By Daniel Skora
Broadway in Detroit, in conjunction with the Detroit Opera House, is presenting “An American in Paris”, the award winning musical currently in the midst of a multi-city national tour. The musical takes its inspiration from the 1951 film which starred Gene Kelly and won several Academy Awards, including best picture, and winning several Tony Awards of its own in 2015, including best Choreography.
The setting is Paris in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The musical finds the city celebrating its liberation from the Nazi’s and looking forward to new beginnings in the pursuit of art and intellectualism.
U.S. Army Lieutenant Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox), after becoming smitten with a young woman he happens to see in a crowd, decides to remain in Paris to foster his interest in painting rather than return to the States. He links up with Adam Hochberg (Matthew Scott), another former serviceman who has stayed in Paris to pursue his musical career.
Through Adam, Jerry meets Henri Baurel (Ben Michael) a nightclub performer who just happens to be the boyfriend and soon–to-be fiancé of Lise Dassin (Allison Walsh), a dancer and the mysterious young woman Jerry saw in the crowd. Jerry, Adam, and Henri each are attracted to Lise and the question that develops as the story plays out is which of them will wind up getting the girl.
“An American in Paris” is a different kind of musical. It’s a delectable concoction of music, song, dance and story. No chorus lines here. The dance movements owe their province to ballet, jazz, and other classifications too nuanced for this reviewer to identify. The dancers along with the several production numbers are spectacular. Music and lyrics are by George and Ira Gershwin, and the score contains Broadway and American Songbook classics such as “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “’S Wonderful”. The show closes with a ballet whose costumes recall the modernist painters of the early twentieth century.
The sets (set design and costumes by Bob Crowley) feature some interesting projected graphics. The show is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Book is by Craig Lucas. The show runs through December 10th at the Detroit Opera House. Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at 1.800.982.2787, and at The Fisher Theatre and Detroit Opera House Box Offices. Further information is available at BroadwayinDetroit.com or by calling 313.872.1000.