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An American in Paris: Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron


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Okay - saw it Friday night - LOVED IT. No it's not a night at the ballet, but the totally infectious enthusiasm of Fairchild and Cope swept me away. The audience loved it. However, because it's more dance than musical, I fear for how long a run it will have. I'm a total sucker for dancers who love to dance and manage to transmit that to the audience - Fairchild and Cope did that. Yes, the book is weak and the show relies on the magic of Gershwin's music - I can nitpick it to death, but, honest to God, I'd go see it again tomorrow.

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In case anyone records this show (I do) WNYC Arts had an extensive interview with Chris Wheeldon last Thursday evening. Paula Zahn asked him numerous questions not just about AIP but his dance career and, for example, how he came to choreograph After The Rain. The usual rebroadcast is on Sunday (already past) but maybe it'll end up on YT.

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I just read that An American In Paris will be embarking upon a national tour starting in the fall of 2016. No further details are available yet. I doubt that Robbie Fairchild will be part of the tour.

By the way, as a matter of strategy shows tend to announce that they are going on a national tour shortly before the Tony Awards. (Finding Neverland, which got panned in the press but is helmed by big film producer Harvey Weinstein), also recently announced a national tour for 2016.) A lot of Tony voters are theater producers throughout the US. The thinking is that they are more likely to vote for a show that is going on a national tour because it is to their economic advantage to present a Tony winning Best Show in their regional theaters.

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I just read that An American In Paris will be embarking upon a national tour starting in the fall of 2016. No further details are available yet. I doubt that Robbie Fairchild will be part of the tour.

By the way, as a matter of strategy shows tend to announce that they are going on a national tour shortly before the Tony Awards. (Finding Neverland, which got panned in the press but is helmed by big film producer Harvey Weinstein), also recently announced a national tour for 2016.) A lot of Tony voters are theater producers throughout the US. The thinking is that they are more likely to vote for a show that is going on a national tour because it is to their economic advantage to present a Tony winning Best Show in their regional theaters.

Which may mean that voters vote not necessarily for quality, but for the dollar value of a show. That's too bad. A show like "Fun Home" will find a place in some regional theaters, but I doubt if it will take home any of the major Tony Awards, despite it's glowing reviews both on and off-Broadway. While it is a thrilling and exquisite theatrical experience, it probably won't make for a rousing TV showing at the Awards presentation.

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At 0844 am in NYC (1344 GMT) Leanne Cope, currently on leave from the Royal Ballet, received her inaugural Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award Nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Broadway Musical for her performance in Christopher Wheeldon's production of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.

Robert Fairchild, NYCB principal, got his nomination but seconds before in the category for Best Actor for a Musical for his performance in An American in Paris.

Christopher Wheeldon received a nomination for Best Choreographer for An American in Paris at 0847 and for Best Director of a Musical at 0849.

Bob Crowley has received two Tony Award AiP nominations for both costumes and scenic design. He also received a nomination for both The Audience and Skylight.

Most crucially An American in Paris is nominated in the category of Best Musical.

There are other AiP nominees.

With a total of 12 An American in Paris is tied with the Musical 'Fun Home' for the most 2015 Tony Award nominations over ALL categories.

Here is the list in full of ALL 2015 Tony Award nominees from the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph...-full-live.html

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I saw AIP last weekend and enjoyed it very much but it didn't blow me away. I agree with some of the comments here about the leads' acting and singing, the choreography in general and the arrangements of Gershwin's tunes: overall, different shades of good. I did like the AIP ballet, but it didn't seem to reference the theme or Paris much. It will probably be excerpted as a stand-alone ballet later on. It was a pleasant experience, I'm not sorry I saw it. And it should win some of the categories for which it was nominated, but probably not the two leads; they're up against some serious competition.

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I saw AIP last weekend and enjoyed it very much but it didn't blow me away. I agree with some of the comments here about the leads' acting and singing, the choreography in general and the arrangements of Gershwin's tunes: overall, different shades of good. I did like the AIP ballet, but it didn't seem to reference the theme or Paris much. It will probably be excerpted as a stand-alone ballet later on. It was a pleasant experience, I'm not sorry I saw it. And it should win some of the categories for which it was nominated, but probably not the two leads; they're up against some serious competition.

Thanks, KarenAG. I had read that the big ballet didn't seem to relate much to the theme. Whatever the failings of the movie ballet, it was plainly about an American in Paris. Sorry I can't see this myself, at least not immediately.

Any more reports on the show?

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This is a very nice and interesting interview with Leslie Caron. She talks about her career and is very complimentary about Leanne Cope. I share her enthusiasm.

“In a recent e-mail interview, Caron, now 83, told me how impressed she was with Cope…. “What appealed to me when I met her was her freshness, her open attitude,” Caron wrote. “She was complimentary about our film and about the immense work that it represented. Not every newcomer is like that. She radiates real enthusiasm and a healthy ‘no neurosis’ openness about the discipline demanded in that profession.”

“In a reflection of the kinds of things many said about Caron herself 60 years ago, she added, “I could also see that she has all the physical qualities to become a star: charming good looks, a very good ballet technique, beautiful feet, long arms, and above all, the gracious neck bearing of English ballet dancers. I think she’ll thrive with leaps and bounds.” Not long after she made those remarks, Cope was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical.

About herself, it is mentioned,

“Caron virtually blushed when I asked her to repeat the lavish praise Renoir [“Jean Renoir. The French director and screenwriter”] once bestowed upon her. “He wrote in his book that his father (impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir) would have painted me not once, not twice, but all his life.”

“Caron is one of the very few people who can say they danced with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. But acting, she said, has given her the most satisfaction.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/10/leslie-caron-looks-back-the-an-american-in-paris-and-gigi-screen-siren.html

(thanks to Bruce Wall at Balletco for finding this)

Added comment: Dirac, I just noticed that you already referred to this interview at the Writings on Ballet topic. Thank you.

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It appears that AiP is now a bona fide Broadway smash from a fiscal perspective. Apparently it is the only one of the four key musicals nominated for the 2015 Best Musical Tony Award to have proven so at this juncture.




"Advance sales for “An American in Paris” have climbed past $10 million, theater sources say. That’s nearly double what the advance was seven weeks ago, when the show began previews at the Palace Theatre."




"http://nypost.com/20...-tony-nominees/


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Ballet dancers haven't had such a big night at the Tonys for some time: looks like Cope and both Fairchild siblings will be performing.

Nominee Kristin Chenoweth, who is co-hosting the ceremony with Alan Cumming, will also perform with the cast of On the Twentieth Century, as well as the casts of On the Town, Fun Home and An American in Paris.
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For people who have access to Time Warner Cable, the tv show On Stage on station NY1 has an interview w. R. Fairchild and L. Cope this weekend. The show will air tonight and Sun night at 7:30PM and tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

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I just saw the 'On Stage' interview - Leann and Robbie were indeed very sweet. The Sardi's caricatures are nice, too, and a very lovely honor. Thanks, abatt and meunier fan, for the information.

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