PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 23-29: Richard Griffiths, Gigi, The Flick Flack and More

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29 Mar 2013

Director Eric D. Schaeffer
Director Eric D. Schaeffer
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Gigi, the Oscar-winning film musical that was later adapted for the Broadway stage, will be adapted anew for a Broadway run, possibly as soon as 2013-14, producer Jenna Segal announced this week. Eric D. Schaeffer will direct the classic, inspired by characters of French writer Colette, with a score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

The new adaptation is by acclaimed British playwright and screenwriter Heidi Thomas. A developmental reading will take place later this month in New York City.

A new adaptation is probably in order. While the score of Gigi is regarded as a delight — including such songs at "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and "I Remember It Well" — the show's long been a tough proposition in modern times due to its antiquated treatment of male-female relations. The story, which tells of a bored French playboy who accidentally falls in love with a young woman who's brought up to be a courtesan, is not as straightforwardly charming and airy as it may have been more than half a century ago.

Segal seems to understand that the female audience (which, on Broadway, traditionally chooses which shows to go to) may not be in love with Gigi's male-dictated situation or fate. "Heidi Thomas has restored Gigi to her rightful place at the center of the story," said Segal in a statement, "backed by a funny, warm family of women that show the men in the world around them the finer meaning of life and love. This is 'chick lit' musical theatre!"

Like the current Breakfast at Tiffany's, Gigi is a property closely associated with Audrey Hepburn — who starred in the original Broadway production of a play version of the tale (in an adaptation by Anita Loos). (Leslie Caron starred in the film.) So, casting will be a challenge.

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Some Catholics have a wonderful way of making the theatre feel topical and controversial in a way it hasn't really been in decades. Catholics were there to decry Jesus Christ Superstar when it came out. The picketed Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi for its modern telling of Jesus' story. And here they are again to protest the Broadway world premiere of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, which depicts the mother of Jesus as a solitary skeptic in the days following her son's crucifixion

The play met with protests March 26, its first night of previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a non-profit Catholic organization based in Spring Grove, PA, blasted the new play with banners reading, "We offer God this public act of reparation and vehemently protest against the blasphemous play The Testament of Mary" and "Blasphemers believe free speech is absolute. But there is no such thing as a right to lie... to defame... to offend God!"

A group of nearly 50 protesters, among them several children, stood across from the Walter Kerr Theatre on 48th Street, reciting the rosary and saying the Lord's Prayer. The group dispersed shortly following the start of the 8 PM performance.

The producers offered the following statement to Playbill.com regarding the protest: "The Testament of Mary explores, in a very serious way, something that matters deeply to all of us. It is neither anti-Mary nor anti-Christianity, but rather a portrait of a very human woman — a mother — who is trying to make sense of and come to terms with the tragic death of her son. We respect the right of protesters to express their viewpoint and ask that they come to our play with an open mind and let the work speak for itself."



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