opened Jan. 17 in Houston and continues through Feb. 1. MacLeod considers himself more expansive and humane, better relaxed and assured.
Maurice Chevalier brought legendary elegance to Honore in the 1958 film version of Gigi, which won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Alfred Drake emphasized physical comedy and dulcet singing as Honore in the 1973 stage adaptation. MacLeod (best known for his television work as Murray Slaughter on TV's The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Captain Stubing on The Love Boat) says he adds heart to the character, and playfulness.
His featured co-stars display similar qualities: Liliane Montevecchi (Tony Award-winner in Nine), whose role as the comically imperious Aunt Alicia has been greatly expanded, and Anne Rogers (the leading lady of the original production of The Boy Friend) as Inez "Mamita" Alvarez, a kind-hearted matriarch. They, too, are reprising their Paper Mill Playhouse roles, though there's a new director, Bruce Lumpkin.
Gigi continues through Feb. 1 at The Music Hall. For tickets, $15 - $48, call 1-800-678-5440. -- By Peter Szatmary