SCHENECTADY — Actor Etai Benson does not envy the dancer he shares the stage with in his upcoming performance in “An American in Paris”, but he “appreciates them.”
Lauded as the most awarded new musical in 2015, “An American in Paris” closes its run on Broadway this week and launches a nationwide tour from Proctors Theatre. The production plays in Schenectady for a one-week run, from Friday, Oct. 14 to Friday, Oct. 21.
Inspired by the 1951 Gene Kelly film, the musical tells the tale of three men who unwittingly fall in love with the same woman. But, overall, it’s a story of individuals just trying to find happiness immediately after World War II. But, Benson said, there are tweaks to the story portrayed from the film that enables it to connect with contemporary audiences.
Despite changes what remains untouched is the musical score by George Gershwin, accompanied by an impressive dance choreography by Christopher Wheeldon that swept all major awards.
On Broadway, “An American in Paris” earned four Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, a Drama League Award, two Theatre World Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards and an Actors Equity Association “ACCA” Award.
“Fans of the film will definitely appreciate it,” said Benson. “It’s sort of like experiencing the story in a whole new way.”
Benson plays Adam, an expatriate who decides to continue living in liberated Paris after fighting in the war. Adam, a composer and pianist, sees that his place in the world is to provide light, in a world that has seen much darkness. Much of which the Jewish soldier witnessed first-hand.
“I had known the film, but this is brand new,” said Benson, adding that he’s had his eye on this particular role since he was first handed the script three years ago. “It’s a very juicy character. He’s funny, and he’s dry. He’s sarcastic and he’s witty. But, he’s also got a lot of soul, and a lot of heart, and a lot of passion. It immediately spoke to me…”
“One of my favorite lines he says is, ‘Life is so dark, but if you have the talent to make it brighter, to bring people joy and hope, why would you withhold that?’ And, to me, that’s the message to the show. … A lot of people go to the theatre to escape that darkness. And, especially right now, I think we could use that.”
Editor’s Note: The print version of this story published in the Oct. 5 edition of TheSpot518 misspelled Etai Benson’s last name.