The stage adaptation based on the Gene Kelly film is gorgeously designed and performed.
S’wonderful, s’marvelous to get an opportunity to see this exquisitely staged production once again. Filled with romance, dance and classic songs this really feels like a Hollywood film brought to life.
Adapted by Craig Lucas, An American in Paris is based on the film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron as Jerry and Leslie, whose growing relationship forms the centre of the story. But there are romantic complications in store as Jerry’s friends Adam and Henri are also attracted to her – but none of them realise they are all in love with the same woman. Surrounding this is the world of art and dance – making this particularly timely to watch again in the on going closure of many arts venues still closed.
Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, it is no surprise that dance is the main feature of bringing this story to life – which can mean that the characters can feel slightly less developed than they could be. This being said, the dance sequence to ‘Concerto in F’ really sets up the story nicely as the war ends and we are swept into the world of Paris. It is a tender and sensitively choreographed piece that is mesmerising to watch. The way in which dance is used to convey the emotion of what the characters are going through is exquisite – as the ‘I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise’ and ‘American in Paris’ pieces show.
The whole production visually is beautiful to look at, thanks to Bob Crowley’s lavish costume designs and elegantly simple set designs, while the projections provided by 59 Productions ensure the artistic quality of the story is celebrated in style.
While the story is lacking in depth, the chemistry between all of the cast is immensely enjoyable – particularly between Robert Fairchild’s Jerry, David Seadon-Young’s Adam and Haydn Oakley’s Henri as they get to know each other and share their experiences of the war. Their rendition of ‘S’Wonderful’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ are real highlights.
Robert Fairchild’s performance as Jerry is wonderfully boyish and charming, while his dancing is delightful to watch – particularly as he tries to win Lise over in the perfume shop where she works. He is well matched by the sweetness and elegance of Leanne Cope as Lise whose understated characterisation makes for lovely contrast. Her dancing is mesmerising to watch – particularly during Lise’s ballet audition that is wonderfully graceful.
An American in Paris is sumptuous and delightful to watch from start to finish. It really feels like a Hollywood film that has been brought straight off the screen to the stage – really worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before.
By Emma Clarendon
An American in Paris was made available to watch via The Show Must Go On! Youtube channel .