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Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS . A new inventive step in the Musical theatre genre.

Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Sunday 2nd May 2022, 6:00 pm, Theatre Royal Sydney.

An American in Paris is a glorious and inventive new musical inspired by the 1951 movie with a superb collection of music by the Gershwins.

Director Christopher Wheeldon and Playwright Craig Lucas have used the original film as the seed of an idea to create an inventive and wonderful new work. There is currently movie musicals on stages around the world, this production goes beyond an adaption and is a superb reimagining of the original Minnelli movie. The setting, the story and the Gershwin repertoire have been expanded to create a new musical masterpiece.

Lucas has set the story in post worn torn Paris where the world and the characters are striving to see their new lives with a refreshed vigour, seeking passion in their work and romantic endeavours.

The drama unfolds as Jerry (Robbie Fairchild), Adam ( Jonathan Hickey) and Henri (Sam Ward) join forces to follow their dreams in the performance arts.

Their relationships entangle as they unknowingly are in love with the same ballerina Lise (Leanne Cope).

Further complications ensure, as Milo ( Ashleigh Rubenach) engages Jerry's artistic skills but with romantic altera motives, Lise is reluctantly betrothed to Henri while falling for Jerry, Henri hides his desire to be a cabaret artist from his philanthropic family who question his inability to commit to Lise and Lise feels obliged to Henri as his family saved her life during the war.

Wheeldon as director and choreographer has beautifully bought this dance story to life with verve and genius. The choreography has the flavour of the 1950's era yet has a contemporary energy and freshness. It pays tribute to the dance style of the movie while possessing the inventiveness of a new work.

Wheeldon's experience has bought a fresh directorial eye to the musical theatre genre. In this piece the sets also dance across the stage. Their movements bring a new energy and feel to the musical theatre experience.

Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope

Wheeldon has worked wonderfully with set designer Bob Crowley, Lighting designer Natasha Katz and 59 Productions to create a masterful production. Yes, video projections are used but are executed seamlessly. The projections are an integral part of the set and staging to the point you almost forget there is screen backdrop.

The scenes and sets also move along and change with a cinematic style, yet it all feels part of the live stage experience. The video projections are not relied upon to create simplistic set changes, they are wonderfully combined with the staging elements in a masterful way.

Wheeldon's other directorial touches are clever and imaginative. One scene change is beautifully executed when all the main characters come down stage and pause, pondering their dramatic situations. It's a moment for the audience to pause and ponder where each character is at and what's in store. One of the many unique director's touches that is indicative of Wheeldon's vision and expertise.

Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

This is the first time the Australian Ballet has taken part in musical theatre and the benefits are glorious. To see the dancers float across the stage in the musical theatre genre is a joy to behold.

Is this the first time the Australian ballet have expertly executed a tap sequence? The Broadway fantasy sequence, although script wise is gratuitous ,you do not want to miss it.

Cope and Fairchild both started their careers in the ballet and their expertise is astounding.

To their credit their dramatic performances and vocal ability is equally engaging and wonderful to enjoy. Both are reprising their roles from the productions on Broadway and the West End in London. Their performances are as fresh and passionate as if this is an exciting new adventure in their careers.

This is one of the many aspects of this work that make it a must-see show.

The production is also a visual feast. Crowley has created era inspired sets that are original and divine. He has also beautifully incorporated imagery from the artists of the day, we enjoy the visuals of artists such as Matisse. Monet, Renoir, and Picasso.

In Henri's Broadway dream sequence the set is traditional and grand. In the scenes where Jerry and Lise meet by the canal, the set pieces are stylised and magical. Crowley has beautifully combined different approaches to his designs and they work superbly.

Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Photo Tristram Kenton

A side note, usually programs are expert photography with just the list of cast and creatives. The 'An American in Paris' program, like the show, goes further. Beyond extensive bios of the creatives and cast, there is the history of the Gershwin brothers, interviews with Cope and Fairchild, an overview of post war France, and the story of Ballet to Broadway. Another plus to this extraordinary production.

This work goes beyond being another movie to stage adaption.

It's a musical theatre masterpiece.

We enjoy the expertise of musical theatre in the sets, costuming, performance, story and choreography with the addition of an inventive director's eye, and the skill of the Australian Ballet, all this with the energy and passion of a new work.

Guest Reviewer Kym Vaitiekus Shares His Thoughts On  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Photography courtesy of and Tristram Kenton

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