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Very slick and hilarious “SPAMALOT” at Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo (review) July 23, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, musical theater, Musicals.
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Farmer’s Alley Theatre is currently presenting their largest show to date. Kalamazoo’s professional theater company has never mounted as large a Broadway musical production as Spamalot, and it is resounding success.

Hilarious from the get-go, it weaves together a fractured tale of King Arthur and his men seeking the Holy Grail. (The musical is primarily based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although it lifts some sequences from their other movies as well). When it opened in NYC, it brought in a whole new type of audience — one that wasn’t necessarily musical lovers, and it led to a whole new style of musical theater meant for broader audiences (and sometimes putting off seasoned musical theater lovers). Though what’s not to love about Spamalot as it makes its way through 2.5 hours of hilarity at WMU’s Little Theatre.

Director Choreographer Stephen Brotebeck has done an excellent job of keeping everything looking spiffy, moving quickly, and delivering big laughs. Music Director Kellee Love Hazleton’s work is outstanding — in fact, this ensemble cast sounds (and moves) terrifically. W. Douglas Blickle’s set design is outstanding, and it is lit well by Jason Frink. Sarah Mauer’s costumes fill the stage with color and flash.

Dirk Lumbard is an excellent King Arthur — his underplayed facial expressions had me laughing all night. Also outstanding is Zachary Joel Smits in his many roles, but none of them had me laughing harder than his French Taunter (you know, “your mother smells of elderberries….I’m going to fart in your general direction”). Jamila Sabares-Klemm is an exceptional Lady of the Lake and she blows the vocals out of the water during her Vegas sequence. The entire ensemble is excellent – not a week link in the bunch, and the non-stop choreography is funny, fast moving, and very well executed.

This production is also the very best I have seen locally. This is a show that almost every regional and community theatre has picked up by now. But Farmers Alley’s production is by far the best of any that I have seen locally. If you are a Monty Python fan, its well worth the drive to Kalamazoo to see the show. Its sold out this weekend, but there are tickets available for next weekends final shows.

HIGHEST Recommendation. You won’t see it done better anywhere.

Monty Pythons Spamalot continues at Farmers Alley Theatre, at WMU’s Little Theatre through July 31st. farmersalleytheatre.com or 269-343-2727

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On at Croswell’s “Million Dollar Quartet” (Review) May 15, 2016

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You’d be hard-pressed not to think that the Broadway tour of Million Dollar Quartet has made a stop in Adrian, MI, because this production, launching the 2016 summer season at Croswell Opera House is that terrific.

Start with the remarkable set by Doug Miller. Upon entering the theater, you’re greeted by his car-part-shop-turned-studio set, and its gorgeous. Then the lights come up and the evening is filled with one remarkable song after another, as four talented gents and one uber-talented lady enact the night in 1956 that four of rock-and-roll’s highest profile stars all gathered at Sun Studios to jam (and later, there’s a real-life photo to prove it, which brings some surprising audience tears).

Jonathan Crayne gets the night rolling as Carl Perkins. Add in Phillip Baugh as Johnny Cash. Don’t leave out John Grieco as Jerry Lee Lewis, and top it off with Lawrence Havelka as Elvis Presley. Along for the ride is Presley’s girlfriend Dyanne (Tatiana Owens). The band is rounded out by Tim Prettyman on bass, and Keith Kemner on drums. Director Eric Parker plays Sam Phillips, Sun Records owner, who serves as narrator for the evening. And for anyone who thinks acting is a glamorous job — take into consideration the remarkable talent involved in not only singing, dancing, and acting your way through a show filled with non-stop songs but to actually play the instruments yourselves live on stage. Yes, its remarkable.

What follow are 23 exciting rock-and-roll songs, and a jam-packed megamix finale that will leave you clapping, cheering, and dancing along. (Literally — Jerry Lee Lewis comes into the audience to make sure you are standing and shakin’).

It is a fine fine night indeed — while some numbers rock a bit more than others — there isn’t a dull moment in the show, and you’ll find yourself fully absorbed in one of those “birth of rock and roll” iconic moments (much like last summer’s Memphis). Watch for Grieco’s spot-on Jerry Lee Lewis back-bending theatrics before evening’s end, Johnny Cash’s sultry bass singing, Elvis’s pre-icon swagger, and Perkins straight-out rock and roll. And you’ll leave the theater having not only been enormously entertained, but also having learned a bit about the whole process of early music making.

Credit also Tiff Crutchfield’s excellent lighting; Dave Rains super work as Music Director, Betsy Lackey’s wonderful costumes, and Joe Gozdowski’s exceptional sound design. Director Eric Parker keeps everything moving swiftly and looking utterly professional from top to bottom. Choreographer Meg McNamee gives everyone character-appropriate moves.

You’ll have your favorites — from singers to songs, but you won’t leave disappointed as Million Dollar Quartet rocks the Croswell Opera House.

My only complaint is the addition of an intermission. This show is written and meant to be performed straight through (it is only 100 minutes long) and in this instance the addition of an intermission is particularly glaring as it breaks the integrity of the show when lights simply go out on stage and come up in the house. Boo.  I hope a similarly egregious intermission does not occur in the intermissionless Drowsy Chaperone later this summer.

Highly Recommended.

Million Dollar Quartet continues at the Croswell Opera House, 129 E Maumee St, Adrian, MI through May 22nd. Tickets: croswell.org or 517-264-SHOW






“Ragtime the Musical” tour is spectacular (Review) May 14, 2016

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Kate Turner (Mother) and Matthew Curiano (Tateh) sing “Our Children” in RAGTIME

Seen on its journey through Toledo’s Stranahan Theater, the newly minted national tour of Ragtime the musical is in a word spectacular.

First, take a top-notch cast making some amazing music together. Next, add a genuinely affecting story (book by Terrence McNally, Music by Stephen Flaherty, and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens), that works no matter how many times you’ve seen the show, and add in a gorgeous set, costume, and lighting design, and it all makes this a great production.

Based on EL Doctorow’s novel, the musical tells the story of a fictional family intertwined with real world historical characters in three social realms — established white America at the turn of the century, an ever increasing influx of European immigrants, and a growing sense of social justice for black Americans. Each of these mini-dramas is clearly defined by its characters, and the stories play out in turn.

The tour is based on the 2009 revival of the musical, rather than the more lavish 1996 original. It uses a reduced cast size, and simpler sets and costumes. But the smaller size of the show doesn’t at all detract from the story — in fact, it might actually enhance the drama. Marcia Milgrom Dodge has directed and choreographed the production with an assured hand and a big heart.

A few performances in particular stand out. First, there is a star-making turn as immigrant Tateh by Matthew Curiano. His vocal and acting work first breaks your heart and later makes you laugh and then cry again (“Our Children” is so well done here).  Also very fine are Kate Turner as Mother, and Chris Sams as Coalhouse Walker Jr. Her “Back to Before” is remarkable, while his “Make Them Hear You” is stunning. As usual “Wheels of a Dream” (sung by Sams and Leslie Jackson as Sarah) is the score’s showcase number.  But every cast member is very strong, and they play interchangeable characters over the course of the musical. Congratulations to all.

The simple but beautiful set design is by Kevin Depinet, the excellent lighting design is by Mike Baldassari, and the gorgeous costume design is by Gail Baldoni. Steven Bishop provides first rate musical direction.

Do not miss this excellent tour.   Highest Recommendation.

For tour schedule, visit http://www.ragtimeontour.com



Newsies is spectacular at the Detroit Opera House (Tour) – Review December 22, 2015

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Those who know me already know that I love Newsies. In fact, I was sorely disappointed when Once (which I did not like) won the Tony for best Musical in 2012. Newsies walked away with Tonys for Best Choreography and Best Score, though it should have won for Best Set, Best Direction, Best Costume Design, and best Lighting Design. It probably should have won Best Musical, but who am I to argue with the folks who thought Once deserved the win since it needed help at the Box Office and future tour.

All that notwithstanding, Newsies arrives on its National Tour in Detroit, and it is as fresh as it was during its first weeks in New York. See my original review here:


What’s different? Well, the set has been adopted a bit for the tour —  its lighter (but still weights 6 tons); the solid wall proscenium for the theater scenes has been replaced by a lighter curtain unit. But Tobin Ost’s remarkable set and Sven Ortel’s projections are there in all their glory. There are also some slight blocking and choreography changes — and one added scene: Crutchie now gets a song in the second act called “Letter from the Refuge” (which gives him something to do in the second act once he’s been snatched off the streets).

To say that this current touring cast is outstanding is an understatement — between the time the show opened in NYC and had trouble casting (some of us had nicknamed it “Man-sies” since the boys were in their late 20’s and 30’s) and now when it really is boy-sies (this cast looked like kids though they aren’t for the most part) and guys flock to auditions — the show has also smartly been auditioning cross-country as it tours to find new, young dancing talent.

And dance these Newsies do — these dancers are outstanding, and Christopher Gattelli’s award-winning choreography is beautiful and ultra-athletic at the same time. Joey Barreiro plays an excellent Jack Kelly and he rivals Jeremy Jordan in every way. He has a terrific career ahead of him back in NYC after this tour concludes. Steve Blanchard is a delightfully full-voiced evil Pulitzer. Morgan Keene acts a clean, simple Katherine that is a joy to watch. The entire ensemble cast earns its salary nightly — where does that energy come from for that near non-stop 2.25 hours on stage? (There is also a 15 minute intermission bringing the show in at 2.5). Jeff Calhoun is my directing idol — and that he took the time to talk to me and advise me on some blocking for Bonnie & Clyde has endeared him even more.

The musical runs at the lovely Detroit Opera House and if you don’t already have tickets (and thousands and thousands of SE Michigan folks already do — this show is nearly as popular as Wicked from an audience point of view) by all means get them.

Newsies continues through Sunday the 27th of December — and tickets are available at Ticket master ($39.00 to $90.00).

Very very highly recommended.




Hamilton – Broadway review (10/17/15) October 18, 2015

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Hamilton, the musical that recently opened at the Richard Rogers Theatre, is everything you have heard it is — it is one of the strongest pieces of musical theatre to open in years, and it deserves all the praise that it being heaped upon it, mine included.

Don’t know who Alexander Hamilton is? (or A.Ham as he is referred to numerous times in the script) — take a look at your wallet and see if you have a ten-dollar bill in there. Hamilton was the first US Secretary of the Treasury shortly after the revolutionary war.

But what do American’s really know about him? Really, not much (unless you are a scholar of the people involved in government at that time). He rose to fame under the direction of George Washington — a scrappy and highly intelligent immigrant. He married well. He had a scandalous affair that prevented him from running for higher office. He was shot by Aaron Burr. No, seriously, you didn’t know all that?

Well neither does 99.99 percent of the audience at each performance — and it is thrilling to watch it all play out. The action is non-stop under the superb direction of Thomas Kail, choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical direction of Alex Lacamoire. The book, music, and lyrics (and star of the show himself) are by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”). The script is based on the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. Not big into history? I bet many of you will be looking up this book to read after seeing the show.

All of the leads in this musical are exceptional — the multicultural cast is led by the aforementioned Mr. Miranda, as well as  Daveed Diggs, Remee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff (hilarious as King George with the evening’s most tuneful song, “You’ll be Back”), Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Javier Muniz, Leslie Odom, Jr, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, and Phillipa Soo with an additional ensemble cast of 17 others.

The hip-hop infused score shouldn’t scare you away — while much of the show is performed in rap, its better to call it “rhyme” here — it is melodic, and it is infused with vocal riffs. The talent on display here is remarkable. You will find yourself listening to the cast album repeatedly after seeing the show. I will be the first to tell you that I absolutely hate rap music — this is not rap music. This is a hybrid of pop, rock, hip-hop, and Broadway tuners.

Everything moves quickly here — on a near-constantly rotating turntable set — which allows for some ingenious staging of scenes in which the audience can alternately see what is happening both in front of the characters, and behind them. As the show progresses, cannons and rifles flare, scenes shift rapidly from board room to living room to street, to river, to forest. The true ensemble play various roles, and echo actions on stage with dance and movement. It is truly remarkable. Your eye wanders from lead to dancer back to lead as you take it all in. The show demands repeat reviewings — not that I’ll be able to see it again anytime soon; its sold out through May 2016 (though there are scalpers tickets and secondary sales to be had and stubhub and private ticket agencies).

The rotating set also allows the show to build momentum and this is nowhere as well on display as in its three dueling sequences – it creates an almost movie-like effect as characters swirl before you — and tension mounts on a choreographed count of 10 — and guns fire. During a brilliantly staged sequence, the bullet is carried by one of the ensemble members in a finely choreographed slow-motion sequence across the stage from one side to the other until it reaches its intended victim. Pow. One of the most wonderful sequences I’ve seen in a Broadway show in many years.

There are two caveats — this is not a family show, so leave the kids at home. Most won’t understand what is going on or will be bored by the very adult content matter – and politics. This is a show about ideas, and Lin-Mauel Miranda has filled the stage with things to talk about and think about and discuss afterwards — by adults. Second, if English is your second language, this isn’t going to cut it for you. The dialogue is rapid fire; the politics discussed require a good grasp of English, and even then reading the libretto while listening to the cast album is the only way to catch everything going on. The poor Israeli family sitting next to me who bought tickets because of the critics raves was utterly lost, and two of them left at intermission while one struggled bravely on.

Very Highly Recommended.


Allegiance – (Review of Preview 10/16/15) – Broadway October 18, 2015

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Allegience, the new musical about people in Japanese Interment camps in the US during WWII is now previewing at the Longacre Theatre. From the looks of it, this is going to have a good strong run. I saw the Friday Oct 16th 2015 preview of the show.

Based loosely on George Takei’s childhood experience (yes, that George Takei, of Captain Sulu fame from Star Trek, and lately, an internet sensation), the production stars Mr Takei and Lea Salonga, who play brother/sister/and grandfather in different flashback permutations.

The show has a strong book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione. It’s music and lyrics are by Jay Kuo. Its all played out on a serviceable set by Donyale Wright.

The audience had a larger share of Asian Americans in the audience than a typical Broadway show, and that is not surprising given the subject matter. This is a fascinating story and one that needs to be told. The old adage that when emotion becomes too strong to speak, you sing, holds true here. There were many multigenerational families in the audience, and I was happy to see that.

The musical has wonderful moments, filled with joy as well as pain. While the story becomes a bit haggard in its third quarter, it triumphs in its last half hour. Here the emotions are clean, clear, and straight-forward.

The (too long) production is directed by Stafford Arima, and choreographed by Andrew Palermo. At least one of Mr Palermo’s numbers needs to be cut by opening night: “Get in the Game” which is one of the lamest production numbers I’ve seen since Finding Neverland’s “Play”. It is out of place, and it spoils the mood as son Sammy (a superb Telly Leung) compares life in camp to a baseball game — um, NO!

The story itself is interesting, though not very challenging, but it is earnest and straightforward. You see what’s coming from a mile away, but in this instance that isn’t a bad thing — a sad, distant memory that shouldn’t be forgotten as a chapter in our US history.

Mr. Takei is wonderful in his split role — every time he is on stage, you watch mostly him. Lea Salonga’s songs soar with emotion, though some of the descants, particularly in the second act, become repetitive and are not needed to advance the story.

I understand this production is in true preview mode — that is, the show is not frozen and there are changes from night to night as they work out the kinks. I hope they do. As it stands, the production is about 90 percent of a wonderful night of theatre — that remaining 10% is easily fixable, and I hope it is before opening night, because ALLEGIANCE deserves to be on your must-see list.



Stellar “Memphis” at Croswell Opera House (Review) August 18, 2015

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And yet another rave! Thanks to Jamie Buechele-Beasecker for her guest review of Memphis, the musical at Croswell Opera House!



This past Friday I was fortunate enough to enjoy the Croswell Opera House’s production of Memphis. This musical is loosely based on the exposure of R&B music by DJ Dewey Phillips in the tumultuous segregated south. This production is, to put it mildly, a success.

I want to emphasize that when the summer season and Memphis were announced, a few eyebrows were raised, mine included. The Croswell promised that this show would be unlike any other, and the hype surrounding this production grew. My fears about the success of this show were completely dispelled on opening night, and the Croswell has delivered on its promise.

The vocal performances by all are consistent and fit the style and energy of the show well, however, there are some performances that are outstanding.

Dan Clair’s portrayal of Huey Calhoun is terrific, both in character and in voice quality. Derrick Jordan’s Delray Farrell is powerful and intimidating. Many other strong performances were delivered by Lydia Schafer as Gladys Calhoun, Ron Baumanis as Simmons, Anthony Isom as Gator, Domonique Glover as Bobby, Charles Waters as Reverend Hobson, and an incredible cast of talented dancers, ensemble members, and character roles too numerous to expound upon.

I saved the best for last. Tatiana Owens. This young woman’s performance is impressive, flawless, and left the audience both completely satisfied and wanting more. Owens’ vocal and character performance are equally powerful, and her telling of Felecia Farrell’s story is 100% believable. The chemistry between Owens and Clair is well-developed and makes the audience root for them, which, in turn, makes the audience angry at the injustice demonstrated by the racist bigotry and violence that has and is occurring in the world.

Deb Calabrese guided this incredible cast to build show-stopping dance numbers, emotional dramatic scenes, and an overall impressive production. Dave Rains worked his usual magic with the balanced ensemble numbers and orchestra. Krage’s costumes are appropriate to the time and hold true to the historical colors and designs of the ’50s, and David Nelms sharp unit set is well-utilized by the cast. Tiff Crutchfield’s lighting design is beautiful and appropriate for the space and set design. The typical sound complications did occur during Memphis, however, this is an issue that regular Croswell patrons expect, and a few poorly timed set changes did interfere with the audiences view at times. Neither of these issues affected the overall stellar quality of this show.

There are moments during this production that are emotionally difficult to watch, and this strongly contributes to the rounded-out complexity of Memphis. Go see this show. Experience the emotional roller coaster that this outstanding cast delivers. During the final scene, I turned around in my seat. What I saw brought tears to my eyes and swelling to my heart. A full house of engaged, excited faces. Memphis is a show that I could not wait to stand up for. This show more than deserved its standing ovation, and I was happy to oblige.

MEMPHIS Rocks Adrian’s Croswell and it is more than worth the trip (Review) August 18, 2015

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Because I am in this production, MEMPHIS The Musical, at Croswell Opera House is being reviewed by guest reviewer director/choreographer/producer Patricia Mazzola. Thanks Patty!



I had the fortune of seeing the opening night performance of MEMPHIS the Musical at Adrian’s Croswell Opera House. Based loosely on real-life Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips who played black blues and R&B for people of all races to appreciate, taking enormous chances in the segregated south of the fifties. You, too, will be taken by this production.

The show has it all! The performers are so good you truly get lost in this story. Be ready to experience surprise, anger, laughs, love and genuine joy. There are excellent performances by Dan Clair as Huey Calhoun and Tatiana Owens as Felicia, but supporting roles are just as strong. Lydia Schafer plays Huey’s mother, and it is a gem of a musical comedy role expertly played. Derrick Jordan sings a remarkable Delray, Felecia’s older, protective brother. There’s a fantastic dance number from Dom Glover as Bobby (“Big Daddy”) and Anthony L. Isom sings a stirring “Say a Prayer” as Gator.

The choreography is strong and prominent, featuring a half-black half-white singing and dancing ensemble cast. This is the type of dance you rarely see on local stages and director/choreographer Debra Calabrese keeps everything flowing at an exciting pace. The audience eats it up and you can quickly see why this musical won all those Tony Awards a few years ago. It is an exciting evening of musical theatre, but one that has a strong message to convey.

The storyline draws you in and keeps you there — as it explores the birth of rock and roll and its rhythm and blues origins in Memphis’s black Beale Street clubs. Through a series of coincidences, Huey manages to secure a job at a popular radio station (Ann Arbor’s own Ron Baumanis plays the station manager as a “gruff, obscenity-spewing teddy bear” — credit to Wendy Wright for that one). When Huey falls in love with black singer Felicia, complications ensue and the relationship faces obstacles in both the white community as well as back on Beale St. Just as current as today’s racial tensions and rebellious music preferences, it’s the younger folks and teens who take to the new beat; and by the time the musical reaches its electric final number, “Steal Your Rock and Roll,” everybody within the walls of this majestic theatre are with them.

Praise to Dave Rains and his 9-piece onstage orchestra for some truly excellent musical work. Throughout the evening, the show’s driving force is the original musical score.

Several times I thought the story hit the highlight, only to be taken further. It is not your typical boy-meets-girl musical. You won’t want it to end and will find yourself dancing and singing your way to the car. You’ll be hard pressed to find any local production of this musical with these production values.

Memphis continues at the Croswell Opera House through August 23rd. croswell.org or 517-264-SHOW for tickets. Don’t miss it!

Very Highly Recommended.

Remarkable “Violet” at The Dio Theatre (Review) April 5, 2015

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The musical “Violet” by Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori has taken residence at The Dio Theatre in Pinckney for the next six weeks, and it is their strongest offering yet.


Led by a remarkable performance by Mahalia Greenway in the title role, this is a musical that has already claimed a place in musical theater history, Off-Broadway 1997, and on Broadway just this past season. Telling the story of a woman with a scar on her face from an accident in childhood, it follows two storylines as she goes off to Tulsa to seek a televangelist whom she believes will heal her scars, while simultaneously revealing to the audience how things went down in the first place. Her father is played by Andrew Gorney in another very strong outing at The Dio, while (at my performance) 8th grader Lilly Rosenberg was excellent in the role of Young Violet.

Of course, it all leads to the inevitable conclusion that beauty lies within, but getting to that point is what makes this story so interesting. The score is primarily comprised of country pop and gospel tunes (perhaps you’ve heard “Raise Me Up” on Sirius XM’s On Broadway where it gets a lot of play). Mahalia Greenway brings a depth of acting as well as singing to the role of Violet as she makes her journey — and what a journey it is.

While she travels by bus from her down-south mountain home, to Tulsa, she discovers that people can be selfish and caddish (Monty, played by director Steve DeBruyne), interesting and enigmatic (visiting actor Luther Rapheal Simon as Flick), open books (Linda Rabin Hammell) or closed ones. The ensemble is very strong, and in addition to the fine performances from these actors, there are also dynamic performances by Lauren Norris as Beale-Street singer Mabel, Peter Crist as the Preacher, Tyler Smith in various roles, Kristen Crockett as gospel singer Lula, and Jeff Steinhauer in  other character parts.  Its a true ensemble that sounds and works well together.

The five-piece backstage orchestra sounds great, though occasionally dialogue was lost at our performance when microphones for singers were at lower levels than the pop ensemble playing behind (and above) them – resulting in some sound balance issues. These resolved as the evening went along.

There is good setwork and good projections by designer Matthew Tomich, and the evening moves smoothly and quickly from scene to scene thanks to director Steve DeBruyne, musical staging by Thalia Schramm,  and their cast working in sync from opening number to last.

This is the strongest offering at the Dio to date — and it is highly recommended. Not only is this a strong production all around, but it is a story-driven musical that you should take the time to check out.

Dinner, as always, is by the talented Chef Jarod and includes his trademark fried chicken and a tasty Jambalaya.

Violet continues at The Dio through May 17th, 177 E Main St, Pinckney, MI, 48169   517-672-6009  diotheatre.com

Visually stunning ballet-based “An American in Paris” arrives in NYC (preview review) March 15, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 4.25.15 PM

I had the opportunity to see the new “An American in Paris” in preview last night in NYC. It already feels finished (the show ran for several months in Paris, with the exact same cast, crew, and designers) where it received raves. Its going to be the talk of the town once it opens, and apparently already is — the audience last night was filled with a virtual who’s-who of New York ballet and Broadway dance professionals.


Ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (and if you don’t know who he is, you better do a quick Google search, he’s a name every dance aficionado instantly recognizes) directs and choreographs his first Broadway musical (or Broadway-Franco musical as the case may be) and this production is all about the dance.

Craig Lucas expands upon the original movie script with background stories for each of our leads, and its a well-written book. The musical score is pure Gershwin. There are some great vocals — in particular the work of Max von Essen as Jerry’s friend Henri. But that is not why people will flock to this musical — here, its about the visually stunning scenic design and the dance. Its all about the dance — even the sets dance — things float, cross, move, flutter, sometimes all at the same time.

In general, backgrounds incorporate projections of chalk then watercolor sketches that depict familiar Parisian landmarks — and its all sort of like one watercolor painting spilling into another from scene to scene — with a bit of late 40s avant-garde thrown in for good measure. Stunning work by Bob Crowley, 59 Productions, and Natasha Katz.

But its all about dance here — big, huge, ballet-informed dance. This is not your typical Broadway musical — this is ballet set upon a Broadway stage, and it is simply remarkable.


Robert Fairchild plays Jerry (Gene Kelly) and Leanne Cope plays Lise (Leslie Caron). Both are lead dancers at the New York Ballet — and their fans will turn out in droves to see them here. While both have good singing voices, and charisma to spare, nobody will mistake their work for acting genius — this is about their Dance — and dance they do — for almost three hours. When was the last time you saw a Broadway musical and wanted the songs to stop but the dance to go on? That is what you get here — in gorgeous, mesmerizing moves both big and small. Fairchild leaps and bounds about the Palace Theatre, and tosses Cope about like a ragdoll — but she is no ragdoll — her dance is precise, emotional, and highly athletic. Late in the final dance sequence, Fairchild does his famous vertical leap — and you hold your breath and wonder, what was that ten feet? 12 feet?

Come for the musical — stay for the ballet — and absolutely get tickets to this stunner of a show. I did not want it to end. I am already planning a trip back to see it again.

Very highly recommended.  An American in Paris, Palace Theatre, New York.