Broadway in Chicago Presents AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Review – Dancing in Post World War II Paris

Are those identical twins playing tricks on us?

 In the context of the ever-delightful music of George Gershwin with lyrics by his brother Ira, this curiosity seems a side note of little import, albeit a nagging one.

Does the leading role ever-graceful ballerina, Sara Esty, make some rather too-quick costume changes? Hmmm… We do read that her identical twin Leigh-Ann Esty, also a ballerina, is in the cast and her understudy. Hmmm…

How fun to ponder that. Yet, there is much to enjoy here without any such twin mischief ruse—real or imagined.

Another and better question might be where and how the producers of An American in Paris found so many good dancers with pretty good singing talents as well.

It’s not just the magnificent score—this is first and foremost a confection of dancing (Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon) in an ever changing set design (Set and Costumes by Bob Crowley) that takes us from Seine-side, to the parks and alleys of Paris, to a jazz club, salon of a wealthy American ex-pat and most notably, creating a moving collage of post WWII era abstract painting with dancers clad like moving Mondrian pictures.

An American in Paris Features Many Talents

Tall McGee Maddox in the title role is a clear standout, even before his pirouettes have him conquer the stage in just a few jetes. The lovely voice and sparkling personality of Emily Ferranti in a Peggy Guggenheim persona type role makes her moment as the jilted lover seem quite temporary. Such a charismatic cookie won’t be alone long, we feel. Similarly, though his character’s gender orientation might be a bit of a question mark in this newly imagined book (book based on the movie: Craig Lucas), Nick Spangler as Henri Baurel is so compelling you kind of wish the girl did go with him in the end.

These are lovable characters, but it’s Paris that we come to love more. With a dash of Folies Bergères, a story that reaches back to the valiance of the French resistance during World War II, and caricatures of French snobbishness that we Americans seem to love, we are in France without need for a passport.


Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.


Thru August 13

Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no matinee on July 26)
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (no evening performances on August 6 and August 13)


Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph



Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at the Broadway in Chicago website.



PHOTOS: Matthew Murphy

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