When people think about musical theater, they often consider three main elements: singing, acting, and dancing. The origins of modern musical theater go back to the 19th century. Since the inception of “the musical,” shows have evolved, even though you can still see some of the fundamentals of Gilbert and Sullivan’s hugely successful operettas of the late 1800s in contemporary Broadway shows and on stages all over the world today.
Apples and Oranges Studios had the incredibly opportunity to be a producer of the Broadway musical, An American in Paris. Through working on this show, we saw first-hand how the talented world-famous ballet choreographer – turned Broadway director/choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon utilized dance as a story-telling technique that moved the plot forward. In addition to the spoken words and music, dance is used to express emotion. Not only is dance essential to the plot and emotional depth in this production, it is also essential to the set changes. Because of the many balletic moments throughout the show, there could be no tracks in the stage – meaning the sets could not be automated to come on and off the stage. As a result of this, Wheeldon used the actors to carry set pieces and props.
As a result of the brilliant choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and the extraordinary precision and dedication of the cast, AAIP won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Choreography.
According to the review in the Wall Street Journal, “An American in Paris, a new theatrical version of Gene Kelly’s Gershwin-themed 1951 screen musical, instantly catapults Mr. Wheeldon into the ranks of top-tier director-choreographers, by which I mean Robbins and Bob Fosse.”