Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound AN AMERICAN IN PARIS- Updating Live!
The world premiere production of An American in Paris just opened at the Théâtre du Châtelet and will play through January 4, 2015. The Broadway run of the production will begin previews Friday, March 13, 2015 for a Sunday, April 12, 2015 opening night at the Palace Theatre (Broadway at 47th Street).
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Inspired by the Academy-Award winning film, An American in Paris brings this classic tale to Broadway for the first time with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and a book by Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominee Craig Lucas. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is the romantic story of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Sarah Crompton, Telegraph: An American in Paris opens with a young American GI walking through the streets of a shattered postwar city, sketching what he sees. As screens of black and grey buildings. drawn in chalk lines, create the scene around him, he encounters bread queues, collaborators, soldiers returning from war and a beautiful, kind girl called Lise whom he pursues with increasing fervour. It is a sequence to take the breath away - and it does what dance does so brilliantly, painting a picture without any words. At its close, a pale sun comes out over Paris and you understand exactly where we are. For this is emphatically not a stage version of the much-loved 1951 film but a thorough-going rethinking. The original was put together by writer Alan Jay Lerner, choreographer and star Gene Kelly and director Vincente Minnelli from a selection of George Gershwin classics 14 years after the composer's death. Though colourful, its plot was as thin as mille-feuille.
Ariane Bavelier, Le Figaro: First, the libretto. Nervous, tensed, spread with good banters and led by characters who all have good reasons to be here. The curtain opens with the Liberation of Paris. Jerry Mulligan, an American G.I. who chooses to stay in Paris. His path crosses Lise, where he immediately falls in love. They meet again, randomly. She is a dancer. Milo Davenport, a rich philanthropist is founding a new ballet. Madame Baurel introduces her to the choreographer Mr. Z., whose grandiloquence reminds us of Serge Lifar. Lise will be the prima ballerina in the new creation; Adam will be the composer, Mulligan will design the sets. Here are two of Lise's suitors. The third one is Henri Baurel, more attracted by his own kind at the cabaret than by women. His mother is divinely snippy, a "grande bourgeoise". It's her son's clumsiness when he comes to declare his love to Lise that is one of the comic figures of the musical. The distribution is fantastic. Even the smaller roles are pleasing, like Mr. Baurel, a tamed and dominated male, or Olga, the elder authoritarian ballet mistress. This show, celebrating twists and turns, where everything revolves around dancing.
Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde: Christopher Wheeldon has finally hit the jackpot for his first professional musical, and first-ever Broadway-Paris co-production. it was about ten years ago, when he had already been approached to direct An American in Paris. In 2005, he choreographed the final ballet from the film for the NYC Ballet. Today, he relies on the layers of extravagant scenes and numerous sets mounted on wheels. Painted sets and old fashion screens, sophisticated video projections that erect entire districts of Paris in only a few sprays of light... A dance studio turns into a big department store, the banks of the Seine spill over into a jazz club. All the artistic genres slide one after the other: realistic, impressionist, abstract, and in between this parade. Actors move along as they carry the set pieces away in the spiral of changes. The most frequent trick consist of putting side-by-side characters living in different spaces, creating a surprising Ping-Pong, in which the protagonists' thoughts contract one another. With a great deal of dancing, Wheeldon's An American in Paris orchestrates an organic stream to move the plot forward. The choreographic writing - neo-classic ballet on points for the girls, with acrobatic accents for the men - is not pretending to revolutionize the genre. Accompanied by a live orchestra, the choreography fully assumes the part it's supposed to play within a complex scene, which swings between locations, characters and atmospheres with a very sentimental manner to make arabesques speak.
Francis Carlin, Financial Times: The famous Vincente Minnelli film ended with a daringly long ballet sequence and it is as if this new stage version, almost double the length of the Gene Kelly-Leslie Caron classic, has taken this as a cue for a classical dance-heavy show. Its savvy, poetic cocktail of French chic and Broadway pizzazz is a perfect Christmas treat for the ballet-mad Parisians. Time will tell if this ambitious Franco-American co-production wows New York but it certainly deserves to become a repertoire standard. References to the film only go so far - this is a complete rewrite with an altogether more satisfactory structure. Craig Lucas's wisecracking book fills out characters, changes names and shifts the story to the Liberation. Lise is a dancer and has three male suitors not two. There are teasing, but mercifully unforced, quips on the German occupation
Sacha Reins, Paris Match: . War suffering brings a whole new element to the coming and going of love stories. Let's just say it right away; An American in Paris is a masterpiece, a true marvel that will move you the way one feels when encountering grace and perfection. First, let's talk about the stage direction: modern, innovative and original while staying faithful to the genre's tradition, all at the same time. Surprising projections on screens and mobile panels create a virtual set, which transport us from one scene to another, from one location to another, like a 3D motion theater attraction. This technique allows for rearranging the film's final scene, when Gene Kelly carries Leslie Caron away in a ballet that goes through Paris' mythical sites. All this would only be an astonishing approach if it weren't for the original choreography, mixing grace and energy, minimalism (when needed) and colorful exuberance.