Love is dancing along the State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square now through July 9th as “An American In Paris” visits Cleveland.
In the tumult of post-war 1945, an American soldier named Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox) “misses” his trip back home and finds himself wandering the streets of Paris, wondering at the sights and sounds around him. He has a passion for painting, and he soon finds kindred spirits in composer Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) and burgeoning showman Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler). This trio is tight, but these fast friends also have individual issues that will test their bonds.
From day one, Jerry’s attention has been captured by an elusive French girl in an enchanted-at-first-sight moment that leaves him searching the city for her. L’amour est dans l’air! When the two finally connect, he discovers that Lise Dassin (Sara Esty) is a talented ballerina with many secrets. And it’s not easy convincing Lise to be his friend!
What’s more dramatic than romance that can’t be had? An eventual love quadrangle interspersed with parental dominance, Nazi overtones, social obligations, and a gorgeous American philanthropist named Milo Davenport (Emily Ferranti) who holds the keys to several artistic futures.
Filled out with the beautiful and energetic tunes of George and Ira Gershwin, the nostalgic musical is exciting to the ears and vivid to the eyes. With melodic classics like “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “’S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me,” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” the stage is lighted with the scenes of old waterfronts, Paris performance venues, and city streets.
The dancing is indeed “’S Wonderful,” as it includes lovely pas de deux and ballet group numbers, as well as tap and Broadway-style pieces. The period costumes along with textured, looming backdrops and lights envelop the stage to round out the visuals of the show. It is what an “old school” show feels like, but with a “new school” attitude.
The production does have dark undertones, as the time period is just after World War II. But the focus is on the resilience of the French people and on their rebuilding of their lives. Although we note that the Nazis have been there, we also see the resistance and the hope that has come through. We see the energy that has lived on and is moving the people forward.
The story is one of being at the light at the end of the tunnel, and how the support of others can bring one through. For those looking for fantastic dancing, sensational scenery, wonderful music, and a love story wrapped up in a trip back in time, then book your tickets to “…Paris”!
The performance runs 2 Hours 30 Minutes with one intermission.
“An American In Paris” runs now through July 9th on the State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $10-$95 and can be purchased by calling 216-241-6000 or visiting www.playhousesquare.org.
Please note that due to the July 4th holiday, Playhouse Square will NOT have a performance on Tuesday, July 4th, but WILL instead have a performance on Monday, July 3rd. Performances times are 8PM during the week, 2PM and 8PM on Saturdays, and 1PM and 6:30PM on Sundays.