For Melissa's Kitties, I always intended to incorporate more posts about the plays, concerts, and other fun things I do throughout the year. I meant to start doing this in January after I saw An American in Paris, here in D.C., and Meteor Shower in New York City. But the day after I returned from New York, I came down with a cold that made me lose track of the time. I'm still catching up, so here's some old, interesting news from the theatre world.
An American in Paris
If you've seen the movie as often as I have, you'd notice that this stage version is different. For example, some of the characters have different personalities than they do in the movie. (What bothered me most, of course, was that Jerry Mulligan isn't as friendly as Gene Kelly's version.) The French girl, Lise, is not a sales girl in a local shop but a ballet dancer, working toward her big break. (I consider this an improvement.) All the guys fight over her in this story. Also, some of the songs, all written by George and Ira Gershwin, are missing or different from those in the film.
These changes are okay because this stage musical is based on its own new book by Craig Lucas. This story has a more realistic tone that matches the post-war era. It stands on its own, but it pays homage to the film with nice choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and impressive moving sets that seem to dance across the stage to the music. (It reminded me of how things moved in the historic 17-minute ballet at the end of the film.) In its own way, this version of An American in Paris still captures the art, excitement, and romance of the city and the promise of new beginnings. Find An American in Paris on tour for a nostalgic journey through the City of Lights.
I heard about Meteor Shower when it was first announced that 1) Steve Martin wrote this new play, and 2) the cast includes Amy Schumer (making her Broadway debut), Keegan-Michael Key (from Comedy Central's Key & Peele), and Laura Benanti (a Broadway star most recently made famous for her great impression of Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). I had to see it! My theatre buddy and I planned an emergency road trip to New York for the show at Booth Theatre on January 13, a week before it closed.
The story, which takes place in 1993, is about a California couple, Corky (Amy Schumer) and Norm (Jeremy Shamos), who are expecting another, more sophisticated couple over for dinner. Before they arrive, the other couple, Laura (Laura Benanti) and Gerald (Keegan Michael Key) decide to play tricks on their friends by telling them lies about their own past, like how Laura was a really fat child and Gerald had bad parents. The witty conversations that follow throughout the evening spark plenty of laughter because of the wonderful writing and performances. Also, a meteor shower happens and someone gets hit, but don't worry, it's hilarious.
Jokes and sprinkled throughout Meteor Shower in gestures, looks, reactions, and quips – all of which I could tell came from the mind of Steve Martin. Here are just a few examples:
- While they are preparing for their guests to arrive, Corky and Norm catch themselves saying snide remarks to each other during their conversations. Each time, they stop and run to face one another and hold hands. As if fresh from relationship therapy, they calmly tell each things like, "I understand that you probably didn't know you hurt me. I'm asking you to be more careful with my feelings." and "I love you and I know you love me." Once satisfied with their exchange, they nod to confirm forgiveness, scramble back to whatever they were doing, and resume their conversation.
- Keegan-Michael Key made me laugh the most: When he first shows up, he yells his responses to any questions and dominates everyone's personal space.
- Between scenes, Laura Benanti and Amy Schumer take turns doing a short dance, like a shuffle or tap routine, while classical music plays and the set rotates from the interior side of the home to the backyard side. It's unexpected silliness. (I imagined Steve Martin thinking this up: How are we going to fill the break? Let's just have Laura Benanti do the Charleston on the side for 30 seconds.)
Posters: An American in Paris © Allied Touring; Meteor Shower © DKC/O&M