Buddy

Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron

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An American in Paris


"Now, Christopher Wheeldon and the playwright Craig Lucas are adapting the movie for a stage production, with Wheeldon to be both choreographer and director."


I love the idea !


"The big casting decision for Wheeldon will be choosing who will play the acting/dancing roles of the two leads, Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American artist in Paris (Gene Kelly in the movie) and Lise Bouvier, the young French woman he loves (Leslie Caron)."


Any suggestions, anyone, for Casting ?


**** Gene Kelly ****


For me it's obvious.


**** Marcelo Gomes ****


Ekaterina Kondaurova ? flowers.gif


After what I saw her do at this year's Mariinsky Festival, she could handle this and maybe Garbo as well !


(And she even speaks english, something I never thought of all the times that I struggled to get out a sentence in russian telling her how great I think she is.)


Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev -- worth a try.




(thanks to BalletcoForum)

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The idea of doing a Broadway revival of American in Paris has been kicking around for years. In fact, I think that the Wheeldon production of An American in Paris that he did for NYCB started out as Wheeldon's potential draft of the choreography for the show.I'm not sure what kind of shape Damian Woetzel is in at this stage of his life, but he would seem like a strong candidate for the Gene Kelly role.

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I still go with Marcelo, abatt, and I raise you one -- Carlos Acosta ?

Damian could be fine. I've only seen him once.

Added:

and more Leslie....

Alina Cojocaru flowers.gif

Maria Kochetkova, but she'd need a not tall partner.

and

Sylvie Guillem ?

Gene?

and of course tiphat.gif

or

click lower right for starters:

http://www.rolandosarabia.com/wordpress/videos/#!/rolando-sarabia

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Robert Fairchild - he was terrific in Who Cares!

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What a fantastic idea!

Gomes and Fairchild definitely. No to Vasiliev. How about Angel Corella? (Even though he's trying to run Barcelona Ballet.)

Osipova yes. Tiler Peck and Sarah Lane too. I think Guillem is too senior.

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Also - Woetzel would have been great a few years ago. I think he may be too senior now and not in tip top shape. But 10 yrs ago, I'd say definitely yes.

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Wheeldon would have to reinvent the choreography to a huge extent to make it work for a ballet dancer, even the esteemable Damian Woetzel at his prime. Assuming that this dancer would also be doing the acting and singing, a decision to hire any of the male ballet dancers mentioned so far would require a major reinvention of the story.

If I were a casting agent I'd be more likely to be thinking along the lines of -- Does Hugh Jackman dance? Does Rasta Thomas sing? Does Savion Glover act?

As for the female lead, a ballet dancer seems more possible. (Leslie Caron was one,). Foreign accent would be a necessity, not a liability. And they could always fall back on that hoary dance cliche: the culture clash between an American hoofer and a prim but classy ballet girl. Something like the plot of the pop song "Sk8er Boi" -- "He was a punk; she did ballet" etc. etc. But that girl didn't get the boy.

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Hi Bart.


You bring up the obvious practical matters. I would guess that this would be about Dance, Wheeldonesque Dance perhaps, and a versatile ballet dancer might be fine. I think that Dance was Gene Kelly's strongest feature. The rest could maybe be finessed. Rex Harrison talked his singing in My Fair Lady.


I haven't seen the movie in maybe twenty years so I should really look at it again to comment accurately on what you are saying.


Abatt, I had no idea that Christopher Wheeldon did a production of this for NYCB. Maybe you have some ideas about this ?

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Also we are looking at it from the ballet world. There are lots and lots of musical theater performers that I don't know about.

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Bart and Vipa, I was able to watch the first several minutes of the key, lengthy (15-20 minutes?) dance scene from the movie on internet video. That's all I could find. It looks pretty 'balletic' to me.


"His [Gene Kelly] many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical film, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences."



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Keith Roberts. Don't know if he can sing but he's got the ballet and Broadway experience.

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An American in Paris and none of you are casting any POB dancers???

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From many choices, Myriam Ould Braham. I don't know if she speaks english.

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An American in Paris and none of you are casting any POB dancers???

I feel your pain - I kept waiting for an actual US dancer to be mentioned. ;)

At least one of the casts should be US and French to get the right spirit going. That said, I'm going to nominate the Aussie Steven McRae, for his great Broadway feel.

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Professor Higgins' numbers in "My Fair Lady" are designed for a non-singer, though, Buddy. The Gershwin score will require someone with pipes. Wheeldon will probably redo most or all of the choreography, perhaps with a nod or two here and there to the original. The Kelly role doesn't require a ballet dancer, but much will depend on the demands of Wheeldon's choreography. Jerry definitely needs to be played by an American if at all possible, unless, as bart says, they rework the story considerably. The big ballet at the end of the movie was created for the cinema and not the stage, and the visual effects are at least as important as the dancing, which is in short segments with frequent cuts - not necessarily inappropriate for Gershwin's score, which lacks unity.

Another potentially important singing/dancing role is that played by Georges Guétary, who had the big "Stairway to Paradise" number in the movie. No ballet dancer required there, either. (French accent, yes.)

A link to what some Ballet Alerters had to say about the Wheeldon choreography for NYCB.

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dirac, thanks for that link. Some excellent reviews and comments. Definitely worth reading.

phrank, thanks for the video of "The Goblins. McRae does seem to have some of the necessary style. He got excellent reviews for his dancing of the Mad Hatter in Wheeldon's Alice, so has the advantage of knowing the choreographer well. wink1.gif

I Googled and came up with this article (March 15, 2013) from The Guardian:

Steven McRae -- the Ballet Star who's a Modern-Day Fred Astaire

The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents. All you need is a good coach, and London probably has plenty of those. But can he sing?

Here's part of Judith Mackrell's commentary on the video.

McRae looks like a Broadway natural, but you can see the classical dancer at work in the easy, graceful counterpoint of his arms and upper body, which acts as kind of jazzy épaulement to the footwork at 3.29 and 4.11 as well as the actual ballet moves, not least the expertly controlled drizzle of pirouettes at 4.20 that are worked into his routine.

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Thanks, Dirac, for your insights and the Ballet Alert comments about the NYCB production.


Cool if we found that Marcelo, Rolando….were also latent Caruso's.


The fact that Christopher Wheeldon is the "director" as well as the choreographer seems to spell 'Dance' with a big D. It will be interesting to see how this all developes.

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The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.

bart 'logo' :

"The consolations of the imagination are not imaginary consolations."

tiphat.gif

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The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents.

That's true, bart (and they seem to be better at it than Americans doing British accents). But they don't always ring true. And this fellow will be taking over a Gene Kelly role, and Kelly was so echt American. I think it's really important to the story that the "American" aspect of the character come through.

"All sorts" - indeed. You remind me of that bizarre accent Laurence Olivier assumed for his role in The Betsy as a Detroit auto tycoon (otherwise a highly enjoyable performance). Apparently the director tried to talk him out of it but he was not to be budged.

"His [Gene Kelly] many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical film, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences."

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Gene_Kelly

Thanks, Buddy. Kelly did indeed promote and proselytize on behalf of ballet (and dance in general) and used ballet dancers often, even if he was not himself an innately balletic dancer (which is not a knock, BTW). Astaire was innately balletic, but interestingly he had no interest in the art form. Because he was Astaire he was forever getting fan letters from the likes of Baryshnikov and Fonteyn, but his own fan notes tended to go to dancer/performers like Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, and John Travolta (in his Saturday Night Fever days).

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I Googled and came up with this article (March 15, 2013) from The Guardian:

Steven McRae -- the Ballet Star who's a Modern-Day Fred Astaire

The careers of countless British actors demonstrate that good training and hard work can allow you to acquire all sorts of "American" accents. All you need is a good coach, and London probably has plenty of those. But can he sing?

Here's part of Judith Mackrell's commentary on the video.

McRae looks like a Broadway natural, but you can see the classical dancer at work in the easy, graceful counterpoint of his arms and upper body, which acts as kind of jazzy épaulement to the footwork at 3.29 and 4.11 as well as the actual ballet moves, not least the expertly controlled drizzle of pirouettes at 4.20 that are worked into his routine.

This comes from an excellent video series in the Guardian -- they're doing some wonderful work with their online resources.

I didn't really follow along with the critical commentary when Wheeldon made a version of AiP for NYCB -- I was glad to see that thread, but I do think it's a very different job to stage a musical adaptation of a film than it is to make a ballet based on themes from the play or the film. Wheeldon's suite of dances from Carousel has many virtues, but it is not a set of excerpts from a stage show.

The film-to-stage adaptation has become a category all its own in contemporary musical theater -- I think it might be smart to look at works like Hairspray or Singing in the Rain when we think about what a stage version of American in Paris might be.

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Also "La Cage aux Folles" and "The Producers."

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Isn't Mr McRae Australian?

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Isn't Mr McRae Australian?

Yes:

Prix de Lausanne 2003:

http://www.prixdelausanne.org/v4/index.php/View-users-list/Prizewinners/Page-16.html

In this interview, Mark Monahan writes,

By his teens, already an extremely capable tapper, he knew that his future lay in dance, and, having trained throughout high school, he won a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, at 17. A year later, in 2004, he joined the Royal Ballet; by 2009, he was a principal.

Given the chronology, did he take the Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet School, which he joined a year later? The Royal Ballet site lists the Artists, but, alas, provides no bio links.

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Isn't Mr McRae Australian?

He is, but he doesn't sound particularly Australian.

Prix de Lausanne 2003:

http://www.prixdelausanne.org/v4/index.php/View-users-list/Prizewinners/Page-16.html

In this interview, Mark Monahan writes,

By his teens, already an extremely capable tapper, he knew that his future lay in dance, and, having trained throughout high school, he won a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, at 17. A year later, in 2004, he joined the Royal Ballet; by 2009, he was a principal.

Given the chronology, did he take the Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet School, which he joined a year later? The Royal Ballet site lists the Artists, but, alas, provides no bio links.

I remember reading an article which said that he already had a place at the school but needed the scholarship money or he wouldn't have been able to afford to go.

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I didn't really follow along with the critical commentary when Wheeldon made a version of AiP for NYCB -- I was glad to see that thread, but I do think it's a very different job to stage a musical adaptation of a film than it is to make a ballet based on themes from the play or the film. Wheeldon's suite of dances from Carousel has many virtues, but it is not a set of excerpts from a stage show.

The film-to-stage adaptation has become a category all its own in contemporary musical theater -- I think it might be smart to look at works like Hairspray or Singing in the Rain when we think about what a stage version of American in Paris might be.

Agree completely with this, especially the part I've put in boldface. The world of Broadway musicals is hugely different from the world of ballet dances that use Broadway scores. This includes audience expectations and psychology. (Stephen Sondheim's books, Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat, are especially revealing about the process of creating and putting on a Broadway musical.)

My local company is currently preparing West Side Story Suite, which they will perform in February. Dancers who can actually sing have already been cast for parts that require it. I'm sure it will be fun. For a 30-minute ballet, there's plenty of room for suspension of disbelief. When you are putting together a full-length show -- one which includes long stretches of dialogue, singing without dance, etc.-- a lot more is at stake and different skills are required.

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