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

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Apparently the NY Times article from Sept 2014 was inaccurate re R. Fairchild's schedule. The casting for the first week of the winter season is up, and he iis performing at NYCB. I guess he has a hiatus before American In Paris starts up rehearsals for the Broadway run.

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Thank you very much, sjmiller. This is by far the most complete look at the behind the scenes that I've come across (approx. 1 hr. 10 min.) It's also, once again, a very sympathetic glance.

From an artistic point of view, Christopher Wheeldon said in a recent interview that this is a musical with limited ballet content except for the famous dance sequence and a few other things. Yet he says in this broadcast and is enthusiastically supported by Rob Fisher (score adaptation and arrangement), that there will be an overall flow to the entire work. I felt some of this when I saw it in Paris and would have liked very much to have seen it again to look at this more carefully. This might well offer the best insight into Christopher Wheeldon as we know him.

In response to a quote posted at the end of November….

“For the time being, however, Wheeldon is content with being a “lucky visitor” in musical theatre. “I hope they’ll let me stay,” he says with a laugh.”,

dirac’s comment, “He might well mean that.” seems to have a prophetic ring. Once again in this broadcast he states that he’s a guest to Broadway and hopes they’ll let him stay, to which the producer of the stage show responds that he’ll be doing many more (if my memory is reasonably accurate).

So if it isn’t the ballet ‘miracle’ that some of us were hoping for it might still be infused with the Christopher Wheeldon ‘magic’. And maybe the ballet connection may not be strong, but it still might be first class entertain and artistry anyway. Who could fault that. From what I saw in Paris it has a great deal going for it.

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FYI, "Rush" tickets at An American In Paris may be available. This is from the official press release:

The new Broadway musical, An American In Paris begins previews tomorrow, Friday, March 13 and will open on Sunday, April 12 at the Palace Theatre (Broadway at 47th Street.)

Beginning with first preview, a very limited amount of general rush tickets for performances on the same day will be available for purchase exclusively at the box office. Rush tickets are $32 each including a facility fee, are limited to two per person, and are subject to the availability of each particular day. The Palace Theatre box office hours are Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm, Sundays beginning April 12 from 12pm-6pm.

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I saw the 2nd NYC preview performance last night, 3/14/15, and loved it. Bravo to all the leads but especially to Robbie Fairchild who will steal your heart. Chris Wheeldon has created a full of dancing, wonderful recreation of this movie.

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I'm sorry you didn't like it, Canbelto (especially when this was a special treat after having got a job). I know how frustrating such things can be.

I can only say that there were no - well, certainly no direct 'gay' jokes - thrown in Henri's direction when I saw the production in Paris. These must have been added for Broadway. I understand there have been some key changes (well, at least according to the WQXR segment). I hope the balance hasn't been unduly altered. It was such a triumph in Paris ... and the music - while not at the hands of a symphony orchestra certainly - was I felt respected. I know the Musical Director and musicians in Paris were local so they would be different to those in the Broadway pit.

I wondered, Canbelto: How did the audience respond around you?

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I find a nice undercurrent in this article from Variety. It mainly describes the involvement of Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet. Jean-Luc Choplin, its director general, makes the very interesting observation, “In France there is a big wall between culture and entertainment, and my fight has been to tear down that wall.”

The article also makes the point that the business of 'showbiz' or Broadway is business. The producers and their investors want to make money.

Yet the undercurrent is how nice it would be if something of artistic enrichment is also the reward. For one thing the Theatre du Chatelet is apparently a nonprofit organization (government funded?).

And from the American producer, Stuart Oken’s, point of view.

“It’s not yet certain, of course, that “American in Paris” will earn the kind of word of mouth and critical praise that will keep building sales momentum. The Stateside producers, for their part, believe they’ve put together a sophisticated, beautiful show. “It’ll be interesting to see if the word ‘beautiful’ translates on Broadway to ‘you have to go,’” Oken admitted.

“I think now I will be very busy with New Yorkers,” he joked, but was quick to add that he’d only strike up a new partnership for the right project. “I’m not sure I would do something more commercial than ‘An American in Paris,’” he noted. “It has to be kind of high class in a sense. Popular, but sophisticated.”


[thanks once again to Bruce Wall at Balletco for this posting this article]

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Tomorrow is the official beginning for New York City. I got my ticket a month ago for when I return to the US in June.

This article is mainly a quick look at one of the backup performers. It also gives some insight into the importance of dance to this production.

“The charge is led by three musicals currently on the boards. Gigi and On the Town – both choreographed by Joshua Bergasse – burst with athletic energy and complex routines, while the third, An American in Paris, uses the fluidity, elegance, and pristine lines of ballet.

“Even cast members who have sometimes relied more on their acting and singing are upping their dance antes.

“ “The audition started with a ballet sequence across the floor with basic skills like jumps with beats, chaine turns, and arabesques, followed by a jazz combination. It was clear the dancing was the star in this show." “


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Based on what I saw at the preview opening in Paris, this event has so much going for it. It begins with the immense aura of the movie. Then, for me, it continues with the enchantment and very fine talent of Leanne Cope and the magnificent and inventive sets by Bob Crawley. Of course a major underpinning is the artistic excellence of Robbie Fairchild’s dancing along with his theatrical and boyishly innocent attraction. The Broadway veterans add much to the solidity. The overall creation and direction of Christopher Wheeldon give it an artistic fineness, making it something very special and one of a kind.


Here's a lengthy article by Sarah Kaufman at The Washington Post.


[thanks again Balletco]

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Sarah Kaufman's sympathetic article, footnoted above, is a behind the scenes overview with an emphasis on ballet.

“ “The biggest challenge was being courageous and sticking to my guns,” he [Christopher Wheeldon] says.

“ “I didn’t think about whether it was going to be palatable for a Broadway audience,” Wheeldon continues. “I just thought, if we did it right and everything was integrated into an artistic whole, that the audience would go with us.

“ “There was no better way to learn the craft of musical theater than being in ‘West Side Story Suite,’ ” Wheeldon says. “Jerry [Jerome Robbins] taught us to develop a character and not just be the obedient silent ballet dancer.”

“But all three of these ballet transplants — Wheeldon, Cope and Fairchild — feel certain that their show will prompt a reassessment of their art form.

“Wheeldon says he has faith in ballet’s ability to touch a broad public…. “

And a quick reminder of a higher ground.

Stuart Oken, the producer:

“ “It’s too expensive and it takes too many years to not have some dream in the middle of the vision. Christopher gave us that ability. We could dream through his eyes.” “

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Looks like it's a hit. Wheeldon seems to be the frontrunner for the Tony for best choreography. Based on the reviews, seems likely that the show will garner numerous Tony award nominations.

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Looks like it's a hit. Wheeldon seems to be the frontrunner for the Tony for best choreography. Based on the reviews, seems likely that the show will garner numerous Tony award nominations.

Not as hard to do as formerly. The competition ain't what it used to be.

Interesting that two properties Alan Jay Lerner wrote for the movies have been translated to Broadway this season (although this is not Gigi's first time around). It used to be that the movies drew on Broadway for material, name value, and prestige. Not so much any more.

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I got to spend some time in NYC last week, and got to ​An American in Paris (as well as a few other things). I liked it more than canbelto, but there are problems with it: Lise is terribly underwritten, Henri's character is gay/not gay/resistance fighter/confused?, "Fidgety Feet" makes no sense, and the Wheeldon choreography doesn't reach the heights it needs to for the resolution to pay off. (I find the resolution of the film weak as well, but the ballet is so dazzling you forget about it).

It's still probably the overall best piece I saw in the week, though. (I also saw Gigi, The King and I, On the Twentieth Century and On the Town. Yes, my mother really likes musicals...). Crowley will definitely get a nod, and I think Fairchild has an excellent chance at a nomination as well. An American in Paris basically rests on his shoulders, and he is so magical and charming in it that he can carry it through a lot of the weak spots. (My mother who is no ballet fan absolutely adored him in this and is now a fan!).

The only other actor that I saw last week with an equal or better shot would be Peter Gallagher in On the Twentieth Century, and that's partly because of his beloved veteran status. Other actors who I think have good shots at nominations based on who they are and what they're in would be Matt Morrison in Finding Neverland and one or both of Brian d'Arcy James and Christian Borle in Something Rotten. Ken Wattanabe could get a nod for The King and I, but I honestly don't think his performance is nomination worthy. (My mom's comment at the end of of the performance: "He looks relieved it's over!").

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I wasn't at this one, Dirac, but I'll offer a few thoughts anyway. In response to what Sidwich has mentioned, my feeling after seeing it in Paris was that with some fine tuning it could be absolutely great !

I definitely look forward to seeing what changes have been made since the Paris opening. According to posts from Meunier Fan there were a lot made before New York. I even wonder if some tweaking can still be done.

Interesting thought to what Dirac just wrote. I could already see the movie of this production after having viewed the first video clip adverts. Up close shots at the best moments from several different evenings can do wonders compared to the effect from my one evening in the first balcony. A good editing job could produce some remarkable results.

I'm so glad that such a large majority of posters, including the press, enjoyed it so much. We all need a place to dream and this could be a great one.

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