Saturday, July 09, 2016

"An American In Paris" - A Little Bit of Heaven On A Broadway Stage

George and Ira Gershwin have long been among my favorite song writers.  As a young piano student, I tackled the piano transcription of "Rhapsody In Blue" as a recital piece. And the street noises and rhythms of "An American In Paris" have always fascinated me. I loved the classic movie telling of the story. So it was preordained that I would enjoy the Broadway adaptation.  I had no idea just how much I would enjoy it.

Director and Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has managed to cast and to mold into a seamless corps a stage full of triple threats - performers trained in classical ballet who can also sing and act. The result is a show that delights visually, as well as being a treat for the ear, as the iconic Gershwin melodies and lyrics enfold the story of the three men who all fall in love with the same woman.  That alluring lady is ballerina, Lise Dassin, played and danced magnificently by Leanne Cope.

Leanne Cope as Lise
Brandon Uranowitz as Adam
An American In Paris
Palace Theatre
Through January 1, 2017
A gifted and visionary team of creatives have conspired to recreate the world of Paris at the end of WWII. Lighting is by Natasha Katz, Sound by Jon Weston, Projections by 59 Productions, Set and Costumes by Bob Crowley.

The principals are superb, from the opening moment with Garen Scribner as Jerry Mulligan sitting at the piano on an otherwise bare stage, to the final bows, there is magic in the air. The other two men who fall under Lise's spell are Adam, played by a passionate and winsome Brandon Uranowitz and Henri, played with great understated elegance by Max von Essen. As Henri's mother, Mme. Baurel, Veanne Cox is every inch the picture of Gallic rectitude. Jill Paice is wonderfully haughty as the American patroness of the arts, Milo Davenport.

The story is told primarily in dance and song, with dialogue adding development and texture.  The overall composition tells the story in a way that is intriguing and deeply satisfying - both artistically and emotionally.  The highlight of the show is the Second Act prolonged pas de deux, set within the longer ballet sequence and danced to Gershwin's iconic "An American In Paris" score.

An American In Paris
Palace Theatre
Through January 1, 2017

The producers have announced that the last performance on Broadway will take place January 1, 2017.  Meanwhile, a National Tour is being mounted that will make its appearance in Boston at the Wang Theatre from October 25 through November 6, 2016.

An American In Paris Website



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