An American In Paris
The calendar says February but come December don't be surprised to find the stage musical "An American in Paris," which opened Wednesday night at The Music Hall at Fair Park, in everyone's Top Ten list. It's a razzle-dazzle sensation.
Based on the Oscar-winning 1951 movie of the same name, the plot for the stage musical "An American in Paris" is paper-thin, but that's not a traditional criticism. "An American in Paris" is a love letter to musical theater; a dancing display set to the glorious music of George and Ira Gershwin. Musical numbers are set to Gershwin classics as "I Got Rhythm," "S'Wonderful," "Shall We Dance" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
The minimalist plot doesn't stray far from the original film. The story is set in post-WWII Paris and revolves around Jerry Mulligan, a former GI who has stayed behind to pursue his passion of painting.
Jerry soon meets his downstairs neighbor Adam, a struggling pianist, and Henri, a long-time friend of Adam. The guys meet in Adam's first-floor apartment where Henri talks at length about his charming girlfriend. Later at a nightclub, Jerry becomes obsessed with the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Every musical theater patron will recognize that Henri and Jerry are pursuing the same woman, a perfume shop girl, Lise.
The handsome Garen Scribner, who played this leading role in the recent Broadway production, plays the role of Jerry. Scribner physically looks nothing like Gene Kelly (who famously starred in the film), but his strong, bold athleticism will remind patrons of Kelly.
The role of Henri is the third male role. But Henri (played nicely by Nick Spangler) gets the glitziest number in the musical with "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise." The number is reminiscent of gorgeous, over-the-top Busby Berkley and Ziegfeld pageants and Nick Spangler seems quite at home in this swanky number.
Sara Esty is marvelous as the ingénue Lise (and like Scribner, she played the Lise role on Broadway.) There are no aerial effects in the show but Esty's dancing is breathtaking, and she seems to soar and float across the Music Hall stage.
"An American in Paris" was directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, who won a Tony Award for his choreography. Tony Awards were also won by Natasha Katz, (Lighting Design) Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky and Bill Elliott (Orchestrations) and Bob Crowley and 59 Productions (Scenic Design.)
"An American in Paris" is why we make musicals; it's a big, splashy extravaganza.
"An American in Paris" runs through February 12 at The Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 1st Avenue in Dallas. For more information or tickets call 214-691-7200 or http://www.dallassummermusicals.org. After its Dallas run, "An American in Paris" will swirl into Bass Hall in Ft. Worth, February 14-19 at 525 Commerce Street, Fort Worth. For information or tickets, call 817-212-4280 or visit www.basshall.com