An American in Paris, Theatre Under The Stars

 
by Bernadette Verzosa

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) Content Advisory:  
PG - it is considered to be appropriate for audiences of 6 years and older. 

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to AN AMERICAN IN PARIS 

Photos by Matthew Murphy / Courtesy of An American In Paris Touring Company 

     From the first few familiar notes of "Concerto in F," we're transported to another era. We are swept away to Paris by playful and passionate music accompanied by elegant and powerful dance. We are captivated by the chemistry between American soldier and aspiring artist Jerry Mulligan and French ballerina Lise Dassin.

     But this is far from a simple love story. Like the Seine River, An American in Paris takes twists and turns through the City of Lights, mostly pleasant, but some unexpected. It involves many characters in the Parisian art scene - from a struggling composer to a ballet patron – who are in a romantic tangle while establishing new beginnings after World War II.       

     "The show is the characters' struggle to find life, to find love, to find happiness again after this dark period," says director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. "We had the freedom to place Paris in a more realistic, historical context, and talk about what the city was like after the Nazis left, and how romance and art and music were balm to the wounds."

      The Tony Award-winning musical is showing at the Hobby Center through March 5. Inspired by the 1951 film, An American In Paris features the classic music and lyrics by the legendary team of George and Ira Gershwin. The score includes the songs "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" as well as orchestral music including "Second Prelude" and "An American in Paris."

      The Broadway musical won four Tony Awards in 2015: Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical and Best Choreography. 

 

DAZZLING DANCE & HOUSTON TIE

      In addition to the iconic music, the show is most acclaimed for its innovative moving sets as well as its magnificent dance sequences that include tap, jazz, old-fashioned Broadway and ballet.

      "I loved the dancing. It was fantastic," says Amy Pincu, a Houston mom and member of the Houston Ballet Board of Trustees. "I think it's great for kids who really like dancing. It's clean and easy to watch."

      Her husband Jordan Pincu was also impressed. "I'm in awe of the stamina of these dancers. I wondered in the first act how they would keep up the pace through the show. There was no huffing and puffing and it was non-stop movement of music, dance, lights and sound. Kids will enjoy the spectacle," he says.

     The Pincus experienced An American in Paris along with other members of the Houston Ballet Board of Trustees partly to support the show's Associate Choreographer and Resident Director Sean Kelly. Kelly was a Principal Dancer and Guest Ballet Master at Houston Ballet.

      "It was cool to hear Sean Kelly talk about the movement of the sets, the screens on wheels, and how much the cast and crew have to rehearse to move with the sets," says Amy Pincu.   

 

SETS & SENTIMENTS

         Overall, An American in Paris presents artistic beauty in so many forms that it seems the musical touches everyone in a different way.

        Houston art consultant Gayle Collins enjoyed the show with her husband Michael and her mother. "My mom loved the music because Gershwin was her generation and she had a very emotional reaction to the music. For my painter husband, the emotion came from the creativity in the artwork and the evolution in the scenery," she says. "For me, the whole meshing of it was beautiful. The story was subtle, a sign of the times. The joy was real in the dance. The romance of the city was reflected in the artwork. And you can't think of Paris without a sense of love."
        An American in Paris is touring across North America through 2018. It is scheduled to open in London's West End later this month. 





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