BWW Review: Sweepingly Beautiful AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at Paramount
"An American in Paris" is one of those films that, when you mention it, people who have seen it give a contented little sigh. And those people, and many more, can add the stage version to give them that warm fuzzy feeling as the tour, currently playing at the Paramount, brings in much of the same music, dance, and romance as the film.
Featuring the songs and music of George and Ira Gershwin, we meet Jerry (McGee Maddox), a soldier about to head home to the states from his World War II post in Paris. Problem is he doesn't want to leave. A feeling only compounded by his seeing a mysterious girl while sketching the city. So, Jerry stays and meets another soldier, Adam (Etai Benson), an aspiring musician who's also chosen to stay in Paris, and Henri (Nick Spangler), the son of a wealthy French industrialist. Henri just wants to be a song and dance man and not go into the family business, a fact he can't seem to tell his parents. He also can't seem to work up the nerve to propose to his girl. Meanwhile Adam is brought on to work on the music for a new ballet and falls for the lead dancer. And to make matters worse, the object of all three men's affection is the same girl, Lise (Sara Esty). It's not a love triangle it's a love pentagon as we also meet wealthy American socialite Milo (Emily Ferranti) who's got a thing for Jerry.
The show comes off as more of a dance piece than a straight musical. Sure, there are plenty of wonderful Gershwin songs to be had such as "I've Got Rhythm" and "But Not for Me" but the core of the story is told through dance. It's a good thing that Gershwin music is already so expressive and when you add in the astounding choreography from director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon you get a gorgeous story often times told without words.
The ensemble is sublime from the leads on down to every single outstanding dancer. Maddox and Esty make for a lovely couple and their duets both in song and dance are stirring. They do, however, come off a bit static when there's no music and just dialog but their dancing completely makes up for that. Spangler is adorable as the nervous paramour and performer with a presence that lights up the stage. Ferranti handles much of the conflict of the piece beautifully. And Benson makes for a wonderful narrator/comic relief of the show although he too has some great dramatic moments as the love pentagon situation comes to a boil.
With all this Gershwin and dancing you can't help but fall in love with this version of the classic film. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "An American in Paris" at the Paramount a sweeping YAY. A total winner.
"An American in Paris" performs at the Paramount through May 14th. For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at www.stgpresents.org.