Following a recent run in the West End at the Dominion Theatre, hit musical An American in Paris arrives on the big screen next week.
This charming, lavish musical, scripted by Craig Lucas and inspired by the Oscar-winning film starring Gene Kelly, tells the tale of hope, love and achieving your dreams in a post-war Paris.
After a chance encounter, former American GI turned aspiring artist Jerry Mulligan (played by Robert Fairchild) becomes enamoured with Parisian Lise Dassin (Leanne Cope), a perfume shop assistant and ballerina who dreams of following her mother’s footsteps and becoming a star. What Jerry doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one battling for her affections – his close friends, Adam (David Seadon-Young), the show’s narrator and a talented, struggling composer; and wannabe singer Henri (Haydn Oakley) are also smitten with the young woman. In turn, American heiress Milo Davenport (Zoë Rainey) has taken a shine to the artist. She commissions Adam to write a ballet starring Lise, with Jerry designing the set.
With music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, the musical features old favourites including “I Got Rhythm”, “S Wonderful” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” which, combined with Bob Crowley’s colourful costumes and dazzling set bringing to life the City of Light, means that the show doesn’t really put a foot wrong.
Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, the feel-good musical includes energetic, memorable ballet, jazz and tap routines (‘I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise’, complete with tuxedos, sequins and step kicks, is a particular highlight) that will leave the audience with “fidgety feet” and wanting to dance in the aisles. The show takes a gamble too at times, with the final fifteen minutes or so purely a ballet routine, but it pays off and if anything highlights the enviable talents of its leading couple.
American in Paris features a stellar company of more than 50 dancers, singers and actors, including Jane Asher, who plays Henri’s strict but amusing mother and commands every scene that she’s in. Fairchild is perfect as the charismatic yet persistent (a little too persistent at times) artist, and his almost effortless dancing is a joy to watch, while Cope sparkles as the graceful, elegant Lise, who has to choose between her head and her heart. The pair have the perfect chemistry, which truly shines through during the final ballet scene, and their singing voices are equally as impressive. But it’s Seadon-Young who steals the show with his commanding, poignant performance as the witty yet sensitive narrator – his personality endearing to the audience, and his dry humour on the mark.
An American in Paris boasts a talented cast, slick choreography and toe-tapping tunes. Who could ask for anything more?
This review was originally written for Love London Love Culture. To read the original, click here.