|Robert Fairchild & Leanne Cope. Photo: Angela Sterling|
Those of us fortunate enough to have followed Fairchild's starry career at New York City Ballet have seen his athleticism, his jazzy approach, his irresistible enthusiasm and generosity in performances. A natural in Jerome Robbins' work—a stepping stone between ballet and musical theater—it seems perfectly logical to move to Broadway. He can sing as well, and if not his strongest suit, certainly as well as other famous dancers-with-other-skills such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, his role model. Fairchild's ballet training is his secret superpower; his leaps on the relatively small stage appear even more heroic and weightless than at the Koch; his turns top-like. And as a chatty viewer behind me exclaimed every time he began a solo, he is so smooth. Smoothsmoothsmooth!
Cope, a Brit of Royal Ballet pedigree, possesses an intangible magnetism that, in the show, quite understandably makes her the object of three men's affections. A petite gamine with a million-dollar bob, she has gorgeous lines and feet. She also manages to convey humility and a secretiveness so essential to contrast with Jerry's American openness. The supporting roles are deftly cast as well, including Max von Essen (Henri), Brandon Uranowitz (Adam), and Jill Paice (Milo).
|Fairchild in flight. Photo: Angela Sterling|
Bob Crowley's sets are compact mobile pieces, some with picture frames or modern art motifs onto which imagery is cast (by 59 Projections). Large-scale projections in an Impressionist style grow and shimmer on the backdrop, including some of Paris' iconic sights. Key production numbers include one set in Galeries Lafayette, in which Jerry hops from showcase to showcase, his extended leg skimming the countertop. "Stairway to Paradise" moves from a jazz speakeasy to Radio City and back, and includes the requisite kickline done by both showgirls and tux-clad guys (the natty costumes are also by Crowley).
An avant-garde, salon style ballet presentation features dancers making hilarious moves that manage to be just one notch to the left of real. And the beginning and end of the grand finale ballet cleverly situate us behind the stage, looking out past the performers (in Mondrian-esque costumes) into the "audience." Jerry and Lise are clad in sleek black outfits for the dream sequence—a snazzy, captivating duet in which the white set is reduced to simple geometric shapes, better to feature the couple. And as with the best dreams, we want them to keep dancing forever.