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Meet Me in St. Louis | The Muny

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theat_meet-me-in-stl.jpgFor those of us in the shadow of the Arch, it has a special appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Muny favorite, Meet Me in St. Louis focuses on the five children in the Smith family, and the adventures in love of the three oldest (and only nubile) children: Rose, Esther, and Lon. The show is thin on plot but features several entertaining numbers and a wonderful surprise at the end.

The role of Esther is best associated with Judy Garland, who played the love-struck Smith girl in the 1944 movie that inspired the stage musical. As Esther, Brynn O'Malley evokes Garland without aping her. Her voice is strong, and when she performed Garland's famous solo in "Trolley Song," the Muny audience nearly interrupted with applause even before the number was over.

The setting is our own hometown in the year leading up to the great 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. As such, the first number in the show is "Meet Me in St. Louis," a song that was written for the Fair over a century ago, rather than for the movie or the stage musical. Excitement over being so close to the World's Fair is dashed when the Smith children's father announces that the family is moving to New York right after Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, in addition to the "Trolley Song," this show famously introduced to the world the holiday standard "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

The dancing is charming, especially in the numbers "Skip to My Lou," "A Touch of the Irish," and "The Banjo."

A standout in the strong cast was seven-year-old Elizabeth Teeter, who played the youngest Smith, Tootie. She handled her many lines—spoken and sung—with aplomb, and was cute without being cutesy. May Meet Me be the start of a long Muny career for this promising actress.

Meet Me in St. Louis doesn't rank among the greatest shows in musical theater history, but for those of us in the shadow of the Arch, it has a special appeal...which perhaps explains why the Muny has produced the show every fifth year since 1994. It's worth seeing. | David Benkof

 

Visit the Muny's website for information on the remainder of 2009 season.

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