Buddy

Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron

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Sidwich, apparently you didn't see Fun Home. I believe that Michael Cerveris from that show will be nominated. I saw the show off-Broadway over a year ago. Fun Home will also likely be nominated for best musical.

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Would love to get more reports from people who have seen it.

I saw the show just before opening. Much to love here, yet I too felt a small tinge of disappointment in the final product. They were wise to not make Fairchild imitate Kelly. but while he has a wonderful personality on stage, he has little "persona". He can , at times, disappear into the work. This may be because the book of the show was weaker than it could have been. Both Fairchild and Cope are at times ciphers for what should be more rounded characters. Both dance with a great elan and style. Both sing OK. Fairchild at times seemed a bit forced with his choreography. But then I felt as if the show was a tad "over choreographed". Almost too much. I think one of the reviewers thought he was at times at a Dance Concert and not at a B'way show. Mostly, Wheeldon's choreography is excellent. There's just an awful lot of it. (and I'm a Wheeldon fan). The contrast between the performances of "the dancers" in the show and the more traditional B'way performers is at times glaring. Dancers and actors "sell" differently when on stage. Veeane Cox and Max von Essen almost walk off with the show. They are that good! More real, less "card boardy". Funnier, for sure. And just more at home in the idiom. Some of the book seemed superfluous; not needed, while at the same time the two leads were woefully under written. I was rooting for the von Essen character to win the girl (Cope). He was simply a more approachable character in the end. And his "10:15 number" of "Stairway To Paradise" was a knockout! Which I guess means Wheeldon can do that type of B'way dancing also! Bravo for that! The scenery and sets were the big winners here. Almost "painterly" in tone, they moved and became the streets of Paris to wonderful effect. Show was a bit overly long. Night I saw it began at 8PM and didn't end until almost 10:50! As I said, much to love. Glad it's here and hopefully will be around for awhile. Some smart editing could improve it. I longed to have a "show doctor's eye" (Neil Simon or Hal Prince) in on the action. I sat in front row of the first Mezzanine which was a great place to be, especially for the dancing. Lady next to me fell asleep somewhere in the second act. Audience was slow to stand for the applause at the end. I had a good time, but wished for more. And anyone hoping for the delicious version of "I Got Rhythm" from the film (the one with Kelly and the kids) won't find it here. Ot it's magical charm.

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Wheeldon will give a talk in NYC at Symphony Space on Apr 27. See below

CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON IN CONVERSATION WITH RITA MORENO
"FROM BALLET TO BROADWAY"

Monday April 27, 7:00

Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway (at 95th Street)

Admission: $15
Tickets: symphonyspace.org or at the Symphony Space box office. by phone: (212) 864-5400.
(Premium tickets at $150 available at www.wordsondance.org also include a post-program private reception with Christopher Wheeldon and Rita Moreno. Honorary hosts of the reception are Wendy Whelan and John Lithgow.)

Words on Dance in association with Symphony Space, is proud to present an evening with CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON, featuring the internationally acclaimed choreographer and director in rarely seen television and film clips and a live conversation conducted by the Academy/Tony/ Emmy/Grammy Award–winning actress/singer/dancer RITA MORENO, April 27, 7:00 PM at Symphony Space, 95th Street and Broadway.

The conversation takes place after the highly successful opening, Sunday April 12, of the Broadway musical An American in Paris, directed and choreographed by Mr. Wheeldon. Clips representing the work of both Mr. Wheeldon and Ms. Moreno (and a look at the Broadway production of An American in Paris, starring Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope and based on the Oscar-winning 1951 film), will be shown.

In his Words on Dance conversation, Mr. Wheeldon will talk about his extraordinary career, including his memories of training at The Royal Ballet School beginning at the age of 11 and dancing with The Royal Ballet. He arrived at New York City Ballet in 1993, and was a company member before becoming the company’s first artist in residence and first resident choreographer. In 2001 his Polyphonia, set to piano compositions by Ligeti and premiered by New York City Ballet, helped solidify his place in ballet history. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times pronounced the work “astonishingly fresh … rich and spare at the same time, familiar in tone but inventively unpredictable.” For the past decade and a half Wheeldon has worked extensively on both sides of the Atlantic, choreographing such acclaimed works as Liturgy, After the Rain, Fool’s Paradise, Carousel (A Dance),The Nightingale and the Rose, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Aeternum, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and A Winter’s Tale. The latter, a 2014 adaptation of the Shakespeare play with a score by Wheeldon’s frequent collaborator Joby Talbot, was hailed as a “triumph” by the London Telegraph and “one of the most fully achieved story ballets to be staged at Covent Garden in years” by The Guardian. In February 2015 A Winter’s Tale was screened in more than 400 movie theaters across the U.S. as part of the HD series of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.


Christopher Wheeldon was born in the town of Yeovil in Somerset, England, trained at The Royal Ballet School, and joined The Royal Ballet in 1991. He joined New York City Ballet in 1993 and was promoted to Soloist in 1998. He served as NYCB’s first-ever Artist in Residence for the 2000/01 season and was named NYCB’s first Resident Choreographer in July 2001.
In 2007, Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company and was appointed an Associate Artist for Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.
Chris has created works for New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, Pennsylvania Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet. His works are in the repertory of all the world’s leading companies and he is Artistic Associate for The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden.
Outside the ballet world, he has choreographed Dance of the Hours for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (2006) and worked with Richard Eyre on his production of Carmen (2012). He also choreographed ballet sequences for the feature film Center Stage (2000) and was the choreographer for Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway (2002). In 2012 he collaborated on the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games, watched by 23.2 million people worldwide.
In 2014 Chris directed and choreographed the musical An American in Paris which premiered in Paris in December 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet. The Broadway production is scheduled to begin previews at the Palace Theatre March 13 and open on April 12.
He will choreograph a new adaptation of The Nutcracker for Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet that will premiere in December 2016.
Wheeldon's awards include the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center; the American Choreography Award; a Dance Magazine Award; and an Olivier Award and the London Critic’s Circle Award for best new ballet for Polyphonia. In 2013 his production of Cinderella won the Benois de la Danse, and he received an Olivier Award for Aeternum and the 2014 Leonid Massine Prize for choreography for A Winter’s Tale.
HeadShotB_Wheeldon.jpg

R ita Moreno belongs to an elite group of performers who have won the grand slam of the industry's most prestigious awards: the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy. Her Oscar win came in 1962 as Anita in the film version of West Side Story for which she also won a Golden Globe. The Tony was for her 1975 comedic triumph as Googie Gomez in Broadway’s The Ritz. The Grammy was awarded for her 1972 performance on The Electric Company Album, based on the long-running children's television series. She won two Emmys―the first for a 1977 variety appearance on The Muppet Show and the following year for a dramatic turn on The Rockford Files.
Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, Puerto Rico. At age 5, she moved with her mother to New York and soon after began taking dance lessons. She made her Broadway debut at 13 in Skydrift, starring Eli Wallach.
Her film credits include Singin’ in the Rain, The King and I, The Night of the Following Day, Marlowe, Popi, Carnal Knowledge, The Ritz, The Four Seasons, I Like it Like That, Angus, Slums of Beverly Hills, Blue Moon, Piñero, and Casa de los Babys.
She received a Tony nomination for her role in The National Health in 1974. Other Broadway credits include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Gantry, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Wally’s Café, and the female version of The Odd Couple. Her West End stage credits include She Loves Me and Sunset Boulevard.
Her television work includes The Electric Company, 9 to 5, B.L. Stryker, Cosby Mystery Series, Cane, Oz, and Happily Divorced, and she was nominated for three Emmys for voicing the title character on the animated series Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
Moreno has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Rita Moreno: A Memoir , published by Celebra Books in 2013, was a New York Times bestseller.
This is Ms. Moreno’s second appearance with Words on Dance. In 2008 she participated in a WOD tribute to Jerome Robbins.

Ritamoreno.jpg


WORDS ON DANCE, founded in San Francisco in 1994 by Deborah Kaufman, is a 2012 Izzie Award honoree for sustained achievement, continuing a commitment to present the most celebrated dance artists of our generation and engage them with live audiences. Words on Dance conversations and screenings perpetuate the momentum of documenting dance and keeping the art form at the forefront of the current generation. This is the fourth NYC presentation of the California-based organization. The previous three events, held at the Paley Center for Media, featured a conversation with Maria Tallchief, conducted by Evelyn Cisneros (on tape), a live conversation with Eliot Feld hosted by Cynthia Gregory, and a live conversation with Edward Villella hosted by Crista Villella.

Christopher Wheeldon in Conversation: From Ballet to Broadway , is sponsored by SUE AND MICHAEL STEINBERG.

Words on Dance is supported in part by THE JEROME ROBBINS FOUNDATION, THE JOHN AND LISA PRITZKER FAMILY FUND , BARBARA HORGAN, and ROBERT AND SHARON YOERG.

www.wordsondance.org

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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).

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....

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.

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.

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.

These comments talk about some of the ‘fine-tuning’ that I feel would make what I saw in Paris a classic work of the highest level of artistry and enjoyment.

Dirac, thank you so much for the comprehensive list of reviews that you posted. I’ve read most of them. The consensus is overwhelming positive. One of the most interesting things that I’ve noticed from several influential and respected ‘critics’ is their admitted throwing their critical notebooks aside to rollick with joyful abandon at what they just saw. Another opinion that seems to permeate perhaps all the reviews is that this work has Class.

There’s been a variety of opinion about the strong points of Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope. There is unanimous agreement that Robbie Fairchild’s dancing is exceptional and perhaps the highlight of everything. There’s a more divided opinion about their strengths as Broadway actors/singers. I feel that they both have a wonderful freshness and individuality. They might not fit the Broadway consensus for actor/dancer powerhouses, but they at least hang in there commendably well. This might actually be to their advantage. I’m personally enchanted by Leanne Cope and think that she has a wonderful singing voice.

They’re both fresh and ’not part of the mold’. Above all, when it comes to fineness and artistic excitement of dance they would probably be hard to touch on Broadway. The acting/singing abilities of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire may not have been their strongest points by generally accepted Hollywood standards, but they both had dance, first, and their personal stage magic, second, that far eclipsed all that. So do Leanne Cope and Robbie Fairchild.

Added:

Here are several reviews that I particularly liked.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/theater/review-an-american-in-paris-a-romance-of-song-and-step.html?_r=0

http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-american-in-paris-review-not-since-robbins-1428946537

http://dancetabs.com/2015/04/an-american-in-paris-broadway-ballet/

[thanks to Dirac and Balletco for these]

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I thought this review by Joan Acocella at the New Yorker reflected some of the earlier discussion on translating the film into stage production, Kelly into Fairchild.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/20/love-and-war-dance-joan-acocella

Here's the summary paragraph:

The glory of the Kelly version is his tap dancing. In Wheeldon’s show, there is no tap number except “Stairway to Paradise.” He has spoken in his own language, and Fairchild’s: ballet. The steps he has created for Fairchild show us the qualities that have made this man so beautiful and rare a star: his speed, his concentration, his touching gravity, his lack of affectation. It’s as if he had never heard of vulgarity. But I am not sure that these particular virtues serve him well in a Broadway musical, and the same is true for many of the other actors. The only one who has the temerity to walk downstage and demand our attention and tell us what to think is Brandon Uranowitz. (Also, he and von Essen are the only ones who can really sing, although Cope doesn’t do badly.)

On the whole, Wheeldon’s “American in Paris” is tasteful, witty, sophisticated, decent-hearted—even lovely, often—and a little mild, a little pale. It is not so much something as a meditation on something, and that’s what it feels like, much of the time.

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Quiggin, thank you. I’ve read the article and it's very well written with some very good comments.

Please let me digress for just a moment. It’s interesting how unrelated things somehow tie together. I watch the video clips from An American in Paris quite often. I was also just at the Mariinsky Festival in Saint Petersburg and my memories are quite strong. There have been a lot of references in the An American in Paris reviews to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Strangely, one of the most impressive events at the Mariinsky Festival, for me, was one of the few that I didn’t see. I have since seen the video and have been watching it often interspersed with my viewing of this show.

It’s a nearly twenty minute piece from the Young Choreographers evening by Maxim Petrov. So if Broadway at the moment is somewhat touching the soul of Balanchine/Robbins via Christopher Wheeldon, what’s new in Russia? What’s new is that Maxim Petrov has a wonderful, very 'unRussian', grasp of where some of Jerome Robbins more joyful successes are coming from. It feels Broadway. It’s almost ‘American’ at its best, if I can be allowed to say that. The one thing that’s definitely ‘Russian/Mariinsky’ is the excellence and interest of its dance. I’m convinced that folks in Russia can dance anything.

The work is “Ballet No. 2” to A. Tsfasman’s score, by Maxim Petrov. It can easily be found on the internet. I’d really recommend taking a look. Go for the longest version. Try to hang in for the entirety. Finish it at another time if necessary. For me, it just grows in it’s delightfulness. Let me know what you think. Like

Balanchine/Robbins/Wheeldon coming to Broadway, it’s another really nice worlds coming together sort of thing.

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My husband surprised me with birthday tickets for April 25 matinee! So sweet and I'm thrilled to see AIP. Now I need to read through some of these reviews and many thanks to all the good commentary on this thread. Also seeing the Aldus Manutius exhibit at the Grolier Club Library so it will be a full, happy day in the Big A.

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Quiggin, thank you. Ive read the article and it's very well written with some very good comments.

Please let me digress for just a moment. Its interesting how unrelated things somehow tie together. I watch the video clips from An American in Paris quite often. I was also just at the Mariinsky Festival in Saint Petersburg and my memories are quite strong. There have been a lot of references in the An American in Paris reviews to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Strangely, one of the most impressive events at the Mariinsky Festival, for me, was one of the few that I didnt see. I have since seen the video and have been watching it often interspersed with my viewing of this show.

Its a nearly twenty minute piece from the Young Choreographers evening by Maxim Petrov. So if Broadway at the moment is somewhat touching the soul of Balanchine/Robbins via Christopher Wheeldon, whats new in Russia? Whats new is that Maxim Petrov has a wonderful, very 'unRussian', grasp of where some of Jerome Robbins more joyful successes are coming from. It feels Broadway. Its almost American at its best, if I can be allowed to say that. The one thing thats definitely Russian/Mariinsky is the excellence and interest of its dance. Im convinced that folks in Russia can dance anything.

The work is Ballet No. 2 to A. Tsfasmans score, by Maxim Petrov. It can easily be found on the internet. Id really recommend taking a look. Go for the longest version. Try to hang in for the entirety. Finish it at another time if necessary. For me, it just grows in its delightfulness. Let me know what you think. Like

Balanchine/Robbins/Wheeldon coming to Broadway, its another really nice worlds coming together sort of thing.

Buddy, I've watched Ballet No.2 at least 20 times (my husband downloaded the livestream of the Young Choregraphers Evening and then took out the intermissions). I think it's a very good attempt at a musical. There's is a lot of good, really difficult dancing. Ermakov is great and Oxana Marchuk's 200 watt smile lights up the stage,. There is much more (and harder) ballet in Ballet No. 2 than in AAIP. If you like Ballet No. 2 you should check out the Russian movie Hipsters (you can get it on Netflix). It's got that same feel but is even better at the musical numbers (because there is singing).

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I just came back from seeing AIP, Saturday evening the 18th. Abatt and her husband were also at the performance. I'm with canbelto. Severely underwhelmed. Really a mediocre musical with one big dance number (the ballet for Lise) at the end. Robbie is neither engaging or believable as an actor and there is simply not enough dancing for him to do in Act 1. There is a lot of busy activity going on onstage but it's not interesting. I almost dozed off.

Act 2 was an improvement mainly because of I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise and then the big ballet. The big ballet is not an especially great ballet, however. And while Leanne Cope seems charming, she and Robbie don't seem to have much chemistry together. The worst, though, was I didn't find Robbie's dancing terribly good. He's clearly a good partner (and partnering is most of what he does) but, unlike in the ballet world, there was no real need to jump high, have attitudes higher than 45 degrees and he didn't. I actually thought Leanne's "real" partner in the ballet looked better. He had better lines, did the big overhead lift and shoulder sit very well (was this Michael Cusumano?). I was trying, based on the choreography, to figure out why Robbie would leave NYCB at the height of his career for this mediocre vehicle. There's not enough dancing for him to be in good shape when he leaves and more junior company members will have been promoted, others taken over his roles. IMO not a wise move.

For me, Brandon Uranowitz and Jill Paice (the rich benefactor) were the stars of the show. Max Von Essen also has a nice tenor voice and can even tap. Those three can all sing and act well. Neither Robbie nor Leanne are convincing actors and his singing is thin (she doesn't sing now, unless it's in Act 1 when I dozed off).The lack of strong acting from her is ok because she doesn't have to talk a lot. But it really hinders Robbie's ability to engage the audience. I think the reviews in the NYT were much kinder than what I would expect.

Apparently, this musical was undergoing significant revisions during previews in NYC. Numbers were cut, more general busy ness added. So what people saw early on in previews does not really reflect the show as it stands now. It also sounds quite different from what was shown in Paris. Too bad.

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Buddy, I've watched Ballet No.2 at least 20 times (my husband downloaded the livestream of the Young Choregraphers Evening and then took out the intermissions). I think it's a very good attempt at a musical. There's is a lot of good, really difficult dancing. Ermakov is great and Oxana Marchuk's 200 watt smile lights up the stage,. There is much more (and harder) ballet in Ballet No. 2 than in AAIP. If you like Ballet No. 2 you should check out the Russian movie Hipsters (you can get it on Netflix). It's got that same feel but is even better at the musical numbers (because there is singing).

Thanks, Amour, for your response. I’m so glad that you are enjoying it as much as you are. I’ve probably watched it about 20 times as well. I really like this kind of thing because it combines the best of two worlds, the fine arts and pure enjoyment. As you mentioned, this work by Maxim Petrov contains first class ballet dancing. It also has a wonderful sense of whimsey and lightheartedness that is handled with great naturalness and facility. It’s world class, worthy of Broadway, Hollywood and Lincoln Center. Check out his work from last year's Mariinsky Festival, “Cinema”, on the internet. It’s a Chaplinesque affair. For ‘artistic’ content and pure inventiveness you might like it even better. Thanks for mentioning Hipsters. I’ll try to get a look at it as soon as possible.

I also think that the “An American in Paris” that I and Meunier Fan saw in Paris has many of the same wonderful qualities. As I said in a previous post, my feeling at the time was that with some fine tuning it could be absolutely great ! In my other posts I’ve tried to express why. My Paris experience and my hopes for this production do coincide with the positive NYC response of the large majority of posters across the internet and the press that I’ve read and I’ve followed them rather thoroughly. Of course everyone doesn’t react the same. What works best for you may not work best for me. From my experience, even if it’s not great at the moment, it could be. My feelings remain highly positive but the test will be in June when I’ll get a chance to see it for the second time. In any case, this type of artistry and entertainment has such a wealth of enrichment and pleasure, that no matter what our opinions of this moment’s “An American in Paris” might be, it is certainly keeping alive the dream of its essence and the awareness of its potential as well as causing enthusiastic interest.

I’ve read Brian Seibert’s New York Times review along with probably most of the others. I think that’s it’s very well written, perceptive, sensitive and heartfelt. I’ve even read it twice and put it near the top of my stack of reviews. He does make a lot of very positive statements about what he saw including, “….the abundance of high-quality dancing, which has been mostly absent on Broadway in recent years, is worth celebrating.”

I won’t go into his other positive appraisals as this topic is probably intended more for our posters’ opinions. I would add a couple of his comments that refer more to the art form in general. He says that musicals with their song and dance are a wonderful way of expressing love. He also writes,

“The other main source of the dance vocabulary is Hollywood dance musicals of the golden age. This “American in Paris” is a dance show because the boy can win the girl only through dance.”

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Dad, the Gershwin fan, chose AIP for his Father's Day gift, so I'll be there in June.

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I think most of the audience was happily entertained, but like Amour I was disappointed. From the point of view of a balletomane, this is some seriously dumbed down choreography. Clearly Cope and Fairchild have to do this 8 times per week, so there is no possible way that could occur if Wheeldon made the choreography more difficult or strenuous. I can accept that this ain't NYCB or ABT. To me, what was more disappointing was that this is supposed to be a romance, but I didn't feel any romance. It just felt flat in so many ways.

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I think most of the audience was happily entertained, but like Amour I was disappointed. From the point of view of a balletomane, this is some seriously dumbed down choreography. Clearly Cope and Fairchild have to do this 8 times per week, so there is no possible way that could occur if Wheeldon made the choreography more difficult or strenuous. I can accept that this ain't NYCB or ABT. To me, what was more disappointing was that this is supposed to be a romance, but I didn't feel any romance. It just felt flat in so many ways.

Yeah, me too. I really, really wanted Cope to spurn Fairchild and go with the Max von Essen character. He had it in spades over anyone else. And that choice would have made more dramatic sense and given the story a real back bone. Disappointing to some, but more satisfying in the end. Spur of the moment love affairs don't always pan out in real life. I couldn't help but wonder how a meeting between the mother of the Fairchild character (if there was one in a back story) and Lise would have fared. Better to go with the mother -in-law that one knows!

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Buddy, I've watched Ballet No.2 at least 20 times (my husband downloaded the livestream of the Young Choregraphers Evening and then took out the intermissions). I think it's a very good attempt at a musical. There's is a lot of good, really difficult dancing. Ermakov is great and Oxana Marchuk's 200 watt smile lights up the stage,. There is much more (and harder) ballet in Ballet No. 2 than in AAIP. If you like Ballet No. 2 you should check out the Russian movie Hipsters (you can get it on Netflix). It's got that same feel but is even better at the musical numbers (because there is singing).

Thanks, again, Amour. I was able to find the first half of “Hipsters” on the internet and liked it well enough to order the dvd. As with my second viewing of “An American in Paris” I’ll have to wait, this time a week or more as I’m in Europe.

It’s charming so far. There hasn’t been any ballet but the last part had a fine “Grease” style routine. It’s consistent with my feeling that folks in Russia can dance anything. It has a definite ‘Russian’ feel overall. I’ve been to Saint Petersburg eleven years in a row to see the Mariinsky Ballet Festival and this so touches my heart. It expresses my happiness and well wishes to anywhere in the world that is hopefully emerging from a bad dream.

The same uplifting sentiment and fine artistic expression found in the concept of “An American in Paris” is also present here.

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts about the NYC performances. I'll have to wait until the middle of June for mine and I'm hoping that they'll be fine ones.

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Hi Amour, I saw this early on in the previews. Cope sings "The Man I Love" while writing a letter. Can't remember what other numbers she actually sings. Think she warbles something in "Liza." But have they cut down on the Henri is gay jokes? Because that was one of my major annoyances -- in Act One every single punch line seemed to be about Henri being gay, and in the second act that's all dropped over the way more serious backstory.

I also felt that the romance fell flat. I didn't really swoon at the final ballet. I was glad there was finally some real substantial dancing, but it didn't make up for the previous 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Also, I understand the orchestral re-arrangements have been redone since previews.

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There were allusions but not a lot of outright jokes that I remember in Act 1. I did, though, kind of tune out towards the last part of the Act.

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Hi Amour, I saw this early on in the previews. Cope sings "The Man I Love" while writing a letter. Can't remember what other numbers she actually sings. Think she warbles something in "Liza." But have they cut down on the Henri is gay jokes? Because that was one of my major annoyances -- in Act One every single punch line seemed to be about Henri being gay, and in the second act that's all dropped over the way more serious backstory.

I also felt that the romance fell flat. I didn't really swoon at the final ballet. I was glad there was finally some real substantial dancing, but it didn't make up for the previous 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Also, I understand the orchestral re-arrangements have been redone since previews.

And I'm still seeing so many holes in the script that got my attention. In placing the action in 1945, immediately at war's end, it seems inconceivable to me that the "Milo" character would emerge full blown in a fancy apartment with a rather large art collection. How did she manage to do this during the war years, or was she, in fact, a collaborator of either the Vichy govt. or the Nazis? If either is so, then it really makes her character a tad odious, and the fact that Jerry could "fall" for that even more so. Many Americans didn't find there way back to Europe for several more years, which always made the time frame of the film more believable. Also, does Lise really work in that fancy department store? Were there such places right after the war? First we see the Parisians fighting over bread and the next thing we see them buying fancy perfume! Suspicious. Also, can Jerry legally just tear up his ticket home without first being mustered out of the Army somewhere back in the States.? Isn't he AWOL staying in Paris? OK, I know it must have happened, but still it all seems a bit glib. And can someone tell me what ballet company was in Paris at this time? Lifar was out at the Paris Opera Ballet by '44. Balanchine came in in '46 when he did his "Crystal Palace", Lifar came back in '47. What was the dance esthetic at the time? Lifar's influence or Balanchine's? If Balanchine's, I doubt we would have seen the sort of ballet that Wheeldon puts up on the stage. And that's another aspect of the film that got it right by going with the fifties. That "Dream Ballet" had the time frame down correctly, in choreographic tone, costume, etc. One more small thing. Surely the Adam Hochberg character (A wonderful Brandon Uranowitz) would have heard of George Gershwin by 1945. Why does he claim authorship of "I Got Rhythm" as something he just wrote? Woo, woo. I didn't of itself object to actually using Gershwin music for the show, but to claim "I Got Rhythm" was written by a character not named Gershwin seemed a bit of a stretch. Again, as I stated in an earlier post, a good show doctor or dramaturge would catch this sort of thing. It just seems that some simply didn't do their homework on this one. Or didn't care. And that's worse.

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Interesting, mimsyb. I notice that many of the reviewers are praising this production for improving on the "thin" plot of the film. (In fact the original story is not all that undernourished, but let it pass.)

You aren't the only one to wonder about the "I Got Rhythm" thing:

Adam Hochberg would have known all about George Gershwin, I couldn't help thinking. As a young American composer in Paris, Adam Hochberg probably would have loved George Gershwin, and "I Got Rhythm" too. Why kick off a Gershwin musical by directly implying that George Gershwin and "I Got Rhythm" never happened?

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Then they'd have to mention that it was made famous by Ethel Merman in 1930. And of course with Gershwin's death in 1937 the film makers and now the show creators got to cherry pick and repurpose from a bunch of great songs that have no association with the time period of the movie or the show. The title piece dates from 1928. Gershwin is timeless, but if you insist on historical accuracy the music is Broadway of the Roaring Twenties and the Fred and Ginger RKO movies in all their glorious art deco escapism.

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I take your point, lmspear, but I don't think that anyone is insisting on tying the music down that literally. The original film also used older songs, as you note (increasingly that's what Fifties movie musicals were doing - a later picture, "Funny Face," to take only one example, was also built around old Gershwin tunes, with some interpolations) The point is that at this stage there's a certain cognitive dissonance involved in having a fictional character write a song as famous as "I Got Rhythm," and I do see why that would distract some people.

More generally, Gershwin's music is timeless, but it is also of its period and identifiable as belonging to that period - nothing wrong with that. Somewhere a reviewer did note that there is an issue with assigning what are generally bright, urbane tunes - even the more melancholy ones - to the angst of the revised story and setting. You can certainly "repurpose" old songs, but it's worth asking if they are being used successfully, and in the right context.

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