‘An American in Paris’ is well worth seeing

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to the Village News


“An American in Paris” has all the components of a fabulous touring Broadway musical. The puzzle pieces are expertly arranged to make the touring show every bit as sensational as the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

The spectacular set design was a collaboration between Bob Crowley (a Tony Nominee in 2015 for this design) along with 59 Productions known for their Tony Award winning “technologically dazzling use of video and projection,” said The New York Times.

Renowned musical conductor Rob Fisher provided the orchestrations. Which were fantastic! Craig Lewis also an award-winning writer adapted the screenplay and the celebrated director Christopher Wheeldon also choreographed the sensational dance numbers.

This production was a visual delight. The set design was spectacular. The orchestral productions amazing. The actors were gorgeous. And the old Gershwin tunes still held up.

It was all there. So, what went wrong? Glad you asked. For one thing, in the first act, I could not understand the phony French accents. Or maybe their personal microphones were out of whack. The dancing seemed flat and the love story got lost in the myriad of scene changes. The premier danseur (McGee Maddox), although lyrical – was not athletic as expected. The ballerina (Sara Esty) however was a goddess on point.

Just the same, there were moments of brilliance. The stand out performance for me was by Stephen Brower as Adam Hochberg (played by Oscar Levant in the film as Adam Cook). Oscar Levant once said, “a musical is a series of catastrophes ending with a floor show.” As was the hopeful outreach by Milo Davenport (Emily Ferranti) who with a clear voice asked our hero “Shall We Dance”?

Acting as the storyteller, Brower pulled the story together after it got a bit muddled. Act Two brought all the jumbled bits to a cohesive conclusion. He saved the day.

Finally, Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler) wowed the audience when he strutted “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” with all the glamour of a Busby Berkeley show stopper. The audience loved it!

Gene Kelly choreographed the movie and while his dance style is iconic, Wheeldon captured the essence of the “An American in Paris” ballet in Act Two. It even felt like the same 17 minutes-of-magic from the film. It was stunning.

If you are reading this in the paper, “An American in Paris” has already breezed through the Civic Theatre. If on the other hand, you are online then the good news is it runs until the 10th of September.  If you can get there, it is well worth going.

Regardless, you will certainly wish to see the upcoming show opening Sept. 19 through 24. Disney’s Little Mermaid is coming! Tickets are still available if you hurry.

Parking can be prepaid at the Wells Fargo Building located at 401 B Street for only $8. Print the ticket with the bar code to give to the parking steward. Otherwise be ready to shell out a ten spot. Box office (619) 564-3000 and [email protected].

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