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Previews: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Cape Playhouse

The Cape Playhouse continues its exciting 2022 season with the upcoming production of An American In Paris.

Previews: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Cape Playhouse The Cape Playhouse, the country's longest running professional summer theater, continues its exciting 2022 season with the upcoming production of An American In Paris.

Founded in 1927, Playhouse founder Raymond Moore wanted to create a summer theatre close to Boston and the more affluent Cape communities. He purchased a few acres of land in Dennis, and found the abandoned 19th century Nobscussett meetinghouse (located in a nearby part of Dennis). Moore had the meetinghouse hauled down the road and placed on its present site - what we now know as the Cape Playhouse.

The Playhouse was once reputed by the New York Times as "the place where Broadway goes to Summer." Before air conditioning, New York was unbearable in the hotter months. The theatres would close, and people would travel to coastal resorts to escape the heat. Moore convinced big-name stars to come perform as his theater, offering them both paid summer work and a much-needed hiatus from the city. Since that time, an impressive list of Tony, Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe winners have made appearances on the Playhouse's stage. These include Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Betty White, Ginger Roberts and Julie Andrews.

Gertrude Lawrence, the iconic English actress, dancer and singer, herself performed in nine Cape Playhouse productions. The international star step foot in Dennis in 1939 to make her Playhouse debut in the comedy Skylark. Soon after, Gertie and Richard Aldrich (owner and operator of the Playhouse) started a romance and were married on the grounds of the Playhouse about a year after. They resided in a house adjacent to the Playhouse property, and Lawrence remained a well-liked and generous resident of the Dennis community until her death in 1952. A musical biography on Lawrence's life entitled Star! was filmed in 1967 and starred Julie Andrews and Richard Crenna; a portion of the filming took place at the Cape Playhouse.

To this day, it is rumored that Lawrence's ghost moves through the Playhouse. By tradition, every time the curtain rises for the first show of any production, fresh blue hydrangeas must be placed in the Gertrude Lawrence Star Room in the theater. If they are not, she causes mischief for whatever show is currently being performed.

Previews: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Cape Playhouse
An American In Paris dance ensemble -- from left top right, Will Jewett, Weston Krukow, Andre Malcolm, Bruce Landry, March Cardarelli, David Paul Kidder, and Daniel Bracket.

The Cape Playhouse has since continued to uphold its high caliber of professional theater into its 95th year of production. Named as one of the 50 Best Small Stage Theaters in America, the Playhouse now presents the enchanting story that is An American In Paris as part of its exciting summer repertoire.

Based on the book by Craig Lucas and inspired by the seven-time Academy Award winning 1952 musical comedy film, An American In Paris brings the legendary music of George and Ira Gershwin to the stage from August 3rd -13th. Featuring such classics as "I Got Rhythm," "S'Wonderful" and "Shall We Dance", this marks the show's debut performance on a Cape Cod theater's stage. With a timeless story and unforgettable characters, audiences have something quite special to look forward to this August.

Directing and serving as choreographer for An American In Paris is Emmy Award-winner Al Blackstone, a renowned dancer who has appeared in such shows as Broadway's Wicked. Blackstone now teams up with Garrett Taylor, who is in his fifth consecutive season as the Playhouse's Resident Music Director. Taylor has been seen on Broadway, in various regional productions and national tours; he was also part of Wicked's music team for an impressive fourteen years.

An American In Paris takes place in the wake of World War II. In the liberated city of Paris, where possibilities are endless, American G.I. and aspiring painter Jerry Mulligan catches a glimpse of the beautiful Lise Dassin as he walks along the street. A fleeting moment of fascination turns into something out of the pages of fate, as Jerry is soon commissioned to sketch the dancers of the ballet troupe of which Lise is part. A romance ensues between the two, who yearn to begin anew in a city (and world) that desires to do the same after the destruction that war has wrought.

David Elliott, the Tony Award-winning Artistic Director of the Cape Playhouse, comments on the beauty that is An American In Paris. "Fundamental to the appeal and what makes An American In Paris so special is that, while inspired by an iconic film, it has been so skillfully adapted from film to stage. The choice to change the setting from the 1950s to a post-war Paris emerging from the shadows of the occupation brings an optimism and a world of possibility that allows for brilliant storytelling. And then there's that score! With the timeless genius of George and Ira Gershwin, you have the makings of an incredible night at the theatre."

Previews: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Cape Playhouse
Leigh-Ann Esty as Lise Dassin

The Playhouse welcomes a multi-talented cast to make An American In Paris something audiences will not soon forget. Artist, actor, dancer and singer Leigh-Ann Esty stars as Lise Dassin, Josh Drake (who recently appeared in Aladdin on Broadway) stars as Jerry Mulligan, Bruce Landry (making his debut at the Playhouse) stars as Henri Baurel, acclaimed actor and vocalist Manna Nichols stars as Milo Davenport, actor, composer and lyricist Barrett Riggins stars as Adam Hochburg and Jennifer Smith (who has appeared in fifteen Broadway productions) rounds out the cast as Madame Baurel.

On the creative team is Associate Choreographer Melissa Hunt, Assistant Music Director Dr. Ray Wong, Scenic Designer Ray Arsenault, Costume Designer DW, Lighting Designer Catherine MacDonald, Sound Designer and Engineer Jacob Levitin, Stage Manager Libby Unsworth and Assistant Stage Manager Caroline M. Pastore.

"The cast and creative team for An American In Paris is remarkable," remarks Elliott. "We are tremendously fortunate to have assembled such a high level of talent led by our director/choreographer Al Blackstone. The patrons of the Cape Playhouse will be absolutely delighted with our production of An American In Paris."

An American In Paris begins performances at the Cape Playhouse (located at 820 Main Street in Dennis) on August 3rd, and will run thru August 13th. Single tickets range from $45 - $80, with a 15% discount for groups of 10 or more. The performance runs approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, and is best suited for patrons 8 years of age and older. For more information on purchasing both single tickets and season packages, please click here. You can also find information on all upcoming productions at the Playhouse, in addition to anything you'd like to know about this Cape Cod staple, by checking out their website here.

While you're at the Playhouse, please be sure to check out the expansive 22-acre campus, which houses both the Cape Cod Museum of Art and the Cape Cinema. It's a truly wonderful day spent in Dennis, so please take advantage of all that the Cape Playhouse and summer on Cape Cod has to offer!

Photo Credit: Cameron Russell / The Cape Playhouse

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