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The Musical An American in Paris Comes to Houston

Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris
Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris
Photo by Matthew Murphy
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Twin sisters, whose mother decided when they were three years old that she had to find something else for them to do and enrolled them in a creative movement class, went on in dance to the Miami City Ballet and now a musical coming to Houston.

Sara Esty plays Lise, the lead female role in An American in Paris, and when she has to take a break, her sister Leigh-Ann Esty fills in for her. Sara left Miami first, going with the musical to Broadway. When she joined the national tour, she was able to persuade her sister to take the plunge as well. They've been on the road for months and are now headed to Houston's Hobby Center, courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars.

Differing in some details from the famous, iconic movie it is based upon, the Tony Award-winning musical takes up the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American expat who is trying to restart his life after the horrors of World War II as a painter in Paris.

He meets and is intrigued by Lise Dassin, a young French ballerina who keeps a lot of secrets to herself. Sara Esty is Lise (Leigh-Ann her alternate), and describes her character as a mysterious woman with unnamed obligations she doesn't want to tell Jerry about. Still, there are moments when she is happy, which Sara Esty appreciates. "I love being able to play both sides."

Both say it is wonderful to be on the road together doing this show with direction and choreography by Tony Award®-winner Christopher Wheeldon.

“One of the pretty big themes in our story is coming out of the darkness and trying to find light in your life again and inspiration. And everyone wants to find true love. A lot of people connect with that,” Sara Esty says.

And then of course there’s the great Gershwin songs, including “I Got Rhythm” and “S Wonderful” followed by the crescendo ending ballet.

"People really appreciate seeing something that really moves them and brings beauty and hope into their lives," sister Leigh-Ann says. "I think it helps people escape from what’s happening in their lives right now.

“We transport them to Paris every night."

Performances are scheduled for February 21 - March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday (and Tuesday February 21), and 2 p.m. Sundays. Through March 5. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $46.50-$120.

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