Pittsburgh CLO & AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
Over the last 70 years, Pittsburgh CLO has gone from producing musicals under the stars at Pitt Stadium to producing a hit Broadway musical, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Since 1997, the organization has taken an active role in the development of new works, placing it at the epicenter of musical theater innovation and elevating its local tradition of excellence to the world’s most exclusive stages. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is the organization’s first musical designed for Broadway, with Executive Producer Van Kaplan in the capacity of lead producer.
Inspired by the Academy Award®-winning MGM film but imagining more to the story, this elegant production introduces a young American soldier, a reticent French ballerina and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of World War II. Their journey in peacetime is filled with confusion, wonder, and the unmistakable beat of hearts in search of hope.
Pittsburgh CLO’s journey with AN AMERICAN IN PARIS began after the world premiere of ‘S WONDERFUL: THE NEW GERSHWIN MUSICAL in 2010 at the CLO Cabaret, a revue-style musical of George and Ira Gershwin’s most-beloved compositions.
It was during the run of ‘S WONDERFUL that Van Kaplan began discussions with members of the Gershwin family about creating AN AMERICAN IN PARIS for the stage.
With strategic producing partners in tow, a book by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Craig Lucas, sets and costumes by eight-time Tony Award®-winner Bob Crowley, lighting by four-time Tony Award®-winner (and Pittsburgh CLO alum) Natasha Katz, projections by 59 Productions, and led by director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, the musical saw a successful premiere on December 10, 2014 at the venerable Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and again on April 12, 2015 at the Palace Theatre on Broadway – where it won four Tony Awards®, four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, a Drama League Award for Best Musical, and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. It featured a number of Pittsburgh CLO alumni, including Max von Essen, Matthew Scott, Tory Trowbridge and Sarrah Strimel – a former CLO Academy student and Gene Kelly Award-winner.
The musical debuted to further critical acclaim on March 21, 2017 at the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End, with original Broadway leads Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope reprising their Tony Award®-nominated roles. Pittsburgh CLO donors and board members traveled as a group to Paris, New York and London, where they enjoyed seeing the show together and private parties afterward with the cast and creative team.
Today, the National Tour of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is home for a two-week engagement, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, in the city where it saw its first spark – and support – from the start.
For more information, visit www.pittsburghCLO.org/about/new-works
Photo: Producers Jean-Luc Choplin, Stuart Oken & Van Kaplan in front of the AN AMERICAN IN PARIS marquee in Times Square