UVU talent featured in regional premiere of Broadway musical

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The Tony award-winning musical An American in Paris is coming to Utah thanks to the Hale Center Theatre in Sandy. This musical premiered on Broadway in 2015 and is an adaptation of the 1951 Gene Kelly movie of the same name. It features music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, two of the most notable composers in American musical history.

Though the national tour of the musical passed through Utah by way of the Eccles Theater in 2017, this production at the Hale is one of the first times that the show will be produced by any regional theater. This production is directed by Dave Tinney and produced by Sally Dietlein.

Brooke Storheim, UVU dance department faculty member and ensemble dancer in Paris, called the experience an honor.

“The Gershwin family decided to open [the show] up to three regional theaters across the country,” Storheim said. “The Hale was fortunate enough to be selected as one of them. The talent pool of dancers in Utah is well-known and respected, which is a huge reason why.”

The musical is set at the end of World War II. Jerry, an American G.I., decides to stay in Paris and become an artist instead of returning home. He soon meets Lise, a French dancer, and falls in love at first sight. The show features many different styles of dance, including ballet and tap. The choreography was done by Jennifer Hill Barlow, who is also the associate director of the play.

Claire Milner, a UVU sophomore and ensemble dancer, said this blending of styles makes Paris a musical unlike any other.

“It’s such a privilege to be a part of this show. I’m very fortunate,” Milner said. “It’s not a typical musical. It touches the audience in a different way that they might not have experienced before.

Juliet Doherty, two-time gold medalist in ballet and TEDx speaker, stars as Lise in ‘An American in Paris,’ playing at Hale Center Theater in Sandy from February 15-April 6. (Photo by Meghan DeHaas)

“The level of performance is unique and at a completely different level than anything I’ve ever seen,” Storheim said. “The music is timeless and everyone will love [it].”

This music has been handled by Kelly DeHaan, the music director.

Among the talented performers are Myles Woolstenhulme and Wesley Valdez playing Jerry Mulligan; Andrew Robertson and Marshall Madsen playing Adam; Brighton Hertford and Ashley Carlson playing Milo Davenport; and introducing a special guest who has been featured on New York stages and film—the critically acclaimed Juliet M. Doherty as Lise.

“I’ve worked in a lot of theatres and the Hale is incredible,” Storheim said. “They’ve gone above and beyond in what they’ve put into this show, the costumes, the sets. It’s amazing.”

These technical aspects of the show are in the capable hands of Utah’s designers and technicians. Set pieces are designed by Kacey Udy and the costumes designed by Joy Zhu. Wig and make-up designs are handled by Krissa Lent. Joshua Roberts is providing lighting and special projection designs while Dan Morgan manages sound design.

“It’s really quite spectacular,” Milner said of the overall production. “It blends theater and ballet in a way that will be a different experience for many people in Utah.”

An American in Paris will run from Feb. 18 to April 6, with 50 performances total. Tickets can be found through the Sandy Hale Center Theatre’s website.

Featured photo by Meghan Dehaas. In the photo is Juliet Doherty, two-time gold medalist in ballet and TEDx speaker, who stars as Lise.