BWW Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is Sure to Delight at ORPHEUM THEATRE
In an era of post-war liberation, Nazi occupied France has a newfound sense of hope as it seeks to pick up the broken pieces of its existence. Bourgeois life is quaint in the City of Light, but is still reeling from the aftermath of war and oppression.
In nearly every aspect of this production art fuses with history, serving as a poignant political backdrop as shadows play vibrantly across the stage, aligned with sets that twirl and visually astound. A metaphorical ballet and a glimpse of cultural division lingers, connecting us to the past.
A soldier, aspiring composer, and future textile mogul all find themselves swept up in a love triangle, enamored with an up and coming ballerina, Lise Dassin. When Jerry Mulligan experiences déjà vu with an aloof stranger, a young woman, he asserts this to be a sign as he chases after Lise who at first wards off his advances due to an obligation she must uphold. Their serendipitous meeting only furthers the assumption that luck is on his side, incidentally. Jerry is so lucky in fact that his good fortune attracts the attention of a vivacious and larger than life persona, an American heiress, Milo Davenport, (Kirsten Scott) who makes a grand and flamboyant entrance as she offers him a proposal that's hard to resist.
Dramatic, evocative, and brimming with whimsy, An American In Paris delights audiences in a whirlwind montage of song and dance sequence.
Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox) has the je ne sai quoi you'd expect from a worldly artist and American GI, as he glides through scenes effortlessly, polished and charismatic. Other standouts are Lise, talented Houston Ballet veteran Allison Walsh, with her perfected French accent that comes off as charmingly authentic and demure, and a brooding yet sentimental Jewish composer, Adam Hochberg (Matthew Scott) already resigned to the fact he may only get the girl in the form of a muse.
A few scenes are absolutely mesmerizing, with a scintillating display of glittering nightclub and burlesque-esque imagery-a Ziegfield Follies inspired showgirl fanfare complete with savoir faire . A musical imbroglio mirrors the nuanced entanglement and tensions of characters and their dilemmas as lovely duets soar and toe tapping numbers encourage you to let loose and enjoy the rhythm.
A four time Tony Award winning new musical, An American In Paris has gorgeous dynamics and emotive choreography that conveys the amorous feeling people from two different walks of life can't deny. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (Tony Award for Best Choreography, Drama Desk) the dance movement is expertly executed with precision and creative expression, his skillful artistry at hand. Music by George Gershwin is a rhapsody of melodic jazz and swing. Familiar Gershwin tunes you'll recognize are iconic favorites "They Can't Take That Away From Me," I've Got Rhythm," and "Stairway to Paradise," among others.
If you enjoy ballet, (and a myriad of dance forms) then this show will surely captivate you and vicariously transport you to each alluring scene. An American In Paris is the perfect escape this Valentine's weekend-you'll fall in love.