Thu, Aug 08, 2019 - Page 13 News List

An American in Paris in Taichung

The touring production of the hit Broadway musical brings the magic of Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography and George Gershin’s music to the National Taichung Theater, which will also see a home-grown musical retelling of Wang Chen-ho’s famous story, ‘An Oxcart For A Dowry’

By Diane Baker  /  Staff Reporter

An American in Paris: The Musical opens at the National Taichung Theater on Aug. 20 for an eight-show run.

Photo courtesy of National Taichung Theater

Three years ago, the National Taichung Theater launched its summer musical program, which would feature two musicals each summer, one Taiwanese, the other an imported production.

In 2017, the import was the Japanese hit Death Note The Musical (死亡筆記本), based on the Death Note manga series by Tsugumi Ohba.

Last year it was the South Korean musical Fanletter, about Korean writers under Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s

This year it is British ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s retelling of the story of the 1951 Academy Award-winning film An American in Paris.

The frothy film, which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, was nominated for eight Oscars and took home six. Wheeldon’s production, An American in Paris: The Musical has been as equally acclaimed, being nominated for 12 Tony awards and winning four — for choreography, set and lighting designs for a musical, and orchestration — as well as 12 more awards from theater and critics’ groups in New York City.

Wheeldon, a Royal Ballet principal dancer turned choreographer, had never directed a musical or a theater production before he tried his hand with An American in Paris, but he was not without experience in mounting large-scale works.

He had created short works for ballet companies around the world as well as the full-length Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for the Royal in 2011. He also choreographed for the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.

For An American in Paris: The Musical, he kept the music created by the Gershwin brothers, George and Ira — Ira wrote the lyrics — and brought Bob Crowley to create the sets and costumes. He also tinkered with the movie’s storyline, which was always a bit thin.

Set in the newly liberated Paris of 1945, the film told the story of three young men, former US Army soldier Jerry Mulligan, who has decided to stay in Paris after the end of World War II to try to become an artist; Adam Cook, a concert pianist who dreams of being a composer and Henri Baurel, a nightclub singer.

A wealthy American woman and art collector, Milo Roberts, is in love with Jerry, but he falls in love with a ballet dancer, Lise Bouvier, who Henri has been in love with for years. The question is who Lise will end up with.

In Wheeldon’s musical, Jerry does fall in love with Lise, but now he must compete with both Henri and Adam for her hand, while Milo’s role has been enhanced as she is financing a new ballet in which Lise is to star.

The musical opened in Paris on Dec. 10, 2014 for a four-week run, and underwent several revisions before it premiered on Broadway on April 12, 2015. It was one of the hottest-selling shows before it closed in October the following year, when a US touring production began, while a West End production in London opened in March 2017, which was also a critical and commercial hit.

In Taichung, the show will be performed in English, with Chinese surtitles, and will run about two-and-a-half hours with one intermission.

Ryan Steele and Leanne Cope will play Jerry and Lise in the evening shows on Aug. 20 to 23 and the two weekend matinees, while Nathan Madden and Kristen McGarrity take over the roles for the evening shows on Aug. 24 and 25.

However, before post-war Paris and brash Americans take over the National Taichung Theater, a much darker home-grown musical production, An Oxcart for Dowry (嫁妝一牛車), will be at the Playhouse this weekend.

This story has been viewed 1783 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top