An American in Paris Westchester Broadway Theatre Theatre Review

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 By: Jessica Kennedy Source: The Theatre Guide

Come and join the Westchester Broadway Theatre in celebrating its 213th production with the 2015 hit, An American in Paris!  This show, winner of several Tony Awards, is based on the 1951 film by the same name and features music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford and produced by Lisa Tiso, this show is one you will not want to miss! 

This story opens in 1945 in Paris, just after the end of World War II.  While U.S. Army members, such as Lieutenant Jerry Mulligan (Brandon Haagenson) are finding reasons to stay in such a beautiful city, its native peoples are struggling to pick up the pieces and redefine themselves- and the France they once knew- after Nazi occupation.

When Jerry meets Adam Hochberg (Tommaso Antico) and Henri Baurel (Jonathan Young), he believes he has found a few kindred spirits; however, the audience quickly realizes it is not only their visions for a brighter future that they have in common.  Drama, mirth, and heartbreak ensue, as their mutual love for Lise Dassin (Deanna Doyle) threatens to tear them- and her- apart. The cast does, quite simply, an amazing job when it comes to the multitudinous dance numbers in this show. 

While some musicals rely more on dialogue and solo vocals to build their storyline (Jekyll & Hyde, for example), this show uses a cast of well over 20 skilled dancers to bring the myriad emotions of life after a war onto the stage with movement.  Choreographer Richard Stafford and Associate Choreographer Joseph Cullinane add intensity and dimension to the storyline by sculpting the actors’ movements and making certain songs, such as the opening one- “Concerto in F,” feel more like an interpretive dance than a musical number. 

The sheer size of this cast, along with their abundant talent in varied forms of dance, makes this show a real visual treat!

Furthermore, Andrew Gmoser’s lighting design and Ryan Edward Wise’s musical direction artfully accentuate the actors’ movements. The principal performers, likewise, do a gorgeous job of making their complex relationships feel both profound and genuine.  Deanna Doyle’s portrayal of the conflicted Lise is both tender and heart-wrenching; Brandon Haagenson’s depiction of Jerry is both humorous and winsome.  Jonathan Young adds complexity to Henri’s character by making the audience view him with distaste at times, and with sympathy at others. Tommaso Antico’s version of Adam is endearing, while Lauren Sprague plays a fierce, yet fragile Milo Davenport. 

Assisted by a rock-solid ensemble, these actors work seamlessly to recreate a show full of both serious portrayals of the aftermath of WWII, while also celebrating all the beauty, hope, and love that can be found in the City of Light!

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with a full 30-minute intermission. Lunch/Dinner starts before the show, check the website for door opening times.