Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Kenley Offers Uneven "Gigi"

Cleveland Press December 31, 1964

The gay and impish girl known as Gigi is describing to her aunt the delights of riding in a motor car. She sings her happy tale, but -- what's that music? Sure enough, it's the old war horse, "The Dance of the Hours" from Ponchielli's "La Gioconda."

A brief note in the program explains that the music has been "freely adapted with gratitude to among others, the Messrs. Gounod, Massenet and Offenbach." And it could have gone on listing a few more, too.

This sort of do-it-yourself musical is not new. It was done with "Kismet" (music by Borodin) and "Song of Norway" (music by Grieg). But those were successful. This one is not.

THE PROGRAM doesn't list the selections and audiences may find themselves forgetting what's happening on stage as they try to identify the annoyingly familiar melodies that are being used. An aria from "Manon" pops up and bits and pieces of "Gaite Parisienne" are all over the place.

In fairness to the idea this is a way to freshen up summer shows since the same musicals keep repeating with dreadful regularity.

But this particular rendering comes over as too much of a patchwork job to be effective. In addition an unhappy comparison is bound to be made with the wonderful Lerner-Loewe score for the screen version of the play.

This is not truly a Kenley production, but a package show that has been touring the country, starting out around Westport, Conn., and working its way west.

AND AS A package it is quite a bundle of talent. As Gigi's aunt, there is the English comedienne, Anna Russell. Miss Russell has become an institution with her one-woman shows and her records. Another fine actress is Dorothy Sands who has the role of the grandmother. In small parts as servants are two more fine comics Janet Fox and Jon Richards.

The best voice in the show is that of Jan McArt, a fine singer who plays Gigi's mother.

As Gigi, the girl who is trained by her family to be a man's mistress but becomes a Mrs. before she can launch her career, the company has Imelda De Martin who looks and sounds pretty enough and young enough to be quite convincing.

George Hamilton is an exceedingly good actor and a fair enough singer. He's appropriately cast as a Parisian playboy.

After the show the actor came out and sang a couple of Hank Williams songs, which is what the audience seemed to be waiting for. He recently played Williams in a screen biography.

It's quite a jump from "Gaite Parisienne" to "Your Cheatin' Heart."