BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at Buell Theatre
There's nothing like seeing a new musical that feels like it was ripped from the Golden Age. An American in Paris, currently on tour at the Buell Theatre, brings out a definitive theatrical recipe you rarely witness of late.
The musical, based on the 1951 classic film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George and Ira Gershwin, is a stunning tribute to the ecstasy of classical movement paired with an exquisite modern design.
Set at the end of World War II, an American soldier, Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner, directly from the Broadway company) finds himself in settling in the City of Love to enrich his passion for painting. He connects with fellow artist and veteran, Adam Hochberg (an amiable Etai Benson), as well as handsomely wealthy Henri Baure (Nick Spangler), who longs to perform unbeknownst to his family. The three find common attraction for shopgirl Lise Dassin (Sara Esty), a dancer who has been brought onto a project featuring Adam's music and Jerry's artwork...yet none of them are aware their mutual desires. Lise is betrothed to Henri because his family helped her flee Nazi persecution, yet Lise is meeting with Jerry meanwhile capturing Adam's heart.
While the story is seemingly built to piece together the classic Gershwin compositions, it flows with the beauty you'd expect from a musical set to elegant melodies. I expected a show that relied heavily on dance to portray a story, but what I got was a theatrical experience richly infused with a collaboration of movement.
Few modern musicals bring to the stage what An American In Paris does. Choreography by director Christopher Wheeldon is the clear highlight, flowing alongside Bob Crowley's idyllic set design, which seems to have a choreography of its own. Crowley also crafted the costumes, adding the charm and joie de vivre of mid-century Paris. In fact, the show won Tony Awards for its orchestration, choreo, scenic design and lighting.
You don't get too many shows like this one.
An American In Paris plays the Buell Theatre through March 19. Tickets at DenverCenter.org or (303)893-4100.
Photos by Matt Murphy