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Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is

Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is "S'Wonderful" at The Argyle Theater

This production runs through October 23, 2022. The Argyle's upcoming 2022-2023 season will feature: Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Rock of Ages and Grease.

Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is Broadway is constantly staging musical versions of movies. Right now, it seems the main way to make money on Broadway is by putting on a jukebox musical or a musical version of a known film property. This year alone, Broadway audiences will be seeing adaptations of: Almost Famous, Some Like It Hot, New York, New York, and Sing Street. It's interesting how the entertainment industry did a complete 180⁰. Back in the day, many Broadway shows used to be adapted into films; now, it's the other way around. Sometimes you will get a great adaptation and many times you won't. In 2015, I was nervous to hear about a stage adaptation of An American in Paris featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin.

First of all, the film has a very rich history. Many film critics consider this film one of the best movie musicals of all time. In 1952, it was nominated for 8 Academy Awards; winning 6 including Best Picture. In 1993, it was selected for preservation by the United States Library of Congress for the National Film Registry. The American Film Institute (AFI) also ranked the film #9 on their list of the Greatest Movie Musicals. In addition to the film's accolades, the film features 2 brilliant star turns by Leslie Caron (in her film debut) and the indomitable force that is Gene Kelly, whose dancing shoes no man can fill with the exception of Fred Astaire. Is it possible that this film could have a successful stage adaptation? The answer is yes. The show opened on Broadway to rave reviews and tied Fun Home to earn the most Tony Award nominations (12); it went on to win 4. While I did not get to see the original production, I did get a chance to see it at The Argyle Theater in Babylon and it is "S'Wonderful"!

Closing out the Argyle's 2021-2022 season, An American in Paris tells the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American GI who "accidentally" misses his boat to the states so he can stay in Paris and fulfill his dreams of becoming a painter. Life for Jerry becomes even more exciting when he meets shop girl/aspiring dancer Lise and falls head over heels in love. However, life does soon become complicated for Jerry when he realizes he is not the only suitor vying for her affections.

My Favorite Year's Evan Pappas directed a beautiful production that truly conveyed the show's themes of the importance of true love and making dreams become a reality. Look out Twyla Tharp! Watch out Kathleen Marshall! Stand aside Susan Stroman! There's a new queen of dance in town and her name is Shannon Lewis. Lewis, who serves as choreographer and co-director, beautifully recreates Christopher Wheeldon's vision. The dancing is absolutely gorgeous. At times, the dancers defy gravity and literally look like they are floating. You really do enter a dream-like state; Bravo Miss Lewis!

The entire cast and ensemble are exceptional. Brandon Haagenson had the daunting task of filling Gene Kelly's shoes as he took on the role of Jerry Mulligan; He did a fabulous job and is a true star in the making. Also, in strong voice was Helen Krushinski as Lise. She has a truly beautiful voice and is just delightful. Jacob Ben-Shmuel, who is a doppelganger for Brandon Uranowitz, was funny and wonderful as composer Adam Hochman. He delivered the line of the night when he sarcastically said "Sure, and I'm Oscar Levant." Levant played the role of Adam in the original film. As aspiring cabaret singer, Henri Baurel, Max Keunzer stops the show in Act II with his performance of "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise." This is not the only number that will put a smile on your face; all of the Gershwin numbers will. Some of my favorites included: "I Got Rhythm", "The Man I Love", "S'Wonderful" and "For You, For Me, For Evermore". Bravo to the amazing orchestra, led by Christopher D. Littlefield, who brought this music to life. I was shocked to learn the orchestra only consisted of 6 people. They were unbelievable and had the sound of an 18-piece orchestra.

The 2015 Broadway production featured projections by 59 Productions which showed the city of Paris coming to life as Jerry paints it. The Argyle's production does not feature the projections and it doesn't need them. You are transported to Paris and the time period upon entering the theater. As you take your seats, Gershwin and French music plays over the PA until showtime. Anthony Freitis creates an authentic set; his use of the Morris towers to transform the stage into various sets/scenes is magical. Freitis's color palette for the set and the wonderfully synchronic lighting design by David Shocket brought Paris to Babylon.

Peter Fogel's costumes were perfect. They were Parisian chic and very authentic to the musical's time period. I especially loved his choices for the big ballet in Act II. Jerry is dressed in a white and blue shirt, yellow belt and red pants; an obvious representation of America. Lise is dressed in a flowing yellow dress which really makes her stand out. The color yellow is very crucial to this ballet. It allows Lise to clash with Jerry's attire, clearly representing how their love may be impossible and never come to fruition. Yet there is a commonality, Lise's dress is fully yellow and Jerry's belt is yellow. Jerry and Lise do have a strong connection and maybe their relationship will work if Lise allows herself to follow her heart. Think about the use of the color yellow in Jerry's outfit too...his belt. A belt is used for security/support. Lise is the security/support Jerry needs. Very well done, Mr. Fogel.

An American in Paris was truly magical and will make you believe once again in love. An American in Paris will be playing at The Argyle Theater thru October 23, 2022.

You can purchase tickets here: https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2200779®id=181&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.ovationtix.com%2Ftrs%2Fpr%2F1025998?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1

The Argyle's upcoming 2022-2023 season will feature: Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Rock of Ages and Grease. You can purchase tickets for their upcoming season: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34985

Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
l-r (Jacob Ben-Shmuel, Brandon Haagenson, Max Keunzer, Ensemble)
Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Ensemble; Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Helen Krushinski, Ensemble; Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Ensemble, Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Ensemble, Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Jacob Ben-Shmuel, Helen Krushinski; Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Max Keunzer, Ensemble; Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is
Helen Krushinski, Brandon Haagenson; Photo Credit: Richard Termine


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