American in Paris grateful for La La Land boost
The brains behind An American in Paris say they’re glad La La Land has revived interest in the Hollywood musical, even if their posters look kind of similar.
Both feature a girl in a yellow dress against a starry backdrop, which has led some people to confuse the two.
As far as director Christopher Wheeldon is concerned, however, An American in Paris has dibs on the image.
“We got there first,” he told the BBC at the West End show’s opening night on Tuesday.
Inspired by the Oscar-winning Gene Kelly film from 1951, An American in Paris tells of US GI Jerry Mulligan, who falls in love in the French capital after World War Two.
The show, which won four Tonys after opening on Broadway in 2015, features classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin, among them I Got Rhythm, ‘S Wonderful and I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.
Wheeldon, who also choreographs the show, said the success of La La Land was clearly having an impact on audiences at London’s newly refurbished Dominion Theatre.
“I think we’re seeing a younger audience at our show because of the movie,” he said. “Perhaps we’re all seeking a bit of innocence in a dark and troubled time.”
“In difficult times, musicals cheer you up,” agrees Jane Asher, whose role as a Parisian matriarch sees her sporting a French accent on stage.
“I went to see Beauty and the Beast the other day and was totally transported,” says Britain’s Leanne Cope, who plays the young French dancer who steals Jerry’s heart.
“I think this show can do the same thing. It transports you to another time when things were more innocent.”
Critics have been heaping praise, and stars, on the opulent production, which is currently taking bookings up to the end of October.
Daisy Lowe, Louise Redknapp and “Judge” Robert Rinder were among the Strictly Come Dancing stars in attendance at Tuesday’s performance.
Their presence, though, was not enough to make Asher consider appearing on the BBC’s popular competition.
“I’ve very flatteringly been asked many times to do Strictly but it’s not for me,” the 70-year-old revealed.
“The chances of me injuring myself are so great I think I’ll leave it to others. I’m too old!”
Leslie Caron, who appeared with Kelly in the 1951 film, was also among the audience.
Cope likened the veteran actress to a “fairy godmother” who had given her some “wonderful advice”.
La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, won six Oscars last month.