Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review of "Paramour"

Paramour, Cirque du Soleil’s first Broadway production, is big, bold, and busy.  The results are decidedly mixed.  As a book musical, the show is overly contrived and less then riveting.  As a crowd-pleasing spectacle, Paramour delivers with stunning acrobatics and feats of strength and agility that, at times, overrun the spacious Lyric Theatre stage.

The story revolves around a love triangle between a larger then life Hollywood director, AJ Golden (Jeremy Kushnier); the beautiful nightclub singer, Indigo James (Ruby Lewis), he earmarks for stardom; and her piano playing, songwriting partner, Joey Green (Ryan Vona), who deep down loves her.  The plot follows the threesome as they create movie magic—AJ as the love struck, demanding filmmaker, Indigo as the bewitching star, and Joey as the yearning composer.  At the end of the shoot AJ decides to marry his gorgeous starlet, which prompts Joey into action as he whisks his true love away.  Spurning stardom she follows him into the sunset.  Melded into the storyline are the signature athletic and acrobatic elements of a standard Cirque du Soleil show, which augments the hustle and bustle on stage.

The main problem with the musical is the book of the show feels too fabricated and clichéd.  Jeremy Kushnier as AJ Green is too much of a loud-mouthed caricature.  Ryan Vona is a sympathetic character, but too melancholy and pouting.  Ruby Lewis, on the other hand, makes a sparkling Broadway debut.  It would be worth seeing her in a vehicle where she could show more of her acting and singing abilities.  A number of Cirque du Soleil performers are worth noting starting off with Andrew and Kevin Atherton.  Their muscular, high-flying aerial act was quite impressive.  Tom Ammirati, Samuel William Charlton, Myriam Deraiche, and Martin Charrat were also thrilling to watch.  Nate Cooper, channeling Charlie Chaplin’s playfulness, added a winning comic touch to the production.  The ensemble’s circus-like acrobatics during the Act I closing scene, “Calamity Jane,” and the Act II “New York Rooftops” trampoline number amply demonstrates why Cirque du Soleil has achieved such a worldwide following. 

The score by Bob and Bill, Guy and Marc Lessard, and Andreas Carlsson is more derivative and referential.  Within the confines of the show the songs are attractive and satisfying, but have no staying power outside the production.

Director Philippe Decoufle is at his best when the stage is crowded with plenty of action taking place, even though it can be hard for audience members to keep track of all the goings-on.  He is less successful in generating a dramatic edge and sustained interest when working with his principle actors.

Paramour, more for fans of Cirque du Soleil thrills then for Broadway musical enthusiasts.

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