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‘An American in Paris,’ Inspiration for ‘La La Land,’ Comes to Grand Rapids Pops Stage

In An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the worlds of symphonic music, dance, and fine art collide into a romantic love story that ushered in the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals.

The film, which won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Picture, launched more than a decade’s worth of well-known musicals, from the self-aware Singing in the Rain, to the edgy and angular West Side Story, to the beloved family classic, The Sound of Music.

Damien Chazelle, director of the award-winning La La Land, admitted that he “pillaged” from An American in Paris to make his 2016 box-office hit come to life. “An American in Paris is such a stunner,” Chazelle explains. “It’s an awesome example of how daring some of those old musicals really were. It’s incredible that it ever got made, let alone that it won best picture.”

Grand Rapids Pops presents An American in Paris with a full-length screening of the entire movie, coupled with a live performance by the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Part of the Fox Motors Pops series, the show features the film projected onto a 40-foot screen above the orchestra while musicians play the iconic film score with the music of George Gershwin.

An American in Paris will be presented November 10-12 in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW. Shows are at 8pm Friday and Saturday, and at 3pm on Sunday. Tickets start at $18.