That was fabulous! That was the best show we’ll see all year! The music! the dancing! It was all so wonderful!
Sorry. That was me channeling my wife there for a minute.
And while I may not share her unbridled enthusiasm, and while I think it’s too early to declare the best show of the year (there’s still that “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel coming out), I can say that “An American in Paris” — now playing at the Fox Theatre — is an impressive spectacle of musical theater.
It’s subtitled “A New Musical” despite the music being classic tunes written by George and Ira Gershwin and the story lifted from the 1951 film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Sixty-five years later the show was retooled for the stage with music by the Gershwins and book by Craig Lucas.
The Second World War has just ended and American soldier and artist Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) misses the boat back to the states so he can spend some time in France with his paints. He’s befriended by a composer — fellow former American soldier Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) — who offers him a place to stay. Adam is working with Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler), the son of wealthy French industrialist who secretly wants to be a song-and-dance man. The three men quickly become friends.
In the course of the story all three men fall in love with the same woman — ballerina Lise Dassin (Sara Esty). She was taken in by Henri’s family during the war and he plans to marry her. Adam has been hired to write a ballet for her. Jerry had a chance encounter with her on the street and won’t leave her alone. None of the men are aware that they’re pursing the same woman — until near the end, of course.
“An American in Paris” is about as perfect as musical theater gets. It boasts a number of classic songs you’ll be tempted to sing along to (but please don’t, it’s rude), including “I Got Rhythm,” “S’Wonderful” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” It features graceful, thrilling dance numbers with unforgettable music like the title number. It stars a cast of gifted singers and dancers. The costumes are lovely.
That should be enough to sell it, but I was exceptionally impressed by the show’s set design. The production uses animation, video and traditional moving sets to provide an amazing sweep of scene changes. It’s not often that I mention that a musical won a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, but this show really deserves it.
So yeah, “An American in Paris” is pretty fabulous. Check it out. It may be the best show you see this year.
“An American in Paris” runs through January 29 at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/