REVIEW: An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre * * * *
| By Shaun Nolan
When An American In Paris opened on Broadway in 2014, it was one of the hottest dance shows of the season. Now, three years later, the show has landed in London’s West End with Tony Award-nominees Leanne Cope and Robbie Fairchild at the helm in a production so unique and so dazzling that it’s sure to leave a mark on the West End for time to come.
I was sceptical about the show before I went in. In all honesty, dance-heavy musicals put me off because of how much I love singing, but there’s something unique about this show. Instead of the dancing feeling like it’s been added for the sake of adding dance, for the first time in what I can remember, dance numbers are used in place of musical numbers that would usually be sung. A perfect example of this is the opening number, which is danced entirely with no sung words. While it may be tedious for some, I found it refreshing to see and enjoyed the concept thoroughly.
The thing that really makes this show though is its fantastic cast. Leanne Cope takes on the role of Lise Dassin, a young woman who is looking for her big break as a ballerina in Paris. Cope’s performance is stunning and her timid and introverted performance as Lise is touching to watch. As a dancer – and as a vocalist – Cope’s performance is incredible and proves exactly why she was Tony-nominated for the role. The same has to be said for Robbie Fairchild in his performance as Jerry Mulligan, a man who stays in Paris after the war and falls in love with Lise while working as an artist. He is sensational in the role and his charm and suave nature sell him as being the heartthrob this show needed. Other standouts in the cast include Haydn Oakley as Henri Baurel, Zoe Rainey as Milo Davenport and David Seadon-Young as Adam Hochenberg.
In the publicity images, I questioned how much I was going to like the design of the show as it seemed so minimal, but after watching there’s something about its minimal design that works so well. The feel of the piece is carried straight through into the set, lighting and costume design – a vibe that is eluded to in the poster artwork for the show – and is a stunning piece of work that is reminiscent of the artwork that Jerry creates throughout the show. Bob Crowley’s set and costume design is always fantastic and it shines, like his work normally does, in this instance, and the same is to be said about Natasha Katz’s lighting design. Not only is this show a visual masterpiece in regards to dance, but in regards to visuals as well.
If you love high romance, gorgeous Gershwin music, and drama that isn’t too taxing on the brain, then An American In Paris is the perfect night out for you. Be it a family trip or a date night situation, it’s a new musical that’s going to take the West End by storm.