Vanessa Hudgens' Broadway debut in revived musical Gigi has been branded "emotionally vacant", "one note", and "empty" in a mauling by critics.
The High School Musical actress plays the title role in the show about a young girl who is groomed to be a courtesan in Paris, France, but her performance failed to impress critics on opening night at the Neil Simon Theatre on Wednesday (08Apr15).
The production and plot changes from the original 1958 film were panned by critics, who accused producers of dumbing down the musical.
Charles Isherwood from the New York Times writes that the show "has been scrubbed of anything even remotely naughty or distasteful", while Alexis Soloski at Guardian.com adds, "Too bad about the story. And the arch and sincere tonal confusion. And the star. This is some very flat Champagne."
Hudgens herself was also slated, with Isherwood writing, "Ms. Hudgens's performance flattens into two dimensions, at most. Gigi's spunkiness is there to see, but her vulnerability and ardour are mostly missing in action. The actress has energy to spare, but the performance is emotionally vacant... Despite her poise, beauty and undeniable hard work, Ms. Hudgens's Gigi feels glossy but empty at the core."
David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter adds, "Hudgens finally shifts beyond one-note youthful perkiness to display some romantic feeling. Both actors are perfectly sweet and vocally very capable... But the characters never come alive..." and Soloski writes, "Hudgens has been so thoroughly Disneyfied that she's about as natural (as a French woman) as an Eiffel Tower keychain. She sings the songs like she's at elocution lessons and dances with featureless competence. There's no sense of a real girl behind the trills and spins."
Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Daily News concludes, "The perky but ooh-la-la-less Broadway debut by Hudgens... is par for the course in a shrill revival directed by Eric Schaeffer."