Stage Flight

"An American in Paris” transports you to an exhilarating world of music, dance, dance and more dance.



The Tony-winning musical runs through Sunday at the Dr. Phillips Center.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Hey, there. You look like you could use a little joie de vivre. Got just the ticket for you.

An American in Paris, on stage at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts through Dec. 18, is a lavish, old-school, brilliantly updated musical about the interlocking love lives of four artistic types—a GI who wants to be an artist, a ballet dancer, a composer and a would-be nightclub singer.

The touring production of the show, which had its Broadway opening two years ago at the Palace Theater and went on a Tony-winning, 18-month tear, stars Sara Esty as the dancer pretty much everybody falls in love with and Garen Scribner as the GI-Gaugin.  Both the staging and the ensemble cast are burnished to as high a polish as I’ve seen so far in the Fairwinds series.

It’s a bright star for the holiday season, and Lord knows we need it.

The first thought I had, soon after the curtain rose on a brilliantly realistic projection of American warplanes roaring in a victorious formation over Parisian skies, was that the elixir of patriotic nostalgia overtaking the audience was a reverse image of the gloomy zeitgeist we’d left outside. As the musical opens, the Nazis have been banished, and a spirit of unfettered beauty and limitless possibilities have overtaken the city of light.

It’s a beautiful show, a perfectly timed, unabashedly chipper throwback to the 1951 movie of the same name, with its tale of boisterous yanks in no big hurry to leave a liberated Parisian paradise behind. There are assorted romances; so much splendid dancing your cardiovascular system will profit from a contact buzz; and so many dreamlike, multi-layered projected backdrops of Parisian scenes that dissolve and then reappear like magical watercolors you’ll feel as if you just got a tour of the Louvre in the bargain.

And the dancing. They dance. And they dance. And then, guess what? They dance again. I haven’t seen this much dancing since Momma discovered the fire ants nest.

And the music. I love a Gershwin tune. How about you?

It is all quite enough to blow away whatever dark clouds are hovering in the wings. And you along with them.

For ticket information visit drphillipscenter.org or call 407-839-0119

 

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