An American in Paris at the Oriental Theatre ’S Wonderful

An American in Paris at the Oriental Theatre ’S Wonderful
An American in Paris Touring-Company. Photo: Matthew-Murphy

Sometimes I worry when an award-winning Broadway blockbuster like An American in Paris* goes on tour. Will the touring cast measure up? Will the sets be less than magical? Will the costumes be tired?

No worries with this An American in Paris that opened Wednesday night at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph) for a limited three-week engagement through August 13, 2017.

Inspired by the Academy-Award winning 1951 film, An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the romantic story of an American soldier, a French girl and an indomitable European city plays out beautifully in its Chicago premiere thanks to the spot on combination of 2015 Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon’s outstanding choreography (part of the Broadway magic), book by Craig Lucas and the music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin along with pitch perfect casting.

The timeless story follows an American artist Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox–whose masterful dancing and stage presence was a delight) and concert pianist and composer Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) who decide to stay in France yearning for new beginnings in the aftermath of WWII.

The American duo meets up with native Frenchman Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler)–a still in the closet gay man whose mom is pressuring him to marry. Unbeknown to each other, they all have feelings for a mysterious French girl Lise Dassin (Sara Esty)–graceful with a  fragile beauty–whose verbal and non verbal language says it all.

McGee Maddox as Jerry Mulligan) and Sara Esty as Lise Dassin in the national touring company production of "An American in Paris," at the Oriental Theatre. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

McGee Maddox as Jerry Mulligan) and Sara Esty as Lise Dassin in the national touring company production of “An American in Paris,” at the Oriental Theatre. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

All four were outstanding. Did I say they could dance! It is rare to find such multi-talented individuals that can do it all–dance, sing, act–and so magnificently.

Other standouts in the cast include: Milo Davenport (Emily Ferranti), another American in Paris who has moved to the City of Lights to be a patron of the arts and instantly falls for Jerry–trying to win his affection even though she’s much older and his heart already belongs to Lise; and Madame Baurel (Gayton Scott) who plays the role of Henri’s mother and wealthy socialite beautifully.

Sara Esty plays Lise Dassin and Emily Ferranti plays Milo Davenport in “An American in Paris.” Photo: Matthew Murphy

Sara Esty plays Lise Dassin and Emily Ferranti plays Milo Davenport in “An American in Paris.” Photo: Matthew Murphy

The staging, costumes and set design meld smoothly creating the perfect wrap to the entire show package thanks to Tony Award-winners Bob Crowley (set and costume designer); Natasha Katz (lighting designer); Jon Weston (sound designer); 59 Productions (projection designer); Rob Fisher (musical score adaption, arrangement and supervision); Todd Ellison (musical supervisor); David Andrews Rogers (musical director/conductor); Christopher Austin and Bill Elliott (orchestrations); and Sam Davis (dance arrangements).

The feel good score of An American in Paris including “I Got Rhythm,” “Liza,” “‘’S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” and orchestral music including “Concerto in F,” “Second Prelude,” “Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture” and “An American In Paris” will have many leaving the theatre singing.

Background

The production opened to widespread critical acclaim at the Palace Theatre on Broadway in April 2015 after its world premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The New York production closed in October, 2016 after playing more than 600 performances. A West End production of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS opened in March 2017 at the Dominion Theatre.

*An American In Paris Awards

An American In Paris won four 2015 Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Drama League Award for Best Musical, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, and two Theatre World Awards. The musical was included on the Year’s Best lists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, the Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Masterworks Broadway Original Broadway Cast recording of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS was nominated for the Best Musical Theater Album Grammy Award.

‘AN AMERICAN IN PARIS’
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
When: now through August 13
Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph
Tickets: $27 – $98, at box office or online
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission

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