Review: An American In Paris at the Dominion Theatre

It’s a weird feeling. I’m not usually one to dislike a piece of musical theatre. So far, immersing myself in the world of jazz hands, belting high notes and extraordinary tap routines, has been a joy at every turn. Every show I have seen has brought a different layer, a different dimension and a different reason to love musical theatre. Sure, the shows aren’t perfect and my critical eye can often pick up flaws – yet generally I have left theatres (or cinemas) feeling positive. Heck, I even loved the 80s jukebox movie, Walking on Sunshine.

So it was a tad confusing for me when I walked out of the Dominion Theatre onto Tottenham Court Road a few weeks ago feeling a distinct lack of emotion. It has subsequently taken a long while to write this review as I struggle to verbalise what exactly I didn’t like.

An American in Paris is set in the post-Second World War City of Love and tells the story of a young American GI, Jerry Mulligan (Robert Fairchild), an aspiring artist, who meets talented French ballerina, Lise (Leanne Cope) in a world still reeling from the effects of world war.

The performances were accomplished, especially David Seadon-Young in the role of Adam. The singing was pleasant and the staging and production attractive. The star of the show is undoubtedly the dancing, with extraordinary talent on show by the two leads, Fairchild and Cope. However the show’s greatest strength is, for me, also it’s greatest weakness. Ballet, whilst undeniably beautiful and requiring immense skill, can be slightly soporific in large doses, which An American in Paris certainly dishes out. Meanwhile, the musical numbers were slightly lacking in spark – I kept on waiting for it to step up a gear and was left disappointed. The combination was frankly a little dull.

I know I am probably alone in feeling this way. The newspapers have been filled with 5* star reviews – I wish I could see what they saw. Unfortunately I am left with the realisation that sometimes all the ingredients – a stellar cast, amazing choreography and beautiful staging – do not create the perfect night of theatre, at least not for this reviewer.

***

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