Chaim Topol (also known as just Topol) returned to the London stage last night (14 August 2008, previews from 6 August) - discarding the mantle of Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevyve, for which he’s best known – to take on the role of bemused narrator Honore in the first major London revival of Lerner and Loewe musical Gigi, which runs until 13 September 2008 as the final production in this summer’s season at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park (See News, 11 Jan 2008).

Topol is joined on the stage by a fellow West End legend Millicent Martin, as Mamita, the grandmother of Lisa O'Hare’s titular Gigi, a teenage girl being groomed by her Aunt Alicia (played by Linda Thorson) to become a courtesan. The cast also features German stage star Thomas Borchert as Honore’s nephew Gaston, the bachelor Gigi captivates.


For 1st Night Photos, our photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call and post-show party at the Open Air Theatre.

Gigi is based on the 1945 French novel by Colette, which was made into a French film in 1948, then adapted as a stage play in 1951, with a Broadway production starring Audrey Hepburn, which was then adapted as an Oscar-winning 1958 movie musical, starring Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier. Fifteen years later, the musical crossed back over to the stage, opening on Broadway in 1978. The original West End production opened at the Lyric Theatre in 1985.

The musical has book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The score includes “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”, “It’s a Bore”, “The Night They Invented Champagne” and “I Remember It Well”.

The new production is directed by Open Air artistic director Timothy Sheader, as part of his inaugural season in the job, designed by Yannis Thavoris and choreographed by Stephen Mear, with lighting by Simon Mills, sound by Mike Walker, orchestrations by Steven Edis and musical direction by Philip Bateman.

Others in the Gigi cast are: Paul Bentley, Amy Ellen Richardson, Rachel Archer, Jennie Dale, Nina French, Francis Haugen, Shaun Henson, David Lucas, Jo Morris, Zoe Rainey, Myra Sands, Laura Scott, Kate Tydman and Kerry Washington.

-by Terri Paddock