Wednesday, 9 August 2017

REVIEW: An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre

An American in Paris is over 65 years old but this piece has never felt fresher. This Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron classic finally has reached the stage and after a production in Paris in 2014 and a Broadway production in 2015 it has come over to the Dominion Theatre which, after its beautiful refurbishment, is the perfect theatre for this piece.

Ashley Day and Leanne Cope lead the cast in this production and what a magical pair they are. They float around the stage like they’re on a magic carpet and they just excel in every number. Ashley Day is a wonderful leading man and embraced everything a leading man in a Gene Kelly classic is meant to be. Leanne Cope is an incredible dancer and played the role fantastically, although not a strong singer, this can be forgiven for the rest of her performance.

The supporting leads are also the crème de la crème of the West end; Jane Asher and Julian Forsyth show us why they are both true theatre legends in this show and Hayden Oakley and David Seadon-Young are both fantastic additions to this cast.

The true star of this show is Zoë Rainey, she is stunning in this. Her vocals were on point, her acting was gorgeous and her dancing was the cherry on top of the cake. She is everything I want to see in a musical theatre production.

They seemed to have rounded up the best of the best in the West End for this show, I am so bored of going to see musicals where the singing and dancing comes first and the acting comes last. But in this show the story was told so well, the characters were well rounded and the scenes were fantastically directed. For a dance show, I think that’s fantastic! So hats off to Jonathan O’Boyle who must be keeping us the good work of Christopher Wheeldon.

Christopher Wheeldon’s Choreography and Direction are beautiful, he mixes everything into one. The dancers are part of the set, the set is part of the music and the music becomes part of us.

I find ballet fascinating and could watch it for hours, I feel this production missed out on that slightly. Maybe the line between musical theatre and ballet hasn’t been established fully but more of a contrast would have been beneficial in the dynamics of the piece.

I usually hate projections being so heavily relied on in shows but in this production, they were used impeccably. The smoothness and preciseness was perfect. The rest of the design by Bob Crowley felt a little bare, there wasn’t much around and it just relied backdrops. Not much detail was in it and for me it didn’t have that stylish Paris flare that it could have had.

This is a fantastic show and deserves to be seen by a wider audience; similar shows like Top Hat, Singin’ in the Rain and On the Town need to move over because there’s another classic leaving its mark on the West End.

I do ask the question, is this the kind of work we need in the West End at the moment? I’m not sure. But whatever the right answer is, we loved it regardless!

A true Broadway show has finally reached the West End.  

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★

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