Chad Reviews "An American in Paris"
There is an old saying that big things often have small and humble beginnings. As George Gershwin sat at his piano in 1928, he would compose a symphonic poem that would eventually help to define who he was not just as a composer but as a man who firmly had his finger on the pulse of popular culture. Some 20 plus years later, the film adaptation of this quintessential work would take moviegoers on a musical journey that would help define the genre as well as garner massive critical acclaim, earning the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1951 and went on to inspire countless fans to not only love the art form more than ever but to pursue a career in it as well. I can personally attest to having conversations with people working in the Dallas theatre community citing “An American In Paris” as the single biggest reason they now do what they do, so it seems only fitting that it makes its long awaited return to the stage in a wonderfully lavish Broadway production, now playing at Fair Park Music Hall.
The story opens as the sun is setting World War II as Paris has begun its rebuilding process. American soldier Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) becomes enamored not only with the city itself but also with a mysterious woman, Lise Dassin (Sara Esty) that keeps popping in and out of his life. After becoming fast friends with fellow American and composer Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) as well as aspiring local nightclub performer Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler), the three men envision a bright future together in an attempt to leave the darkness of the last few years behind them. After making acquaintance with American philanthropist Milo Davenport (Emily Ferranti), they are launched into an artistic venture that will catapult them into the into the public eye with Lise as the muse that not only connects them but may very well threaten to tear them apart.
This production simply oozes classic Broadway musical in every sense of the word. Watching Garen Scribner channel the very essence of Gene Kelly in the role he created he created on screen is simply jaw dropping with Etai Benson and Emily Ferranti as true standouts as well, providing their own dry humor and wit at precisely the right amount. However, the single biggest contributor to this entire production is on the exquisite shoulders of the incredibly beautiful and enormously talented Sara Esty, and her performance as Lise is nothing short of miraculous. Whether she is showing her fragile vulnerability as a woman torn between love and duty or her overwhelming power on stage, she is one of the most accomplished dancers I have ever witnessed. And no, your eyes are NOT deceiving you, that is her twin sister Leigh-Ann Esty dancing in the Ensemble, who also plays the role of Lise in some performances! This is a truly delightful production that perfectly encapsulates what the Broadway musical is all about. It seems even more fitting that with the Oscar Season looming on the horizon with a musical as the lead contender for Best Picture that “An American in Paris” is currently dancing its way back into our hearts here in our own fair city. Experience it while you can.