AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin
Book by Craig Lucas inspired by the motion picture.
The Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7AP to 30 September 2017.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2pm.
Runs 2 hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7927 0900
Review: William Russell 22 March.
This one should “Keep Dancing”.
The sets are gorgeous, probably the best currently in a West End theatre, the Gershwin songs are – it goes without saying – delightful, the dancing is splendid, and Leanne Cope as Lise Dassin is every bit an enchanting leading lady as was Leslie Caron in the movie. The show based on the Gene Kelly movie directed by Vincente Minnelli, is another matter. The new book by Craig Lucas is not an improvement on Alan Jay Lerner’s fairy tale scenario.
In the film Jerry Mulligan, a GI demobbed in Paris stays behind to become a painter, gets taken up by a wealthy American oil heiress, meets Lise, a pretty girl who works in the perfume department of a large store, and they fall in love. But she is engaged to a middle aged singing star who sheltered her during the war from the Germans. She feels she owes him a debt of gratitude. The singer is a friend of Jerry’s neighbour Adam, also an ex GI who is a would be composer.
Lucas has added rather more detail about past war Paris and the occupation to add gravitas to what was always a fairy tale, changed Lise into a ballet dancer for no good reason, and the singing star into Henri, a young would be singer with bossy mother, Jane Asher, has other ideas for her son, who just might be gay.
Most of that is misguided. The rather stodgy Robert Fairchild is no Gene Kelly, but fortunately there are Ms Cope, those sets by Bob Crowley, the Gershwin songs, and the thrilling choreography by director Christopher Wheeldon performed by a stunning group of dancers to save the day.
The closing American in Paris, one of the glories of the film, has been totally redesigned and proves more than well worth waiting for. Wheeldon’s choreography only fails to rise to the occasion once. Itchy Feet, a song crying out for a tap routine, gets more of a soft shoe shuffle treatment. Tap may be a musical theatre cliché, but these feet are flat in what should have been a show stopping number. It is, however, fun watching Jane Asher’s elegant bossy mother melting. The cavernous Dominion has a new tenant who will stay for a very long time.
Jerry Mulligan: Robert Fairchild. Ashley Day at certain performances.
Lise Dassin: Leanne Cope. Daniela Norman at certain performances.
Adam Hochberg: David Seadon-Young.
Henri Baurel: Haydn Oakley.
Milo Davenport: Zoe Rainey.
Madame Baurel: Jane Asher.
Monsieur Baurel: Julian Forsyth.
Mr Z: Ashley Andrew.
Olga: Julia J. Nagel.
Ensemble: Julian Forsyth; Ashley Andrews; Sophie Apollonia,; Sarah Bakker; James Barton; Alicia Beck; Chrissy Brooke; Jonathan Caguioa; Jennifer Davison; Katie Deacon; Alyn Hawke; Nicky Henshall; Robin Kent; Kristen McGarrity; Julia J. Nagle; Daniela Norman; Max Westwell; Jack Wilcox; Liam Wrate.
Director & Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon.
Musical Score adapted, arranged and supervise: Rod Fisher.
Set & Costume Designer: Bob Crowley.
Lighting Designer: Natasha Katz.
Sound Designer: Jon Weston.
Projection Design: 59 Productions Ltd.
Musical Director: John Rigby.
Orchestrations: Christopher Austin & Bill Elliot.
Assistant Directors/Choreographers: Jacquelin Barrett & Dontee Kiehn.