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The City of Light is still shrouded by the bleak shadows of World War II in “An American In Paris.”. Shell shock lingers in Christopher Wheeldon’s s’wonderful adaptation of the classic MGM movie starring Gene Kelley and Leslie Caron. This is Paris as a city besieged by destruction and starvation, where sad women wait in long lines in the hopes of snagging a loaf of bread. While some stage adaptations of Hollywood treasures feel stodgy and formulaic, awkwardly trying to recapture a sense of innocence that’s hard to come by these days, this Tony-winning Broadway hit feels sharper and more wistful than you remember the movie. Shot through with balletic choreography and gorgeous glad rags and lit by a Gershwin score, this is a freshly-re-imagined musical graceful enough to pirouette right into your heart. Who could ask for anything more?.
Most of the sophistication comes from Wheeldon’s marriage of movement and motif, A celebration of dance, it’s fluidity and profundity, is the real the star of this show, from the jessica simpson maggda ballet flats passionate pas de deux to the bouncy kick line, The director-choreographer integrates classically-trained ballet dancers into the staging with such panache that the cornier parts of the story feel less obvious, The wordless dance sequences shine brightly indeed, Welcome to Paris, a city of art and romance struggling to find its soul after fighting for its life, A trio of very different suitors vIe for the attentions of Lise (the luminous Sara Esty) a shop girl with the chic bob who yearns to be a dancer, Swirling around this gamine with great gams is Jerry (McGee Maddox) the American GI, fresh from battle, now trying to find his eye as a painter, glorying in the splendor of the city’s bohemian art scene, There’s also Adam (Stephen Brower) a sad sack composer cut from Gershwin’s cloth, A wisecracking cynic who gets his heart broken, he narrates much of the story..
Then there’s Henri (Bay Area native Nick Spangler), the dapper heir to a textile throne who longs to be in show business. And that’s not the only desire he must hide from his parents. Book writer Craig Lucas (“Light in the Piazza,” “Prelude to a Kiss,”) lightens the sentimentality of the story with a postmodern sensibility that’s almost as graceful as the jetes. To be sure, this musical has imperfections. The first act drags a bit and the central love affair lacks fire.
The tartly witty Spangler steals every scene he’s in as the debonair Frenchman, and Brower is so tender and vulnerable as Adam it’s hard not to root for him, Maddox, meanwhile, seems too bland to be the man of Lise’s jessica simpson maggda ballet flats dreams, But those are quibbles given the genuinely uplifting power of this production, It’s a hopelessly romantic diversion from a world all too often beleaguered by darkness, Book by Craig Lucas, music by George Gershwin, direction and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, based on the 1951 movie..
So, what are you doing this weekend? Here are a baker’s dozen of cool things to do in the Bay Area Sept. 14-16 (and beyond). Swoon-worthy ‘American in Paris opens tour in San Francisco: You could do a heck of a lot worse for source material for a stage musical than “An American in Paris,” the Oscar-winning song-and-dance romance set in post-World War II Paris. Of course, the movie had Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron as the romantic leads — not exactly easy shoes to fill. But what the 2015 musical has going for it is Christopher Wheeldon, the famed dancer and choreographer who won a Tony Award for his work bringing “An American in Paris” to the stage. Now a touring production of the hit show has landed at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre, featuring Wheeldon’s dazzling choreography and those amazing Gershwin tunes, including “I Got Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” and “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.” We dare you not to fall in love. Details: Through Oct. 8; $45-$214 (prices subject to change); 888-746-1799, www.shnsf.com. Our review of the production is here.— Randy McMullen, Staff.
Two nights with Florida Georgia Line: Florida Georgia Line, the country music act consisting of vocalists Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, certainly got off to a fast start, The duo’s very first single, 2012’s “Cruise,” was downloaded more than 7 million times and spent a staggering 24 weeks atop the charts, Having notched several more hits since then, Florida Georgia Line performs Sept, 15 at Concord Pavilion and jessica simpson maggda ballet flats Sept, 16 at Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View, Nelly, Chris Lane and Russell Dickerson are also on the bill, Details: 7 p.m, both shows; $31.25-$80.75; www.livenation.com.— Jim Harrington, Staff..
From Colombia, with love: A strange and beautiful hybrid from the verdant Bogotá music scene, the Colombian band Monsieur Periné combines a passion for Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy jazz with Gallic flavor and Afro-Caribbean grooves. Founded by vocalist Catalina García, the group has steadily evolved over the past decade, and its latest incarnation won a best new artist Latin Grammy on the strength of the 2015 album “Caja de Música,” which was produced by Calle 13’s Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante). Featuring guitarist Nicolás Junca and Santiago Prieto on charango, violin, and guitar, the string-powered combo comes to Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Sept. 15. (They also perform Sept. 16 afternoon at the Monterey Jazz Festival, www.montereyjazzfestival.org; see a preview here). Details: 8 p.m. Friday; $26-$30; 510-644-2020, thefreight.org.— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent.
San Jose rock royalty: Want to catch one of best San Jose rock bands of all time? Then make plans to see the Odd Numbers on Sept, 15 at the Ritz, in the band’s hometown, The Numbers are still going strong after nearly 30 years of making solid garage/punk/pop-rock tunes, which should appeal to fans of The Jam and other mod favorites, The band is celebrating the release of its long-overdue new jessica simpson maggda ballet flats studio album, the cleverly titled “The Oddyssey,” which is one of its finest offerings to date, Details: 8 p.m.; this is 21-and-over show; $10; theritzsanjose.com.— Jim Harrington, Staff..