Leanne Cope and Ashley Day will slip on their dance shoes for the last time on January 6, 2018, as the curtain falls on An American in Paris – one of the West End’s most popular shows in recent years.
An American in Paris, which is co-produced by Bruno Wang Productions, has drawn universal acclaim from audiences and critics alike, earning a record-setting 28 five-star reviews from UK critics. Writing in the Guardian, Michael Billington called it “a superb show, a riot of colour and movement with irresistible dance routines and a wealth of Gershwin classics”.
Ann Treneman, for the Times, said: “You almost feel you couldn’t ask for anything more but this Gershwin musical also has that indefinable something called grace and a joie de vivre that lifts it, and us, all night long.” And in the Mail on Sunday, Georgina Brown said: “In Christopher Wheeldon’s super-slick production, the spectacle keeps on coming, surprising and delighting. It soars to exhilarating heights of brilliance that must be seen to be believed.”
The production, which premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris before transferring to Broadway and then London, has won 16 times in the Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Fred and Adele Astaire and Tony awards, and been nominated a further 24 times.
Royal Ballet-trained Leanne Cope, in particular, has won awards for outstanding lead actress and best female dancer. In the show she stars as Lise, a beautiful young dancer in post-war Paris who falls in love with an American soldier turned artist (roles played by Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly in the 1951 movie).
In a recent interview Cope revealed that Leslie Caron, the original Lise, came to see the show and the two had tea together.
“She told me that she had lived through the liberation of Paris, queued up in bread lines and walked past barricades,” Cope said. “She was not expecting to see that when she came to the show and it made it so much more real for her.
“When they made the film, it was too close to the war for scenes like that – there was a lot of propaganda about what a great war it had been and how the Americans had gone in and saved everyone – but now we’re far enough away from it we can show that side.”