If it weren’t for Gene Kelly, Robert Fairchild told Dance Magazine, he would never have become a dancer. Thank you Gene Kelly! Your “American” surely inspired the one on the stage at the Palace in an open run.
That said, An American In Paris, A New Musical, is an entertainment onto itself. Director-Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has created dance numbers that shine. Craig Lucas has devised a book based on the movie, but with its own point of view.
Jerry Mulligan, a Lieutenant in the US Army (Fairchild) misses his transport home from Paris. He wanders around, following a girl (Lise Dassin, played by the lovely Leanne Cope) he has spotted and lands in a bar where Adam Hochberg (Brandon Uranowitz,) a fellow American ex-pat welcomes him. Adam is helping his friend, Henri Baurel (Max von Essen) rehearse a nightclub act.
The setting is Paris just after the war, giving Bob Crowley (sets and costumes) a chance to show it in its wartorn stage, along with the more iconic visuals of the town. Bob Crowley’s costumes are period. Fairchild wears clothes inspired by what Kelly wore in the film with aplomb.
Jerry is a painter and his patron, Milo Davenport (Jill Paice) is well-connected in the art world. This gives Crowley a happier palette on which to play with the sets design. The ballets within the musical offer another opportunity to create interesting new looks for An American in Paris for Crowley.
In Christopher Wheeldon’s imaginative and BIG production, ballet meets Broadway at every turn.
The cast is charming, with Brandon Uranowitz and Max von Essen standing out. The leads, Farichild and Cope, are lovely and, needless to say, but I will say it anyway, glorious dancers.
If you have missed Rob Fisher’s deft hand at his directing gig at Encores!, he is in the pit at An American in Paris, for which he adapted arranged and supervised the George and Ira Gershwin score.
For more information about An American in Paris, A New Musical, please visit their website. Once there, note the banner proclaiming 12 Tony Award nominations, including one for Best New Musical. (We anticipated loving it: http://wp.me/p5gEnW-2n)