The movie “An American in Paris” was essentially a star vehicle and provided an excuse to have Gene Kelly, at the peak of his career, sing and dance his way across a Technicolor Parisian backdrop.
There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with this, as, with the help of a handful of George and Ira Gershwin tunes, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1951.
But, because this movie was so associated with Kelly and his iconic performance, Broadway stayed away from an adaptation until 2015.
The touring production of the show is now playing through Jan. 29, at the Fox Theatre and features all of the spectacular stage design, orchestration, and dance routines that made it a hit in New York.
The plot is a simple one — an American GI and aspiring artist named Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) decides to stick around Paris at the end of World War II.
Jerry becomes fast friends with fellow American ex-pat and composer Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) and French aristocrat with dreams of becoming a song-and-dance man Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler).
All three become infatuated with a beautiful ballet dancer named Lise Dassin (Sara Esty) and the plotline filled with romantic crossfires and misunderstandings spins out from there.
While all of the songs are direct from the Great American Songbook, only a few, like “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” “The Man I Love” and the immortal “I Got Rhythm” really leap to the forefront of the production.
The true language of “An American in Paris” is dance and Scribner and Esty speak it beautifully. The pair are gifted, flowing dancers who spring around the stage and intertwine with one another from the beginning of Act I until the final curtain.
The choreography is impressive throughout as is the bold set design that transitions from scene to scene with eye-popping digital projection and lighting.
The two come together at the end of the show in an extended sequence set to George Gershwin’s composition “An American in Paris” that mirrors the film’s surreal closing dance number where art and dance quite literally come together on the stage.
If the production has any issues, it is with its inconsistent tone that sometimes jarringly shifts from light and bouncy to maudlin and melancholy.
But the positives of this show greatly outweigh the negatives as “An American in Paris” is a joy to behold and a must-see for dance enthusiasts.
“An American in Paris” is now showing through Jan. 29, at the Fox Theatre. For tickets, call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.