Buddy

Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron

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Thanks, sidwich. Actually this video clip has been included at the end of my review (Nov. 25), but can be easily missed among all the other posted material.

Here is a Christopher Wheeldon quote from the Dance Magazine article that helps define the special nature of this production.

“As the project’s unfolded, it feels right as a director-choreographer vehicle, because then everything about the show moves with the same kind of language—the transitions, everything,” says Wheeldon. “And it’s a very dance-centric story, the version that we’ve made.”

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“The central focus on dance is the major departure from the film and the ballet sequences are one of the most impressive parts of the entire work.

“Costumes and decor, by Bob Crowley, are period perfect. When the show hits its stride it will be unstoppable.

“The story is told with assurance and the handsome and often glamorous sets work well to give the story a natural flow.

“Shouts of approval and a standing ovation, rather rare in France, ended the triumphal launch of a major new work.” [same for several performances that I saw in Paris by the Miami City Ballet a few years ago]

https://figarosi.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/an-american-in-paris-in-paris/

Added: This is from “Figaro Si! A daily magazine of classical music.” If the article doesn’t appear, you may have to Google it yourself, as I’ve had to do. ("an american in paris figaro si", works for me) Having seen the same opening night I agree completely with what I excerpted here, which is also consistent with the general point of view of the article. The article does mention that there were sound system problems in the first act. I didn't notice them.

Added added: The article also mentioned that some critics were invited to what seems to be the official opening December 10, so that might account for no press reviews so far.

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This is the closest to a press review that I’ve found. It’s from Adam Moscoe at the The Huffington Post. It has tons of good info and it’s title speaks for itself.

American in Paris: ‘ S Wonderful

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/adam-moscoe/american-in-paris-s-wonde_b_6265856.html

I would want to add my opinion, once again, that I thought Bob Crowley’s scenery was perhaps the most impressive artistic statement, ‘so far’, in the entire, fine production, especially his use of projection. One of the reasons for its use was to make it unnecessary to ever lower the curtain and the transitions were as seamless as the backdrops were enchanting. Absolutely world class art, making the entire, highly artistic and enjoyable production perhaps worth seeing for this alone.

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Crowley has become Wheeldon's "go to" designer. Crowley also collabertated w. Wheeldon on SFB Cinderella and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, both of which had exquisite designs.

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Crowley has become Wheeldon's "go to" designer. Crowley also collabertated w. Wheeldon on SFB Cinderella and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, both of which had exquisite designs.

Very glad to hear this, abatt.

Okay -- In the "you only live once" department, "why not", if this could be added somewhere, probably after the Staircase to Paradise number, "what a wonderful world it would be".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZUeXPgSqYQ&list=UUmQ0SKn1xVQP-JMKO7m1FwQ

Oxana Skorik and Andrei Yermakov -- Raymonda

Added:

And since we’re on Cloud Nine — Tweeted by Robbie Fairchild yesterday:

“Overwhelming feeling of love, happiness, excitement & gratitude. We open in 3 days!”

https://twitter.com/robbiefairchild

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I had a double dose of 'American in Paris' this weekend being as I was, myself, in the City of Light. This was sandwiched between the enchanting Paris Opera Ballet School demonstrations and a performance of La Source.



I am very glad that I saw it twice - as it helped to clarify my own personal take which was largely positive. The Sunday matinee was I think the better performance and I joined the largely French audience in their cheers and exultant stomping. On the Saturday evening Craig Lucas' book had somehow seemed much more lumpen than it did during the matinee but that may well have been my own exhaustion having just got off the Eurostar. The concept of a triangle of men in love with the same young French woman is certainly not the strongest nor is it the most novel. This is very much Wheeldon's show. It is almost entirely his extension to Balanchine's 'Who Cares'; here surrounded within Bob Crowley's dazzlingly spare sets/projections, that gives sail to our joy. That said - and what makes this production so thrilling and immediate - is that it is framed - almost entirely - through the eyes, ears and most especially the exhalation of the feet of one, Robbie Fairchild.



Fairchild does not disappoint. Never. Not once. Not at all. This lad is a STAR - with a capital 's' and everything else you might care to toss into his mix. What self respecting woman of ANY age would not fall in love with his endearingly crooked smile and his immaculate sense of grace be it lodged in (i) his balletic jazz movement; (ii) his astute comic timing; (iii) his involving dramatic appeal - (even when the book might not be as creatively supportive as it might otherwise have been) and (iv) through the effortless ease of his welcome singing voice; a supported 'Matthew-Broderick-like' instrument which easily wafts over the French footlights. Within each aspect Fairchild caresses. He is, I think, as close as we are going to come to an Astaire facsimile in the early 21st Century. Oh, forget that: He IS Robbie Fairchild. That'll be enough in ANYBODY's book. Both Gershiwn and Porter I suspect would glow at the way he delivers each of their songs - and those resultant dances courtesy of Mr. Wheeldon - with a full and easy measure. Fairchild 'Freds' them, much as Porter himself once quipped.



Leanne Cope as the girl in question was certainly demure and looks fetching in her newly culled bob which sets off her gamine headlight-like eyeballs in whichever direction she may choose to shine them. (How refreshing it is to see her in a dramatic role where she is not being murdered, raped [or at least molested as in Scarlett's Hansel and Gretel] or sold into prostitution.) Her character - an orphaned French dancer who's long made a living as a sales assistant - is largely - as it happens - defined by others as much as her time. (Wheeldon cleverly makes potent the violence of a post-war Parisan breadline - 'Brother, can you spare a Franc?' - from the very opening.) To wit: it is through others' reflections that Cope's character comes alive. Her power lies in the fact that she is largely passive; a personage more than willing to be shaped by others. [in this regard - i.e., in Lise's surround - Brandon Uranowitz has a sweet vibrato as a frustrated composer (a Gershwin-stand-in?) embittered by his own war-time travails; Max Von Essen as Henri Baurel - a husband-to-be who ultimately loses to the better man - is possessed of the evening's strongest male voice; Jill Paice is the proverbial rich bitch (a nasty American of course) with an ingratiatingly svelte line in caustic vigor and that theatrical veteran best known as Veanne Cox exalts in the most challenging dramatic assignment of the evening [that of a French matriarch- Lise's maternal saviour - with a war-time conscious]. Cox negotiates any and all mine fields left open to her with apt aplomb.)



Given her employment with her native Royal Ballet, Cope as Lise Dassin is most impressive in the balletic segments [for fairly obvious reasons]; most especially in the fine final and entirely telling Wheeldon piece seemingly created for her character within the show's so-called 'Ballet Chatelet'. It is a jubilant circus of an affair during which her romantic zeal for our hero - [which is - it must be said - never really in doubt given that this IS a musical comedy] - takes more than just imagined centre stage. As Jerry Mulligan, Robbie (forgive my familiary but he just seems such a nice guy as to invite one and all to call him by his christian name) would make ANY woman look divine in ANY position. Still, in that final - and apt - Wheeldon pas - replete with its very difficult partnering - [which - much as everywhere else in Wheeldon's AN AMERICAN IN PARIS - Fairchild makes look simple} - Cope glows on behalf of us all in his caring hands. In her character's regard Fairchild practically peculates - even whilst being oh, so memorably shoved into the Seine. (Cue a second helping of that delicious grin up unto the parapets.) The tension of their romantic partnership buoys with a fixed sincerity as it should. How easily this might not have been the case in other less devotedly secure hands.



Cope's singing voice it is true is not the strongest - but it is certainly amiable enough for the one and half songs she is asked to sing. Moreover, she does sincerely try to act the songs and even goes so far as to maintain her French accent in every lyric. It's only that the one full solo song assigned to her is just SO darn famous: 'The Man I Love' - (and, yes, it's hard for any NYCB lover NOT to think of Balanchine's choreography in that and - even more - in 'Embraceable You' and 'Fidgety Feet'... with, of course, Mr Fairchild - the natural successor to Robbie La Fosse in that 'every-man' role - at its pulsating heart). Ms. Cope was slightly under pitch in her solo head voice on the Saturday night but was happily back on measure - albeit with some 'snap, crackle pop' difficulty emanating from her sound equipment - for the Sunday matinee.



At the curtain calls Cope curtsies with that unassuming propriety given to a Royal Ballet First Artist next to the principle of Mr. Fairchild's happy-go-lucky bow replete with its 'aw, shucks - I'm really here - and you like me' Salt-Lake-City-born-but-come-hither-nonetheless grin. The latter is as convincing as any winning lottery number. Both audiences I sat aside roared their approval. What they will do when they need to replace Fairchild - (and I suspect it will come to that in NY where NYCB should NOT be left waiting/wanting too long) - heaven only knows. [Does Tyler Angle sing? .... Perhaps he could lead the London company?] Someone needs to create a wholly original show for Fairchild's extra-ordinary talents ... and soon.



'Who Cares?' Our world will ... and rightfully so. .



Bless you, Robbie; Bless you Mr. Wheeldon. You have done us - indeed ALL of us - proud.


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Meunier fan - many thanks for your eloquent, detailed, envy inciting review.

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Thanks also, meunier fan. I’m very glad that you enjoyed it as much as you did. I look forward to seeing it a second time, maybe June.

I did find Leanne Cope’s singing to be quite beautiful. It was one of the highlights for me, including both a solo and a duet.

From The Guardian, an interview with Christopher Wheeldon:

“He [Christopher Wheeldon] admits he didn’t commit fully to this production until he was sure he’d found his two leads.

“ “He’s [Robert Fairchild] a showman on stage, with that very grounded American theatrical quality. And I always suspected he could sing.”

“Lise was more elusive. Wheeldon saw hundreds of dancers before he found Leanne Cope, a First Artist with the Royal Ballet. “She’s not got one of those wowzer techniques, but your eye always goes to her. She’s got this beautiful, natural quality that’s perfect for Lise.” ”

And another insight into the directing.

“ “I realised dancers and actors work in very different rhythms. Dancers are used to delivering instantly. Actors are slower, they like to think about the how and the when and the why.” ”

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/dec/08/an-american-in-paris-christopher-wheeldon-gene-kelly

(thanks to Balletco for this source)

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I'm not sure how this should be treated here, as it is a point of information and not an opinion, so moderators, do as you see fit.

This was posted by heylookity at Dansomanie [ballet forum] who apparently is familiar with the production. This is my translation from the french.

“The world premiere took place last night, the show was presented in its final version. The show has evolved during previews and changes occurred at all levels (costumes, text, lighting, choreography ............). One of the most obvious changes was the removal of the opening of the first act and the first scene of text together with the number "Our Love is Here to Stay" [Act II, a cast number].”

[La première mondiale a eu lieu hier soir, le spectacle a été présenté dans sa version définitive. Le spectacle a beaucoup évolué lors des avant-premières et des modifications sont survenues à tous les niveaux (costumes, texte, éclairages, chorégraphies............). Une des modifications les plus flagrantes a été la suppression de l'ouverture du 1er acte et de la première scène de texte, ainsi que de l'extrait chanté "Our love is here to stay”.]

Both myself and the man sitting next to me at the opening preview thought that shortening the first act might be helpful.

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Buddy, when I saw the show it opened with Brandon Uranowitz - as the composer character - hobbling on stage - from the stage right house side - speaking a few lines - briefly toying with the piano - and then saying 'And that's how it starts' ... or some such. Then you heard/saw the collision of Nazi chaos being rapidly replaced by the victorious parade of a massive Tricolore under which was discovered the ubiquitous 'American in Paris' - the miraculous Mr. Robert Fairchild. When Fairchild turned face front towards the audience the Arc de Triumph explosively rose beyond him in victory. This then went into a prolonged dance/movement sequence during which the depravity of post-war Paris was highlighted by a violent fight on a bread line. A woman is tossed to the ground at one point and Lise (the radiant Ms. Cope) dashes over to give her half of her baguette such as she takes out of her purse. She is the only character in this sequence to be dressed in any meaningful colour. She is attired in pastels if I recall.. This was, of course, all - naturally enough - being sketched by Mr. Fairchild's 'artist' character. It is thus he gets initially caught up with his subject's allure and that, of course, leads to him ultimately tearing up his train ticket which I assumed was to take him to his transport back to the States. It most certainly points both leads towards the meat of this musical's romantic tale. From that point forward Fairchild will be seen in civilian dress only. I'd say the opening was pretty snappy ... certainly engaging ... and - from a dance/movement perspective alone ... impressive.



This opening was the same for both the most recent Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances.



I assume that is different from the scenario you witnessed at the first preview, Buddy. Quite understandable with Paris being the 'out of town' sojourn; one ultimately heading toward the Broadway opening at the Palace in March.


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Meunier fan, what you've described is essentially what I recall seeing at the preview opening. So I wonder how much of the beginning was actually changed, perhaps only Brandon Uranowitz's very brief opening dialogue, that I kind of liked. In any case I think that trimming back some of Act I is perhaps a good idea, in particular, some of the postwar heaviness and maybe some of the Act I dialogue and cast performance. I do have to say that there seemed to be a lot of subtle, good stuff (pacing and staging) happening, and I really would like to have seen it again to watch for this more carefully.

And once again, I have to say that I wish this production all the success possible. So much of it is so fine !

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Apparently the official opening, December 10, was a least as successful as the enthusiastically received preview opening that I attended, November 22.

The title of this review from Grazia sums up *All* the reactions that I’ve seen on the internet from France.

"UN AMÉRICAIN À PARIS" ENCHANTE LE CHÂTELET

http://www.grazia.fr/culture/news/l-adaptation-d-un-americain-a-paris-enchante-le-chatelet-719580

(thanks to Dansomanie for this source)

[Grazia(Italian for Grace) is an Italian magazine, with international editions printed in France, Serbia, United Kingdom….In Italy, the magazine had a circulation of 382,000 copies in the first half of 2011.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grazia

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A boffo review for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS in Le Figaro can be found here, and an interesting (albeit brief) interview with Christopher Wheeldon here in the same. (Both are in French.)

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You may be interested in reading this AiP review from the very fine British web magazine, DanceTabs. I felt the reviewer, Jann Parry, was somewhat churlish in some of the comments rendered but was delighted that Robert Fairchild was recognised as a 'triple-threat'. That he most DEFINITELY is ... and provides a wonderful set of eyes and ears - and most especially feet - through which to view Wheeldon's production. I was privileged to have seen two performances ... and look forward to seeing another on 3rd January when I am back in Paris for work. (I have to also say that - contrary to Parry's commentary - at both of the performances I attended the audience members who surrounded me were almost exclusively French - and I would suspect Parisian. Certainly one almost exclusively heard French being spoken. Perhaps this was because my seats were in less expensive sections than those I'm sure Parry was comforted in via the theatre's Press Officer.)

For the record there is an NPR item here which reflects the reality of the huge success that this production has been greeted with in Paris. I, myself, have a suspicion - and it's just a suspicion mind - that it may well achieve a similar fate on the Great White Way .... no matter what the British critic may feel.

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Will Robert and Leanne star in their roles in NYC in March?

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It's really tough to have a successful show on Broadway. I hope it does well in NYC, although I would not want R. Fairchild to be away from NYCB for too long.

Yes, R. Fairchild is definitely scheduled to be in the show on Broadway. I assume Leanne will also be in the Broadway production.

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Thank you, Abatt. I don't want Robert away from NYCB either, but I certainly would love to see this production, given the good reviews.

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It's really tough to have a successful show on Broadway. I hope it does well in NYC, although I would not want R. Fairchild to be away from NYCB for too long.

Yes, R. Fairchild is definitely scheduled to be in the show on Broadway. I assume Leanne will also be in the Broadway production.

I think this may play to everyone's advantage. Obviously, (R.) Fairchild will go back into the stunning NYCB nest following 4th January ... and then can even dance still with NYCB until AiP goes into previews in mid-March. (He doesn't need to worry. He has his accommodation and daily class ALL SET.) IF THE SHOW IS COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL (and here's hoping it will live beyond the Tony's ... and I sincerely think it will) then I'm sure he could happily split his professional duties! ... He could do, say, four performances a week on Broadway (say, two on Wednesday and two on Saturday) and still dance a full schedule as a NYCB prinicpal ... and have a day off on the Monday. (Just think of the advances for their dancewear line!!) In this way he'd hark back, say, to another Robert ... Helpmann that is .... who famously did Shakespeare's Hamlet and the lead in his own ballet of the same name on the same day. The commute between Times Square and State (sorry, Koch) Theater is much less than that, say, between Stratford Upon Avon and the ROH. (One wouldn't want to depend on those trains AT ALL!! NO WAY!!!!)

Wouldn't it be great if another NYCB or ABT principal could share the load .... Does Tyler Angle or Marcelo Gomes sing??? (We know already they are astute actors and excellent dancers.) In London Steven McRae (assuming he too can sing) might fit the bill .... certainly he taps ... [that staircase might yet have a third star upon it] .... plus he's a new father so I'm sure the extra dosh would come in handy. Still think Joseph Walsh from SFB would be prime ... but it would be vastly more difficult for him to balance such with his day job .... much as it will for Ms. Cope IN NYC. She's in a bit of Cinderella dilemma I fear. (How does the song put it: 'Nice Work if you can Get It') ... And how ... And then some ...

Wonder if you'll ever see BOTH Fairchild and his extraordinarily talented wife in AiP together? (How's her French accent? ... He proposed to her in Paris I understand.) Who knows .... Fairchild might one day become the love interest in LITTLE DANCER ... then both could slip between the two Broadway shows and NYCB. Susan Stroman and Chris Wheeldon could update their respective productons by slipping new ballets in for them ... Heaven ... Well, the world is certainly their oyster ... or so it seems. Deservedly SO in my book smile.png That may be a bit of a fantasy, of course ... but not entirely beyond the realms of [a-fairly-demented-it-is-true] reason methinks.

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A NY Times article from September 2014 mentioned that R Fairchild will be out for the entire winter and spring seasons due to American in Paris.

Sister Megan will return for one week during the winter season on a break from On The Town.

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Sister Megan will return for one week during the winter season on a break from On The Town.

'Sister Megan' .... for a moment I thought she might have turned nun. Bless you, Abatt. You made me laugh ... (well, the capitals did). :) Happy New Year.

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I was in Paris for work during the past week and was privileged to see the final two showings of Christopher Wheeldon’s re-envisioning of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Chatelet.

This was a substantially different show from the one I saw/reviewed last year (i.e., but a month ago).

How so you will ask?

I will do my best to answer.

The production’s (i) opening – whilst maintaining the core content and stunning visuals by Bob Crowley [which continue to dazzle throughout] – has been rightfully tightened as has the thrilling narrative build (ii) to the conclusion of the first act. Both remain in and of themselves unconventional but each now is rendered with potency afresh. The latter now possesses the assurance; the startling climatic build it so richly deserves.

The most substantial (and wise) alteration is the (iii) overall trimming of the musical’s book by Craig Lucas. This proves prudent in the extreme giving a rightful focus to both (a) Gershwin’s life enriching music and (b) Wheeldon’s entirely enhancing choreography. The characters themselves now evolve through the soul of their heavenly refrains and the (iv) spoken/sung sextets, quartets and trios are now witnessed as elegant acts of supporting glory in dynamic relief. The letter writing sequence shared amongst four of the key protagonists is now a work of art unto itself itself and very much honours ‘The Man I Love’ which it movingly introduces.

(v) The orchestrations as wrought by the inspired team of Rob Fisher and Christopher Austin are now a virtual masterclass in the inspiration possible via musical application. They don’t merely engage; they enlarge, augment and heighten. They glisten like the moving bonnet of a 'chavy' Cadillac classic. Here now the Gershwins’ music itself becomes a vital and complex character. It runs; it talks; it prances vibrantly.

In a similar light each of (vi) Wheeldon’s three emotive pas de deux for Lise and Jerry are now thrillingly balanced/augmented by the text’s new found economy. Each duo dance clearly builds through its own narrative potency. It’s as if each has been threaded with the refined agility of an ‘Ashtonian pink’ and Fairchild’s second solo variation is worthy of that individual masterpiece which Balanchine latterly bestowed upon the male principal in SQUARE DANCE.

So too has the (vii) theatrically coruscating seventeen minute ballet lying near the end of the second act – a ravishing circus of core choreographic enrichment - been adorned; augmented and polished in its streamlined stealth. That particular work now MORE than fully deserves (a) not only its own right of place but (b) the celebratory proclamations denoted in the Production’s text such as are staged immediately afterwards. Indeed at the two performances I attended this past weekend (3rd/4th January 2015) I saw many in each of the Chatalet’s capacity audiences continuing to applaud alongside the show’s ‘canned adoration’ having already proffered a sustained salvo in recognition of the pulsating joy that is the real thing. I predict that this work – Wheeldon’s dazzlingly dramatic treatise on the heroism necessary to sustain any artistic tryst through time - will not ONLY be balletically preserved in revivals of this particular book musical (and you just know they will come) but upheld/celebrated in the reps of such major historic ensembles as NYCB and POB; both rightly renown for their unique and continuing balletic origination. May this be for Britain’s Christopher Wheeldon what ‘Fancy Free’ was for his key mentor, Jerome Robbins; What ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ became out of On Your Toes for the mastermind that is George Balanchine. Such privilege is MORE than merited for the Wheeldon. It might well be strong enough to bring ballet back as dedicated focus in the musical theatre niche. Who knows? If so may it be as potently promiscuous as the ‘jukebox musical’ seems to have proven.

(vi) The performers have now entirely cohered throughout into a truly ‘boffo ensemble’. Whilst - amongst the noted principals - Max von Essen and the admired veteran Vivienne Cox had already established the full range of their character’s impactful story lines from the very get-go they have now been joined in their fullness by Britain's ever fervent Jill Paice – bravely giving tasteful vent to the unfeigned isolation that wealth itself seems to demand - and the oh, so talented young American performer, Brandon Uranowitz, who now thoroughly injects heartfelt urgency into the tremulous humanity which lies behind/lives beneath the chipped – albeit brilliant – shoulder of his/our composer. You can hear riveting single song samples from both in a radio studio recording by scrolling down here.

All is not quite … but ALMOST perfect. A few midges persist. (i) The three lines of dialogue which immediately follow Uranowitz’s opening one line shot are entirely overwhelmed by the music. This needs to corrected. That brief dialogue between Fairchild and Cope is vital to the audience’s overall comprehension. You can hear the static from their body mics being walloped up but it is not enough. If I didn’t know what they were saying I would have missed it entirely. As it is it sounds like a mistake. Perhaps a musical crescendo might be reached and then the three lines themselves – no more than two seconds in stage time - might be backed by a deserved silence as embedded in a brief suspension. (ii) The dialogue in the very opening of the second act – during the soiree held in honour of the Ballet Chatalet by Lise’s guardians – needs to be smoothed out. While it makes sense it remains too incommodious to purpose. (iii) Personally I think the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ dream sequence is a tad far-fetched but it is so delightfully delivered by the Company - and the scenic effects so dazzling in their Art Deco charm – it would be churlish to alter/amend/dismiss it in any way. So let that one pass.

Last but certainly not least amongst the bounty are the leads themselves. (vii) Leanne Cope has entirely blossomed. Her singing now thrives comfortably on an altogether different plane. Before I thought her crooning ‘pleasantly brave’. Now I found myself not thinking about such trivialities at all. Indeed I was too busy being thoroughly invested in her lyrics; engrossed in the refinement of her artistic invention. In all Cope consistently glistens via those ever sensitive beacons that are her eyes. They both pinhole and perforate. They sing too.

Everything about Cope’s stunning gift has been extended in its carefully wrought mould. She lives in response. Cope makes passivity active. Therein her magic thrives. She positively purrs with transcendent idealism. Certainly I suspect she has never been better partnered. Cope has said that she prized the fact that she got to dance with a principal from New York City Ballet at her last audition. That – in itself - was a great achievement she relates in a magazine interview. ‘No way. Get out of here’, Robbie Fairchild blurts. (‘I don’t do many pas de deux at the Royal Ballet’ she demurs.) The very ‘buttery-ness’ of Ms. Cope’s take on Lise’s balletic technique (as Ashton might well have intoned it) brings the unique perfume of her relationship with Robbie Fairchild’s unequivocally demonstrative ardour as Jerry into vivid focus. Their fish dives enfold with ease. Both enact the drama of their second act separation scene tellingly. It is thrilling. Its dramatic impact is visceral. While never overwrought it is - at one and the same time - courageous. It sears. The over brimming abundance of all four eyes in that instance has it. Their unscripted dialogue cries out in repressed pain as Jerry bellows into the wings at Lise’s frustrated departure.

As towards (viii) Mr. Fairchild: Well, …. what can one say? He remains ever more triumphant if such a thing were humanly possible … and it is. IT IS. Stars are born we’re told, not made. May the Palace opening of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS be Fairchild’s native theatrical canonisation.

Since his SAB graduation appearance one has been privileged to instinctively know that Fairchild was a balletic world talent. One sensed much the same with the teenage Woetzel. In his four AMERICAN IN PARIS dance solos Robbie Fairchild brings the ravishing legato line of a Dowell or Legris to play in equal measure with the stupefying buoyancy of a Woetzel, Villella or a Barishnikov firing through space. But now Fairchild joins a different realm. His work with NYCB can never – EVER - be the same. He will ‘do Romeo’ he says – that Romeo created FOR him – between now and his Broadway investiture – ‘if the dates work out’. Only NOW he will – as he MUST - bestow upon it the theatrical vigour that has made him that rarity – (something I myself thought lost to time) – a Jack Buchanan; an Astaire for his OWN age; one uniquely devouring space through hearts – be it in dance, acting or voice [and, yes, there was a reason why Astaire was Gershwin’s favourite interpreter]. Fairchild – like Astaire before him – now more than honours the music of his literacy; multifaceted as it is. He mesmerises with a Jolson-like capacity that is uniquely his own. I can but feel that Gene Kelly (who I once had the good fortune to meet) would stand and cherish the thrilling compass of Fairchild’s courage. Its trigger electrifies, magnifies and inspirits.

At both of the final Chatalet performances this weekend Fairchild pummeled his heart in recognition of the Parisian adoration. Alone he danced in step with their rhythmic applause such as greeted the conclusion of the fifth full-company curtain call. As the tears glistened in Fairchild’s eyes you knew instinctively that he had accepted his burden; its responsibility; the potential joy of our stated challenge. He did so as much for himself as for us.

‘The people who get on in this world,’ Vivie Warren proclaims to her mother in Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, ‘are people who get up, look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.’ It’s abundantly clear. Fairchild knows that he can be a Garland of hope in a world where oil breaches the almighty $50 price barrier and the mighty Russian rouble may soon be hollowed; where Europe stands in deflationary toll with Japan. Time makes the man they say. Fairchild’s time is now ripe for our picking.

Still it was an immigrant who had REALLY ‘made it’ and he could only have done so by feeling an immigrant’s pain. For this Brit – this Christopher Wheeldon – THIS is HIS American way. This has been Wheeldon’s self-acknowledged university and he has more than graduated with honours. I pray there may be many, many more such for him in his capacity as an overall director. Certainly the potential is there. Still there can never again be a first. May this make him enormously wealthy in ALL respects. He more than deserves it … much as The Royal Ballet MORE than deserves a new production of SWAN LAKE wrought at his now ready hands. How too I long to see Wheeldon be given an opportunity to make a film out of his re-engineered take on Minnelli's AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. I have a feeling it might - in and of its own merit - be as revelatory as Sam Mendes' AMERICAN BEAUTY was when pioneered at a similar career juncture .

You’ll laugh perhaps but there was still a corner in me that gnawed. In a sense happily so. Rather than see Wheeldon spend his time in London for a mere re-production of this particular Parisian adventure (especially after Parry’s – in my estimation somewhat churlish – DanceTabs review) I dreamed for a moment that he might re-establish/re-enforce ballet as a key part of musical theatre artistry by re-tooling/re-imagining GIGI as a stage ‘dance’ musical: A ‘dancical’ if you like; one built in Wheeldon’s AMERICAN IN PARIS mode. I, myself, had seen the first Broadway attempt to take that film to the stage many, many years ago. An admirable adventure it was. One stuffed to its considerable brim with fine work from a brilliant Daniel Massey, a suave Alfred Drake, a vivid Agnes Moorehead and – from a more balletic background – the always stellar Maria Karnilova. [You can hear the latter two in the Contract Scene here.] All of these luminaries are, of course, long dead. That show was, in fact, to prove the final Broadway curtain for each.] Still it was never ever entirely successful. Last weekend I found myself wanting Wheeldon and his carefully selected team to grab hold of Cope and Fairchild and set the Colette in motion anew; to again see them toy once more in genesis together. Suddenly I could see Cope’s Gigi teaching Fairchild’s Gaston to discover emotional freedom through dance. Before it closes for renovation it would be grand to hear the Chatelet’s historic rafters shake once more from the stamping of a refreshed joy below and throughout. It too could be both a homecoming and a rightful rebirth for the Colette and a further deserved excavation for Learner and Lowe.

But Broadway and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS first. Will it run? Of course it will. IT MUST. It’s already passed its Vimy Ridge.

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