Stillwater citizens received a taste of Paris last Thursday night when the musical “An American in Paris” wowed the McKnight Center with a sold-out show. The musical, a dramatic romance set in post-World War II Paris, has been on tour for nearly two years and has traveled all across the U.S.
The cast features several different actresses and actors from various different backgrounds. The show has been touring for a couple years; it’s a dramatic production revolving around an innocent love story between a French girl and an American ex-GI. On the surface, “An American in Paris” can be categorized as a simple romance, but Kyle James Adam, who plays the ballerina director, says otherwise.
“I think all theatre, all art, should be observed and you can take something from it, whether you say that is for you or not,” Adam said. “Especially with this show, it’s a very intimate and personal story and it’s very pertinent to what’s happening politically and culturally today. It’s a beautiful story about reemergence coming after a very devastating time.”
Art has the ability to have a greater meaning that the audience can dive in to. Even older plays can echo current issues. Bella Muller, who plays Milo Davenport, the bold American philanthropist, believes that her character represents a greater female movement.
“What I love about Milo is that she represents this sense of power and she’s an extremely intelligent woman,” Muller said. “She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go for it. I think in that era you don’t see a lot of that. You don’t see a lot of women going on their own and saying, ‘I can build this from the ground up.’”
Beyond a social movement, “An American in Paris” offers insight on a world nearly a century old that rhymes with history today.
“Theatre is one of the best ways that you can learn to be compassionate about other people,” Muller said. “It’s a gateway to see other perspectives and other people’s way of life that maybe you haven’t encountered before or thought of in that way. I think “An American in Paris” shows that there are many ways to love and be loved but it can still be hard. Love doesn’t have to be a perfect thing.”
Muller goes on to explain the political parallels between the musical and reality, and the message that “An American in Paris” sends to viewers.
“It was hard for me today when Elizabeth Warren dropped out,” said Muller. “Our show is coming at a point when the country is broken… It’s important to remember why we’re in this and why life is important, and it’s because of love. It’s because of the beautiful things in life like music and art. Those are the things that live beyond these tensions… I hope our show shows that.”