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'An American In Paris' is a Hit in France, Comes to Broadway in the Spring

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Dec 31, 2014 07:37 PM EST

An American in Paris, the first ever stage production of the 1951 Hollywood film starring Gene Kelly, has Parisians saying “Oh-la-la.”

The An American in Paris premiere will run through January at Paris' Chatelet Theater before coming to Broadway in the spring. Since its opening, the performance is getting rave reviews and has completely sold out. It's not hard to see why: The stage comes alive with the story of an American artist and the young French dancer he falls in love with. The original movie musical was directed by Vincente Minnelli, with music by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin.

NPR interviewed theatergoers Nicole Fechant and Guy Mai in Paris who were gushing over the production."We could see it again and again," they say. "It's a perfect marvel. So dynamic, so American!"

The coming together of this play may be just as magical as the performance itself. As fate would have it, producers from both sides of the Atlantic approached the Gershwin family for the rights to the music, then decided to work together.

The co-production is a perfect mélange of Franco-British-American artistic traditions of dance and theater. But creating the stage version was not simply about adapting the movie for the stage, says former British New York City Ballet star Christopher Wheeldon, the show's director and choreographer.
Wheeldon says that first off, dancing for a camera angle and a theater audience are two different things. So there are many differences in the new production. For starters, the setting is no longer 1950s Paris. Now it's Paris after the Nazi occupation and World War II ended in the mid-1940s.

"We felt that in order to make the joyfulness and romance even more potent, that we would place it really directly after the end of the war while the city itself is also sort of filling with light and joy and love again," says Wheeldon.

“An American in Paris” begins previews at the Palace Theatre in New York on March 13 prior to an April 12 bow on Broadway.

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TagsAn American in Paris, France, broadway, Gene Kelly, Chatelet Theater, NPR, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Vincente Minnelli