BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at Châtelet
The cast is good, though not quite on par with the original. Ryan Steele, who has been an alternate Jerry Mulligan for quite a long time, does a fine job even if he lacks the charisma of a Robert Fairchild and the mischievous charm of Ashley Day (who played the part in London and is now starring in Funny Girl as Nick Arnstein at the Théâtre Marigny). Michael Burrell doesn't quite compare to the great Max von Essen either. As for Emily Ferranti, she doesn't have the personality or phenomenal vocals of Jill Paice as Milo Davenport, the most interesting character in the book. And Julia Nagle isn't quite as funny as Veanne Cox in the role of Madame Baurel. But Zachary Prince is just as excellent as Brandon Uranowitz and delivers the best vocals of the show; his rendition of "They Can't Take That Away from Me" at the end is to cry for.
And of course, it's wonderful to have Leanne Cope, the original Lise Dassin, again, owning the part everywhere she plays it, be it Broadway or London, managing to keep it fresh with a waif charm so evocative of Leslie Caron in the movie.
Aside from the masterful work of director-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon - whose extensive ballet in the second act will never be my favorite part of the show, partly because of its lackluster costumes - the strongest points of the show are the set designs by Bob Crowley, using light projections as well as the material scenery that they replace, and the creative lighting by Natasha Katz, which remains the same.
Never has this show been as fluid and fast-paced as here. It definitely is a celebration of beauty, music, and art that can be seen over and over without ever getting tired of it. As directed by Jesse Warkentin, the thirteen-piece orchestra (bigger than on Broadway), does justice to the wonderful arrangements of Rob Fisher (and Sam Davis for the dance), enhancing the glory of the immortal music of George Gershwin, a genius gone at the age of thirty whose work will never age in any way. This musical uses so much of his symphonic work (such as the full-length poem "An American in Paris", plus bits of "Concerto in F" and "Second Rhapsody") that it sometimes seems more of a ballet with songs than a proper musical - but its two best musical numbers, "Fidgety Feet" and "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" with its tap-dancing chorus, might easily be the most effectively staged musical numbers in the purest Broadway tradition to be seen in the past few years.
Not to be missed till January 1st in the at last reopened Châtelet.