Tagged: Robbie Fairchild

I think I saw theatrical magic last night. Yes, I have already seen some amazing shows this year, – Moulin Rouge and The Wedding Singer spring immediately to mind. But neither of those had the impact on me that An American In Paris had me. Not only did the show have a number of ‘how did they just do that on stage right in front of me’ moments but I found myself so engrossed in the story that I spent the entire intermission wanting the curtain to go back up.

Based on the 1951 film starring Gene Kelly An American In Paris follows what happens when soldier Jerry Mulligan (Robbie Fairchild – Brigadoon) decides to stay in Paris after the Nazis have been driven out at the end of World War II. When he decides to stay he has a chance meeting with a woman on the street, whom he later finds out is named Lise (Leanne Cope – Coppelia), and then meets a gifted young piano player named Adam Hochberg (Jonathan Hickey – Are You Lonesome Tonight).

As Jerry works on his artwork Adam works with Henri Baurel (Sam Ward – Jesus Christ Superstar) who dreams about going against his parent’s wishes and becoming a cabaret star. But as the three realise their dreams maybe coming true thanks to the career driven Milo Davenport (Ashleigh Rubenach – Anything Goes) they also all unknowingly fall in love with Lise, who we discover is a gifted young ballerina who is about to be the star of Milo’s latest production.

The first thing I have to say about An American In Paris is that through it I have discovered that Christopher Wheeldon (The Nutcracker) is one of the most gifted directors that we have modern day theatre. What he has done with An American In Paris is nothing short of spectacular – he has created a show that looks so amazing that you could see it night after night and still notice something different each night.

You now very early on that this is going to be a show with a difference. When a piano suddenly disappears on stage underneath a Nazi flag turning into a French flag you realise that Wheeldon’s magic here is something that we have never ever seen on an Australian stage before. The imagery that appears not only behind the actors and actresses but also around them gives the piece a real cinematic feel. Whether it be Adam playing piano in a cafe while an apartment building looms behind him or the amazing props and sets that make up the shop that Lise works in this production brings war time Paris to life in front of you in an amazing way.

Wheeldon also allows the production to incorporate both musical theatre and ballet together brilliantly. Now I will admit that I am a huge musical theatre fan but I am not the kind of person that will go out of my way to watch ballet, yet here I found myself enthralled when the production went deeply into its ballet side. If anything this production gave me a deeper understanding ballet that I have never had before.

What really won me over there though where the characters and the actors playing them. It was a stroke of genius to bring both Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope here to play Jerry and Lise. Both have cemented themselves in these roles on both Broadway and in the West End before coming to Australia and it is easy to see why. Both shine in their roles and I feel like I am extremely lucky to have been able to watch the pair of them in their famous roles… it is something that I will treasure forever.

Credit must also be paid to those around them in the productions as well. Sam Ward often steals the show with his flamboyant portrayal of Henri, and the fact that he knew how to reign in the character in the more sensitive scenes shows what a talented actor he really is.

Also sensational was Ashleigh Rubenach who plays Milo so well that you can’t help but feel for her despite the fact that she maybe the reason that Jerry and Lise never get together, while Jonathan Hickey was simply stunning as Adam Hochberg. He put in a genuine and natural performance to bring the character to life and I have to admit Adam soon became the character that I was looking out for the most on stage.

A gripping and engaging story brought to life but an extremely talented cast mixed together with some of the most amazing visuals that we have seen on stage in Australia make An American In Paris a show that certainly cannot be missed.

5/5 Stars

 

Summary: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.

Year: 2019

Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2019

Thailand Cinema Release Date: 3rd January 2019

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States, United Kingdom

Director: Tom Hooper

Screenwriter: Les Hall, Tom Hooper, T.S. Eliot (poetry), Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical)

Cast: Jaih Betote (Coricopat), Larry Bourgeois (Socrates), Jonadette Carpio (Syllabub), Danny Collins (Mungojerrie), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Laurie Davidson (Mr. Mistoffelees), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Jason Derulo (Rum Rum Tugger), Idris Elba (Macavity), Robbie Fairchild (Mukustrap), Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Melissa Madden-Gray (Griddlebone), Ian McKellan (Gus The Theatre Cat), Steven McRam (Shimbleshanks the Railway Cat), Naoimh Morgan (Rumpleteazer), Daniela Norman (Demeter), Bluey Robinson (Alonzo), Freya Rowley (Jellylorum), Ida Saki (Electra), Zizi Strallen (Tantomile), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Mette Towley (Cassandra), Eric Underwood (Admetus), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Ray Winstone (Growltiger)

Running Time: 110 mins

Classification: G (Australia) TBC (Thailand)

 

 

OUR CATS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Dave Griffiths’ Cats Review:

When you look back of 2019 and think of what films made the biggest impact in cinema there were perhaps none quite talked about the way Cats was. When the trailer dropped for director Tom Hooper’s (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical it made the nightly news for all the wrong reasons. For some Hooper’s cats looked strange, not-quite-human not-quite-cat, but others  (like myself) found themselves erring on the side caution wondering or not if this was going to turn out to be some kind of visual spectacular.

To be honest Cats sits somewhere in the middle. While it is not the musical masterpiece that Hooper created with Les Miserables it is also not as terrible as some would have you think. Perhaps the best way to approach Cats is to think you are about to enter a cinema to watch a theatre musical being projected onto the big screen because this feels much more like a concert than it does a cinematic experience.

Originally based on a collection of poems from T.S. Eliot Cats is told through the eyes of Victoria (Francesca Hayward The Sun Is God, Extra) a young cat who finds herself dumped in a London alleyway one night. She soon finds herself making friends with a magical cat called Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson – Will, The Good Liar) who soon introduces her to the world of the Jellicle Cats.

On the night she arrives she finds that the Jellicles are eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of their oldest members – their matriarch Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench – Skyfall, Shakespeare In Love) who on this night every year choices which Jellicle will live the life they have always dreamed of. But not everything runs smoothly as the villainous Macavity (Idris Elba – The Losers, Star Trek Beyond) plans on eliminating all of his competition.

Surprisingly the plot of Cats does work on the big screen. It is extremely light on though and at times the film feels like an extra couple of songs have been added to pad it out to feature film length. Despite what many felt from when that first trailer surfaced you do also find yourself as an audience member connecting with the cats on screen. Each has their own persona and whether you want to admit to it or not you do find yourself barracking for a cat to win Old Deuteronmy’s approval.

The film’s biggest weakness though is the way it is put together. The stories and scenes are almost presented the way they would be if you were reading through the original collection of short stories. A certain cat will perform and point out their strengths and weaknesses and then they are spirited away by Macavity before they can have their time with Old Deuteronomy. The sequences though where Macavity and his right-hand cat Growltiger (Ray Winstone – The Departed, Beowulf) are keeping the other cats captive are more like you would expect from a pantomime though and never become as menacing as they perhaps should have been.

While the sequences of watching the Jellicles perform does at times seem magical there is none of the wow factor here that we got with other musicals like Les Miserables and Moulin Rouge. Les Miserables worked on the big screen because it was believable while Moulin Rouge was way over the top which suited the theatre world that it was set in. Cats has the disadvantage of not being believable and it feels like perhaps it would have worked a little better if Hooper had followed in the footsteps of Baz Luhrmann and made this film go more into the fantasy realm as well.

What does work for Cats though is the casting. Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellan (Gods And Monster, Lord Of The Rings) steal the show as they expertly lead their younger cast. James Corden (Trolls, Peter Rabbit) brings in just the right amount of comic relief while playing Bustopher Jones but it is Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls, The Secret Life Of Bees) who shines the brightest with her amazing vocals in the role of Grizabella. The ballet skills of Francesca Hayward also allows her to gracefully float across the screen as she leads the audience through this strange new world.

Cats may not leave its audience in awe the way Les Miserables did but it does have its own special charm. The best way to approach the movie is to go into the cinema knowing you will be about to watch a theatre production rather than a big blockbuster film.

 

 

Average Subculture Rating:

 

 

IMDB Rating: 
Cats (2019) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Cats Reviews:

Our Cats review that appeared in ‘The Phuket News’ can be read at this link – https://www.thephuketnews.com/cats-gives-us-reason-to-paws-74164.php

 

Trailer: