The Open Air Theatre's new artistic director Timothy Sheader, who earlier in the season helmed Romeo and Juliet, directs with choreography by Stephen Mear (currently represented on Broadway by Mary Poppins, which he co-choreographed with Matthew Bourne, and The Little Mermaid).
Based on the eponymous novel by Colette, which had previously been turned into a play by Anita Loos that premiered on Broadway in 1951, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's version was written for the 1958 musical film directed by Vincente Minnelli. It starred Leslie Caron in the title role with Maurice Chevalier as the storytelling Honoré. The film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a record sweep at that time. The stage musical version was first produced on Broadway in 1973, where the cast included Alfred Drake, Maria Karnilova and Daniel Massey, with Karin Wolfe in the title role. The production ran for only 103 performances, following 7 previews. It was subsequently revised and staged in the West End by John Dexter at the West End's Lyric Theatre in September 1985, running to the following April.
Set against the Belle Epoque of Paris, Gigi is unwittingly groomed in the family tradition as a courtesan. But she challenges convention when she captures the heart of a rich bon vivant. The score includes the songs "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "The Night They Invented Champagne" and "I Remember It Well."
Topol, who plays Honoré, is best known for his screen performance as Teyve in the film version of "Fiddler on the Roof," for which he won the Golden Globe Award and was Oscar-nominated, a role he subsequently re-created in several incarnations on both the West End and Broadway stage.
Millicent Martin, who plays Mamita, made her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend in 1954 opposite Julie Andrews. In the sixties she starred alongside David Frost and Ned Sherrin in the satirical BBC TV series "That Was The Week That Was." She returned to Broadway in the transfer of the West End hit revue Side by Side by Sondheim in 197. She also appeared on Broadway in the 1978 flop King of Hearts and took over as Dorothy Brock in the original Broadway run of 42nd Street at the Majestic Theatre. More recently, she played mothers in the U.S. TV series "Frasier" and "Will and Grace." Lisa O'Hare, who recently played Eliza Doolittle in a U.S. tour of Cameron Mackintosh's production of My Fair Lady, plays the title role; Thomas Borchert, star of many musicals in Europe, takes on the part of Gaston; and BAFTA-winning actress Linda Thorson (best known for playing Tara King in the cult TV series "The Avengers" and recently seen in a U.K. tour of Equus with Simon Callow) plays Aunt Alicia.
The full cast of Gigi includes Rachel Archer, Paul Bentley, Jennie Dale, Nina French, Francis Haugen, Shaun Henson, David Lucas, Jo Morris, Zoe Rainey, Amy Ellen Richardson, Myra Sands, Laura Scott, Kate Tydman and Kerry Washington.
To book tickets contact the box office at 0844 826 4242 or visit www.openairtheatre.org.