BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at Popejoy Hall
With breathtaking dancing and exquisite sets, An American in Paris transported the enthusiastic audience at Albuquerque's Popejoy Hall to 1940's Paris. The show, choreographed and directed by Christopher Wheeldon (with several dance routines arranged by Sam Davis), seamlessly blends dance, singing, and plenty of heart and humor into a show that is entertaining for all ages. The musical, which is inspired by the 1951 Gene Kelley film of the same name, is a delightful nod to the original with a modern twist of the sets being projected onto the backdrop and various onset props, including strategically placed mirrors that reflected the scenery of Paris.
An American in a Paris, set in Paris after the Second World War, begins as Adam Hochberg (Matthew Scott) sits down at a piano and tells the audience the story of his friend Jerry Mulligan's (McGee Maddox) arrival in France after its liberation. During the first musical number, "Concerto in F", Jerry comes across a mysterious woman on the streets of Paris. That encounter gives Jerry a reason to miss his train home. Rather than returning to America, Jerry decides to rebuild his life in Paris, working on his paintings and living the life of an artist. Along the way, he befriends Henri Baurel (Ben Michael), an aspiring nightclub entertainer; has a brief relationship with American philanthropist Milo Davenport (Kristen Scott); and finds his mysterious woman, aspiring ballet dancer Lise Dassin (Allison Walsh). Jerry's time in Paris is not a smooth and uneventful one as the trio of Jerry, Henri, and Adam, are all in unknowingly in love with Lise at the same time. By the end of the musical, Henri and Adam realize they are more in love with the idea of Lise and what she brings to their lives, rather than Lise herself, leaving Jerry and Lise to walk offstage together.
The cast of An American in Paris appear to be equally as comfortable with each aspect of their roles, whether it was performing complex and flawlessly executed ballet routines, singing well-known classic songs (including "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me"), or having perfect comedic timing. McGee Maddox has a charm and stage presence reminiscent of Gene Kelley as Jerry Mulligan, making even the most elaborate choreography seem effortless. Allison Walsh is charming as Lise Dassin, and along with the rest of the company, she performed an incredible ballet routine in "An American in Paris" that left the audience wanting to see more. Matthew Scott shines as Adam Hochberg, and brings a level of humor to the musical that helped to keep the audience laughing and thoroughly entertained. Ben Michel, as Henri Baurel, along with the stellar ensemble of the production, pulled off a show-stopping number with "Stairway to Paradise" where Henri imagines performing at Radio City Music Hall, that left the audience cheering. Kristen Scott brought wit and heart to her role as Milo Davenport, which helped keep the audience invested in her character throughout the production. Each member of the cast of An American in Paris helped to make the production an unforgettable night at the theatre.
An American in Paris is currently on tour throughout North America. Tickets for future performances can be purchased at: http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/
Image credit: Popejoy Hall