‘An American in Paris’ – A Visual Feast in Houston

by Gabi De la Rosa on March 8, 2017 in Entertainment, Theatre, Houston,
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“An American in Paris” made its debut at Theater Under the Stars and Houston audiences were in for a treat. The love story adapted from the 1951 movie has been revamped from the original version to tell the tale of an American veteran who stays in Paris after the war and falls in love with a beautiful Parisian woman.

“I was so pleased to learn that this touring version would be part of the current season. The show is full of great Gershwin songs as well as some of his brilliant symphonic music, used in this case to accompany some spectacular dance numbers,” said Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director for Theater Under the Stars.

Garen Scribner and Sara Esty in An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Garen Scribner and Sara Esty in An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy

“An American in Paris” won four Tony Awards and it is easy to see why. The costumes and set design are simply stunning, couple that with beautiful choreography and wonderful actors and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Lise Dassin, played by Sara Etsy, is the graceful and mysterious ballerina that manages to capture not just one, but three of the main characters’ hearts. Etsy is magical in this role, because not only is she lithe and beautiful, but she also has a wonderful voice. The American war veteran who falls easily for her charm is Jerry Mulligan, played by Ryan Steele. Steele is a funny and athletic counterpart to Etsy’s sweet and soft sensibilities – together they are dazzling on stage.

Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Rounding out the main cast are Etai Benson who plays Adam Hochberg, a unfiltered American war veteran who stays in Paris to pursue his musical career and also falls in love with Lise. Henri Baurel, played by Nick Spangler, is a rich Parisian who has dreams of being a Broadway star in America and proposes to Lise out of a sense of duty. One of the biggest song and dance numbers in the show is performed by Baurel who is unknowingly being watched by his ultra-conservative parents. Finally, Milo Davenport, is a slightly manipulative woman of means, who brings the artists together and also falls for Jerry Mulligan.

Robert Fairchild from the original Broadway company of An American in Paris. Photo by Angela Sterling
Robert Fairchild from the original Broadway company of An American in Paris. Photo by Angela Sterling

The entire ensemble of singers and dancers are fantastic and left the audience feeling transported back in time, but nothing does this more than the beautifully designed costumes, sets and lighting. Bob Crowley, set and costume design; Natasha Katz, lighting design; and 59 Productions, projection design, created a visual feast for the audience and understandably won awards for their work in this production. Their creations set the tone and are as much a character in the performance as the actual actors are.