By CB Adams

Every so often, The Muny and the St. Louis Symphony come together like Peaches & Herb: “Reunited, and it feels so good…”

These two cultural cousins know how to celebrate. That was definitely the vibe at Power Hall on October 2 when these two local cultural titans combined talents for “A Little Sondheim Music,” a concert to celebrate composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, a titan of different sort. The last time the Symphony and Muny combined forces was to celebrate the The Muny’s 100th birthday.

With Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s Artistic Director and Executive Producer, at the helm as host and master of ceremony, the lively event perked along through a well-curated roster of songs from Sondheim’s career. This was no jukebox jaunt through Sondheim’s songbook. It was a journey into Sondheim’s impressive range of songs and characters, some of which aren’t among his greatest hits.

So, along with the familiar titles from “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Company” and “Sweeney Todd,” the audience was also to treated to selections from the lesser-known “Saturday Night,” “Evening Primrose” and “Anyone Can Whistle.” Another entire concert or two could be created from Sondheim’s deep cuts from other shows. To borrow a line from “Send In the Clowns, “…well, maybe next year.” (hint, hint).

In his opening, Isaacson quoted the three guiding principles that Sondheim hewed to during his career: content dictates form, less is more and God is in the details. To which Sondheim also added, “All in service of Clarity, without which nothing else matters.”

Bryonha Marie in rehearsal. Julie Merkel photo.

Clarity ruled the afternoon performance and elevated the achievements of Sondheim rather than mourn his passing last November at age 91. Lending their vocal talents to the celebration were some of Broadway’s brightest babies:  Ben Davis, Bryonha Marie, Matthew Scott, Emily Skinner and Elizabeth Stanley. Their talents were on full display, whether performing individually, in duets or as an ensemble. And it would be unfair if not impossible to cite any one performance as a standout because they were all standouts.

Ask 10 audience members what their favorite was, and you’d probably get 10 different answers. My own personal favorite was Skinner’s interpretation of “Send In the Clowns.” Her use of pauses and emphasis provided new insight into the lyrics’ meanings and to the rueful ruminations of the character Desirée in “A Little Night Music.”  I’m just a sucker for that song.

Clarity was certainly one of the concert’s throughlines. Songs such as ”If You Can Find Me, I’m Here,” sung by Scott, and “Broadway Baby,” sung by Marie, exemplify Sondheim’s ability to pack an entire show’s worth of characterization into a single lyric. And Scott interpreted his song by channeling an inner Dustin Hoffman, ala “The Graduate,” and Marie delivered sass, sashay and plenty of boop-oop-a-doop to hers.  

Each Sondheim song is its own mini-musical. All of the performers tapped into this with brio and moxie, moving across the narrow strip of stag and conjuring the spirit of the actual musicals. Even if you didn’t know the show, you understood it from the song itself. That’s part Sondheim genius, part musical magic and part high-caliber performance from the artists.

Rehearsal photo of the two Bens – Davis and Whiteley. Photo by Julie Merkel.

Cases in point: Davis, fresh off this last summer’s successful Muny production of “Sweeney Todd,” reprised his take on the chilling “My Friends” by pivoting from fetishistic heavy petting of cutlery to the abrupt declaration, “At last, my arm is complete again!” Dexter should be so lucky.

And Stanley provided a disarmingly plaintive interpretation of “In Buddy’s Eyes” from “Follies” that reworked the breathless suffering usually associated with this song – written for an older character – into an ironic conscience examination of someone younger.

Also providing clarity to the concert was the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Ben Whiteley, who has long been a member of the Muny artistic family. Host Isaacson thanked Whiteley “…who really created this program, bringing his incredible knowledge and passion to the creation of this program.”

The orchestra launched the performance with the opening overture to “Merrily We Roll Along” and was featured post-intermission with the overture to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as well as a smooth and graceful “Night Waltz” from “A Little Night Music” in the second half. These were a potent reminder of the beauty of Sondheim’s compositions and how much a fine performance of them deepens their impact.

Also in the second half was a special appearance by St. Louis native Ken Page who sang “Anyone Can Whistle” with a sage-like preciousness that did the Old Deuteronomy cat proud.

As the concert drew to a close, Isaacson quoted Sondheim who answered an interviewer’s question about what he hoped his legacy would be. “Oh, I just would like the shows to keep getting done. Whether on Broadway, or in regional theaters, or schools or communities, I would just like the stuff to be done. Just done and done and done and done and done.”

With a concert like “A Little Sondheim Music,” The Muny and the Symphony have ensured that at least one of those done’s was accomplished – and done to perfection. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Featured Photo: Ben Whiteley, Michael Baxter, Nicolas Valdez, Bryonha Marie, Ben Davis, Matthew Scott, Emily Skinner.. Photo by Julie Merkel.

Matthew Scott in rehearsal. Photo by Julie Merkel.

Collaborative Concert “A Little Sondheim Music” Oct 2. at Powell Hall

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and The Muny announced details about their latest collaboration: the upcoming concert honoring the late Stephen Sondheim, A Little Sondheim Music on Sunday, October 2, at 3:00pm. Sondheim, who passed away in November 2021 at age 91, is credited with reinventing the American musical, both as a lyricist and composer, throughout his prolific career.

Hosted by Mike Isaacson, Artistic Director and Executive Producer of The Muny, with musical staging by Michael Baxter, and conducted by Muny veteran Ben Whiteley, the concert includes selections from many of Sondheim’s most beloved musicals, including Merrily We Roll AlongSondheim On SondheimInto the WoodsFolliesA Little Night MusicCompany, and Sweeney Todd. All lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim, with various arrangers and orchestrators.

Performing with the SLSO are several veteran theater performers, whose credits include Broadway musicals, West End productions, Muny productions, television, and more: Ben Davis, Bryonha Marie, Matthew Scott, Emily Skinner, and Elizabeth Stanley. Broadway veteran and St. Louis native Ken Page also makes a special appearance.

Collaborations between the two organizations date back to at least 1919, when the SLSO provided entertainment for patrons of The Muny during summer performances including Robin Hood and The Mikado. The tradition of collaboration returned in 1994 when the SLSO performed on The Muny stage in a celebration concert titled “Gateway to the Gold,” a salute to the U.S. Olympic Festival. The SLSO and The Muny last performed together in 2018 as part of The Muny’s centennial celebration.

Tickets are on sale now for this unique concert partnership between two of St. Louis’ most storied and celebrated arts institutions. Tickets can be purchased by visiting slso.org or by calling the SLSO Box Office at 314-534-1700.

Mike Isaacson

A Little Sondheim Music: The Muny and SLSO Celebrate Stephen Sondheim

Sunday, October 2, 2022, 3:00pm

Ben Whiteley, conductor

Ben Davis, vocals
Bryonha Marie, vocals
Matthew Scott, vocals
Emily Skinner, vocals
Elizabeth Stanley, vocals
With special appearance by Ken Page

Mike Isaacson, host

Artist Bios:

Ben Davis recently received critical acclaim as Sweeney Todd in the Muny’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Davis received a Tony Honor for his work as Marcello in Baz Luhrmann’s Broadway production of La Boheme. His extensive credits, spanning from Broadway to London, include Encores! Call Me Madam opposite Carmen Cusack, Dear Evan Hansen, Violet, A Little Night MusicLes MisérablesThe Sound of Music, Kiss Me Kate for the BBC at London’s Royal Albert Hall and NBC’s, Annie Live. Concert credits include Philly Pops, RTÉ Orchestra, Tanglewood, Caramoor, and many others.

Bryonha Marie

Bryonha Marie has rapidly established herself as one of the brightest young stars currently on Broadway and in the classical crossover arena. Best known for her tour de force Broadway performance in Prince of Broadway, a career retrospective of the work of Harold Prince, Marie has also thrilled Broadway audiences as Serena in Porgy & Bess. Other Broadway credits include After Midnight (featured and principal cover for Patti LaBelle, Toni Braxton, k.d. lang, and Fantasia), the revival of Ragtime (Sarah’s Friend), and The Book of Mormon.

Matthew Scott has performed as Adam Hochberg in An American In Paris on Broadway and the National Tour; Sondheim On Sondheim with Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams; and A Catered AffairJersey Boys, and Grand Horizons. On the West End he has performed as Lee in I Loved Lucy at the Arts Theatre. Regional credits include The Light In The Piazza (Barrymore Award); Saturday NightBeachesCompanySide by Side by SondheimChaplin (San Diego Critics Nomination), A Wonderful Life, RagtimeMy Fair LadyCarouselWest Side Story (Kevin Kline Award Nomination), Legally BlondeSwing!Les MiserablesSunset Boulevard, and Mamma Mia.

Emily Skinner has established herself as one of Broadway’s most engaging and versatile performers. She was most recently seen in Barrington Stage’s production of A Little Night Music where she received rave reviews for her fresh take on Desiree Armfeldt. Previously she appeared in the Broadway-bound musical Once Upon a One More Time at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and on Broadway as Georgia Holt, Cher’s Mother, in The Cher Show.

Heralded as one of the “Breakout Stars of 2020” by The New York Times, Elizabeth Stanley received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, and a Grammy Award for her recent performance as Mary Jane Healy in the musical Jagged Little Pill, inspired by the music of Alanis Morissette, book by Diablo Cody, and directed by Diane Paulus. Stanley has dazzled Broadway audiences as Claire De Loone in the revival of On the Town (Drama Desk Nomination), Dyanne in Million Dollar Quartet, Allison in Cry Baby, and April in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company.

Ken Page is a St. Louis native with a career spanning over 45 years. He is most widely known as the voice of “Oogie Boogie” in the Tim Burton/Disney film The Nightmare Before Christmas and has recreated his role in sold out concerts live to film at The Hollywood Bowl on four occasions as well as at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, Tokyo, Glasgow, London (with the London Philharmonic Orchestra), and Dublin. Broadway/UK credits include Guys & DollsAin’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy-winning NBC special, Drama Desk Award-Best Actor, Grammy Award), Cats as Old Deuteronomy (Original Broadway Cast, London Video Cast, Grammy Award), The WizAin’t Nothin’ But the BluesWizard of OzChildren of Eden (London West End Original Cast), My One and Only (London Palladium), Mr. Wonderful (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), and The Little Mermaid (Hollywood Bowl).

SLSO

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Celebrated as a leading American orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 143rd year with the 2022/2023 season and its fourth with Music Director Stéphane Denève. The SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community collaborations, honoring its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.

The SLSO serves as a convener of individuals, creators, and ideas, and is committed to building community through compelling and inclusive musical experiences. As it continues its longstanding focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and access, the SLSO embraces its strengths as a responsive, nimble organization, while investing in partnerships locally and elevating its presence globally. For more information, visit slso.org.

About The Muny

The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. The country’s largest outdoor musical theatre produces seven world-class musicals each year and welcomes over 400,000 theatregoers over our seven-show season. Now celebrating 104 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre. 

The Muny

By Lynn Venhaus

This much I know is true: “The Sound of Music,” created during the golden age of musicals — (and the reason it’s referred to as a golden period is crystal clear), is such a crowd-pleaser that it will never fall out of favor.

The Muny’s latest creation of the evergreen 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic drew 7,847 on opening night, and you could feel the joy in the air. With the arrival of Alpine weather in St. Louis, it was also a pleasurable experience outdoors.

By the time Bryonha Marie Parham, as Mother Abbess, finished her powerful and poignant rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” which closed the first act, the crowd leapt to its feet with thunderous applause. At curtain call, a hearty standing ovation began early and when Kate Rockwell, radiant as the sunny Maria Rainer, took her bow, the cheers were deafening.

The tension-filled book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the real-life story of widowed Captain von Trapp of the Austrian Navy, his budding romance with governess Maria, who cares for and tutors his seven children, and how they flee after the Third Reich takeover of their country in 1938, provides dramatic and emotional depth.

Through this last collaboration of influential composers Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, they’ve integrated some of their best songs — The Sound of Music boasts their most popular hits – to guarantee widespread appeal. Then, add the iconic Oscar-winning 1965 film, which cemented its place in pop culture history.

This is the 11th time in 57 years that the Muny favorite has been presented in Forest Park, and the first since 2010. The experienced creative team has honored the beloved musical by not varying from a traditional approach – why mess with a time-honored story or the lush score?  and the lush score but keeping it fresh with rising talent and new outlooks.

Freshened up with rising talent and new outlooks, Director Matt Kunkel has capably emphasized the show’s major arcs of love, faith and courage.

Music Director Ben Whiteley smoothly conducts the velvety string-laden score, reminding everyone why we know all the words and music to “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and the title song.

Elizabeth Teeter and Andrew Alstat. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

With many exceptional voices, the ensemble comfortably handles some of the most enduring standards in the American theater.

While some casts are more dynamic than others in Muny productions, striking a delicate balance in tone with nuns and Nazis, the women lead the way here.

And not just on stage, but behind-the-scenes. For the first time in Muny history, Shelby Loera is the lead lighting designer on a show. In 103 seasons. Bravo for breaking that ceiling!

Caite Hevner took charge of the video design and Beth Crandall choreographed the sophisticated party dances and the peppy kids’ numbers. Paige Hathaway was the scenic designer, using the new trees as a backdrop.

Costumes were designed by Tristan Raines, a familiar fashionista at the Muny, and the wedding scene finery was a standout.

As usual, the von Trapp children steal the show. You expect the actors playing Liesl (Elizabeth Teeter), Friedrich (Victor de Paula Rocha), Louisa (Amelie Lock), Kurt (Parker Dzuba), Brigitta (Jillian Depke), Marta (Abby Hogan) and Gretl (Kate Scarlett Kappel) to be endearing, but these kids are not only supremely talented but project professionalism on stage.

And they harmonize beautifully – especially their fun “The Lonely Goatherd” number during a frightening thunderstorm and the always special “So Long, Farewell.”

As the eldest girl, Teeter, daughter of local theater legend Lara Teeter, demonstrated that she is a poised and polished performer wise in years.

She has appeared on Broadway with Helen Mirren in “The Audience” and as Jane Banks in “Mary Poppins,” not to mention cute-friendly roles at the Muny, including Flounder in “The Little Mermaid” and Gretl in the 2010 “The Sound of Music.”

An accomplished dramatic actress, she can be seen as fragile Laura in “The Glass Menagerie” at the Tennessee Williams Festival in St. Louis Aug. 19-29.

With their clear confident voices, Teeter and Andrew Alstat, as Rolf, deliver a strong “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Unfortunately, she is saddled with an unrealistic-looking brown wig, an odd choice, which overwhelms her face.

Kate Rockwell, von Trapp children, Michael Hayden. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

Another distraction is that Michael Hayden does not fit the Captain von Trapp role as we’ve become accustomed to over the years –typically imposing and dashing. A Tony nominee for “Judgment at Nuremberg,” who also has Shakespeare credits, Hayden obviously is a noteworthy performer, but something was “off,” and he certainly didn’t click with Rockwell like Georg and Maria should. (I wondered if he was ill? There is usually an underlying reason.). He seemed tentative in spots and wasn’t comfortable with the guitar on “Edelweiss.”

In addition, his suits appeared ill-fitting and the coat of his dress uniform he wore at the wedding was way too long. This is a rare misfire from the Muny costume shop, normally known for their crisp tailoring.

He’s not the worst Captain von Trapp I’ve seen. That distinction goes to the wooden and unprepared George Peppard, yeah the guy in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” in 1982. However, I have heard that “Dallas” star Ken Kercheval tops that list in a 1993 version, where he had to use the book.

Costumes were designed by Tristan Raines, a familiar fashionista at the Muny, and the wedding scene finery was a standout.

Two bright spots are fan favorites Jenny Powers and John Scherer. The elegant and statuesque Powers glides across the stage as Elsa Schraeder, also known as the Baroness, and has a lovely duet, “How Can Love Survive?” with Scherer as Max, the cynical impresario.

The pair are an effortless match. Powers has been one of the Muny’s most durable leading ladies – as “Mary Poppins,” Morticia in “The Addams Family,” Abigail Adams in “1776,” Tanya in “Mamma Mia!” and Guinevere in “Camelot,” to name a few.

Scherer, known for his impeccable comic timing, has been in “Kinky Boots,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Spamalot” and “The Addams Family.”

Fine supporting work is carried out by David Hess as the dutiful butler Franz and St. Louis actors Michael James Reed as the imperious and threatening SS officer Herr Zeller, Leah Berry as skeptical head of the postulants Sister Margaretta, April Strelinger as stern housekeeper Frau Schmidt, and versatile Jerry Vogel doing triple duty as the officiating priest at the wedding, Baron Elberfeld and Admiral von Schreiber.

But the show belongs to the delightful Rockwell, so memorable in “Tarzan” and “Beauty and the Beast” during the past decade. She’s a bona fide star, pitch perfect as the spunky and big-hearted Maria. It’s a graceful and winning performance that easily captured the audience’s heart.

Whether it’s a fond childhood memory or a family favorite passed down through generations, “The Sound of Music” pleased the theatergoers ready to be enchanted.

Its inspiration was intact, too – go climb those mountains!

Photo by Phillip Hamer

“The Sound of Music” runs Aug. 3-9 at the Muny outdoor stage in Forest Park. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, online at muny.org or by calling 314-361-1900, ex. 1550.

The remaining shows of the 2021 season are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Aug. 12 – 18), On Your Feet! (Aug. 21 – 27) and Chicago (Aug. 30 – Sept. 5). Emerson is the season sponsor. For more information, visit muny.org. 

To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

Jenny Powers and John Scherer. Photo by Phillip Hamer

The Muny announced Tuesday the directors, choreographers and music directors for its 2019 season, which opens on June 10 with Guys and Dolls.
“We head into our second century with the first phase of our new stage, and a renewed sense of passion and commitment to our audiences, artists and community,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “I’m so thrilled to announce these brilliantly talented colleagues who will create this season. They are already hard at work, ready to make this season just as historic and memorable as our 100th.”
GUYS AND DOLLS
June 10 – 16
Book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon
GORDON GREENBERG (Director) co-wrote and directed the Broadway stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn for Roundabout, Universal and PBS Great Performances. Recent work includes Barnum (London), Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe), the acclaimed West End revival of Guys and Dolls, nominated for six Olivier Awards (Savoy Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Chichester, UK and international tour), the Drama Desk Award-winning NYC revivals of Working and Jacques Brel, the stage adaptation of Tangled for Disney, and writing TV musicals for Disney and Nickelodeon. Muny: Meet Me In St. Louis (revised book), Jesus Christ Superstar, Holiday Inn, West Side Story, Pirates! Upcoming: The Secret of My Success (Universal), Mystic Pizza (MGM), Dracula (Maltz). He attended Stanford University and NYU and is a member of SDC, WGA and the Dramatists Guild.

LORIN LATARRO (Choreographer) Broadway: Waitress, Les Liasions Dangereuses, Waiting for Godot. Curious Incident of the Dog… and American Idiot (Associate). Additional choreography: La Traviata (The Met), Chess (Kennedy Center), Twelfth Night (The Delacorte), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street(BAM), Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe), Assassins, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Encores!), Between The Lines (KC Rep), Queen of The Night (Drama Desk Award), Kiss Me, Kate (Barrington); The Best Is Yet To Come (59E59, Drama Desk Award). Director: Taste of Things to Come (Chicago). Lorin performed in 12 Broadway shows and danced for Tharp, Momix, Graham. Juilliard graduate. Upcoming: Merrily We Roll Along (Roundabout), SuperHero (Second Stage), Waitress and Home Street Home (West End).
BRAD HAAK (Music Director/Conductor) Muny: A Funny Thing…Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Into the Woods, South Pacific, The King and I and Gypsy. Broadway: An American in Paris, Mary Poppins, Lestat and Il Divo – A Musical Affair. National tours: The Lion King, Miss Saigon. Music supervision and orchestrations:Daddy Long Legs (Off-Broadway, London, Tokyo, Seoul and 19 US productions) and John Caird’s A Knight’s Tale (Tokyo, 2018). International: Sousatzka (Toronto), An American in Paris (Paris), Honk! (Singapore and Philippines); Jane Eyre (Tokyo). Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Sunday in the Park with George and Follies (Jeff Award for music direction), Children of Eden (Kennedy Center). Orchestrations for New York and Boston Pops, National Symphony, L.A. Philharmonic.
KINKY BOOTS
June 19 – 25
Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on the Miramax motion picture of the same name, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth
DB BONDS (Director) is thrilled to be making his directorial debut at The Muny after appearing as Emmett in Legally Blonde in 2011. DB is the associate director of Kinky Boots and Pretty Woman on Broadway. He also served as the associate director of Kinky Boots worldwide with productions in England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Korea. As an actor, he appeared in Broadway and national touring productions of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Legally Blonde and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
RUSTY MOWERY (Choreographer) is thrilled to be back at the magical Muny after serving as choreographer for The Muny productions of Legally Blonde and Hairspray. He is currently the Associate Choreographer of Pretty Woman on Broadway and the Associate Choreographer of Kinky Boots for Broadway, both U.S. national tours, England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Korea and Japan tours. Proud SDC member. As an actor, Rusty appeared on Broadway in Cats, Ragtime, Hairspray, Seussical and Legally Blonde.
RYAN FIELDING GARRETT (Music Director/Conductor) NYC/national tour: Kinky Boots, Jasper in Deadland, The Man in the Ceiling, Hamilton, Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd (NY Philharmonic), Wicked, Big River (Encores!), Finding Neverland, The Three Little Pigs. Regional: Next to Normal (Weston Playhouse), Little Miss Scrooge (Rubicon Theatre), Passing Strange, [title of show], Chess (Playhouse Square), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Lake Tahoe Shakespeare). NYC orchestration credits include Darling, A Night Like This. Graduate of Baldwin Wallace University.
JERRY MITCHELL (Original Broadway Direction and Choreography) Tony Award winner for Best Choreography: La Cage aux Folles (revival) and Kinky Boots (also nominated as Director). Broadway: Pretty Woman (Director/Choreographer) and the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet! (Director). Other recent work includes the pre-Broadway productions of Half Time (Chicago and Paper Mill Playhouse) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End, Olivier nomination for Choreography). In the 35 preceding years, Jerry has been involved with over 50 Broadway, West End and touring productions, including as choreographer of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Full Monty (Tony nomination), The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray (Tony nomination and NBC telecast), Gypsy, Never Gonna Dance (Tony nomination), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination), La Cage aux Folles, Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), Catch Me If You Can and Kinky Boots.
1776
June 27 – July 3
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Based on a concept by Sherman Edwards
ROB RUGGIERO (Director) is thrilled to be returning for The Muny’s 101st season. Last year, he directed Gypsy, as well as past productions of The Music Man, Oklahoma!; Hello, Dolly!; South Pacific and The King and I. He has also directed many award-winning productions at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, including Follies, Sunday in the Park with George and a recent production of Evita. Broadway: High and Looped. Off-Broadway he conceived and directed Make Me a Song (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Rob also recently directed Oliver!, his 11th collaboration with Goodspeed Musicals, with whom he also adapted and directed a new production of Show Boat. He is the Producing Artistic Director for TheaterWorks in Hartford, Connecticut.
JAMES MOORE (Music Director/Conductor) The Muny: Gypsy, The Music Man, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Hello, Dolly!; West Side Story, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Producers. Broadway: Miss Saigon, On the Town, Gigi, Follies, South Pacific, Ragtime, Steel Pier, Company. National tours: The Producers, Kiss Me, Kate; Crazy for You, And the World Goes ‘Round. The Kennedy Center: Camelot starring Brian Stokes Mitchell, My Fair Lady starring Jonathan Pryce, Mame starring Christine Baranski. Concerts: National Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Santa Barbara Symphony. Mr. Moore serves as the music supervisor for the United States touring productions of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. Upcoming: Titanic (Broadway revival). Education: Master and Bachelor degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA
July 8 – 16
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
MARCIA MILGROM DODGE (Director) is a Tony and Drama Desk nominated director & choreographer. The Muny: Meet Me In St. Louis (100th Season!), The Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family. Broadway: Ragtime, High Society. National tours: Ragtime, Curious George,Seussical, Cookin’. New York: Venus Flytrap, Radio Gals, Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever (original production) and William Finn’s Romance in Hard Times. TV/Video: Sesame Street and Elmo‘s Wild West. Upcoming: Deathtrap (Cape Playhouse), Mary Poppins (Drury Lane) and a new Buddy (Cincinnati Playhouse). Between reimagining revivals and directing & choreographing world premieres regionally and abroad, Dodge is also a wife, a mother, a teacher, an SDC Executive Board Member and a published and produced playwright.
JOSH WALDEN (Choreographer) returns to The Muny after choreographing Meet Me In St Louis (2018), The Little Mermaid (2017) and The Buddy Holly Story (2015). He directed/ choreographed A Chorus Line for Maltz Jupiter Theatre and Theatre Memphis, The Rocky Horror Show for University of Buffalo, Legally Blonde for Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and the rock opera Fallen Angel in the New York International Fringe Festival. Josh has also choreographed for Des Moines Metro Opera, Signature Theatre, Sacramento Music Circus, Doonce Productions, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Gateway Playhouse and Morag Productions for Seabourn Cruise Lines. On Broadway, he was the associate director/associate choreographer for the revival of Ragtime. As a performer, Josh was in the Broadway revivals of 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, A Chorus Line and Ragtime.
GREG ANTHONY RASSEN (Music Director/Conductor) Drama Desk winner and Tony nominee for Bandstand. Other Broadway credits include: An American in Paris, Bullets Over Broadway, The Little Mermaid, The Book of Mormon, R&H’s Cinderella, A Chorus Line (revival). Arranger/ orchestrator: Jerry Springer: The Opera (New Group); Between the Lines (Kansas City Rep.), The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard). Commissions include: New York Pops, Boston Pops, Philly Pops, Indianapolis Pops; Leslie Odom, Jr., Ashley Brown, Sierra Boggess, Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Darren Criss, Liz Callaway, Julia Murney, André Previn, John Williams. TV: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Live with Kelly & Michael, The View. M.M. degree from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. www.greganthonymusic.com
FOOTLOOSE
July 18 – 24
Music by Tom Snow
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Stage Adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie
Based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford
Additional Music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman
CHRISTIAN BORLE (Director) is a two-time Tony Award winner and has starred in a myriad of roles both on stage and screen. His turn as Shakespeare in Something Rotten! garnered him both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play as Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher. Other Broadway: Footloose, Jesus Christ Superstar, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Amour, Spamalot, Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde, Falsettos and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Film: Blackhat, Bounty Hunter. TV: Masters of Sex, Lifesaver, The Good Wife, Smash and NBC’s TheSound of Music Live! Most recently, Christian made his directorial debut with the off-Broadway production of Popcorn Falls at The Davenport Theatre.
JESSICA HARTMAN (Choreographer) is thrilled to return for The Muny’s 101st after choreographing Annie(2018), All Shook Up (2017), Mamma Mia! (2016); Hairspray (2015/Co-Choreographer) and Seussical (2014/Associate). Broadway: Lysistrata Jones (Associate Choreographer), The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman (Assistant Choreographer). Off-Broadway: Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play! (Choreographer, New Victory Theatre). Other credits include: Memphis (Choreographer, TUTS), Norwegian Creative Studios/Oceania Cruise Lines (Choreographer), Disney Jr. Dance Party (Associate Show Director/ Choreographer, Universal Studios/The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Associate), How to Succeed… (Associate, TUTS), West Side Story (Associate, Signature Theatre), Next to Normal (Choreographer, BaltimoreCenter Stage). Up next: Mamma Mia! at TUTS (Choreographer) and a new musical for The Kennedy Center. Jessica is the Artistic Director of Broadway Theatre Connection.
ANDREW GRAHAM (Music Director/Conductor) New York: The Book of Mormon, Wicked and Avenue Q. Las Vegas: Spamalot, Avenue Q. National tours: Wicked, Avenue Q, Pippin, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Seussical, The Music Man, Footloose. European tours: Hair and Grease. Regional: world premiere of Disney’s Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Play House and Alley Theatre. Muny: Aida, Annie and Footloose. Beauty and the Beast and the world premiere of Disney’s When You Wish at Tuacahn Center for the Arts. He holds degrees from both Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and Trinity College of Music in London.
LERNER & LOEWE’S PAINT YOUR WAGON
July 27 – August 2
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Revised Book by Jon Marans
Produced in Association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures
JOSH RHODES (Director/Choreographer) directed Grand Hotel (NY City Center Encores!), Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville (Old Globe Theatre), Jersey Boys (The Muny), Guys and Dolls (Asolo Rep/Old Globe), Evita(Asolo Rep), Spamalot (5th Avenue Theatre), Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show (Bucks County Playhouse) and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He alsochoreographed the Broadway productions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, It Shoulda Been You, First Date and Bright Star. On London’s West End, he choreographed Carousel at the English National Opera and Sweeney Todd starring Emma Thompson. Other choreography credits include Company starring Neil Patrick Harris and Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (PBS), Young Frankenstein (Muny) and the current U.K. tour ofDoctor Dolittle. Rhodes is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan.
BEN WHITELEY (Music Director/Conductor) Muny: Singin’ in the Rain, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, My Fair Lady, The Addams Family, Spamalot, Pirates!; The Sound of Music (twice), Beauty and the Beast (thrice), Kiss Me, Kate; Oklahoma!; The Music Man, Meet Me In St. Louis, South Pacific. Music director for 1776 at NY City Center Encores! Broadway/national tours: A Christmas Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot, The Full Monty, Cats (conducted final original Broadway performance), Grand Hotel, Falsettos, Big. Carnegie Hall: Sail Away (with Elaine Stritch). Choral direction: Carousel (NY Philharmonic/PBS), My Fair Lady (NY Philharmonic). Encores!: associate music director and chorus master for over 30 productions. Other: St. Louis Symphony, Paper Mill Playhouse, The 5th Avenue Theatre, University of Michigan. Recordings: Allegro, Boardwalk Empire (Grammy Award),Paint Your Wagon.
MATILDA
August 5 – 11
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Based on Matilda by Roald Dahl
JOHN TARTAGLIA (Director) Director: Stephen Schwartz’s The Secret Silk (Princess Cruises, writer/director), Beauty and the Beast (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan and Shrek (Muny), Claudio Quest (NY Musical Festival, Best of the Fest), Shrek the Halls (DreamWorks Theatricals) and many more. Broadway: Avenue Q (Tony nomination), Beauty and the Beast and Shrek. Muny: Aladdin (The Genie), Seussical (The Cat in the Hat), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Hysterium, St. Louis Theater Circle Award). Film/TV: The Happytime Murders (STX Films), Johnny and the Sprites (Disney Jr., Emmy nomination), Sesame Street (PBS Kids), Jim Henson’s Word Party and Julie’s Greenroom (both on Netflix), creator, co-executive producer and star of Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles (PBS Kids, Emmy nomination).
CHRIS BAILEY (Choreographer) Gettin’ The Band Back Together (Broadway), Jerry Springer: The Opera(New Group, 2018 Chita Rivera Award nomination); The New Yorkers and 1776 (NY City Center Encores!), The Entertainer with Kenneth Branagh (West End), Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory), Because of Winn Dixie (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), 2013 Tony Awards (CBS), Muny: Jerome Robbins Broadway(production supervisor), Newsies (St. Louis Theater Circle Award), The Music Man, Into the Woods, My Fair Lady, Tarzan, West Side Story and Thoroughly Modern Millie. 2013-2015 Academy Awards (Assistant Choreographer). Film: Cinderella, Ted 2, A Million Ways to Die in the West and Beyond the Sea. Chris was also the movement director for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Cyrano De Bergerac on Broadway.
MICHAEL HORSLEY (Music Director/Conductor) is The Muny’s music supervisor. 25 Muny seasons include: Jerome Robbins Broadway, Mamma Mia!; The Buddy Holly Story, Grease, Mary Poppins, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 42nd Street, Godspell, White Christmas, Damn Yankees, Sleeping Beauty, Singin’ in the Rain, and many more. National tours: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Cinderella, White Christmas and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Other regional: Into the Woods (Theatrezone), Roman Holiday (Guthrie Theater), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Music Theatre Wichita), Fiddler on the Roof (AMT San Jose), A Chorus Line (Pioneer Theatre Company), The Full Monty(North Carolina Theatre). Voice director: Christmas Concert Series for the Detroit, National and Birmingham Symphony Orchestras. He is the music director for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The 2019 season schedule is: Guys and Dolls (June 10 – 16), Kinky Boots (June 19 – 25), 1776 (June 27 – July 3), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (July 8 – 16), Footloose (July 18 – 24), Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (July 27 – August 2) and Matilda (August 5 – 11).
World Wide Technology (WWT) and The Steward Family Foundation became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They are committed to continuing in this role with their leadership gift as The Muny’s 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor.
Muny gift cards for the 101st season are now available online and at The Muny Box Office. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.
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The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 400,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season. Celebrating 101 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.
For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’s
Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’sMuny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org