The Greek goddess of dance and song – Terpsichore – is smiling her Greek goddess head off as is anyone else who gets to see this spectacular new Gershwin musical inspired – and I do mean inspired by the 1951 film that was inspired by George Gershwin’s 1928 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS orchestral composition. Wow! And double wow!
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe what is happening on stage at the Palace Theatre. All of the necessary elements for a hit musical have fallen into place under the mighty direction and brilliant and inventive, amusing, jazzy, athletic and love instilled choreography of Christopher Wheeldon.
Had I been invited to invest and had I the resources to do so I would have gladly and immediately written a check with many many zeros to have a piece of this delectable French pastry filled with love. It is simply scrumptious. And I recommend that you high tail it to the Palace and book your tickets. It’s a production that is to be savored over and over again.
A lone piano sits on a bare stage. In a war torn Paris the Nazis are finally gone and the city slowly tries to recapture its life. Our narrator is Adam Hochberg (Brandon Uranowitz). A nebbish with a dark sense of humor and a big heart filled with empathy. A realist. A composer working on a new ballet who has a limp as a result of the war dreaming of success with his new ballet for the company’s newest star Lise Dassin (Leanne Cope).
Adam befriends Jerry Mulligan, an American soldier (Robert Fairchild) who decides to stay in Paris to pursue his dream of being an artist and Henri Baurel (Max von Essen) who desperately wants to go to America and become a “song and dance” star – keeping his dream a secret from his father (Victor J. Wisehart) and his uptight bourgeois mother (Veanne Cox) who wants him to marry Lise. All three men unbeknownst to each other fall in love with Lise and sing a wondrous “’S Wonderful.” It’s sublime!
A chic, rich American woman, Milo Davenport (Jill Paice) is looking to open an art gallery with the help of Madame Baurel (Henri’s mom) and discovers Jerry and his art. She believes that with her cash she can keep Jerry all to herself. But money can’t buy love as the saying goes…
Those are the main characters. All perfectly cast. All top-notch. Allowing Mr. Wheeldon and his enormously talented creative team to put them and the plot into action. And that he does with élan.
Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope are made for each other as the young lovers looking for love. They are your dream couple. Natural actors who can sing well and dance with grace and style, enjoying every moment on stage and sharing it with us. It’s a great gift they send over the footlights.
The sets and costumes by Bob Crowley are magnificent. His set pieces are integrated so well that they too dance gracefully across the stage with fantastic modern day projections to bring us up to date in the design department.
And then there is the gorgeous music and lyrics of the Gershwin bothers – George and Ira. What a thrill to hear the songs and how well they have been placed into the book by Craig Lucas. No shoe horns needed. They flow as if written specifically for this production with Rob Fisher’s fabulous arrangements to excite and bewitch.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is a monumental achievement with endless surprises in store for all those who visit to share all the love on stage at the Palace Theatre. It’s a totally joyous experience.
Photos: Angela Sterling
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