“An American In Paris” Finds Beauty Everywhere
Few cities in the world can compare to the majesty of Paris. Even in the throws of ruthless monarchs, revolutions and world wars, the city has historically retained its love for all things beautiful. It is this in this dichotomy that the national tour of An American In Paris becomes storytelling at its greatest. Based on the iconic 1951 film starring Gene Kelly and featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin, An American in Paris follows World War II veteran Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox) who remains in the ‘city of lights’ to follow his passion for painting while dealing with the emotional scars left by year of war. Also staying is fellow vet Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson), a former concert pianist now exploring his talents as composer. They are joined by Adam’s longtime friend, Henri (Nick Spangler) who would like nothing more than to give up his life of privilege as the son of a wealthy industrialist and become an entertainer.
However it is Jerry’s chance encounter with a beautiful ballerina (Sara Esty) at the outset of the play that serves as the event that will propel lives unexpected directions.
An American In Paris pulls the audience instantly as Bob Crowley’s gorgeous set design sensually heightens director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s fluid movements. The musical is further helped by along by book writer Chris Lucas, who has reworked the film’s storyline by infusing a needed sense of urgency for these three men to heal. This tonal change also allowed for the reworking of the score, adding some more character driven songs from the Gershwin songbook. The most iconic numbers are retained and have never sounded better by this talented cast. However, the showstopper of the evening is Mr. Spangler’s gut wrenching “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise” which reaches far beyond the walls of the Oriental Theatre.
Since the Broadway premiere in 2015 for which it won five Tony’s, An American in Paris has resonated with audiences in a way few productions have in recent memory. It is that notion of a broken sole being able recognize the beauty in life, that makes An American In Paris a vital and relevant part of theatre.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS plays Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph) through August 13, 2017. Visit BroadwayInChicago.com for tickets and more information.