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An American in Paris

The guaranteed success of a musical


Sixty years ago, Vincente Minnelli glorified Paris in a Hollywood movie. The show "An American in Paris" was then adapted for the theatre and had a tremendous success for its premiere in Paris in 2014. Today, the musical is a success in Broadway.



From the symphonic poem to the musical


"An American in Paris" has an incredible destiny. At first, it was a 20-minutes-long symphonic poem created in 1928 by George Gerschwin. In 1951, the poem became the central piece of a cinema jewel. Vincente Minnelli directed the film, which starred Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan, a former GI turned to a Bohemian way of living. Mulligan falls in love with his best friend's girlfriend, Lise, portrayed by Leslie Caron. 

A winner of 6 awards, the film is mostly known for the ballet scene at the end: during 17 minutes, dancing without speech or singing elapses in a scene shot in a set that explicitly recalls paintings from Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec or Utrillo.

The incredible destiny of the American doesn't stop at this point. The musical is now experimenting its third life, with an on-scene adaptation by famous British dancer and choreographer Chris Weeldon.


Paris and dance at the heart of the project



The show is much more than a scenic remake of the film. Though the love story is still the background story, Paris and dance are now at the centre of the show.

High profile dancers now portray the main parts: Robert Fairchild, from the New York City Ballet and Garen Scribner, from the San Francisco Ballet share the part of Jerry Mulligan. Dancer Leanne Cope, from the Royal Ballet plays the part of Lise.

"It was necessary to put some distance with Gene Kelly's performance and Minnelli's film and focus on dance, Paris and the character of Lise" said Jean-Luc Choplin, the director of the Théâtre du Châtelet who started this ambitious project.  


An exceptional coproduction


The musical is both audacious by its form and its method of financing and distribution. It's the first coproduction between a French theatre and Broadway. This is an even more unusual partnership in the fact that the show took place in Paris before New York.

The gamble paid off: the investment costs from the Châtelet are already redundant after the Paris period alone. The success seems to confirm overseas, with 12 Nominations for the Tony Awards, the Oscars of Broadway.

After this successful try, the Théâtre du Châtelet may start additional adaptations. A possible Franco-Cuban coproduction is currently under discussions to adapt "Carmen Jones", a musical film from Otto Preminger.