My first cultural event review and it had to begin with some of my favourite composers, George and Ira Gershwin.
My husband and I were blessed to be invited to the Opening Night of the Sydney production of An American in Paris at the Theatre Royal. A FOUR time Tony Awards winner, An American In Paris, the Musical is currently touring Australia.
Having been in lockdown for the past few years, my husband and I have been starved of plays. ballets, operas, musicals and other live performances. So we were over the moon to be invited to the Opening Night of An American In Paris, the Musical (Sydney production) at the Theatre Royal.
We were further blessed to be able to have our fabulous friends, Tutti and Paul Bennett (famous fashionistas and artists/musicians) come along with us. The whole experience was enhanced by their delightful company. Oh we were oohing and awing all the way through and humming along to the amazing music.
It was AMAZING! Spectacular, brilliant, engaging, emotional, the list goes on! I kept mumbling to myself throughout the whole show the words "wow" "spectacular" "OMG".
So, let's start with what this musical is about, and it is best described by the producers:
"The Australian Ballet and GWB Entertainment are delighted to present a National Tour of the rapturous Broadway musical An American in Paris.
Hailed as a tour de force for its stunning choreography, the four-time Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical tells the entrancing story of a young American soldier and a beautiful French girl, set against the iconic backdrop of the most romantic city in the world.
Inspired by the Academy Award®-winning film, acclaimed director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon brings the enchantment and magic of Paris to buoyant life with popular songs by George and Ira Gershwin, including I Got Rhythm, S Wonderful, But Not For Me and They Can’t Take That Away From Me.
This rhapsodic combination of classic score, timeless love story, exuberant dance and sumptuous design has captivated audiences and critics alike, with The Wall Street Journal declaring it “a masterpiece!”
Don’t miss this breath-taking musical in a ground-breaking collaboration between The Australian Ballet and GWB Entertainment." (source link)
The Story - An American in Paris, the Musical
An American in Paris, the Musical, was inspired by the Academy Award winning film "An American in Paris",a 1951 American musical comedy film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition An American in Paris by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron (her film debut), Oscar Levant, Georges Guétary, and Nina Foch, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. The music is by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, with additional music by Johnny Green, and Saul Chaplin, the music directors. (source link). It was a winner on film and how could it not be a winner on theatre?!
It is an entrancing story of a young American soldier (Jerry Mulligan) and a beautiful French girl (Lise Dassin), set against the iconic backdrop of the most romantic city in the world. We were transported to Paris through the breath-taking sets. OMG, the sets were incredible and the transitions even more so. They were so artistic and clever, it was all so seamless. The audience often applauded scene changes, so you can tell what I'm saying is true.
In the segment "S'Wonderful" (one of my favourite songs from the Gershwins); sung by three of the male leads about their love for Lise and love in general, there were three panels creating three locations and they had animations of the most beautiful drawings of a ballerina dancing. My jaw really dropped when it came to this part. Not only my favourite song but also so beautifully captured in a modern way. I think my eyes were tearing over the beauty of it all.
In another segment in the second half, where Lise performs as prima ballerina in a piece written for her, there is this magical performance where Jerry "steps in" as the male lead dancer - this happens from the point of view of Lise, as in Lise's imagination - so that she can dance with passion. The set pieces and costumes of the corp de ballet was "Picasso Cubist" era style. It is revealed at the end of this segment that Lise was not actually dancing with Jerry, and she comes to realise how much she is in love with him.
The Cast - An American in Paris, the Musical
This Sydney Production was made even more spectacular as the lead roles were played by the actors Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope, both of whom originated these roles in the first ever production of An American in Paris, the Musical, both on Broadway and at the West End. Talented doesn't even come close to describing them. God-like is more like it.
As a trained musician and a former ballet student, I could tell that the two leads are definitely THE BEST and such a perfect fit for these iconic roles.
Not only can they dance, they can surely sing! I was spellbound and oohing and awing. Lots of sighs from me when they sang due to the magnificent beauty of their performances.
The "Pas De Deux" they danced, set to Rhapsody in Blue, is considered one of the most difficult dances amongst all the musicals. They made it look like a walk in the park. Effortless, light, sublime and of course very romantic.
Before I forget to say this, the orchestra WAS perfection. Masterfully conducted by Vanessa Scammell.
That clarinet, bass clarinet and trumpet were sublime!
"This rhapsodic combination of classic score, timeless love story, exuberant dance and sumptuous design has captivated audiences and critics alike, with The Wall Street Journal declaring it “a masterpiece!”"
I'm really glad that the Sydney production of An American in Paris, the Musical, was at the Theatre Royal. Newly renovated, the venue gave us such an intimacy with the stage and the performers. Our seats were so good that we could see the facial expressions of each performer so closely which added to the emotive music.
The second leads also gave us "award winning" performances. I loved the boy next door trying to be a musician character "Adam Hoschberg" played by Jonathan Hickey. It seemed like a role made just for him. The other two second leads were just as good if not astounding. Ashleigh Rubenach as "Milo Davenport" had the most powerful voice and we were delighted by the comedic talents of Sam Ward as "Henri Baurel".
There was another scene that stood out when Adam and Henri were creating a night club act together. Adam played a sad slow version of "I've got Rhythm" and then the time signature changed to 4/4 and it was full on swing, with bright lights and dancers. "i've got Rhythm" is such a "pick me up" song. Love how they incorporated it into this musical.
In terms of choreography, there was a bit of Fosse (jazz, jazz hands), Balanchine ("Rubies"). and of course amazing ballet original pieces by Dontee Kiehn and Sean Maurise Kelly. There was a scene set by the Seine River, where the lovers Jerry and Lise meet, and I got a bit of La La Land vibes from this duet.
The Costumers and Sets - An American in Paris, the Musical
The artistic direction and creation was phenomenal. SPECTACULAR x million.
It was all so clever. It was a mix of beautiful illustrations which were projected onto the stage along with movable panels that transformed the stage into rooms, a jazz bar, a private concert set, an apartment, a cafe/bar.
The sets were minimal but with the inspiring imagination of Bob Crowley, set and costume designer, it felt "full" like a full set you would see in a movie. All aided by the incredible lighting design by Natasha Katz.
Honestly, the show would not have worked without the lighting design. That was truly a highlight. It created the mood and atmosphere that brought us to Paris! The staging by Hannah Ryan was perfection.
The costume designs were marvellous. An American In Paris, the Musical, is set in post World War II in Paris (shortly after the end of the war), with American soldiers starting to leave Paris. I love the 1940s/50s fashion style and definitely the ladies' shoes (I am currently going through a foot, opps sorry, SHOE fetish).
The costumes were elegant and simple. Lovely to behold and definitely very classy (they could have gone "camp" and I'm glad they didn't). So you got Parisian fashion that would still look fashionable to this day with the modern American pieces worn by the actors playing Americans.
The scene you see above is of the two lovers dancing by the River Seine under moonlight. SO dreamy.
Overall Thoughts - An American in Paris, the Musical
Definitely a must-see, especially due to the marvellous cast and how often do we get to see the originators of the lead roles here in Australia? It is definitely a treat for the senses. If you love music (Gershwin), dancing, fashion and amazing innovative sets with a compelling love story, you don't want to miss this!
I've seen many productions here in Sydney, in New York, UK, Paris, and Singapore. We used to have season tickets to the Sydney Opera and Sydney Theatre. I also grew up on old musicals like "The King and I" and "Dancing in the Rain". I can honestly say, that this matches if not surpasses everything I've seen to date.
The performance was 2.5 hours long with a 20 min intermission. As we are seasoned theatre go-ers, my husband and I were wondering if we had to pretend to be sick and leave half way if we were bored (we have done this before, because we are snobs). However, this production of An American in Paris, the Musical, hardly felt like 2 hours. The time went by so quickly because it is spectacular, amazing, beautiful, emotive delightful and the list goes on. I was sad to leave the theatre, I could have sat for another couple of hours to experience more of the magic of this lovely musical.
YOU MUST SEE THIS MUSICAL! 10/10 from me!
Other bits and bobs
The night was also made special, as we were invited to the VIP lounge for pre-show drinks and nibbles and were gifted a Mor Boutique goodie bag with lovely products. We ended the night with the Bennetts who kindly treated us to some espresso martinis at Martin Place.
I wore a one of a kind dress from Romance was Born. Shoes from Lazy Oaf, and bag by Chanel. Cloud Earrings by The Wolf and Moon Shop.
For my makeup, I used:
About Face Beauty "Aliens R Real" Shadow Stick as eyeshadow base
Tarte's Shape Tape Cloud Cream foundation in 29N Light Medium Neutral as well as Ultra Creamy Shape Tape in "light medium"; Shape Tape Pore & Prime Balm; Shape Tape Setting Powder.
Norvina Cosmetics Pro Pigment Palette 5
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz and lip stain
Ardell's Eco Lashes
I hope you enjoyed this review! I do hope to write more reviews of live performances, films and other cultural events. Please do subscribe to my blog (see various (they are irritating and I am sorry about that) pop up boxes or sign up in the box below). Drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM me on my Instagram (@paint_bytashijadebell) and let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for me. I always love hearing from you.
Yours Truly with Lots of Love, Tashi Jade Bell
Disclaimer: All of the photos here unless linked to An American in Paris Australia's website are mine. You cannot use them without obtaining my written permission first. These are my personal views and I do not any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. We were invited to Opening Night of An American in Paris, the Musical, by Mary from TS Publicity, with no obligation to post about it.