An American in Paris, playing at the Acadamy of Music, reminds me of the time back in the day when TV was limited to channels 3, 6, 10, 12, and 17 and my mom used to send my sister and me to my grandmother’s for the weekend and we were stuck with channel 12 and they played “That’s Dancing” late into the night. That is when I fell in love with Gene Kelly. He was a powerhouse. He danced with grace, he sang with gusto, and he was the star of one of my favorite musicals, An American in Paris. The musical will make you fall in love all over again.
When I am not spending the holidays with my in-laws, I try to catch a show in Philly the night before Thanksgiving. This year, my daughter and I made the curtain. I am so happy I started this tradition!
The stage production of An American in Paris loosely follows the movie. In both, Jerry Mulligan is the eponymous American. He is pals with fellow American, struggling pianist Adam Cook and Frenchman singer Henri Baurel. He meets and becomes smitten with Lise Bouvier, Henri’s betrothed, while resisting the advances of American Milo.
This play captures the magic of the movie while providing a fresh outlook for younger viewers. Here’s ten ways this production kept me captivated from beginning to end:
- The ingenuity of the set designers. In this time of computer-generated images and digital enhancements, the imaginations of set designers provide the audience with visuals that match the magic of the movies. To the delight of the audience, all of the elements of the film are present.
- Lisa Zinni worked overtime to recreate the styles of Post World War II Paris. The character of Milo Davenport slayed in every scene.
- Artwork from my Alma Mater. The artists from The Philadelphia High School for Girls showed up and showed out!
- George Gershwin songs. Under the musical direction of David Andrews Rogers managed to delight older couples clutching each other and nodding to the tunes as well as to entrance the younger viewers.
- A love scene that was just a kiss. The entire theater sighed when Lise and Jerry shared their kiss during the ballet.
- The versatility of the dancers. Ballet fused seamlessly with stage dancing.
- The signing. Thank you for using trained musicians.
- The show-stopping “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise”. Back in the day, MGM would produce a musical that rivaled the most elaborate music video today. The scene when Henri sang this in the club but imagined himself performing at Radio City Hall was only rivaled by the suicide scene from Les Miserable.
- Spending time with my daughter.
- A night at The Academy of Music. It is always a pleasure to spend time in such a historic building.
The musical is playing through Sunday, November 27. Use code LAMOUR to save on tickets. You will be glad you spent time in Paris.