By Guy Gardner
The 1904 World’s Fair is fast approaching! Theatre in the Park is excited to present a Broadway classic, “Meet Me in St. Louis” opening June 16.
The story is simple.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” is most notably a film from 1944 starring Judy Garland. The film was designated as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress in 1994 and is currently preserved in the United States National Film Registry. In 1989 the musical opened on Broadway and ran for 252 performances. The musical, originally directed by Louise Burke, was nominated for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Choreography at the 1990 Tony Awards.
The show begins in the summer of 1903 and takes place throughout the course of the year. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (played on the TIP stage by Mark Murphy and Rachel Hendrickson, respectively) have a house full of characters in their five children and housemaid, Katie (played by Julie Fox). The show centers around this family through the year and the trials and successes of a family in 1903. Interestingly enough, there are plenty of similarities in what today’s average family goes through. We’ll leave it to you to decide how you connect with their story.
The older sisters, Esther and Rose (played by MaryAnn Traxler and Phoebe Mock), enjoy the ups and downs of dating – while the younger sisters, Agnes and Tootie (played by Elizabeth Cure and Nora Mae Dixon), continually remind us what it means to be young (the good AND the bad!) Rounding out the Smith kids is Lon (played by Sam Illum) who is preparing for his first year at Princeton. Don’t think this is the full house – there is still Grandpa (played by Don Leonard) who is enjoying his “second childhood” throughout the show.
Director Chris McCoy says the show has “beautiful singing, exciting dance numbers, great comedic acting, and lots of Midwestern heart. While everyone will remember the classic tunes, such as “Clang Clang Clang Went the Trolley,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and of course the title song, there are also a handful of songs that were included in the stage adaptation that aren’t in the film.” He goes on to say he loves to “see how other performers interpret a classic work and make it their own.”
This isn’t Chris’ first time dealing with the World’s Fair however! In 1992 he was a part of a group that was invited to perform at the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain. That experience, he said, was so incredible and encouraged him to start collecting World’s Fair memorabilia whenever he found it at thrift shops and antique stores. He has a number of items from the 1904 World’s Fair discussed in the show and has brought them into rehearsals so the cast can get a feel of what life was like all of those years ago.
Audience members can expect to experience a little of everything with this production. The story takes us through the joys of summer, the spookiness of Halloween, and the full family feeling of the holidays. It’s fun for the WHOLE family and you won’t want to miss this chance to revisit a classic story, or introduce it to someone new. With high energy dancing, touching ballads, and hijinks galore – “Meet Me in St. Louis” is the perfect continuation of our 2023 summer season.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” runs June 16-18 and June 21-24 at Theatre in the Park. The gates open to the bowl at 7:30 pm with the show beginning at 8:30 pm. Come early and have a snack at our concession stand, bring some games to enjoy with the family as you bask in the summer sunset. Anytime Tickets will run you just $10 for adults, $6 for youth ages 4-10, and 3 and under are FREE (ticket required). Reserved chairs and parking are available for each performance and all tickets can be purchased at our online box office at theatreinthepark.org.
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