City of Light
An American in Paris
What: An American in Paris
When: 7 pm Sun., Jan. 19
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
“Life is not like your American movies,” the character of Lise tells her wannabe suitor Jerry in the stage version of An American in Paris as she informs him she doesn’t have the luxury of falling in love with him.
Ironically, the production of the play showing Sun., Jan. 19 at the Mount Baker Theatre was itself inspired by the 1951 Academy Award-winning American film of the same name starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, bringing the tale set in post-World War II Paris full circle.
While the big-screen version of the story differs in some ways from the live one—there’s a bit more back story in the latter, as well as some deviation in the script—the similarities are such that those who first fell under the song-and-dance spell of George and Ira Gershwin hits such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Liza,” “‘S Wonderful,” “But Not for Me,” and “Stairway to Paradise” will be duly appeased.
The Tony Award-winning play focuses on Jerry Mulligan, a United States war veteran who has chosen newly liberated Paris as the locale to make a name for himself as a painter. But his plans get jumbled when he meets Lise, a young Parisian shop girl and burgeoning ballet dancer with secrets about both her past and her present—including the fact that she’s already got a boyfriend, although she’s unsure if she’s really in love with him.
During the telling, audience members will find plenty of romantic ruminations and love triangles, as well as admissions about things that happened during the war that will change the way they see Lise and the choices she’s made since her parents were arrested by the Nazis and she was saved by her father’s employers—which includes their son Henri, the man who she’s not sure if she should marry despite his fealty to the Resistance.
Regardless of its sometimes heavy subject matter, those in attendance Sunday night can expect to have their faith in humanity—and in love—restored.
“This all-new production pays homage to the 1951 film, but I am excited to bring this new vision to 2020,” choreographer Bob Richard says of the touring play.
“How did Paris come back to the City of Light? It came back through its art, through its culture, through its dance, through its movement, through its painting. Those are the things we’re trying to portray in this new vision; we’re trying to bring dance to explain and show the beauty of how a single petal can come out of the rubble, and how Paris can now come to be seen differently.”
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