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From Birmingham to Broadway and back: “American in Paris” star still “smitten with the Mitten”

Matthew Murphy
Teri Hansen (left) and Allison Walsh perform in "An American in Paris."

Right now, all over Michigan, countless high schools are putting on their fall theater productions. Acting in a school play can help a kid discover something she never knew she had inside. Someone who’s shy can somehow find the key to shining on stage, and it’s something that can change the course of her life.

That’s what happened for Teri Hansen, when she auditioned for a play at Seaholm High School in Birmingham.

Now, Hansen is starring as Madame Baurel in An American in Paris. The Tony-winning musical will be at the Detroit Opera House from November 28th through December 10th.

Hansen joined Stateside to talk about the road from Seaholm to “Paris.”

On finding theater in high school

Hansen was prepared to go to school for culinary arts until her friends convinced her to try out for the school musical. “That really changed the trajectory of my life,” said Hansen.

It was Hello, Dolly! and Hansen was in the chorus. She then played Marian the Librarian in The Music Man before attending Central Michigan University to pursue theater.

On the power of An American in Paris and her favorite song

Choosing just one song from the seminal work by one of America’s greatest composers is difficult, but if pressed, Hansen says “The Man I Love” is her favorite.

“People will just be lifted up out of their seats as they are every night,” she said. “It’s just delicious, it’s comfort music for the soul.”

On Broadway’s appeal to audiences

While Broadway has had a resurgence, live theater still has to compete with other forms of entertainment for all of our attention. But Hansen believes that experiencing American theater and the Great American songbook is critical.

“It is life-changing, if not forever, for those two precious hours that you are experiencing live theater,” she said.

Listen above for the full conversation.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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