An American in Paris is a delightful bit of theatrical candy. Loosely base on the movie of the same name, it’s a fluff of a story with a love hexagon – three men in love with the same woman, and another woman in love with one of the men. Jerry, an American GI and aspiring artist, receives his ticket to ship home but sees a beautiful young woman who captures his heart. He stays and meets Adam, a dour young composer; Henri, a rich young businessman with theatrical aspirations; and Milo, a wealthy philanthropist who takes him under her wing and on her arm. He also meets the mysterious girl, Lise, a ballet dancer in the company supported by Milo and Henri’s family. Jerry sets out to win her heart, unaware that she is also the object of his two friends’ love. Lise and Henri each feel caught between their responsibilities and the yearnings of their hearts. Adam struggles to find a voice for his love and pours it into his music. Milo throws her money and influence Jerry’s way, hoping to win his heart. And they untangle it all through glorious song and dance.
George and Ira Gershwin’s music is skillfully woven into the story, and it is difficult not to sing along. The cast members all have lovely voices, but Emily Feranti is a particular standout as Milo. Her rich voice fills the music hall (no easy task) and leaves one hungry for more. Garen Shribner (Jerry) and Sarah Etsy (Lise) are dancers who have learned to sing and act, and they have done a bang up job of it (read more here in the Dallas Morning News)! Etai Benson’s Adam is masterful; Nick Spangler shines as Henri.
Then there’s the dancing – oh, the dancing! Breathtaking! Choreography that has the dancers gliding effortlessly through space with grace and style. Shribner and Etsy shine brightest when they are dancing, the beauty of their movements settles into your soul so you can almost feel their intensity. Even the sets dance on and off of the stage and into position. Imaginative projections form buildings highlighted with hasty charcoal sweeps. Walls of mirror glide into place, forming obstacles and interiors. A grim, grey palette of war soon gives way to riotous color as Jerry and his pals discover the joys of love and art.
This show, well, ‘Swonderful! It takes the glamour of Hollywood and adds the bright allure of Broadway to make a Big-Time Musical. You’ll be tapping your feet and singing along, and you’ll be glad you went.