Englert hosts production of Gigi


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Forty-five minutes before the rehearsal of Gigi is set to begin, there is chaos in the Englert Theatre.

Musicians take their seats in the makeshift orchestra pit as they start to tune their instruments.

During this time, the actors start to gather onstage dressed in full costume. Many of them begin to engage into their characters as they address each other by "Madame" and "Monsieur."

After six weeks of rehearsal, the Iowa City Community Theatre cast will be prepared to perform Gigi for an audience at 7:30 p.m. today in the Englert, 221 E. Washington St. Performances will continue at that time through Saturday, with matinée performances at 2 p.m. on Saturday and March 4.

Admission is $12 for youth, $17 for seniors and students, and $20 for the general public.

Director Joshue Sazon, who has worked with the Community Theatre since 2000, said he chose to work on Gigi because it has a lot of good material.

"It's a musical that back in its day was fairly well-known, and it won a record number of Oscars," he said. "It's a show that's not done very often, and it's fun to direct a show that not many people know about."

Audiences will travel through Paris at the turn of the 20th century as Gigi learns to become a woman.

Kirkwood Community College sophomore Noel Vandenbosch plays the role of Gigi in her first Community Theatre production.

In the beginning of the show, Gigi turns 16, but she still acts as though she is a little girl with a very playful attitude.

In Act 2, Gigi's grandmother and great-aunt realize that Gaston will become Gigi's first love and that she must become a lady.

"There is a big transformation from a fun-loving little girl to a woman who is graceful," Vandenbosch said.

Playing a young girl has been a challenge for her, but she said she tries to keep it playful as much as possible.

"We talked about how I should stand in certain parts to try to get the feeling of being younger and then older," she said. "But it's been a lot of fun, and I think it's a great piece."

This being her first performance with the company, Vandenbosch looks forward to finally having an audience.

"When you have people who you are performing in front of, you get this life to what you are doing," she said. "You also get the laughs, which I think the audience will definitely enjoy."

The audience will also hear musicians from the community playing together in the orchestra pit for the first time.

Under the direction of University of Iowa graduate student Michael Wright, the orchestra is made up of volunteers who range in age.

For some, this will be their 100th musical.

"Most of the musicians are really adaptable, and those who like to play in pits like the thinking on their feet that is sometimes required," Wright said. "The hardest part of this job is to get what's happening on stage to match what is happening below the stage."

He said the experience is very different from productions at the UI, where he is studying orchestral conducting.

"This production is different because it's a lot of volunteers who are doing it for fun," Wright said. "But [Gigi] is very funny and light, and I think people will get a kick out of it."

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