Nearly as old as the transition of a script from Broadway to Hollywood is the reverse, a process of adaptation that has created both stage gems like Mary Poppins and stage horrors (literally) like Carrie: The Musical. But with talents like Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) behind it, this staging of the film classic is much more like the former than the latter. The story takes place in 1901 Paris and explores the exploits of wealthy bon vivant Gaston (Matt Cavenaugh), who takes after his uncle Honore (William Atherton), but becomes bored easily. His main diversion is visiting his uncle's lady friend, Mamita (Millicent Martin), and playing cards with her bubbly granddaughter, Gigi (Lisa O'Hare). Gigi is being groomed to be a high-class courtesan by her Aunt Alicia (Susan Denaker), but things get complicated when Gaston falls for her. The highlight of the show is Lerner's book and lyrics, with clever turns of phrase that are, at times, like Noel Coward set to music. Director David Lee masterfully maintains the mischief of the characters, extracting solid performances from a talented cast, and Jared A. Sayeg's lighting paints Paris in princely purple hues. O'Hare's dew-fresh charm in her perky rendition of the title role is a pleasure to watch, as are her scenes with Denaker, whose perfectly pitched Alicia is like Lady Bracknell in a looser corset. Atherton and Martin show great chemistry on the classic "I Remember It Well." Freud Playhouse at UCLA, Macgowan Hall, 405 Hilgard Ave., Wstwd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2 & 8 p.m., Sun., 2 & 7 p.m., through Feb. 27. (310) 825-2101, reprise.org. A Reprise Theatre Company Production.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 16. Continues through Feb. 27, 2011