5 Things You Need to Know About "An American in Paris"

5 Things You Need to Know About "An American in Paris"
An American in Paris (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

My husband loves history and I love dance, so what better date night than going to see a musical that combines the two? "An American in Paris" is the Broadway hit based on the 1951 movie set in post-WWII Paris that follows the story of a handful of men (yes there's an American or two in there) who fall in love with  a beautiful French ballerina. Here's what you need to know.

  1. Dance: There's a whole lot of it. The choreography comes from world-renowned Christopher Wheeldon, the same man behind the Joffrey's new Nutcracker. And not only is the female lead playing a ballerina but the actresses who play her are real-life ballerinas.
  2. Speaking of which: The actresses who play the lead (Lise), are twins! The star is Sara Esty, former soloist with the Miami City Ballet. Her alternate is her twin sister Leigh-Ann Esty. FUN!
  3. There is a triple threat: Sara Esty had everything you could ask for in a star - a stunning ballerina, a lovely singer and I actually believed (thanks to top-notch acting ) that she was entangled in a love square.
  4. Which brings me to: There's a love square! That's when three men are in love with the same girl, of course. I didn't know story lines could move beyond the love triangle, but there is proof of it now. Lise's dynamic with all three men were fun to watch: the official boyfriend who may or may not have interests that lie "outside the fairer sex", the all-American expat who wants to be an artist (but seems a bit too macho for all of that), and the bumbling American expat who runs a bar and to whom Lise doesn't give the time of day.
  5. And lastly, the costumes: They are to-die! My favorite piece was Lise's blue and white thin-stripe dress she wore for a company audition, which she wore later in the show with Mr. Artist Expat. The dresses of the wealthy American Milo Davenport added a bit of glam to some of the sadder scenes, and a sequence with sequined showgirls added lots of fun sparkle.

The show is playing at the Oriental Theatre through August 13. You can find more info at Broadway in Chicago.

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