Hepburn, Audrey: Early Stage (Gigi) and Screen Career in British Films

At the young age of 19, Audrey Hepburn appeared as a chorus girl in the West End musical theatre revues High Button Shoes (1948) at the London Hippodrome, and Cecil Landeau’s Sauce Tartare (1949) and Sauce Piquante (1950) at the Cambridge Theatre.

During that time, she took elocution lessons with actor Felix Aylmer to develop her voice.

As luck would have it, she was spotted by a casting director while performing in Sauce Piquante.  Hepburn then registered as a freelance actress with the Associated British Picture Corporation.

She appeared in minor roles in the 1951 films One Wild Oat, Laughter in Paradise, Young Wives’ Tale and The Lavender Hill Mob, before being cast in her first major supporting role in Thorold Dickinson’s The Secret People (1952), in which she played a prodigious ballerina, performing her own dances.

Hepburn was then offered a small role in a film that was made in both English and French, Monte Carlo Baby (French: Nous Irons à Monte Carlo, 1952), shot on location in Monte Carlo.

Spotting

French novelist Colette was at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo during the filming, and decided to cast Hepburn in the title role of her Broadway play, Gigi.

When Gigi opened at the Fulton Theatre on November 24, 1951, she received praise for her performance, despite criticism that the stage version was inferior to the French version.

She received a Theatre World Award for her role in the play, which ran for 219 performances, closing on 31 May 1952.

The play’s tour began October 13, 1952 in Pittsburgh, and continued in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles; it closed on  May 16, 1953 in San Francisco.

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