MNfusion: Ordway’s ‘An American In Paris’ Beautiful In Scene, Song

For anyone who’s ever wanted to fall in love during springtime in Paris, look no further than the Ordway in downtown St. Paul.

Now through Sunday, the Ordway is showing “An American in Paris.”

Based off of the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly, the musical tells the story of three men – American soldier and artist Jerry Mulligan, fellow veteran and composer Adam Hochberg and French socialite Henri Baurel – who are all in love with the same woman, Jewish dancer Lise Dassin.

Throughout the show, each man learns how their love of Lise has helped them come into their own, and Lise determines where her true desires lie.

The music, by George and Ira Gershwin, expands off of George’s 1928 symphonic poem of the same name. There are few musical numbers in the show, but they are lengthy and feature intricate runs and phrases that pair well with the mix of jazz and ballet the show uses.

Its post-WWII French setting is the perfect backdrop for the story that encapsulates the beauty and pain that come with falling in love.

Of course, the Ordway’s backdrops are absolutely gorgeous.

A combination of fabrics, lighting and projections create a water colored painting behind the cast.

The soft pastels add to the magic that is springtime, and technological elements allow the painting-like projections to move along with the actors – such as when Jerry walks down a hillside overlooking Paris.

The sparse set pieces also allow the audience to focus on the tremendous talent of the dancers in the cast.

Of which there are many.

McGee Maddox (Jerry Mulligan) and Sara Esty (Lise Dassin) are simply breathtaking to watch.

Their chemistry is palpable and the ease in which they move with one another is awe-striking.

They make each move look effortless and as if it was something anyone in the audience could recreate.

Each member of the chorus were also extremely talented, putting on at least two miniature ballets within the musical.

Additionally, Maddox and Esty also had lovely voices to listen to.

However, they were perhaps were a bit overshadowed by their counterparts Emily Ferranti (Milo Davenport) and Etai Benson (Adam Hochberg).

Ferranti played an extravagant American socialite who was the perfect combination of flamboyant and naïve. The confidence with which she played Milo demanded the audience pay attention every time she was on stage.

And Benson, the narrator of the show, was so lovable. While his character has, perhaps, the most to be discouraged about, he is able to end the show on a high note – touting the importance of art and love.

The show runs a bit long, clocking in at just under three hours, but is truly beautiful to behold.

From the dancing to the scenery to the dialogue in between, it is sure to leave audiences inspired, in awe and, maybe even, in love.

An American In Paris” is playing now through Sunday, June 18. Tickets cost $39 – $119.50. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts online.

More from Katie Fraser
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