Starlighters Theatre presents ‘Gigi’


Gaston Lachailles, played by Chad Willer, and Gigi, played by Caroline McLaughlin, are the two main characters of the show. They are being watched by a police officer played by Justin Martin. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Linda Merritt and Mary Sue Vernon portray Inez Alvarez (Mamita) and Aunt Alicia in Starlighters’ “Gigi.” Here, Steve Clemmons’ character Maitre Henri du Fresne, the lawyer, tries to convince the ladies to sign a document bringing Gigi and Gaston together.
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Starlighters Theatre II in Anamosa is currently presenting “Gigi” on stage.

     The shows runs for one more weekend July 14-16. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. on July 14 and 15, and at 2 p.m. on July 16.

     “Gigi” is the story a precocious young woman in her late teens who’s trying to find her way in life and love in 1800s Paris. The production is a musical comedy, complete with period costumes and vibrant scenery.

     Gigi lives with her grandmother and is being “trained” to become a suitable woman for the men of Paris. Director Bob Assink, Cedar Rapids, explained that Gigi decides against this lifestyle and chooses to become her own person in life.

     “It’s pretty contemporary,” said Assink. “It’s real for women’s independence.”

     He added that Gigi refuses to live the life she’s told to live, and just wants to be a good person.

     Janet Bergman is the musical director.

     “There is a lot of sophisticated comedy in it,” said the director.

     Assink is no stranger to the Starlighters’ stage. In fact, the theater in general is a passion of his since the age of 5.

     “I started young,” he said.

     Assink said his interest in stage productions and musical stems from the time his mother took him to a child’s theater production at the University of Northern Iowa, “Sleeping Beauty.”

     “That was a magical moment and I was hooked,” he said in awe.

     Assink is mainly seen behind the stage. He’s been involved in Starlighters on and off for about seven years now, and has directed over 270 plays in his career. Those include community theaters, high school productions, college, children’s theater, and more.

     “I’m a man of many talents,” said Assink.

     When Assink first immersed himself at Starlighters, he helped with costumes for “Music Man.” Five years ago, he directed “Brigadoon.”

     “That was one of my favorite shows,” he said. “Brigadoon” was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who both also wrote “Gigi.”

     Assink said he has always wanted to direct “Gigi,” and how he has the chance.

     “I pitched it to the (Starlighters) board and art committee,” he said, “and explained how it would be a great balance with the other shows in the season.

     “I’m thrilled they chose it!”

     Assink said the show also brings up current issues in our culture such as what it means to be a man and a woman, and how those roles challenge society in various ways.

     When casting, Assink was looking for actors who could move on stage, had some musical talent, and could play the part according to age and maturity.

     “The major characters are all mature people,” he said. “That’s what I looked for (in my actors).”

     Assink said he was blessed with a great cast.

     “People will be blown away by this show,” he said. “We have some great voices here.”

     Adding to the setting, the main characters speak with a bit of a French accent.

     “It’s there without forcing the audience to question their sense of the French language,” explained Assink of the accent. He said you would still be able to understand the actors.

     Tickets are still available for “Gigi.” Contact Starlighters at 319-462-4793 to reserve your tickets.

     “This is a delightful show,” said Assink. “It’s one of the top 10 musicals people should know about.”

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