Back in August I had the chance to see the world premiere of Mambo Italiano at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, where the story takes place in New Jersey. WBT’s newest production takes place in romantic Paris with the musical An American in Paris. This is a show for people who love Paris, love romance and love to watch great dancing and singing.
The story takes place after WWII and centers on a group of young artists. One of them, Jerry Mulligan, a former soldier, is now in Paris persuing his dream of painting. He falls in love with Lise, a young dancer, not realizing she is planning to get engaged to someone else. There are several love triangles in this story and also a few secrets but all’s well that ends well.
This production is the most lavish production WBT has had thus far – more costumes and much more intricate, elaborate sets, which is a pleasant surprise, given that this is an off-Broadway production. The design is meant to evoke a French ambiance so even the stage is painted in similar colors to a Monet Water Lilies painting, which is also a nod to Jerry’s occupation.
The dancing is the star of the show – the choreography is nothing short of phenomenal! There are several tap and ballet numbers that just blew me away. The professionalism of the dancers is completely astounding! I personally love post-WWII songs as well as tap dancing but I know it’s an art form that’s not so popular these days, so it’s nice to see so many young men and women so incredibly talented in the form of tap dancing. The ballet dancers also did an amazing job on their tippy-toes with the pointe shoes. Richard Stafford, the director/choreographer has many years of choreography under his belt, which is probably why the show’s dancing is its main highlight.
I loved that the show was very similar to the movie, starring Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly (which has won several Oscars). The two main performers, Deanna Doyle as Lise (who is reprising the role she has done on the National Tour) and Brandon Haagenson as Jerry channeled Caron and Kelly in their mannerisms and facial expressions. Doyle had Caron’s cutesiness and Haagenson had Kelly’s perpetual smile. I also wanted to mention Lauren Sprague who played Milo and was especially memorable with her singing and stage presence.
Here’s a video with highlights from the show:
As always, the food at WBT was very good and this time there was a little French twist to it. There’s the option of ordering extra appetizers and desserts plus drinks from the menu.
An American in Paris is playing until Nov. 24. Click here to purchase tickets.
Westchester Broadway Theater is located at One Broadway Plaza, Elmsford, NY.
Photos by John Vecchiolla
I was not compensated for this post. I received tickets.
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman is a freelance writer and has written for several blogs, including The Huffington Post. She has been living in the New York City area for nineteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids, ages 12, 10 and 7.