Phil Willmott

Review: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Palace Theatre in Broadway

Hand to God You can usually describe a musical by saying "its a bit like" something else.

I think one of the reason why I fell so completely for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is that it's so fresh and so original in its concept and execution.

Don't get me wrong this is main stream Broadway fare but somehow the Gershwin estate have given these guys permission to retell the story of the classic movie musical of the same name but with a crunchy new script that doesn't shy away from the Nazi legacy in Paris and real heartbreak.

The gorgeous Gershwin numbers don't particularly advance the plot but at every point seem to express the joy, the melancholy and the sheer elation of a city and a generation blossoming into romance after the oppression of war.

The breathtaking set quotes the modern art of the period in an endless kaleidoscope of both broad and exquisite images that seem to dance through the air. Designer, our very own John Napier, uses the stage like a page of a sketch book. Often its most beautiful when it's virtually empty with just a blue streak of river and a little boat. At other times he and director/choreographer (another brilliant Brit, Christopher Wheeldon) dance antique mirrors around, at other times there are flown pieces which create a vast Picasso painting before our eyes or beautiful chunks of Parisian architecture in pastel shades which the projection designer might then dip in a sunset.

The opening, when vast billowing black and white Nazi banners give way to reveal a city bursting with spring sunshine, is breathtaking.

Then of course amidst all this innovation you get delicious Gershwin songs in gorgeous new arrangements.

It's also rather disquieting to discover that anyone can be as talented a singer, dancer and actor AND be as beautiful as the leading cast.

It’s just opened to rave reviews and great advanced sales so it should be in London soon.

An American in Paris tickets