Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An American in Paris

Quite possibly this is the most beautifully staged ballet mounted on a Broadway stage.  The perfect blend of theater, dance, and storytelling is something you cannot miss.  The dancing is breathtaking.  The music  (George  and Ira Gershwin) is classic and instantly recognizable.  I have not seen the movie (it's rare that I have) and I was swept up in this luxurious, eye-popping spectacular on stage at the Palace Theater directed and choreographed by the incomparable master of dance, Christopher Wheeldon.

Robert Fairchild (Jerry Mulligan). already a well respected and award-winning dancer has kept secret from us - he can sing and act too.  A more perfect triple-threat I cannot imagine - so much so that I found it hard to take my eyes of him.  He's handsome, svelte, funny, and flexible.  His dance is mesmerizingly effortless - like a feather in the wind.   Equally talented and beautiful is the central love interest in the story, Leanne Cope (Lise Dassin).  She floats across the stage like a cloud of pure joy. She exudes Parisian charm and good looks with every step, note, and line she executes.

And while many could play the part, none other than the incomparable Veanne Cox portrays Madame Barurel - the uncompromising mother with some secrets who just wants her son to get married already.  And guess what?  I adore her comedic genius but now I find out she can dance like a pro too!   The American determined to make it big in the Paris art world (and score a handsome man) is played by none other than the divine Jill Paice (Milo Davenport).  Her singing, sultry and exquisite dresses, and dancing skills brought her character to life as she attempted to woo Mr. Fairchild.

This show is truly ballet extraordinaire and hence brings a full suite of skills and talent in the company to the stage - and they multiply it 10-fold with the play (ballet)-within-a-play (ballet) concept.  The three handsome leading men (Mr. Fairchild along with Max von Essen (Henri Baurel) and Brandon Uranowitz (Adam Hochberg) succeed wildly in falling in love with the same woman in entirely different ways.  Their chemistry is palpable and you really think these three might end up being friends in such a setting.  Each has a different personality but they blend remarkably well.

From the breathtaking opening scene (it's magical) to the titular ballet scene in Act II, you won't want to miss a single moment of this rapturous and fluid performance.  Although we recently experienced another show with Mr. Gershwin's music (You Can't Take it with You), this story is entirely different and evokes completely different emotions.  

As was said about Rob McClure in Chaplin, the same can be said for Mr. Fairchild - "Welcome to the show that's going to make you a Broadway star".