Romance is in the air, says Sarah Riches, as the hit Broadway musical An American in Paris comes to London
An American in Paris, which has songs by the Gershwin brothers, arrives straight from Broadway with rave reviews – catch it at the Dominion Theatre.
Escape to the city of romance for a night with AnAmericaninParis, a new musical opening at the Dominion Theatre (from
4 Mar). It was originally a jazz number written in 1928 by American composer George
Gershwin, inspired by his time spent in Paris. The tune spawned an Oscar-winning film of the same name in 1951, which starred Gene Kelly, as well as a Broadway musical which in 2015 won a host of awards, including four Tony Awards.
Leanne Cope, who was formerly with The Royal Ballet, takes the female lead alongside Robert Fairchild, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Both made their musical theatre debuts with the show in Paris at its world premiere, before starring in New York. Now they’re set to make their West End debuts together.
Cope says: ‘Performing the world premiere of An American in Paris – in Paris – was a dream come true as far as being in the city where our show is set; just walking the streets was research. Performing on Broadway came with huge expectations and luckily every expectation was fulfilled, from the opening night to the Tony Awards.’
Fairchild plays Jerry, an American World War II veteran who falls for Lise (Cope) after meeting her in a bar in 1940s Paris. But Jerry is just a painter and Lise, who craves security, agrees to marry his friend Henri and move to the States with him. Can Jerry change her mind before it’s too late?
Cope adds: ‘My favourite scene has to be the cabaret scene in act two, where Henri starts singing very nervously in a small club in Montmartre, and we see into his imagination. The stage transforms into a sparkling vision of New York, with the arches of the Chrysler
Building, men in top hats and showgirls, with Henri giving the performance of a lifetime.’ But if Cope was Lise, would she choose Henri for his security or Jerry for his charm? ‘Jerry,’ she says, ‘as they have a connection that people can only dream of finding.’ Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon – artistic associate of The Royal Ballet – the musical features some of Gershwin’s most iconic songs, including I Got Rhythm, ‘ S Wonderful and They Can’t Take That Away from Me. Expect a romantic ballet and a masked ball scene as well as fast footwork and high kicks during the jazzy numbers. The team behind War Horse and the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, 59 Productions, leads the way with projections including a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower – and it doesn’t get much more romantic than that. For full listing, turn to p. 40