Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

By: Jan. 05, 2017

Based on the 1951 Academy Award-Winning Vincente Minnelli film musical of the same name which was inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin, An American in Paris tells the story of a young American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of World War II.

After a successful out-of-town tryout at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris, this stage adaptation made its Broadway debut on April 12th, 2015 where it ran for 623 performances after closing on October 9th, 2016. It also went on to earn 12 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical).

As I was watching this national touring production currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through January 8th, I couldn't stop smiling because of all the countless breathtaking moments on display. Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon does a magnificent job of keeping the story moving through stage blocking and dancing. The sets designed by Bob Crowley and the projections designed by 59 Productions together creates some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen on stage. The lighting designed by Natasha Katz not only elevates the beauty of this production, but also does an outstanding job at showing the audience where to look on stage.

But at the center of it all, playwright Craig Lucas does a very successful job of incorporating some of the classic songs by George & Ira Gershwin into the story. He's also able to create a whole new way of telling the story without coming across as a carbon copy of Alan Jay Lerner's screenplay by adding some dramatic heft into it along with his own sense of humor. Not to mention that Christopher Austin & Bill Elliott's glorious orchestrations brings whole new life into all of these classic songs.

The Entire company of singers, dancers, and actors are all top notch. Garen Scribner is very charismatic as a singer and actor in the role of aspiring sketch artist Jerry Mulligan. But as a dancer, he's really got some 'Fidgety Feet'. There's even a couple moments in Act II where you really feel for the character. Sara Esty is very charming as the hopeless romantic ballerina Lise Dassin. Etai Benson also gives a very heartfelt performance as aspiring composer Adam Hochberg, who also narrates the show. And Nick Spangler shows off as a real song and dance man in the role of aspiring song and dance man Henri Baurel.

If you're someone who is interested in the arts, you have to see this show. It perfectly combines the best of musical theater along with the best of the ballet. This musical really does have rhythm. Who could ask for anything more?

For more information regarding the tour, please visit:


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