An American in Paris, onstage now at DPAC under the direction and meticulous choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, seems like it was made for the stage. It features one beautiful song-and-dance number after the next, not to mention wonderfully vibrant characters. Amazingly enough, though, the play is based on the 1951 film of the same name. And, while the movie’s old-timey influence can definitely be felt, the stage version, itself set in 1945, is lively enough for contemporary audiences.
The story is a bit of a love-triangle plus one. Three men- Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner), Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson), and Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler) have all set their sights on the same woman- the lovely but troubled Lise Dassin (Sara Esty). Unaware of their mutual affection for Lise, the three men “court” her in their own ways, leading to comedy, as well as many tender moments along the way.
The three male leads shine in their respective roles. Benson’s Adam is incredibly likeable while Spangler gives his Henri lots of flair. Scribner wows on two accounts- his characterization and his dancing skills. Likewise, Esty is a skilled and graceful dancer, lending a fragile, vulnerable quality to her character.
On that note, it is, truly, the choreography, more so than the dialogue or anything else, that brings this show and its characters to life. In fact, much of the story is revealed through dance. Wheeldon truly has a skill for the wistful, nostalgic choreography that is the hallmark of this musical.
As mentioned, the story does show its age in some parts, particularly in the mildly misogynistic “Liza,” a song in which Jerry takes it upon himself to rename Lise. Such small blights, which, to be fair,do accurately represent the setting, do not, however, detract from the aforementioned choreography, the beautiful costumes, or the wonderfully dreamy, romantic quality that this musical possesses, making it all-in-all a fun watch, especially for those who are fans of the film.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5, 8 p.m. Jan. 6, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 7, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $40-$135. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/2212133.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/an-american-in-paris and https://www.facebook.com/events/275341739505409/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/gallery-tour/.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/tickets-to-an-american-in-paris-at-dpac-go-on-sale-august-13.
THE TOUR: http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/, https://www.ibdb.com/tour-production/an-american-in-paris–500946, https://www.facebook.com/AmericanInParisBway, https://twitter.com/AmericanInParis, and https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanInParisBway.
TOUR CAST: http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/team-broadway-and-us-tour/.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/team-broadway-and-us-tour/.
DPAC‘S SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2016-17.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7th, performance.
An American in Paris (1951 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/67241/An-American-in-Paris/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043278/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_in_Paris_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
George Gershwin (Brooklyn, NY-born composer, 1898-1937): http://gershwin.com/ (official website), http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/project/george-gershwin-composer/ (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=5813 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006097/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gershwin (Wikipedia).
Ira Gershwin (New York, NY-born lyricist, 1896-1983): http://gershwin.com/ (official website), http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/project/ira-gershwin-composer/ (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6435 (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Gershwin (Wikipedia).
An American in Paris (2014 Paris, 2015 Broadway, and 2017 West End musical): http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/an-american-in-paris-497694 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/AmericanInParisBway (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/AmericanInParis (Twitter page), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_in_Paris_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia), and https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanInParisBway (YouTube).
Craig Lucas (Atlanta, GA-born playwright and screenwriter, 1951-): http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/project/craig-lucas-book-2/ (tour bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/craig-lucas-4924 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Lucas (Wikipedia).
Christopher Wheeldon (Broadway and tour director and choreographer): http://www.anamericaninparisbroadway.com/project/christopher-wheeldon-director-choreographer/ (tour bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/christopher-wheeldon-92604 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Wheeldon (Wikipedia).
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater, music, and dance reviews. She is also a writer, editor, writing coach at Reno’s Literary Services of Durham. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.