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SEAVER: ‘An American in Paris’ has something for everyone

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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The Marcus Center for Performing Arts wrapped up its 2017-’18 season with a stellar performance at Uihlein Hall: “An American in Paris” by Craig Lucas, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Milwaukee is the Broadway tour’s final destination, and it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.

Based on the Academy Award-winning film, “An American in Paris” is about an American soldier with artistic talent and a mysterious French woman with a passion for ballet. Upon meeting the soldier, she suddenly faces the decision to do what is expected of her and marry a sensible, trustworthy man, or follow her heart. This central theme carried on into her career and was easy to relate to.

The entirety of the performance was fluid.

The show opened with Adam Hochberg, played by Matthew Scott, telling a story. But as the set cleared and stage expanded, he was joined by over 20 ensemble members to continue his story with beautiful, free-flowing choreography by Christopher Wheeldon in “Concerto in F.”

The beginning of the show was not what I expected for a contemporary musical, yet the quiet opening number took my breath away. And on that note, the ending was so subtle I could not believe it was over when the curtain fell in front of two characters on stage dancing in the moonlight.

Allison Walsh was memorable in her role of Lise Dassin. Walsh danced perfectly and gave an overall astonishing performance in “The Man I Love.”

McGee Maddox played the role of Jerry Mulligan. He always sang in tune, and he made complicated dance moves look easy. Although I found myself not rooting for his character, he wonderfully executed the role.

Scott impressed every time he was on stage, including his performances of “I Got Rhythm” and “‘S Wonderful.”

Ben Michael played Lise’s finance, Henri Baural. Michael didn’t miss a beat and provided excellent comic relief. But his talents exceed comedy. He brought the house down with his flashy musical performance of “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.”

As a whole, the storyline was lackluster, but the musical made up for the unexciting plot with sets and lighting. The set danced from scene to scene, complementing the abundance of choreography that went into the show. The contrast between projected backdrops and minimalistic set pieces had me audibly “Ooo” as they changed within the scenes.

This show had something for everyone. I laughed during the “Fidgety Feet” number, I was astonished during “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” and I was astounded by the final dance sequence.

“An American in Paris” runs at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts through July 1. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office. Students can purchase discounted tickets for $25 in cash, in person, two hours before the show.

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