Dallas Summer Musicals presents AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Music Hall at Fair Park, January 31 – February 12, 2017.
The Academy-Award winning film, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has always been one of my very favorite musicals and now it’s on the stage and it is not to be missed. This beautiful musical based on the classic movie debuted on the Broadway stage in 2015 and won best new musical and is the winner of four Tony Awards – does that tell you something?
Here’s the story: It is the tale of an American soldier, Jerry Mulligan who finds himself in the most romantic city in Europe, Paris after the end of World War 11. He’s an inspiring artist and decides he wants to stick around for awhile and see where Paris will take him in his career. Little does he know that he’s also going to fall in love with the mysterious and brilliantly gifted French dancer Lize who continues to cross his path. Along with his two new friends who are also aspiring artists (an American music composer and a wealthy French heir who just wants to be a song and dance man). They are also looking for a new beginning in the City of Light (actually the French guy wants to head to Broadway in New York of course) and we find ourselves seeing Paris through all of their young and hopeful eyes. Paris is a reawakening city of after years of the oppressive Nazi occupation and it’s exploding now with the promise of hope. Paris in the late 40’s was a magnet for artists, writers, and intellectuals from all over the world, which makes it a perfect place for our four young hopefuls. If that’s not enough excitement, unbeknownst to each other, they are all falling in love with the same beautiful Parisian ballerina.
This is traditional Broadway at it’s best and it is a beautiful version of the 1951 movie. It features a glimpse into the world as it was in the 40’s. The production is witty (it still includes some corny jokes of the day which is fun), vibrant, and sophisticated – remember it’s Paris after all. The musical is based on the book by playwright Craig Lucas and features the musical genius of George and Ira Gershwin. Their music lives on and never gets old. The score includes some old favorites such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Liza,” “‘S’Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” and my personal favorites, the haunting and wonderful orchestral music including “Concerto in F,” “Second Prelude,” “Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture” and “An American In Paris.”
The production is directed and choreographed by 2015 Tony Award winner Christoper Wheeldon. The dancing is amazing – it’s modern, jazzy but with classic ballet intertwined throughout the numbers. The long sensual dream ballet (the dance within the dance) is dance perfection and will transcend you into the dance. It’s performed by the wonderfully talented romantic leads, Garen Scribner (I believe Gene Kelly would approve) and Sara Esty who are both truly gifted dancers. It’s a sexy, romantic, artistic dance and it is absolutely memorizing.
The supporting actors and dancers round out a cast of extremely talented singers and dancers. A favorite ensemble dance takes place in the department store where Lise works and includes the number “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck” (with homage to “Singin’ in the Rain” as umbrellas are used as accessories in the dance”).
The minimalist but artistic sets are beautifully conceived and richly executed. The props become a part of the musical as they are danced onto and off stage. Iconic Paris locations are projected onto the stage and set the atmosphere of Paris in all it’s beauty. I loved the over-sized ornate mirrors in the ballet studio, and the huge rendering of boats floating on the Seine with clouds shimmering overhead in the park scenes where the our two lovers meet secretly.
One of my favorite lines of the production was spoken by the American musician/composer Adam Hochberg character after his triumphal debut as a musical composer. It seems to be as timely now as it was then and resonated with me as I left the theater. It went something like this, “The world is dark enough as it is, so when you have the ability to make it a little bit brighter, why wouldn’t you?” An American in Paris absolutely does.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS will play the Music Hall at Fair Park January 31 – February 12, 2017, for two weeks presented by Dallas Summer Musicals. This lavish modern classic will then head to Fort Worth, where it will play at Bass Performance Hall February 14-19, 2017, for one week presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth.
Single tickets for the Dallas engagement of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, starting at $25, are now on sale at www.DallasSummerMusicals.org or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount, priority seating, and many more benefits. Please call 214-426-4768 or email Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org.
An American in Paris Movie Trivia:
- Gene Kelly discovered Leslie Caron while vacationing in Paris where he saw her perform in a ballet.
- Leslie Caron didn’t speak English when she landed her first major role. She had a vague understanding of the language due to having an American mother, but was not conversant. Luckily for her, the part didn’t have many lines and was comprised of mostly dancing, a skill that Caron was very fluent in.
- A major reason Gene Kellysuggested Leslie Caron as the female lead was because he felt this movie needed a “real” French girl playing Lise, not just an American actress playing one.
- According to Leslie Caron, her introductory dance sequence, which included a seductive dance with a chair, was considered too suggestive by some censors. Gene Kelly directed the brief fantasy dance sequences shown as Lise is introduced.
- Arthur Freed originally just wanted to buy the rights to the George Gershwin number “American in Paris,” but Ira Gershwin made the condition that he’d only sell on the condition that if a musical were to use the song, it would use only Gershwin numbers as its other songs.
- At 38 Gene Kelly was 19 years older than his co-star Leslie Caron.
- Gene Kelly‘s favorite of all of his musicals.
- Alan Jay Lerne rbegan writing the screenplay in December 1949, and finished it in a 12-hour stretch in March 1950 on the night before his wedding.
- Film debut of Leslie Caron.
- Despite the objections of Gene Kelly who wanted to shoot on location in Paris, the movie was shot at MGM Studios in California, on 44 sets built for the film. It was reportedly difficult for the studio to secure travel arrangements or locations for shooting. Two shots in the picture are from Paris, but they don’t involve Kelly.
- The ballet sequence was almost cut because the shooting was behind schedule, but MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer stood by Arthur Freed, Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly in withholding the release of the movie because he felt the movie wouldn’t be effective without it.