Written by Serena
Let me start by saying that An American in Paris on Broadway is nothing like the 1951 movie. Other than the fact that they share a similar score and plot, this is an entirely new story and production. It would be futile to draw too many comparisons. In fact, it would be tough to compare it to any other shows that are on Broadway right now because it is so unique and special in its own right.
From the moment the show started, I was captivated. The opening is dramatic and stunning, and right away you are introduced to the fabulous set that takes on a life of its own. The set pieces are worked into the choreography so well that they should get equal billing alongside the dancers. They flowed through the show so seamlessly, it’s no wonder An American In Paris won a Tony for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design.
This is THE BEST dancing I have ever seen on a Broadway stage. The dancers all come from a ballet or jazz background which brings the show to another level. Tony award winning Choreographer (& director) Christopher Wheeldon takes advantage of this high caliber talent, and he has created sheer perfection. There are so many parts of the story being conveyed with no dialogue, just movement. If you’re a fan of ballet or dance you will not be disappointed.
Perhaps the main reason An American in Paris is so magical is due to its leading actor, Robert Fairchild. Robbie exudes charm and it oozes across the stage and fills the theater. He is the glue that holds the show together. Even when he is standing perfectly still, you can feel that ineffable quality that he possesses. It’s the smallest in-between movements he does that make you feel so good. In that way, Robert reminds me of Gene Kelly who played the original Jerry Mulligan in the 1951 movie. He moves with such comfortable ease. If anyone was ever born to dance, it was Robert Fairchild. Despite not having a background in singing, Robbie sounds fantastic, as does his co-star, the lovely Leanne Cope.
Leanne’s presence in the show is much more understated, but equally as powerful. She is a beautiful dancer who brings a quiet innocence to her character, Liza, but still maintains underlying strength and wisdom. Her pas de deux with Jerry is breathtaking. Seeing the two of them dance together is something you do not want to miss.
With such spectacularly talented leads, you can sometimes overlook the supporting cast, but that would be a mistake. Tony nominees Max von Essen (Henri Baurel) and Brandon Uranowitz (Adam) are brilliant in their roles. Along with Jill Paice (Milo) and Veanne Cox (Madame Baurel), they bring dimension to the characters which helps to bring the story to life, and they all do a lovely job singing the beautiful Gershwin melodies. As if that’s not enough, you are also treated to a superb ensemble whose dancing skills are top-notch. Iain from IainLovesTheater says it best: “the most triple threaty show I’ve ever sawn”.
I had every intention of writing this review months ago when I first saw An American in Paris, but it was hard for me to translate the way it made me feel into words. It’s a show that is full of light and shade. There are some dark, heavy themes, but they are offset by the joyous, happy moments and uplifting dancing. Only after seeing it a few times can I being to express how lovely and magical it is.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The Palace theater is enormous and the views from the balcony are not good since you are sitting very far away and may have an obstructed view. The view from the mezzanine is great as you can get a nice overview of all the dancing without being too far from the stage.
- The Ladies Room upstairs only has 3 stalls, so you are better off running down to the larger one in the basement if you don’t want to wait on a long line.
- For a peek at behind the scenes footage and lots of other fun stuff, check out ‘S Wonderful, Max von Essen’s Broadway.com vlog.
- Visit the official An American in Paris YouTube channel where they have really nice videos that discuss all aspects of the show and characters.