“An American in Paris” dances into the Westchester Broadway Theater

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 By: Irene Wallace Source: I On The Valley

An outstanding score, intricate dance routines, authentic costumes, and great acting all add up to a sensational show right here in Westchester.  The musical,  An American in Paris has danced its way onto the Westchester Broadway Theatre stage. The Broadway musical adapted from the 1951 film of the same name and starred Gene Kelly, was the winner of numerous awards including 4  Tony Awards.  With numerous dance numbers, fine direction, and music score by the legendary  Gershwin brothers, An American in Paris is a hit.

The story takes place immediately after World War II and Jerry Mulligan (Brandon Haagenson), an American G.I. who meets a beautiful French girl on the streets of Paris.  From this chance encounter, he decides he will stay in Paris after the war to pursue his dreams of being an artist.  He makes his way to a cafe where he meets Adam Hochberg, another American veteran, and pianist, who becomes the narrator of the story... Trying to assist a fellow countryman, Adam helps Jerry find a place to live and helps him get started in Paris. Henri Baurel, the son of wealthy French industrialists, enters to rehearse the nightclub act he is putting together with Adam.  Henri is practicing in secret because his dreams of being an entertainer would be frowned upon by his successful parents.

Adam takes Jerry to the ballet where he decides to sketch the dancers in auditions.  Here he meets Milo Davenport, a rich American who is smitten by Jerry and wants to help his budding artistic career.  At the audition, Adam meets the mystery girl Lise Dassin (Deanna Doyle) and so taken by her that he wants to compose ballet music for her.   It is the money and persuasion of Milo Davenport that leads to Adam being hired to compose the score to a ballet, Lise to be its principal dancer and for Jerry to be the art director.

But as the group works together we find there is a love triangle occurring between Jerry, Lise, and Henri. Indeed Lise herself is hiding a deep secret about her past from both Adam and Jerry that will not be revealed until Act Two.  It is a play about love, passion, self-discovery and following your heart whether it be romance or your art.

An American In Paris has all the components of a great musical.  A fine story with a compelling plot and interesting characters, memorable music from two icons of American music, and great dance numbers. If you love dance, then this play is for you.  While the set is very basic for such a big production, yet it allows the performers and choreographed dance sequences to command the stage.  The evening is filled with dance numbers including tap, jazz, ballroom, and even ballet.  The cast for this production is huge with 25 actors on stage.  A brilliant job by Director and Choreographer Richard Stafford.  With only a short rehearsal time prior to opening night, the stage was filled with swirling dancers who dazzled the audience with carefully crafted and synchronized steps.  The score is memorable and familiar with both classical music pieces as well as such famous tunes as “I’ve Got Rhythm”, and “An American in Paris”.

There were great performances all around from this talented cast, many who have Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional and National Tours.   Bandon Haagenson takes on the role made famous by the great dancer, Gene Kelly, and his performance is fantastic including but not certainly limited to his amazing tap dancing.   Deanna Doyle gives a wonderful performance as Lise, the French girl and ballet dancer and she is quite charming.  Her versatility on stage in her numerous dance routines was very impressive.  Rounding out the excellent cast is Erika Amato playing Madame Baurel,  Tommaso Antico as Adam, and Jonathan Young as Henri.  Lauren Sprague last seen at WBT in A Chorus Line was superb as Milo.   Credit goes to the wonderful ensemble cast of singers and dancers who lit up the WBT stage with their lively performance.

Keith Nielsen, the Costume Designer for the production, truly captured the unique and stylish look of 1940s fashion.

If you can’t visit Paris this fall, let the City of Light come to you with this finely crafted production of “An American in Paris”.  Now through November 24th, 2019.