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Theater Review: "An American In Paris"

The classic film turned musical comes to the Civic Theatre stage.
Photo credit:
Broadway SD

One of the world’s best-loved films – “An American In Paris” – is onstage in musical comedy form through Sunday at San Diego Civic Theatre.

The story, set in Paris in 1945, follows the fortunes and love lives of three guys (two Americans and a Frenchman) and a fledgling French ballet dancer named Lise. But never mind the story. This show is about dance, and Christopher Wheeldon (who serves as director and choreographer) won a Tony for his imaginative and athletic choreography for this show, now touring the country.

McGee Maddox plays/dances Jerry Mulligan, the American soldier and wannabe artist who stays after the war to see if he can make a go of it in the art world’s capital. When he meets Sara Esty’s Lise, a young and extremely talented dancer, his life is upended while hers is just made more complicated.

Meanwhile Jerry’s buddy, pianist Adam Hochberg (Stephen Brower), is also taken with Lise. And the third of the trio, Frenchman Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler), turns out to be engaged to her for political reasons.

Maddox doesn’t look like my idea of a dancer, but let that go: this guy can really dance. 

But it's Esty you’ll never forget. She’s small, impossibly graceful and what I would call poetry in motion. 

The plot has people running around doing unlikely things, but never mind. Sit back, relax and watch the choreography and Bob Crowley’s terrific, Tony-winning moving sets (backdropped by some great Paris projections by 59 Productions), Natasha Katz’s Tony-winning lighting and this energetic and extraordinarily talented corps of dancers as they interpret George and Ira Gershwin’s celebrated songs. It’s a winner all around.

The details

“An American In Paris” plays through September 10, 2017 at San Diego Civic Theatre; 1100 3rd and B Street, Downtown.

Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm