I’m finally writing about our going to a performance of An American in Paris at the Fox on August 19th. This was the last performance for the season. The first and the last performances were by far the best of the season, and An American in Paris was stunning, superb—the best by far!
The show was a combination of Gershwin’s music, theater, and ballet. The 3 main male characters not only were superb ballet dancers, they also were fantastic singers–high, clear, tenors. They sang a remarkable trio a couple of times in the show. Just glorious!1 Of course, Gershwin’s music is gorgeous!
But, as really well done as everything was, the thing that impressed me the most was the set design! I have never seen anything like it before. It was a combination of projection and physical set elements. The presentation was insanely creative and gloriously visually interesting with a massive amount of movement that perfectly complimented the entire production, even amplified its meaning.
I would guess that the set design was in some state of motion about half of the time, whether it was stars twinkling, the water in the River Siene flowing, the lights in the Parisian windows glowing at night, the physical sets changing location, the outline tracing of buildings and structures as if they were being drawn, etc. (One of the characters in the play was designing/sketching a set for a ballet throughout the play itself.)
The production’s set design by famed set designer Bob Crowley has won several awards (a Tony and a Drama Desk award), and they were certainly well-deserved. I’ve just never been so impressed with sets. Then, of course there were reflective “mirrors” for the ballet studio that were also in motion as they formed different shapes while taking different positions on the stage. Other more traditional and visually interesting set objects were also used: such as Paris’ cylindrical pillars with their large decorative top to post fliers/bills, (What are those things called?) And shop sets, jazz bar sets, theater sets, etc.
Just fabulous! This was a first class production with a large compliment of dancers. If you get the chance, I highly recommend it.
And we heard the understudies during the matinee performance! ↩