From Broadway to the West End: Gershwin's "An American In Paris"

Romance is in the air as the hit Broadway musical "An American in Paris" comes to London.

Escape to the city of love for a night with "An American In Paris," a new musical opening at London's Dominion Theatre, from 4 March, 2017, to 6 January, 2018.

The origin of this astonishing show was a jazz number, written in 1928 by American composer George Gershwin, inspired by the time he spent in Paris in the 1920s.

“My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere,” Gershwin once said.

An American In Paris, London, UK
George and Ira Gershwin's lyrics and story produce a loveable storyline. (©Matthew Murphy)

The tune then spawned an Oscar-winning film of the same name in 1951, starring Gene Kelly. In 2015, the long-awaited Broadway musical won plenty of awards, including four Tonys.

Now it’s time to hit London. Leanne Cope, formerly with The Royal Ballet, takes the female lead alongside Robert Fairchild, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Both made their musical theatre debut with the show in Paris at its world premiere, before starring in New York. Now they’re set to make their West End debuts together.

An American In Paris, London, UK
The character of Lise (Leanne Cope) wins over the hearts of two men. (©Matthew Murphy)

“Performing the world premiere of 'An American In Paris'—in Paris—was a dream come true as far as being in the city where our show is set; just walking the streets was research," said Leanne Cope. "Performing on Broadway came with huge expectations and luckily every expectation was fulfilled, from opening night to the Tony Awards.”

Fairchild plays Jerry, an American World War II veteran, who falls for Lise (Cope) after meeting her in a bar in 1940s Paris. But Jerry is just a painter and Lise, who craves security, agrees to marry his friend Henri and move to the States with him. Can Jerry change her mind before it’s too late?

An American In Paris, London, UK
Gerry (Robert Fairchild) is an American World War II veteran turned painter. (©Matthew Murphy)

"My favourite scene has to be the cabaret scene in Act Two, where Henri starts singing very nervously in a small dark club in Montmartre, and we see into his imagination," said Cope. "The stage transforms into a sparkling vision of New York, with arches of the Chrysler building, men in top hats and showgirls, with Henri giving the performance of a lifetime."

But if Cope was Lise, would she choose Henri for his security or Jerry for his charm?

"Jerry," she said, "as they have a connection that people can only dream of finding."

An American in Paris, London, UK
Special effects include projections of the Eiffel Tower. (©Matthew Murphy)

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldonartistic associate of The Royal Ballet—the musical features some of Gershwin’s most iconic songs, including "I Got Rhythm," "‘S Wonderful" and "They Can’t Take That Away from Me."  Expect a romantic ballet and masked ball scene, in addition to fast footwork and high kicks during jazzy numbers.

The team behind "War Horse" and the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, 59 Productions, lead the way with projections including a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower—and it doesn’t get much more romantic than that.