When deciding how to commemorate their centennial, The Muny decided to go for the gusto and give St. Louisans a special start the new season.
That extra something is “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” a panorama of ‘greatest hits’ from the iconic Broadway producer, choreographer and director including selections from “On The Town,” “West Side Story,” “Peter Pan,” “High Button Shoes,” “The King & I” and “Fiddler On The Roof.”
A winner of two Oscars, five Tony awards and a Kennedy Center honor, Robbins is one of the great figures of the classic Broadway era and an artist whose legacy, has been instrumental in The Muny’s history of bringing live musical theater to generations of audiences.
“Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” also marks a creative coup for The Muny who are boldly presenting this all-encompassing retrospective for the first time since its Broadway run in 1989. Featuring songs from musicals staged by Robbins during his most prolific years (1944-1964). Taken as a whole, the show is all about fluidity as it mixes motion, superb dancing and excellent medleys into a compact production.
Act one comes out swinging with selections from “On The Town” that immediately engage the audience before moving into the Roaring Twenties with “Billion Dollar Baby.” From here “West Side Story” dominates the first half with “Suite of Dances,” a mashup of the beloved classic’s best songs starring Alexa De Barr as Maria and Garren Scribner as Tony.
For act two the tables are turned as the production switches gears from ‘50s New York to colonial Siam with an intoxicatingly colorful “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” from “The King And I” before moving on to “I’m Flying,” from “Peter Pan” which features incredible vocals from Sarah Marie Jenkins hovering on wires above the audience.
Gaining momentum, the program offers audiences a sparking “On A Sunday By the Sea” (from “High Button Shoes”) before transitioning into a stirring “Fiddler On The Roof,” featuring the excellent pairing of St. Louis favorite Rob McClure with Muny alum Maggie Lakis. From there it is back to Brooklyn docks for a glorious finale that punctuates Robbins innovative body of work.
With so many moving parts, a talented ensemble is essential. Leading the charge is Tony nominated Rob McClure, a whirling dervish onstage in multiple roles. Serving as the main emcee, the electric and affable, McClure skillfully guides “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” from start to finish. Joining him onstage is Sarah Bowden, whose auspicious Muny debut also finds her shining across multiple roles.
Director Cynthia Onrubia brings everything together; creating an unremitting showstopper that stitches Robbins prodigious output with the casts exuberant pizzazz, giving audiences of The Muny’s 100th season an outstanding opener.
At The Muny through June 17th. For more information call (314) 361-1900 or visit www.muny.org.