Now that legendary New York restaurant Tavern on the Green is open again, it’s back in the business of Broadway opening night parties. “Gigi,” which opened April 8, made the most of the labyrinthine place, with flowing Veuve Cliquot and an Eiffel Tower made of Payard macarons.
Heidi Thomas, the British writer behind BBC series “Call the Midwife,” revised and updated the musical’s book in an effort to reclaim what she called “a forgetten musical with unforgettable songs.”
Central to the new production’s appeal for younger audiences: Star Vanessa Hudgens, who comes to Broadway with legions of fans from “High School Musical” and a successful pop career.
“Vanessa is a quiet, intelligent actress,” Thomas said. “She’s not someone for thinking out loud. ‘Gigi’ is a young woman’s story, and Vanessa influenced my work on it because she’s a young woman herself. Just spending a lot of time with young women, you get to understand their take on things. And I’m obviously an old woman now!”
Hudgens arrived at Tavern in an Alice + Olivia dress and glittery bodyspray, and she bubbled over with enthusiasm for the show and the reaction from the crowds. “We’ve been getting a lot of standing ovations, and it feels really good,” she said.
Her Gigi is a peppy, upbeat creature — qualities that Hudgens comes by naturally. “My friends say Gigi is Vanessa on her happiest day,” she said. “It’s definitely me.”