DCW50’s Robin Hamilton Watches Vanessa Hudgens Graduate to the top of the class in Gigi

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Vanessa Hudgens courtesy Andrew Macpherson
Photo courtesy of Andrew Macpherson

She’s left Gabriella and the halls of High School Musical behind and is now taking on the stage at the Kennedy Center.
If you’re a fan of Vanessa Hudgens, you’ll be impressed as she stars in the lead role of Gigi, now playing at the Eisenhower Theatre.

I had no idea she was so petite, but her stature was one of just many traits that added to her being so adorable and right for the role.

Hudgens’ voice and demeanor capture the spirit of the young girl, Gigi, who charms a wealthy playboy, Gaston. He also happens to be a family friend. As their friendship blossoms, Gigi transforms from giggly girl to a budding sophisticate.

Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi courtesy Matthew Murphey
Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphey

The play, first adapted for Broadway in 1951, put a then-unknown Audrey Hepburn on the map. It later became a successful movie in 1958, starring Leslie Caron.

Fast-forward to today, and the musical is making yet another comeback.

The story’s premise is dated, as the wealthy Gaston (played here by Corey Cott) must ask Gigi’s grandmother (portrayed here by Tony-award winner Victoria Clark) and Aunt Alicia (a very funny Dee Hoty) for permission to date her. The courtship also requires a legal contract protecting his financial assets, all the while establishing how much she will be paid if she is to be elevated to his social “companion”.

But despite the story, the acting is outstanding and the costumes are stunning.

For Hudgens, moving from TV and movies to the stage is a big change. Once a television sweetheart in the High School Musical series, she tried to shed her squeaky-clean image by starring in a number of risqué and gritty roles in films likes Spring Break and Gimme Shelter.

Ironically enough, this move to Gigi casts her back in a squeaky clean image that allows her to evolve into a young lady.

The musical runs at the Kennedy Center through February 12th and then heads to Broadway.

For more information, you can go to http://www.kennedy-center.org.

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