“An American in Paris” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – April 20, 2017


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

Seeing a big musical in an intimate Broadway theater is the optimum way to enjoy a show.  When a New York musical tours, they are often less grand than on Broadway.  When I saw the brilliant stage musical adaptation of “An American in Paris” in New York, I worried what it might look like here.  But a wonderful surprise awaits local theatergoers who see the show before it closes its local run Sunday.  It’s a better production with a superior cast and the wonderfully engaging Christopher Wheeldon dances look better on the larger ASU Gammage stage.  What a remarkable change.

The touring show’s impressive sound system allowed me hear every word from where I sat in row 20, much further back than critics are usually placed here.  The only negative to the wonderful show was ASU Gammage’s overly zealous air-conditioning that made the theater cold and drafty.

The stage adaptation of the famous 1951 Vincente Minnelli movie with the great George and Ira Gershwin score is a light weight but sparklingly fun entertainment with the familiar movie songs intact.  An impressive orchestra plays the score brilliantly.  But Wheeldon’s marvelous stage direction and his superb dances along with easily shifting scenery and marvelous costumes gives the show a charmingly French visual look.

The show tells of France’s attempt to conquer the ravages of World War II as Paris tries to get back on its feet to re-establish itself as the charming and romantic city it was known as.

The cast is impeccable and so much energy spills into the theater that it would be hard not be engrossed by “An American In Paris.”  McGee Maddox as Jerry, the male lead, is a superb dancer, singer, and actor as is Sara Esty who essays Lise.  Especially notable are the three actors who represent the Baurel’s.  Mentioning other cast would require a lengthy review because everyone is so perfect in their roles.

“An American In Paris” is a wonderfully engaging show that dazzles with bright color, enjoyable charm, and endless entertainment.  It’s one of the best tours to ever stop here but be warned again that it is only here until Sunday.  This touring “An American in Paris” production not only rivals Broadway but in many ways it is better.  It is a wonderfully entertaining winner.  To order tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: A