The Muny is closing out its centennial season in a very big way with Meet Me In St. Louis, a musical that has become synonymous with the city. Based on the 1944 film, this dazzling production (The Muny’s first staging since 2009) does us proud with nonstop energy from a wonderful ensemble that gives audiences a riveting show filled great dancing and some of the most popular songs in American musical theatre.
Set in Gilded Age St. Louis of 1903, the musical follows the Smiths, a close knit family whose future plans are upended after their father, Alonzo, informs them that his law firm has promoted him and they are packing up and moving to New York.
For Alonzo the move represents a better way of life and new opportunities. However for his family the move is ill timed as it uproots them from their familiar surroundings. As he soon discovers, change is not always good. His wife Anna, her father and their two youngest daughters oppose the move.
His new opportunity also messes with a whole lot of crushing as Esther, the second oldest daughter, pines for John the boy next door, while, Rose, their oldest, is hoping her beau Warren will finally propose to her.
As their topsy-turvy relationships blossom the cloud of moving to a new city hangs precariously over their heads and in their hearts. As a result, the will they/won’t they melodrama plays out, coming to a head at the family’s final Christmas ball in town.
It is against this tense backdrop that the musical’s timeless themes of love, home, wealth and family play out. As these ideas percolate they force the family to contemplate what really matters as they move forward with their lives.
Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge brings a fresh take to Meet Me In St. Louis,utilizing her talented cast to play off these emotions, amplifying them perfectly to connect with the audience.
The cast is flawless. Stephen Buntrock shines in his return to The Muny as Alonzo Smith, the. dedicated and altruistic family patriarch. Joining him is Tony nominee Erin Dilly, who is wonderful as Anna Smith. St. Louis Theater Circle Award nominee
Ken Page is smooth as butter as the lovable Grandpa Prophater.
Channeling her inner Judy Garland, Emily Walton stars as Esther Smith, offering a prodigious performance that anchors the show. Liana Hunt plays her sister Rose with great voracity, serving as the perfect partner for Walton while also standing tall on her own.
Rounding out this superb cast are Dan DeLuca as John Truitt, Esther’s aw shucks romantic interest and Kathy Fitzgerald, who is hilarious as Katie, the family’s mouthy servant. Each of who uses their comedic chops to provide sterling performances.
Crackling from start to finish, Meet Me In St. Louis is peppered with healthy portions of civic pride that perfectly underscore The Muny’s 100th season. Inexorable, this lively production captures the spirit of St. Louis, capping the season with a spectacle rich in vitality and abundant in charm.
At The Muny through Aug. 12. For more information, call 314-361-1900 or visit muny.org.