Stranger in Paradise: Gershwins' An American in Paris Debuts April 29

News   Stranger in Paradise: Gershwins' An American in Paris Debuts April 29
 
The world premiere of The Gershwins' An American in Paris dances its way onto the Alley Theatre stage in Houston, TX, April 29.
Harry Groener
Harry Groener

Alley Theatre artistic director Gregory Boyd directs the new musical, which will officially open May 18. The limited engagement runs through June 1.

Three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener (Crazy for You) stars opposite Kerry O'Malley (Into the Woods) as the central couple in the romantic comedy set in 1950's Paris.

The twosome is joined onstage by Felicia Finley (The Wedding Singer) as Hollywood starlet Hermia Chase; Jeffry Denman (The Producers) as Preston, the young Hollywood movie executive; Meredith Patterson (42nd Street) as Yvette; Stephen DeRosa (Hairspray) as Hamish; Alix Korey (The Wild Party) as Hilda; and Ron Orbach as film producer Louis Goldman.

The American in Paris ensemble includes Jeremy Benton, Sara Brians, Sae La Chin, Erin Crouch, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Michael Thomas Holmes, Drew Humphrey, James, Matthew Kirk, Tony Lawson, Alison Levenberg, Joseph Medeiros, Shannon M. O’Bryan, James Patterson, Wes Pope, Benjie Randall, Kristen J. Smith, JD Webster and Kristen Beth Williams.

Ken Ludwig — who earned a Tony nomination for his book for Crazy for You — returns to familiar Gershwin territory as the book writer for The Gershwins' An American in Paris. Ludwig previously informed Playbill.com that the stage adaptation is "a new American musical in its own right," describing the work as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a fictional 1950's movie entitled "An American in Paris." In Ludwig's adaptation, Groener stars as Parisian music-hall star Michel Gerard, who fails to arrive for filming of a new Hollywood musical in which he is set to appear. As filming in Paris is halted, the film's producer sends his reluctant secretary, Rebecca Klemm (O'Malley), to locate the missing leading man.

Ludwig also stated that he has "drawn heavily on later Gershwin, the Gershwin when he was in Hollywood when he did 'Damsel in Distress' and 'Shall We Dance.' Early Gershwin, middle Gershwin and late Gershwin all have their own slightly different sounds in a way. And I thought it was right because of the tone of this musical, that the slightly more sophisticated or more complex Gershwin of 'Let's Call the Whole Thing Off' was right for this piece."

The stage production includes many of the film's original songs, while incorporating such Gershwin gems as "They All Laughed," "'S Wonderful," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "Love Walked In."

One of the most beloved moments of the 1951 film is the "An American In Paris" ballet, which Ludwig pays tribute to, having it "swirling around the characters when Michel shows Miss Klemm Paris for the first time. I've tried to work those things into the musical to try to make it in a fresh fun way," Ludwig commented.

While future plans are not yet solidified, Ludwig has hinted that The Gershwins' An American in Paris is looking toward a Broadway bow following its Houston premiere.

The creative team also includes choreographer Randy Skinner (42nd Street), set designer Doug Schmidt, lighting designer Paul Gallo and costume designer Carrie F. Robbins. Rob Berman — of the City Center Encores! series — serves as musical director with orchestrations by three-time Tony Award winner Doug Besterman (The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fosse) and Larry Blank (Drowsy Chaperone).

Tickets are available by visiting www.alleytheatre.org or by calling (713) 220-5700.

The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue in Houston, TX.

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