This young lady, demure but hinting of mischief is Audrey Hepburn, 22, playing the title role of Gigi, a play by Anita Loos adapted from the novel by Colette. At last month 's (november 1951 - my annotation) Broadway opening, critics found the play heavy-handed compared to the french movie version. But they loved and praised Audrey as she was by turns pert, naive, passionate. Broadway ahs seen the first new star of the season and the begining of what promised to be an important theatrical career.

Audrey and Colette discuss the life of an actress at the old lady's Paris apartment. Colette once was in vaudeville, starred in several of her own plays.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the 78-year-old lady who is the dean of french novelists, was being wheeled through the hall of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo one day last summer, when her eye was caught by a sprightly young british actress acting a part in a french movie which was being made on location there. She knew at once she had found what she had been looking for: an english-speaking Gigi for the play which Anita Loos has written.

The actress was Audrey Hepburn, a half-irish, half-dutch girl who had lived in Holland through the war yearsm then gone to England and made a modest start in show business. Colette sent her husband around to tell Audrey that there was a big job wainting for her. Audrey didn't believe it. Eventually Miss Loos and producer Gilbert Miller convinced her she was exactly right for the role of Gigi, a sweet, spirited young french girl who outwits all the efforts of her family to bring her up for a life of fashionable sin. The only trouble was that the authors and producers had set their sights too low. They had once thought of making Gigi a musical but were convinced that they would never fin anyone who could sing and dance and also act the difficult role. It happens that Audrey can dance and sing as well as act. 

Audrey and Anita embrace on opening night. The critics called Audrey and her performance "captivating","lucid","beguiling","enchanting".

Audrey in pant looks with girlish pleasure into her dressing room at the theater, which on opening night was crammed with flowers from admirers.

Audrey in petticoats kicks high in her version of the cancan, which she performed athletically amid bravos on opening night as part of curtain call.


photos and documentation: LIFE Magazine (US) | Zetu Harrys collection