BWW Review: 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S That Simple for the National Tour of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

BWW Review: 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S That Simple for the National Tour of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Set in the City of Light in post-World War Two with plucky soldiers in a new town, a love triangle (er, square?), and an easy-breezy Gershwin score, An American in Paris has all the hallmarks of a golden age musical. The 2015 Tony winner was even inspired by the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

It's the story of American GI Jerry Mulligan, who decides to say in Paris after the war in hopes of becoming a professional painter. Jerry makes two new friends, an American would-be composer named Adam and a French would-be crooner named Henri, and falls for the sweetly mysterious Lise, a French shopgirl and aspiring prima ballerina. Unbeknownst to Jerry, Lise just happens to be Henri's betrothed. Who, I wonder, will get the girl?

The marvelous thing about An American in Paris is that, though classic in its song and story, the minds behind this new version have created a wholly refreshing interpretation that transforms the way one thinks about and experiences decades-old musicals. That freshness you're feeling? Dance. From curtain rise to fall, An American in Paris hinges on dance. Even the set changes are every bit as beautifully and seamlessly choreographed as the company's every move.

Those moves, designed by Choreographer and Director Christopher Wheeldon, lend an exquisitely intimate beauty and grace to the show. An American in Paris is a work of art from start to finish, as every danced moment, from the nuance of falling in love to show-stopping kick lines, is crafted to artistic perfection. At times it's wonderfully surreal and, at other times, downright sexy.

Of course any choreography is only as good as the talent executing it, and the talent in this touring cast is off the charts. The lead actors nail every note, dance step, and line of dialogue. Finding a troupe of serious triple threats on a national tour is no guarantee, so a visit to Milwaukee from this caliber of artistry is a sheer delight.

First up, there's McGee Maddox as Jerry. He trained with the Houston Ballet and joined the National Ballet of Canada in 2009. Through highly-athletic choreography, Maddox's movements appear effortless and lighter than air. I kept wondering when he would mess up or miss his mark - but, to my eyes, he never did. Echoes of Gene Kelly.

Dancing opposite Maddox is leading lady Allison Walsh. She was part of An American in Paris from its first Broadway workshop, dancing in the Broadway ensemble for the show and even playing Lise as an alternate. When our trio of lovestruck fellows swoon over Lise in "'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous," there's no question as to why. From the way her movements mesmerize to the loveliness in her singing voice, Walsh earns every bit of starry-eyed praise heaped upon her.

The triple-threat talent doesn't stop there. Matthew Scott as American composer Adam, Ben Michael as French singer Henri, and Kirsten Scott as American society sweetheart Milo - they each do their share to round out the lead roles with star power. Matthew Scott brings the clever laughs, then turns around and belts a beautiful solo. Michael's Henri is sweetly lovable and more than a little unsure, then turns around and leads a chorus of marabou-feathered, dream-sequence showgirls like a downright dandy.

Even Kirsten Scott's role of "the other woman," at risk of being a throwaway part, is made special with Kirsten behind it. She's funny, quick as a whip, and appears utterly at home on stage. What a treat to not only see this fantastic quintet in action, but to also experience the talents of the entire ensemble in all their exuberance.

That feeling of joy and jubilation is what An American in Paris is all about. Though still reeling from the war (which lends the perfect dash of drama to this otherwise soaring musical), our cast of characters grows to realize that though life is dark, it's up to us to choose love and light. It's also up to those with a knack for the arts to go out and create works that bring some brightness into the world. An American in Paris does just that.

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From This Author Kelsey Lawler

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