The success of Rhapsody in Blue in 1924 allowed George Gershwin to travel to Europe and to meet a number of composers that he admired during a stay in Paris. Stravinsky, Ravel, Poulenc, Milhaud gave the American musician their recognition and encouragement. An American in Paris, composed in 1928, is a symphonic poem of about twenty minutes hailed by the critic Isaac Goldberg as being an “American Afternoon of a Faun”.
In 1950, the Hollywood producer Arthur Freed had the idea to make a film based on An American in Paris. As he would later do with Singin' in the Rain, he envisioned a set of existing songs by George and Ira Gershwin on wich a story could be created. As concieved by choreographer and star Gene Kelly, director Vincente Minnelli and book writer Alan J. Lerner, the story focused on an American GI, Jerry, a painter in Montmartre who, overflowing with joy of life, meets Lise, a young saleswoman. Lise, however, is loved by Henri, a singer of middle-of-the-road popular songs. The feelings (love, disappointment, enjoyment and the blues) culminate in a ballet where the couple reunites. This dance sequence became one of the most famous in the history of the Hollywood musical and the film went on to win six Oscars. Gene Kelly was given an honorary Oscar "in appreciation for his extreme versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film".
It would be nearly 65 years before a stage version of the musical would find its way to the stage. This new production, inspired by the film but not a re-production, is coming to life under the creative leadership of director / choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and producers Jean-Luc Choplin, Van Kaplan and Stuart Oken.
World premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet November 22, 2014 - January 4, 2015
Broadway Premiere at the Palace Theater March 13, 2015 anamericaninparisonbroadway.com
In English, with French subtitles, 2h50 with intermission