The Paper Mill Playhouse opened their 2014/15 season last weekend with a Broadway-bound revival of Can-Can. However, this is not the Can-Can of past generations; this show is fresh and new without losing the spirit of the original production. The production is full of outstanding performances, sensational dancing, and a cast that is having as much fun onstage as the audience is watching the show. This is one show that you do not want to miss this fall; the show is spectacular.
Can-Can is set in 1893 in the Montmartre district of Paris and tells the story of Pistache, the proprietor of a well know café Bal du Paradis. She decides to feature the scandalous dance, the Can-Can, in her café. Though performing the Can-Can is in defiance of the law. This highly energetic dance provides her establishment with notoriety, although it also places her and her business in conflict with the authorities. After appearing in court Pistache finds that one of the presiding judges, Aristide, who feels legally bound to shut her café down, happens to be a past love interest. The book for Can-Can was originally written by Abe Burrows. However, Joel Fields and David Lee have revised the book to give the show a fresh and new feel. According to a statement by David Lee, “Can-Can is still set in 1893 – and although 90% rewritten it retains all of Abe Burrows’s original characters and intent.” Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for this show, and it features timeless classics such as “I Love Paris” and “C’est Magnifique.”
Director, David Lee, has assembled a phenomenal cast for this production of Can-Can. Playing the role of Pistache is Kate Baldwin. Baldwin is distinguished onstage and has a commanding stage presence as she interacts with the audience throughout the show. She is masterful in this role, and her rendition of “I Love Paris” is exceptional. Jason Danieley plays Aristide Forestier, the judge who is trying to cease the lascivious and lewd behavior at Bal du Paradis, where customers come see the outrageous dance, the Can-Can. Danieley is perfectly captivating in this role. He and Baldwin have an endearing chemistry onstage, and their duet, “C’est Magnifique” is rich and entrancing. Michael Berresse portrays the protagonist, Hilaire Jussac, an art critic who also pursues Claudine, one of the café’s dancers. Berresse brings an abundance of energy to this role, and one of his best vocals is “Come Along with Me.” Megan Sikora plays Claudine, who is the seamstress turned dancer. Sikora is sprightly in this part as she dazzles audiences with her charisma and liveliness. Playing Boris, the sculptor who is the object of Claudine’s affection, is Greg Hildreth. Hildreth is wonderfully comical in this part, and the song “Never, Never Be an Artist” provides humor and levity and had the audience laughing. I loved the energy from the four fine actors in this song, Hildreth, Justin Robertson, Mark Price, and Jason Danieley. Michael Kostroff plays Jean-Louis, Pistache’s maître d'. Kostroff is wonderfully ostentatious in this role. I also must mention the number “Can-Can,” which is a show stopping number. The performances in this number are breathtaking, and just to see “Can-Can” performed is worth the price of admission. The choreography by Patti Columbo is amazing. The night I attended, the members of the audience gave the “Can-Can” number raucous applause and even a standing ovation – Yes, it was that good.
I would be amiss if I did not mention the Artistic Team for the production. The striking costumes were designed by Ann Hould-Ward. Rob Bissinger designed the ornate set. The Lighting Designer is Michael Gilliam and the Sound Designer is Randy Hansen. Rob Greene and J. Jared Janas are the Hair, Wig and Makeup Deigners. The Fight Director is Tim Weske. In addition, Steve Orich is the Musical Director.
Can-Can is at Paper Mill Playhouse through October 26, 2014. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.papermill.org or call their box office at 973-376-4343.
Final Thought: Can-Can at Paper Mill Playhouse is a spectacular production that you do not want to miss. It is a solid show that has delightful songs, vivacious dancing, and incredible performances. It is one of those shows that will have audiences smiling throughout the entire production, as they are reminded of how much Can-Can is a musical gem of American Theatre.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.
Photo 1: Can-Can at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Matthew Murphy; Jason Danieley (Aristide Forestier) and Kate Baldwin (La Mome Pistache).
Photo 2: Can-Can at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Matthew Murphy; From left to right: Jason Danieley (Aristide Forestier), Greg Hildreth (Boris Adzinidzinadze), Justin Robertson (Etienne) and Mark Price (Hercule).
Photo 3: Can-Can at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia; The company of Can-Can.