The Broadway Theatre is here to dazzle Denver yet again with its multi-award winning musical, "An American In Paris" through Sunday, March 19th at Buell Theatre. The basic story under this title was first a book by Craig Lucas and became a Hollywood movie in 1951 starring Gene Kelly. The musical film was inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition "An American in Paris" by George and Ira Gershwin. The film won a number of Awards including Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. So if you can't make it out to the Denver Performing Arts Theatre in the next week, at least the film sounds like it does the story justice.
The film was adapted to the stage in the 2000s and again adapted in 2014 and performed in Paris and then New York City's Broadway March of 2015. Thus, this is a new musical with a long past and a legendary soundtrack of unforgettable songs from Gershwin, that along with acclaimed director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, has earned it more awards than any other musical in the 2014-2015 season!
The story begins as an American soldier continues to encounter a mysterious French girl and an indomitable French city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of World War II. The backdrops and projection were one of the first standouts as the musical began. They make the city come to life with projections of Paris being water colored right before our eyes, which plays into the introduction of the lead character Jerry Mulligan, the American soldier and artist who decides to remain in Paris after the war. As he pursues the French girl, he leans her name is Lise and she is a very talented, but sad, ballet dancer. In fact, both of the characters and actors are very talented ballet dancers and the play, as well as the story, both heavily revolve around ballet and dance.
We see some very intimate and intense dances, as well as some big Broadway, spectacular dance numbers complete with tuxedos and feathers. We also see a marvelously composed culminating performance that matches modern art with classical ballet, a performance worthy of awards in and of itself. We watch many interesting characters develop in the story as they try to pursue their dreams and find happiness in the post-war era. These dreams all revolve around some form of artistic pursuit and of course the pursuit of love. Some chase money, some chase fame, some yearn for their authenticity to shine while others choose to hide or put on appearances. While the main theme is the pursuit and celebration of art and its ability to bring joy, there's also an underlying look at gender roles and stereotypes, as well as doing what is right or expected versus following your heart.
When you see past all of the dancing, singing, and vibrant art on stage, you will see a poignant story about the trials and tribulations of figuring out how to pursue a happy and fulfilling life. It's no wonder this story continues to win the hearts of so many.
By Tiffany Candelaria