Review by Sandi Durell
It’s the season of movie musicals of the 50s genre of romance and dance landing on the great white way back to back – (Gigi just a couple of blocks away).
An American in Paris is a gorgeous dancing delight starring ballet superstar Robert Fairchild, from New York City Ballet, as Jerry Mulligan alongside delicate ballerina Leanne Cope, as Lise Dassin, making her way across the waters from London’s Royal Ballet. They are a pair made in heaven bringing Craig Lucas’ book to life, and George and Ira Gershwin’s classic songs (I Got Rhythm, Concerto in F, Embraceable You, I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck, Liza, S’Wonderful, But Not For Me, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, novelty Fidgety Feet and more) to thrill.
The story takes place right after WWII, as Paris rises out of the dust of German invasion against vibrant flats, projected images and sketches as dancers appear and celebrate after sometime narrator Adam Hochberg (natural wit – Brandon Uranowitz) and his lone piano set the scene. Adam is Oscar Levant from the MGM movie – short on social skills, long on jokes, and one of the three men in love with Lise, who holds her own secrets close.
It is to the credit of Christopher Wheeldon, director-choreographer, and his luminous and sensitive skills, that the superb tale is told in more than words but in the beauty of flowing, joyful dance. Together with Bob Crowley’s magical sets and costumes, projections by 59 Productions, and Natasha Katz’ bathing light, the melding of great artistry comes together as scenes shift seamlessly.
As the story goes, Jerry and Adam become friends, while Adam plays piano for upper class Henri Baurel (a fine sounding Max von Essen) who has visions of singing his way to America.
Love goes awry when the sexy American philanthropist Milo Davenport (a sensational looking-sounding Jill Paice) pursues more than funding a new ballet by Adam, in which Lise will star. Henri’s uptight mother (Veanne Cox) is watching closely, plotting to make certain her son will marry Lise, in ever so amusing ways,
The ensemble is breathtaking in their choreographed numbers and what’s more, there are long, willowy, leggy showgirls in sparkles and feathers!
American in Paris captivates the heart with its wit, sensitivity, romance and beautiful dance and is sure to take many of this season’s awards. The 2 hours, 30 minutes fly by leaving audiences wanting for more.
*Photos: Matthew Murphy
Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway & 47th Street, open run, www.ticketmaster.com