By Alison Baumgartner
Romance! Adventure! Gershwin! Who could ask for anything more when the Broadway musical An American in Paris comes to The Lincoln Center January 23–25?
The director of An American in Paris, Jeffrey B. Moss has directed touring shows of some of the most enduring musicals from The Sound of Music to Annie Get Your Gun. But for him, An American in Paris is something special. “Each show has its own personality. Its own needs. Its own ingredients. An American in Paris is the classic of the classics. After all, it’s George and Ira Gerswhin. That makes it special unto itself because those songs are so unforgettable.”
An American in Paris has a nearly a 90-year history from its beginnings as a simple song by George Gershwin in 1928. It was transformed into an Academy Award-winning musical film starring Gene Kelley about a young painter who comes to Paris just as it was liberated from Nazi occupation. At that time, Paris had just emerged from a dark time and had not found itself yet, making it the perfect setting for the artist. “What makes An American in Paris enduring is that it has a sense of positivity and joyousness in a place that hasn’t seen those things for some time,” says Moss. “It stands for something bigger.”
The musical pays homage to the cheerfulness of the film, but this new take will create a new experience for audiences. “It’s more realistic. The movie is a loving, wonderful, and sweet romance. The musical honors that, but tells a different story,” Moss says. “I feel it’s important that we remind the audience of where the setting is, the very moment of the liberation of Paris in 1944. There aren’t many around who remember that moment, and I want to remind them of that place of optimism.”
Some of this optimism comes from the dance, which won the Tony Award for Best Choreography. “Dance is the story being told,” says Moss. “You don’t sing in a musical unless the emotions are high. You dance when you can’t physically express something another way.” Rather than a bell and whistle, the choreography is a fundamental element to the musical. Add in classic songs like “‘S’wonderful’ and ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’, An American Paris is a playful experience that everyone will enjoy.
“I think that this show celebrates so many things,” Moss concludes. “It celebrates the spirit of freedom. The music masterful, the story is romantic and fun. It’s hard to find a show with all of those elements in one place.”
Don’t miss An American in Paris at The Lincoln Center January 23–25. Seats from $20 at LCtix.com.