Brisbane is the lucky host city for the Australian premiere of the musical, An American in Paris. Starring the original Broadway leads, Robbie Fairchild as Jerry Mulligan and Leanne Cope as Lise Dassin, this entire production is a feat polished to perfection.
The musical is based on the 1951 film which is based on the book by Craig Lucas. Lyrics and music are by the legendary Gershwin brothers, George and Ira. George Gershwin had a fascination for the rich rhythms and tonality of the French music scene which was the pulse of Paris during his time there.
Fittingly, the world premiere of An American in Paris was in Paris in 2014 before the production headed to Broadway and West End.
Bringing the original Broadway leads to Australian audiences adds glamour, depth and New York City authenticity to this widely acclaimed production. Both of the stars are in real life, accomplished, professional ballet dancers.
Fairchild is former Principal with the New York City Ballet and Cope was a First Company Artist with the Royal Ballet. In addition to their dancing abilities, both artists can sing and act at the highest standard which is demanded of those holding leading roles in a Broadway musical.
Fairchild is perfectly cast in a role that seems written for him. An authentic American accent and an accomplished ballet dancer who can act as well as sing. His performance was as smooth and silky as the character that he portrayed.
Cope was adorable and flawless in her role which was enhanced by the added richness of a French accent. Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope epitomise the ideal partnership for the central roles in this specific musical which is directed and choreographed by Britain’s Christopher Wheeldon OBE.
Jonathan Hickey as the war-wounded American, Adam Hochberg, played a grounding role with constant, consistent reminders of the original American in Paris, George Gershwin.
Sam Ward was a poised, elegant Henri with a perfect singing voice and convincing French pronunciation. He’s been a touring member of the famed Ten Tenors. Ashleigh Rubenach was superb in the seductive, Monro-esque role of the beautiful, powerful, rich Milo Davenport.
This is a truly brilliant production and all involved are to be applauded. I particularly liked the way in which the settings for scene changes were danced smoothly onto and off the stage. The lighting and background images in post-war Paris were as delightful as they were realistic.
There had been an unfortunate delay in presenting the official opening night performance of An American in Paris due to cases of Covid in the cast and company. The wait was worthwhile and the production was rewarded with a well deserved standing ovation from the enthralled audience, myself included.
All my life, I’ve never forgotten those shows I had the privilege of attending in both Broadway, New York and in London’s West End. Last night’s performance has just joined the ranks of those special memories.
Congratulations to the entire cast, creatives and production team who have forged ahead so successfully in these uncertain and unpredictable times.
An American in Paris
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Brisbane
Performance: Thursday 20 January 2022
Season continues to 30 January 2022
Following the Brisbane season, An American in Paris will play the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne: 18 March – 24 April; and Theatre Royal, Sydney: 29 April – 5 June 2022. For more information, visit: www.americaninparis.com.au for details.
Image: Robbie Fairchild as Jerry Mulligan and Leanne Cope as Lise Dassin – photo by Darren Thomas
Review: Michele-Rose Boylan