The West End premiere of An American in Paris opened on Tuesday night at the Dominion Theatre in London to a raft of five-star rave reviews. In a beautiful opening night production guests walked the blue carpet and enjoyed this enchanting production which has made its way to London following productions in Paris and New York.
Speaking to guests on the blue carpet, many shared their excitement at seeing the production and dance featuring so heavily in a new show.
“I saw the show in Paris, on Broadway and now I'm here tonight. I loved the show” said choreographer Arlene Phillips. “I think the music for this show is extraordinary. The ballet in it, the dance in it, it's full of music and dance. I think it's going to be a huge hit here – it's got a wonderful cast. We love when English directors and choreographers bring their shows home!”
'Strictly Come Dancing' star Danny Mac, who is soon to be starring in a classic dance-based musical of his own spoke of the importance of An American in Paris opening in London: “I think to have this show come over from Broadway is just fantastic, I'm really really looking forward to it,” he commented. “I think it's so nice that there is such a buzz about such a classic musical. For that to still be such a big deal today I think is really special and important”.
Nigel Lythgoe who has seen the musical a number of times in New York was optimistic about its success in a new market:
“I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's going to be very successful here. It's brilliant – we know how great Christopher Wheeldon is as a choreographer, to come back to his home country is terrific. One of the most beautiful things about the show is the transitions of the scenery that he has done. Robbie Fairchild and his dear wife Tiler Peck – they are probably the best married ballet couple around. It's such a tough show for him to do, and Leanne is beautiful – she's sensational. They're great vocalists and wonderful dancers, you couldn't ask for a better musical.”
Leading man Robbie Fairchild is married to dancer Tiler Peck who was seeing the production for the thirteenth time and delighted to be experiencing it in its new home.
“I'm so excited, I'm really happy to be here” she commented. “I'm on break from the New York City Ballet so I'm delighted that the timing works out. I've seen this show from the beginning and it looks extraordinary on this stage and I think the cast is the best ever. I feel everybody is super excited, I really felt that this show fit the West End perfectly and I'm excited for them to share it with everybody. With the Gershwin music as it is everybody knows it, this stage production really highlights that.”
As a principal ballet dancer who has also starred in a Broadway musical, Peck commented on the importance of the crossover between the two worlds.
“Robbie always tells me that one of his favourite things to hear at the stage door is when people tell him that they've just bought their first New York City Ballet ticket, so I think it's just a great crossover from ballet to Broadway and to do it with such an iconic show, it's just the perfect combination. I swear every time I see it he gets better – I don't even think that's possible but he does and I'm really tough!”
Catching up with director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon for the first time since rehearsals began he spoke about the preview period and what audiences have been experiencing over the past few weeks.
“Previews have been going really well – audiences have been laughing in all the right places – really connecting with the beauty of the show and the cast. I think romance itself is pretty timeless and the Gershwin music has been standards for years – this score captures the Gershwin standards but also introduces the audience to some more orchestral pieces that perhaps they don't know. We as a creative team made a conscious decision not to recreate the movie and use it really as a point of inspiration for a new story. What we bring I hope is very much its own show.”
Many audiences are connected to the original movie that starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, who was in attendance at the West End opening and spoke about her love of the piece.
“It's quite different – it's enriched, there is more history and it's beautifully danced” Caron explained. “The dancers are just fabulous. I'm very proud to be connected to it in some way. When we made the film we never imagined that it would go on to live on and on – it is just wonderful. I think Gene would be very proud.”