An American In Paris first premiered as a film in 1951, winning six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. However, it was some time before the film was adapted for stage, with An American In Paris A New Musical opening on Broadway in 2015. The original score was written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, with adaptations and arrangements by Rob Fisher and book by Craig Lucas.
The film was released during the Golden Age of Hollywood and starred the legendary Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Audiences already familiar with this classic film will therefore have high expectations of a stage adaptation, and thankfully they won’t be disappointed. An American In Paris A New Musical is a sumptuous musical extravaganza, with lavish costumes, stunning sets and mesmerising dance routines, all set to a delightful love story set in the City of Lights (or love!). It’s like watching a blockbuster old school Hollywood movie being played out on the stage in front of you.
An American In Paris tells the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American soldier who remains in Paris at the end of WW2. He meets a beautiful young French woman, Lise Dassin. Despite Jerry’s immediate love-at-first-sight attraction to Lise, she is not so sure. Like all good love stories, things become complicated, other people become entangled in the love story, characters have hidden secrets, and ultimately decisions have to be made. It’s a charming tale with a predictably happy ending.
Playing Jerry Mulligan, the role made famous by Gene Kelly in the film of An American In Paris, is internationally acclaimed triple threat, Robbie Fairchild. Fairchild effortlessly dances and sings his way through the show with complete elegance and grace in a role he has now played on Broadway and in the West End. He is charming and oozing charisma. It’s as close to watching Gene Kelly live on stage as you’re likely to get.
Playing opposite Fairchild is another internationally acclaimed triple threat, Leanne Cope, also reprising the role she played on Broadway and the West End. Cope is sweet, gentile, endearing, and charmingly French. Not surprisingly, Fairchild and Cope share a beautiful chemistry that makes their romance all the more believable.
The two leads are supported by an outstanding Australian cast who certainly match the quality performance of the international cast.
Sam Ward’s portrayal of Henri Baurel has heralded his arrival as a true triple threat and leading man material.
Jonathan Hickey shows his excellent comedic skills as Adam Hochberg, the struggling composer.
Ashleigh Rubenach is a fittingly bold and confident Milo Davenport. Not so much the villain of the story, but more another lonely heart looking for love and being caught up in a complicated story of misunderstandings and misguided love. Rubenach lights up the stage and also asserts herself as leading lady material.
Anne Wood and David Whitney round out the leading cast as Madame and Monsieur Baurel, both bringing years of stage experience.
Set and costume design by Bob Crowley set the era, with a glorious array of beautiful costumes and a clever set enhanced by the use of projections, designed by 59 Productions.
Direction and Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon is smooth and effortless. Dance numbers are seamlessly interwoven through the story and the choreography is extraordinary.
The rich musical score is expertly delivered under the musical direction of Vanessa Scammell.
An American In Paris truly is ‘S wonderful, ‘S marvelous.
An American In Paris is currently playing at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until April 23rd, then tours to Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
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