Learn more about An American in Paris The Musical with Garen Scribner, former actor in the National Tour and current host of the “Broadway Sandwich” web series on ALL ARTS. He discusses his favorite number, what sets the musical apart from the movie, and more.
Premieres Friday, November 2 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Streams Saturday, November 3 at pbs.org/gperf and on PBS apps.
This is Gershwin, this is Gershwin. Gershwin, people. Gershwin!
Hi, Broadway babies! I'm Elisa Lichtenbaum from Great Performances.
And, we are here to get jazzed for Broadway's Best... jazz hands!
Today I am sitting here with the fabulous wonderful and s'wonderful and c'est très magnifique Garin Scribner and we will talk about all things In American in Paris.
Garin right here was in the Broadway production and the national tour. Oh you were in the ensemble and then eventually took over the role of Gerry Mulligan which Robert Fairchild plays in the version that we'll all be watching on Great Performances and for those of you who know the movie it's the Gene, quote/unquote, the Gene Kelly role.
People who love musicals probably know the movie version of An American in Paris backwards and forwards. How similar is the stage version to the film and are there differences?
The musical on stage is... it is inspired from the idea of the movie but it's definitely a retelling it's a reimagining of this concept. The movie was was done so close to the war and in a way it was still kind of early to talk about and kind of really face the realities of what it is to live in a war zone and live in a city that has been occupied. So our show is about love first of all it's about love and it's about overcoming tragedy and that sort of love conquers all and so we're seeing in the stage version is that the city is coming to life after being torn apart and all of these people are coming to life as well. The movie has a little bit has a little bit of a lighter touch I would say, the musical I think dives in a little bit more on the heavy the darkness and kind of the rebuilding that has to happen after such a tragedy.
There's this moment in that beautiful huge opening number where you're getting a sense that it's the city recovering from a war where there's just one moment where two dancers cross in front of each other and this arm formation that their arms make it's a swastika. Wait, that's the part that I did so I was half of the swastika it gives you it will give you chills people seriously. Yeah and I'm so glad you saw that because there are so many richly laid textures that Chris puts in I mean the way he makes his work is painstakingly specific and singular so those things are are laid out all in this choreography so what's really cool about the viewers being able to see this on TV is you could pause you actually pause your TV. Hit the button on the remote and you pause and you can stop live theater happening you can't do that when you're in a theater right so that's one thing that's really special about seeing it on video Favorite moment? Or favorite scene or favorite song? I love the song S'Wonderful.
I think it's one of the nicest tunes in the show. It's a song that as soon as you hear that first chord you know everybody in the theater kind of resonates with that chord and knows what song is about to happen and I remember coming out on stage with my sketchpad and singing the beginning of that song first stanza and seeing couples in the audience who were sitting together kind of grab hands and look and think like... just like us...exactly!
'Remember when we heard that song honey and that was first time...' or maybe that was our wedding song or whatever.
*music plays* Geron, in addition to being Mr. An American in Paris, you are also the host and producer of this amazing series called 'Broadway Sandwich' that people can watch on All Arts which is on AllArts.org It is a show that looks at what Broadway performers do between their matinee and evening performances and we also get a tour of the theaters in general, we get to go on stage and see what happens backstage which is so remarkable and interesting so it's me taking everybody backstage and following along with these incredible performers and finding out what their normal lives look like when they're not on stage.
So, please tune in.
Garen, thank you so much for being here today it has been a distinct pleasure.
It's been my honor thank you for having me.
And now I think everybody's jazzed for an American in Paris which you can all watch on Great Performances tomorrow night and you can stream it beginning the following day so enjoy and... Merci beaucoup! Merci! Merci avoir!