BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS S'Marvelous! Thru Dec 10
I'm a die-hard fan of George and Ira Gershwin; from 1924 until George's death in 1937, the brothers wrote almost exclusively with each other, composing over two dozen scores for Broadway and Hollywood. If I ever do drag, I'm going to dress as a fat black woman, sitting in a swing underneath a magnolia tree, sipping mint julips and singing Summertime. Gershwin talent is inimitable; in 1932, Of Thee I Sing was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. George wrote the orchestral piece, An American in Paris, in 1928, inspired by the time he spent in Paris. In 1951, MGM released the musical film An American in Paris. It won Best Picture Oscar. Directed by Vincente Minnelli (Judy Garland's husband), the film featured many tunes of Gershwin, and concluded with an extensive, elaborate dance sequence built around the An American in Paris symphonic poem. The 2015 stage musical, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS won four Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, a Drama League Award, two Theatre World Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards.
Now, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is on stage at the magnificent Detroit Opera House. The starring role of Jerry Mulligan is played by McGee Maddox, known throughout the world of dance as one of the National Ballet of Canada's best-known principal dancers. The show is heavily focused on ballet, and requires a ballet etoile to pull off the part. But Maddox also has a strong voice which is perfect for the role; talent like that is rare, indeed. Co-starring in the role of Lisa Dassin is Allison Walsh, who played Olga Romanov in Broadway's Anastasia. They are joined by Adam Hochbert played by Matthew Scott, Ben Michael as Henri Baurel, Kirsten Scott as Milo Davenport and Teri Hansen as Madame Baurel. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is the romantic story about an American soldier, a mysterious mademoiselle, an ambitious pianist, and a less-than-macho heir, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war in the City of Lights.
This show is perfect for dancers who want to see cream of the crop dancing in a stage musical; it's also poignant for history buffs who would like to gain some insight into Nazi-era occupation of France, and the plight of the Jewish population. For me, it was all about Gershwin, and the music I can never get enough of.
The score of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS includes the songs "I Got Rhythm," "Liza," "''S Wonderful," "But Not For Me," "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," and orchestral music including "Concerto in F," "Second Prelude," "Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture" and "An American In Paris."
The creative team is also comprised of Tony Award-winners Bob Crowley (set and costume designer) and Natasha Katz (lighting designer); Jon Weston (sound designer); 59 Productions (projection designer); Rob Fisher (musical score adaption, arrangement and supervision); Todd Ellison (musical supervisor); David Andrews Rogers (musical director/conductor); Christopher Austin and Bill Elliott (orchestrations); Sam Davis (dance arrangements); Telsey + Company/Rachel Hoffman, C.S.A. (casting); Rick Steiger (production supervisor); Dontee Kiehn (associate director and associate choreographer); and Sean Kelly (associate choreographer and resident director).
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, the most awarded new musical of 2015 and winner of four Tony Awards®, will play the Detroit Opera House for a two-week engagement thru December 10. Tickets start at $29.
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An American in Paris Touring Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy