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BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at QPAC

This production runs until the 30th of January

Produced by GWB Entertainment, The Australian Ballet and Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan and Roy Furman, An American in Paris is a kaleidoscope of song, dance and French romance.

BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at QPAC

Based on the movie of the same name, An American in Paris explores the story of two star-crossed lovers told through the story of dance and song. Designer Bob Crowley transforms Paris into a character itself through combining the moody fatigue of post-war of the city with the vibrant explosion of colour that signals the hope of Paris's new start. Crowley and 59 Productions use of three-dimensional projections was extraordinary and nothing like I've ever seen done on QPAC's stage.

Two stand out images for me was when the Nazi flag got torn down by the actors and transformed into the French flag and when the projector was transformed into a pristine Parisian riverside, in which two actors were fishing. I additionally loved the reference to different Parisian artists, including the Picasso-esque vibrant costumes worn in the final ballet sequence as well as the use of watercolours reminiscent of Monet.

Christopher Wheeldon's choreography was as vibrant as Crowley's costume design and perfectly encapsulated the rhythm and style of the music as well as the ambiance of the character's world. The choreography and the design were the heartbeat of the show and quite frankly, it's worth seeing the show for them alone.

BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at QPAC

Is it worth seeing it for the story? Well... whilst the leads (Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope) were phenomenal dancers, their characters were far too bland and cliché; perpetuating stereotypes that haven't aged well. Thus, it was hard to feel any connection or to invest in their burgeoning romance, which was kind of the point of the show... Instead, all eyes were turned onto the supporting characters and the ensemble who did not disappoint.

We latched onto Sam Ward as Henri , not only because of his incredible triple-threatness, but because we could all relate to having dreams that we wanted to fulfil. Ashleigh Rubenagh played Milo with such elegance, sass but also vulnerability. We could feel and see her pain of wanting to be loved but also to find herself. And boy did that girl have pipes. I was quite flabbergasted, to say the least, when I saw that Brisbane theatre royalty Helen Howard was covering for one of the principals as Madame Baurel. I don't know how much time she had to learn all the choreo, music and the lines but she killed it and had the most gorgeous charisma on her stage.

And last but not least, the ensemble. They were bold, they were fabulous and they were never off beat. It was lovely to see a musical which praises and makes the most use of its ensemble; giving each member a moment to shine. One of my favourite moments from the ensemble were the scene transitions in which actors piroutted around lamp posts and danced around tables. But what I loved the most was the joy on all of the casts faces as they were performing. You could tell they were having a ball. The show was pushed back a week from opening as a result of covid cases in the cast and you could see that joy of yes, we're here, we're finally here' on their faces' and as someone who works in the arts industry myself, I felt that.

An American in Paris does what it expects to do, it takes you away into a world of technicolour and jazz and then returns you feeling a bit better than before. Whilst the story lacks, technically it's divine. And in this case, that's enough.

Rating: 4 Stars

Photography credit to Darren Thomas



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