‘Paramour’, by Cirque Du Soleil

Lyric Theatre, New York; 24th May 2016 – The Circus Diaries Goes TransAtlantic

Director: Philippe Decoufle Artistic Guide: Jean-Francois Bouchard Associate Creative Director: Pascale Henrot Associate Creative Director and Scene Director: West Hyler Composer: Bob & Bill Set Designer: Jean Rabasse Choreographer: Daphne Mauger Costume Designer: Philippe GuilottelCirque Du Soleil’s glittering Broadway debut, Paramour, is an intricately cut diamond whose combined shining facets threaten to dazzle completely at times. It is musical theatre. It is circus. It is film. Most astonishingly, none of these genres appear beholden to or eclipsed by any of the others, each allowed to bring its unique qualities to the Lyric Theatre’s stage. The combination, under the visionary direction of Philippe Decouflé provides a more exciting spectacle than any one aspect could achieve alone.

The show, set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, at times feels so crowded it conjures the spirit of the giant three-ringed circuses that enjoyed their own golden age in the United States. With some scenes taken from Decouflé’s previous CdS production Iris, Paramour includes live filming and projection, acrobatics, ensemble dance, a script that wittily trips the fine wire between homage and pastiche, and a score that takes us via dramatic percussion, silver screen flavoured showtunes, and tender harmonising duets.

Paramour MUSICALORIGINAL LYRIC THEATRE 213 W. 42ND ST. Jeremy Kushnier A.J. Ruby Lewis Broadway debut Indigo Ryan Vona Joey Tom Ammirati Broadway debut Andrew Atherton Broadway debut Kevin Atherton Broadway debut Lee Brearley Broadway debut Yanelis Brooks Broadway debut Sam Charlton Broadway debut Martin Charrat Broadway debut Nate Cooper Broadway debut Katrina Cunningham Broadway debut Myriam Deraiche Broadway debut Kyle Driggs Broadway debut Jeremias Faganel Broadway debut Amber Fulljames Broadway debut Steven Trumon Gray Broadway debut Tomasz Jadach Broadway debut Rafal Kaszubowski Broadway debut Reed Kelly Denis Kibenko Broadway debut Joe McAdam Broadway debut Raven McRae Sarah Meahl Broadway debut Amber J. Merrick Broadway debut Sheridan Mouawad Broadway debut Amber Pickens Broadway debut Justin Prescott Fletcher Blair Sanchez Broadway debut Matthieu Sennacherib Broadway debut Bret Shuford Blakely Slaybaugh Broadway debut Sam Softich Broadway debut Amiel Soicher Broadway debut Amber van Wijk Broadway debut Bruce Weber Broadway debut Tomasz Wilkosz Broadway debut Produced by Cirque du Soleil Theatrical Music by Bob & Bill; Lyrics by Bob & Bill; Co-Composer: Andreas Carlsson Directed by Philippe Decouflé; Choreographed by Daphné Mauger; Scene Director: West Hyler; Acrobatic Choreographer: Shana Carroll Creative Guide: Jean-François Bouchard; Scenic Design by Jean Rabasse; Costume Design by Philippe Guillotel; Lighting Design by Patrice Besombes; Sound Design by John Shivers; Projection Design by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann; Make-Up Design by Nathalie Gagné Acrobatic Performance Designer: Boris Verkhovsky; Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer: Pierre Masse; Associate Creative Director: Pascale Henrot and West Hyler; Casting - Montreal: Pavel Kotov; Casting - New York: Telsey + Company; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown

For, after all, Paramour is a love story. As the black and white design of the first moments burgeons slowly into colour, and we meet AJ Golden (Jeremy Kushnier), singing starlet Indigo (Ruby Lewis), and composer Joe Green (Ryan Vona), we realise the tag-line concept ‘Love in Technicolor’ is deeply integrated into the fabric of the show.

The plot hinges on which growing love the eruption of riotous colour represents, as Indigo finds her way into the world of films. Is it for her new life as a movie-star? For AJ, the Director who made it all possible? For her original beau and musical collaborator Joe?

PARAMOUR on Broadway - A Cirque du Soleil Musical; Cast: Indigo: Ruby Lewis A.J.: Jeremy Kushnier Joey: Ryan Vona B-Roll video shoot photographed: Tuesday, May 3, 2016; 10:30 AM at the Lyric Theatre/Broadway, New York; Photograph: © 2016 RICHARD TERMINE PHOTO CREDIT - RICHARD TERMINE

Just as the musical accompaniment to the show plays between the filmic categories of diegetic and non-diegetic – appearing one moment as part of the current action, and the next as an overlaid soundtrack – the circus activity plays across the same semi-permeable boundary.

At times, the physical skills lurking within the 38 strong cast are brought out as choreographic enhancement to chorus line dance numbers, at others as acts of spectacle in their own right. They are used to progress the story, and they are used to illustrate psychological tensions of the three main characters.

ParamourMUSICALORIGINALLYRIC THEATRE213 W. 42ND ST.The dramatic core of the show is revealed brilliantly through the musical number Love Triangle. While AJ, Indigo and Joe face each other off, their fantasy counterparts perform a choreography that cuts right to the heart of Indigo’s dilemma. On the trapeze, which rises and sinks during the number, Samuel William Charlton embodies AJ, on the floor is Martin Charrat as Joe and, caught and tossed between them, is Myriam Deraiche as the torn soul of Indigo. AJ can take her to extreme heights, as he grips onto her and controls her flight. Joe has his feet firmly on the ground, but their hand-to-hand acrobatics allow her more freedom and a shared intimate connection. We already get the essential conflict before sung lyrics join in to reiterate.

Paramour Lyric Theatre Produced by Cirque du Soleil Theatrical Music by Bob & Bill; Co-Composer: Andreas Carlsson; Lyrics by Andreas Carlsson; Musical Director: Seth Stachowski Creative Guide: Jean-François Bouchard; Creative Director: Jean-François Bouchard; Directed by Philippe Decouflé; Associate Creative Director: West Hyler, Shana Carroll and Pascale Henrot; Scene Director: West Hyler; Acrobatic Designer: Shana Carroll; Choreographer: Shana Carroll and Daphné Mauger Scenic Design by Jean Rabasse; Costume Design by Philippe Guillotel; Lighting Design by Patrice Besombes; Sound Design by John Shivers; Projection Design by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann; Hair Design by Josh Marquette; Make-Up Design by Nathalie Gagné; Props Design by Anne-Séguin Poirier President and Managing Director, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical: Scott Zeiger; Executive Producer: Jayna Neagle; General Manager: Bespoke Theatricals Technical Supervisor: David Benken; Production Stage Manager: Claudette Waddle; Stage Manager: Timothy R. Semon Musical Coordinator: Howard Joines; Band Leader: Seth Stachowski; Associate Conductor: James Lutz; Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Alex Bender; Acoustic/Electric Basses: Benjamin Campbell; Drums/Percussion: Benoit Clement; Cello: Louise Dubin; Percussion: Aaron Guidry; Trombone/Bass Trombone: James Lutz; Violin/Mandolin: Paul Woodiel; Keyboard/Guitar/Banjo/Saxophone: Seth Stachowski Acrobatic Casting: Cirque du Soleil Casting; Casting New York: Telsey + Company and Cesar A. Rocha, CSA; General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Marketing: Kristina Heney; Flying Machine Design and Choreography: Raffaello D'Andrea and Verity Studios; Acrobatic Performance Designer: Boris Verkhovsky; Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer: Pierre Masse; Artistic Director/Acrobatic Coach: Eric Heppell; Dance Captain: Bruce Weber Cast Jeremy Kushnier A.J. Golden Ruby Lewis Broadway debut Indigo James Ryan Vona Joey Green Kat Cunning Broadway debut Lila Sarah Meahl Broadway debut Gina Bret Shuford Robbie Tom Ammirati Broadway debut Ensemble Andrew Atherton Broadway debut Ensemble Kevin Atherton Broadway debut Ensemble Lee Brearley Broadway debut Ensemble Yanelis Brooks Broadway debut Ensemble Samuel William Charlton Broadway debut Ensemble Martin Charrat Broadway debut Ensemble Nate Cooper Broadway debut Ensemble Myriam Deraiche Broadway debut Ensemble Kyle Driggs Broadway debut Ensemble Jeremias Faganel Broadway debut Ensemble Amber Brooke Fulljames Broadway debut Ensemble Tomasz Jadach Broadway debut Ensemble Rafal Kaszubowski Broadway debut Ensemble Reed Kelly Ensemble Denis Kibenko Broadway debut Ensemble Joe McAdam Broadway debut Ensemble Raven McRae Ensemble Amber J. Merrick Broadway debut Ensemble Sheridan Mouawad Broadway debut Ensemble Amber Barbee Pickens Broadway debut Ensemble Justin Prescott Ensemble Fletcher Blair Sanchez Broadway debut Ensemble Mathieu Sennacherib Broadway debut Ensemble Blakely Slaybaugh Broadway debut Ensemble Sam Softich Broadway debut Ensemble Amiel Soicher Broadway debut Ensemble Steven Trumon Gray Broadway debut Ensemble Amber van Wijk Broadway debut Ensemble Bruce Weber Broadway debut Ensemble Tomasz Wilkosz Broadway debut Ensemble Zhengqi Xia Broadway debut Ensemble Understudies: Kat Cunning (Indigo James), Sarah Meahl (Indigo James), Bret Shuford (A.J. Golden, Joey Green) and Blakely Slaybaugh (Joey Green)

The story of Paramour is AJ’s retelling of the events that led him to an award for Best Director, for his film of the same name in which Indigo was his muse and star. There are moments in his portrayal that are reminiscent of Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane, and of PT Barnum’s disregard for mere fact. This is a history created for us through the magic of art, and film, and circus, which allows the fantastic and the concrete to collide until we must find our own essential truth from within the mix. Even the classic Hollywood hill sign reads HollywoodLand, hinting at the diaphonous reality behind AJ’s narrative.

Director: Philippe Decoufle Artistic Guide: Jean-Francois Bouchard Associate Creative Director: Pascale Henrot Associate Creative Director and Scene Director: West Hyler Composer: Bob & Bill Set Designer: Jean Rabasse Choreographer: Daphne Mauger Costume Designer: Philippe GuilottelThere is a clown, in the form of Cooper (Nate Cooper) who, under his suave appearance to match the rest of the glamorous cast, manages to be the comically bumbling yes-man in every scenario, from cocktail waiter to camera-man. There is an extraordinary doubles straps routine from identical twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton, which becomes even more thrilling in the way it launches unbidden from within a more classical Broadway song to soar over our heads. The pair swing out above the stalls on individual straps, then come together on a double sling in which one brother balances by his armpits in a crucifix position while the other moves and poses around him. Finally they perform hand-to-hand moves together whilst supported only by their strap.

Paramour Lyric TheatreA ring juggle from Kyle Driggs, where his body and props are subject to both physical and digitally projected manipulation,  introduces a dream sequence of raging jealousy where it’s hard to know if the nightmare is AJ’s or Joe’s. Later, a film noir chase scene involves swirling projections of live-filmed action and dynamic sets, before turning into a roof-top chase where the Joe character morphs into another body double (Joe McAdam) for a trampoline and parkour extravaganza that’s like watching old street fighting platform games. Earlier highlights include a living strip of spooling film, playing out before us through a series of cell-like rooms and identically costumed actors, and the imagery of an onstage photo shoot manipulated live to project the company onto classic film posters.

Paramour Lyric Theatre Produced by Cirque du Soleil Theatrical Music by Bob & Bill; Co-Composer: Andreas Carlsson; Lyrics by Andreas Carlsson; Musical Director: Seth Stachowski Creative Guide: Jean-François Bouchard; Creative Director: Jean-François Bouchard; Directed by Philippe Decouflé; Associate Creative Director: West Hyler, Shana Carroll and Pascale Henrot; Scene Director: West Hyler; Acrobatic Designer: Shana Carroll; Choreographer: Shana Carroll and Daphné Mauger Scenic Design by Jean Rabasse; Costume Design by Philippe Guillotel; Lighting Design by Patrice Besombes; Sound Design by John Shivers; Projection Design by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann; Hair Design by Josh Marquette; Make-Up Design by Nathalie Gagné; Props Design by Anne-Séguin Poirier President and Managing Director, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical: Scott Zeiger; Executive Producer: Jayna Neagle; General Manager: Bespoke Theatricals Technical Supervisor: David Benken; Production Stage Manager: Claudette Waddle; Stage Manager: Timothy R. Semon Musical Coordinator: Howard Joines; Band Leader: Seth Stachowski; Associate Conductor: James Lutz; Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Alex Bender; Acoustic/Electric Basses: Benjamin Campbell; Drums/Percussion: Benoit Clement; Cello: Louise Dubin; Percussion: Aaron Guidry; Trombone/Bass Trombone: James Lutz; Violin/Mandolin: Paul Woodiel; Keyboard/Guitar/Banjo/Saxophone: Seth Stachowski Acrobatic Casting: Cirque du Soleil Casting; Casting New York: Telsey + Company and Cesar A. Rocha, CSA; General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Marketing: Kristina Heney; Flying Machine Design and Choreography: Raffaello D'Andrea and Verity Studios; Acrobatic Performance Designer: Boris Verkhovsky; Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer: Pierre Masse; Artistic Director/Acrobatic Coach: Eric Heppell; Dance Captain: Bruce Weber Cast Jeremy Kushnier A.J. Golden Ruby Lewis Broadway debut Indigo James Ryan Vona Joey Green Kat Cunning Broadway debut Lila Sarah Meahl Broadway debut Gina Bret Shuford Robbie Tom Ammirati Broadway debut Ensemble Andrew Atherton Broadway debut Ensemble Kevin Atherton Broadway debut Ensemble Lee Brearley Broadway debut Ensemble Yanelis Brooks Broadway debut Ensemble Samuel William Charlton Broadway debut Ensemble Martin Charrat Broadway debut Ensemble Nate Cooper Broadway debut Ensemble Myriam Deraiche Broadway debut Ensemble Kyle Driggs Broadway debut Ensemble Jeremias Faganel Broadway debut Ensemble Amber Brooke Fulljames Broadway debut Ensemble Tomasz Jadach Broadway debut Ensemble Rafal Kaszubowski Broadway debut Ensemble Reed Kelly Ensemble Denis Kibenko Broadway debut Ensemble Joe McAdam Broadway debut Ensemble Raven McRae Ensemble Amber J. Merrick Broadway debut Ensemble Sheridan Mouawad Broadway debut Ensemble Amber Barbee Pickens Broadway debut Ensemble Justin Prescott Ensemble Fletcher Blair Sanchez Broadway debut Ensemble Mathieu Sennacherib Broadway debut Ensemble Blakely Slaybaugh Broadway debut Ensemble Sam Softich Broadway debut Ensemble Amiel Soicher Broadway debut Ensemble Steven Trumon Gray Broadway debut Ensemble Amber van Wijk Broadway debut Ensemble Bruce Weber Broadway debut Ensemble Tomasz Wilkosz Broadway debut Ensemble Zhengqi Xia Broadway debut Ensemble Understudies: Kat Cunning (Indigo James), Sarah Meahl (Indigo James), Bret Shuford (A.J. Golden, Joey Green) and Blakely Slaybaugh (Joey Green)

All in all, there is an exorbitant amount of innovative visual excellence here, and a story with real emotional pull that also manages to keep it’s climax hidden until the very end (no spoilers here). Last time CdS produced a show that played a New York theatre, it was only able to sustain a very short run. If there is any justice in the entertainments industry, Paramour should be around for a long time to come.

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