McGee Maddox

McGee Maddox

Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic

One of the most popular musicals on film has been heating up the live stage for the past few years.

And now it's made its way to Chicago. "An American in Paris" continues through Aug. 13 at The Oriental Theatre.

"An American in Paris" debuted on film in 1951 and starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. It's a romantic story revolving around an American vet trying to find success as a painter in Paris, his friend, who is a concert pianist and a beautiful Parisian girl whom Kelly's character Jerry falls in love with.

McGee Maddox, who stars as lead character Jerry, said he's excited about bringing the show to Chicago.

"I have a lot of family there," he said, adding that he's visited Chicago often.

Maddox said it's been rewarding taking on a project associated with dancer Kelly.

"It's an honor to play a role that Gene Kelly performed," he said. "But I'm making the role my own."

Choreography in the movie was created by Kelly. The stage version was choreographed and directed by dance world great Christopher Wheeldon. Chicago area dance fans will be familiar with Wheeldon's work with The Joffrey Ballet and the new version of The Nutcracker he created for The Joffrey.

"An American in Paris" is the winner of four Tony Awards and has also garnered many other theater awards. It stars the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin.

Maddox, who is a professional dancer,  said he admires the creative and dynamic artistry of Wheeldon. Maddox joined The National Ballet of Canada in 2009 and became a principal dancer with the troupe in 2014.

According to Maddox, it's been interesting juggling the triple arts of dancing, singing and acting on the live stage.

While he's been a professional dancer, he said, he quickly had to add "two more disciplines - singing and acting" to the list.

"I've added more warmups to my pre-show routine," he said, with a laugh. Maddox  said he was "eager" to take on the role in "An American in Paris."

There are certain things that he really likes about the show.

"I would have to say it's (thinking about) that iconic image of Gene Kelly in the '50s film and also the music," he said.

When it comes to Maddox' love of dance, he said it's his love of music that makes him want to dance.

"I'm very mixed when it comes to music. I love classical and rock. And I listen to jazz," he said, adding his taste runs the gamut.

During Maddox' Chicago stay while he's doing the show, he looks forward to eating at favorite restaurants, catching a baseball game and enjoying  time with family members.

FYI: "An American In Paris" continues through Aug. 13 at The Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Tickets are $27 to $98. Call 800-775-2000 or visit


Eloise writes about food and entertainment for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight children in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.