BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Saenger Theater

BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Saenger Theater

Another S'Wonderful night at the Saenger! From the stunning backdrops to the French accents, you may find yourself believing that you're in Paris by the end of the night. 'An American in Paris' is a fantastic review of dance set to the incredible score by George and Ira Gershwin.

To be clear, this show is a musical, but if it's a musical that you are here to see, then you may be disappointed. 'An American in Paris' is much more akin to a dance recital with singing and the occasional plotline mixed into the performance. But this is not a disadvantage, because the dancing is just that good.

'An American Paris' is based on the 1951 film with the incomparable Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, about a young American veteran who decides to become an artist in Paris after WWII. Here, he falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious ballet dancer, because, of course he does. (Full disclosure: I have not seen the movie yet, so I can't comment on the movie-to-musical differences, but I can't wait to watch the original soon.)

McGee Maddox plays Jerry Mulligan, our artist, whose dance ability steals the show. During the pinnacle ballet scene, I lost count of the pirouettes that he accomplished, and he leapt around the stage with such strength that it was hard to watch anyone else. But if I had to choose someone, it would absolutely be Allison Walsh, who plays Lise, the pixie-haired powerhouse-on-pointe. These two are magical on stage. While their singing may leave something to be desired, their dancing will leave you in awe. And while you wait for the show, browse through their bios. It will all make sense.

As far as the singing goes, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the talent of Kirsten Scott and Ben Michael. Kirsten Scott belts through the role of Milo Davenport. She shines in "Shall We Dance?" and her flirtatious and larger-than-life portrayal is an excellent testimony to her acting chops. Ben Michael plays Henri Baurel with a likable comedy, and when he carries "I'll Build a Staircase to Paradise," it is clear that his vocal ability is no joke.

The 'An American in Paris' book, written by Craig Lucas, often misses the mark. The stakes fall flat and the writer expects the audience to overlook significant plot points for the sake of time. While this is modeled after a beloved movie, it would have been interesting to see what a modern viewpoint could have done for this show. (For instance, there is a line to the effect of, "she looks like someone you want to protect." Where's the red pen when you need it?)

That said, this show is a gorgeous spectacular. It is one of the most visually dynamic musicals that I have seen in a while, and that itself is worth seeing. 'An American in Paris' will be dancing across the Saenger stage through Sunday, February 4th.

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From This Author Jenny Bravo

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