By Lynn Venhaus

The best produced show of the Muny’s 103rd season, “Chicago” capped off the welcome return to tradition in Forest Park this summer with a sultry and sleek music-and-dance showcase.

Everything about the production was on point – from the crisp staging by director Denis Jones and his snappy choreography to the jazzy brass beats from the swinging orchestra conducted by music director Charlie Alterman.

And this production blazes with star power. You will remember the names of the lead trio: Sarah Bowden (Roxie Hart), J. Harrison Ghee (Velma Kelly) and James T. Lane (Billy Flynn).

With snazzy music by John Kander and barbed lyrics by Fred Ebb, patterned after old-timey vaudeville numbers, and a saucy original book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, the story is a sardonic take on fame and the justice system set during the freewheeling Jazz Age.

It is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals she covered for a newspaper in Chicago. This current script adaptation is by David Thompson, who worked with Kander and Ebb on the musicals “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Steel Pier.”

Jones’ clever concept was to set the show as an entertaining spectacle at a speakeasy, with café tables around a perimeter so it’s watched by not only the Muny audience but also by performers on stage. He did a similar staging, but not an exact replica, for the 2012 Muny version. That point of view works brilliantly.

Scenic designer Tim Mackabee gave it a striking look while the lighting design by Rob Denton added to the stylized atmosphere and the stellar video design by Shawn Duan complemented the experience perfectly.

Drenched in cynicism, “Chicago” satirizes corruption and is a show-bizzy spin on tawdry headline-grabbing trial that marked the Prohibition Era — but are also timely today. Merry murderers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly attempt to seize the spotlight and become celebrities.

Perhaps when the musical debuted in 1975, it was ahead of its time, for contemporary audiences didn’t find it relatable.  The week after the Broadway show closed after 936 performances in the summer of 1977, it transferred to the Muny. Starring Jerry Orbach and Ann Reinking, it was not well-received (I was there).

The mostly unsympathetic characters take part in a three-ring circus that’s part illusion and part rhapsody in sleaze. Its relevance has only grown over the years, especially in the digital age of social media.

A rebirth after a robust 1996 Tony Award-winning revival received universal acclaim and broke records as the longest-running musical revival and the longest running American musical in history, second only to “The Phantom of the Opera” on the all-inclusive list (it surpassed “Cats” on Nov. 23, 2014, with its 7,486th performance).

Because the 24-hour news cycle has helped fuel an obsessive celebrity culture and the emergence of reality television has made stars out of unsavory housewives, wealthy influencers like the Kardashians and self-absorbed narcissists, now society has caught up with “Chicago’s” place in pop culture history.

It took me awhile to warm up to the musical, but after watching a few high-profile celebrity trials, you see the parallels. And those songs from the team that gave us the insightful “Cabaret” get better every time you hear them.

Sarah Bowden as Roxie Hart. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

A movie adaptation in 2002 garnered an Academy Award for Best Picture, earning six total, including Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma, which also helped its acceptance. It was the first musical since “Oliver!” in 1968 to win the top award.

Cut to Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson’s first season at The Muny in 2012, and “Chicago” was second in the line-up following Fox Theatricals’ Tony winner “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” He said it had been the most requested show on the annual survey for several years.

It’s back, for just the third time, 10 years later, with Jones, now a two-time Tony Award nominee for choreography on “Tootsie” in 2019 and “Holiday Inn” in 2017, raising the bar once again.

He has put his stamp on of two of the Muny’s best shows during the past decade, “42nd Street” in 2016 (Jones, St. Louis Theater Circle Award) and “A Chorus Line” in 2017, and now with another fresh outlook on “Chicago.”

Jones is familiar with the Broadway revival, for he was a swing performer and later dance captain, during four separate runs for him (performing in total for about four and a half years). He worked with Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey and James Naughton, who began their roles in 1996. So, he had specific ideas on what to keep and what to change.

His associate choreographer, Barry Busby, deserves a shout-out too, for the dance numbers are seamless. They put the roar back in The Roaring Twenties, and the vibrancy shows in Bowden-led “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby,” and Billy’s flashy “Razzle Dazzle.”

“Chicago” will always be Fosse’s magnus opus, for his signature moves, those distinctive deliberate dance steps – and jazz hands! But this isn’t a copycat at all.  (Fosse may have lost the Tonys for choreographer and director pf “Chicago” to “A Chorus Line” in 1976, but he holds the all-time record, with eight, for choreography).

The athletic dancers excel at the high-octane numbers. Six performers carry out “Cell Block Tango” with the attitudes you expect – Liz (Madison Johnson), Annie (Taeler Cyrus), June (Veronica Fiaoni), Hunyak (Lizz Picini), Velma (Ghee), and Mona (Carleigh Bettiol), more commonly known as “Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-Uh, Cicero, and Lipschitz.”

Bowden plays Hart with verve, oozing phony wholesomeness in the public eye and a ruthless craving for attention when not. She was here once, in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” and is an energetic firecracker on stage.

The magnetic Ghee sashays and struts as tough-as-nails Kelly, resentful of Hart being the shiny new sensation. He got our attention as Lola in “Kinky Boots” in 2019 and is a dynamic force every time he appears. Wearing satiny outfits and displaying a silky voice, he sets the tone with a seductive “All That Jazz” and an indignant “I Know a Girl,” and shows off his dexterity in “I Can’t Do It Alone.”

J Harrison Ghee, Sarah Bowden. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

Bowden is fire to Ghee’s ice, a combustible fun mix for the “My Own Best Friend” that closes Act 1 and the “Nowadays”/ “Hot Honey Rag” finale with those omnipresent canes and hats Fosse was so fond of using.

James T. Lane embodies the slick ambulance chaser lawyer Billy Flynn with a demanding and greedy nature – and delivers a dandy disingenuous “All I Care About” – accompanied by a marvelous fan dance that received its own ovation. Lane was last seen as Sebastian in 2017’s “Little Mermaid” here.

One of this show’s standout numbers is the “We Both Reached for the Gun” press conference rag with Billy pulling Roxie’s strings like a ventriloquist and the ensemble doing fast footwork.

It’s good to see veteran performers Emily Skinner and Adam Heller, who were both in The Rep’s magnificent “Follies” in 2016, and St. Louis Theater Circle nominees for previous Muny work, back on the outdoor stage. As Matron “Mama” Morton, Skinner belts out a terrific “When You’re Good to Mama” and teams with Ghee on one of my favorites, “Class.”

Heller, last seen as Ben Franklin in “1776,” plays Roxy’s cuckolded husband Amos Hart as a more naïve sad sack, not realizing how he is being manipulated. He strikes the right tone for an affecting ‘Mr. Cellophane.”

With her sweet soprano, Ali Ewoldt poses as the powerful radio personality Mary Sunshine and sings the ironic “Little Bit of Good.”

Regular Michael James Reed capably portrays five different roles in the ensemble: stage manager, Sgt. Fogarty, doctor, Aaron and the Judge.

The technical elements were also superior, with costume designer Emily Rebholz’s striking work with vintage fashions and for limber dance outfits, accompanied by strong wig design by Tommy Kurzman.

The shortened season is coming to an end, and what the Muny achieved this summer is remarkable, putting five shows together in eight weeks. This is also the time for a fond farewell to Denny Reagan, who is retiring after spending 53 years at the Muny, the last 30 as President and CEO.

A trip to the Muny isn’t complete until you greet Denny, or see him greeting patrons, at his ‘spot.’ We look forward to working with his top-shelf successor, Kwofe Coleman, starting in January.

Cell Block Tango. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

This collaborative production was a grand, great, swell time where all the elements came together in blissful harmony.

Attendance for the opening night performance was 6,435. The show runs an estimated 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Chicago” is the final show of the shortened 103rd five-show season,  through Sunday, Sept. 5. Performances are at 8:15 p.m. each evening on the outdoor stage in Forest Park. Emerson was the 103rd season sponsor.

For more information, visit muny.org.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, online at muny.org or by phone by calling (314) 361-1900 ext. 1550.

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

The company of ‘Chicago.” Photo by Phillip Hamer.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre is thrilled to announce the return of the U.S. Bank Broadway Series to the Fox stage.  “After our long intermission that began in March 2020, we can’t wait for this new season to begin on November 16, 2021” said Director of Programming John O’Brien.  The six-show season will include two of the shows that were postponed at the end of the 2019-2020 season, HAMILTON and CATSand four postponed shows from the 2020-2021 season, PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL, THE PROM, MEAN GIRLS and MY FAIR LADY.  “We are thrilled to fit most of our missed shows in the coming season,” said O’Brien.  “Although Disney’s Frozen will need to wait until a future season, we will have the return of Disney’s THE LION KING in the summer of 2022.”  Subscribers will have the option to purchase the six-show package or add THE LION KING for a seven -show package.

“The Fabulous Fox is working with government and health officials to create and implement health and safety protocols that will ensure the safe return of audiences at full capacity so subscribers can enjoy their same great seats.  This does include improvements to the Theatre’s air handling system. More information along with a detailed outline of protocols will be made available prior to our reopening,” said O’Brien.  

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL | November 16-28, 2021

After an incredible run on Broadway, Audience Choice Award winner PRETTY WOMAN: The Musical will begin its national tour this fall. PRETTY WOMAN: The Musical is brought to life by a powerhouse creative team representing the best of music, Hollywood, and Broadway. Featuring direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (HairsprayKinky BootsLegally Blonde), an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Heaven”), and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton, PRETTY WOMAN: The Musical will lift your spirits and light up your heart. “If you love the movie, you’ll love the musical!” (BuzzFeed News).


CATS | December 21, 2021-January 2, 2022

CATS, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages, will resume its tour across North America!  Audiences and critics alike are rediscovering this beloved musical with breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater—”Memory”. Winner of 7 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, CATS tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. The original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Phantom of the OperaSchool of RockSunset Boulevard), original scenic and costume design by John Napier (Les Misérables), all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (Aladdin), all-new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (Phantom) and direction by Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables) make this production a new CATS for a new generation!

The Prom

THE PROM | January 25-February 6, 2022

Everyone’s invited to the joyous Broadway hit that New York Magazine calls “smart and big-hearted” and The New York Times declares it “makes you believe in musical comedy again!” THE PROM is a new musical comedy about big Broadway stars on a mission to change the world and the love they discover that unites them all.  Variety raves, “It’s so full of happiness that you think your heart is about to burst.” And The Hollywood Reporter cheers, “It’s comic gold!” You belong at THE PROM!

MEAN GIRLS | February 15-27, 2022

Direct from Broadway, MEAN GIRLS is the hilarious hit musical from book writer Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), composer Jeff Richmond (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde) and director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon). Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. Soon, this naïve newbie falls prey to a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But when Cady devises a plan to end Regina’s reign, she learns the hard way that you can’t cross a Queen Bee without getting stung. New York Magazine cheers, “MEAN GIRLS delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor and joyful inside-jokery.” USA Today says, “We’ll let you in on a little secret, because we’re such good friends: Get Your Tickets Now!”

MY FAIR LADY | March 22-April 3, 2022

From Lincoln Center Theater and director Bartlett Sher comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY.  Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” MY FAIR LADY tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.”  But who is really being transformed?

HAMILTON | April 12-May 15, 2022

HAMILTON is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, HAMILTON has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. It has won Tony ® , Grammy ® , and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors. This “theatrical landmark has transformed theater and the way we think about history” (The New York Times)

THE LION KING | June 1-18, 2022

More than 100 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s THE LION KING, and now you can, too, when St. Louis’ best-loved musical returns to the Fabulous Fox Theatre.  Winner of six Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, this landmark musical event brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway.  Tony Award®-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals.  THE LION KING also features some of Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award®-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice.  There is simply nothing else like THE LION KING.

Series Specials

Four additional Broadway shows will be offered as specials to 2021–2022 season ticket holders for priority seating before their public on-sale dates.

The splendor of the holiday season at the Fox will return in 2021.   One of the world’s most beloved and timeless stories is a holiday tradition at the Fox: the Nebraska Theatre Caravan production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL will play December 2-5.  A MAGICAL CIRQUE CHRISTMAS brings dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists to the Fox stage for a spell-binding holiday production December 9.  The most famous reindeer of all will soar into the Fox December 17-18 when RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER the Musical takes the Fox stage.  

The 25thAnniversary production of RIVERDANCE returns March 11-13. This tour is a powerful and stirring reinvention of this beloved favorite, celebrated the world over for its Grammy award-winning score and the thrilling energy and passion of its Irish and international dance. Disney’s THE LION KING will also be available as a special for those who choose the six-show season.

Current season ticket holders will receive their specific account information with their options for the six or seven show package in late April.

New season ticket packages will go on sale June 7.  On-sale dates for individual shows will be announced later. For more information, visit www.FabulousFox.com.  The Broadway Series at the Fabulous Fox Theatre is presented by U.S. Bank.  The Fox Box office is currently closed.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre has announced the postponement of three fall shows that were to open the 2020-2021 U.S. Bank Broadway Season Ticket package and one season special. “In light of the current status of the COVID-19 virus, the Fox and our producing partners have agreed that tour dates for fall of 2020 must be re-scheduled for the safety and well-being of our guests, staff, casts and crew” said John O-Brien, director of programming for the Fabulous Fox.   The seven-show season ticket package will now open with Disney’s FROZEN February 10-21. 

The postponed musicals are:  MEAN GIRLS scheduled for September; MY FAIR LADY scheduled for October; JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR scheduled for November and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY scheduled for December.

“As a presenter of national tours, we are in ongoing conversations with producers and agents each and every week.  The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the touring industry as theatres and booking agents across America reinvent calendars that were two to three years in the making” said O’Brien.  “In addition to the four shows mentioned above, we are also finding new dates for CATS and HAMILTON which were postponed in the spring.”

Ain’t Too Proud The Temptations musical

THE CURRENT SEVEN-SHOW SEASON TICKET PACKAGE IS:

FROZEN * February 5-21, 2021

AIN’T TOO PROUD * March 2-14, 2021

THE PROM * April 6-18, 2021

PRETTY WOMAN * April 27-May 9, 2021

Plus 3 additional musicals to be announced later.

Tony nominees Beth Leavel and Brooks Ashmanskas in “The Prom”

THE SCHEDULE OF SPECIALS IS:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL * December 3-6, 2020

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER * December 18-19, 2020

BLUE MAN GROUP * March 19-21, 2021

HAIRSPRAY * June 4-6, 2021

Additional information about the Season Ticket package and specials will be released when the pandemic eases and shows confirm their re-routing plans.

Phil Stanton (from left) Chris Wink and Matt Goldman are the founders of Blue Man Group.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre is excited to announce the new dates for Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY will be December 22-27, 2020.

This magical family show is a perfect addition to the Fox holiday lineup when the theatre is resplendent with the spirit of the season. Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY was originally scheduled to play at the Fabulous Fox March 17-29, 2020 but was postponed due to city of St. Louis COVID-19 mandate.

CATS is not available to return to the Fox within this 2019-2020 season, but we are working to secure it for a future season. St. Louis will have to wait a bit longer for “the memory to live again.” CATS was originally scheduled to play at the Fabulous Fox April 7-19, 2020 but was also postponed due to city of St. Louis COVID-19 mandate.Since both productions will be presented in a different season than originally scheduled, season ticket holders are currently being notified of their options.

Single ticket buyers will be emailed next week about automatic refunds beginning on Monday, April 13. Due to the number of cancellations, the refund process is expected to last 3-4 weeks. The Fox Box office is currently closed in compliance with the city of St. Louis COVID-19 mandate.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre brings the Best of Broadway to St. Louis with the announcement of the 2019–2020 U.S. Bank Broadway Series, including four new musicals that will make their St. Louis debuts. The seven-show season ticket package is headlined by pop culture phenomenon DEAR EVAN HANSEN. The season opens with the winner of four Tony® Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, HELLO, DOLLY!. Get ready to dance into 2020 with SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL,followed bythe 2018 Tony® Award Winner for Best Musical, THE BAND’S VISIT.  Embark on a mesmerizing joyride through a world of pure imagination with Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  The memory lives again when CATS, the record-breaking musical spectacular, comes to St. Louis in April and HAMILTON returns to close out the season for a limited five-week engagement! The season also features seven series specials that will include St. Louis’ most “popular” musical WICKED. 

HELLO, DOLLY! | October 1-13, 2019

Winner of four Tony® Awards including Best Musical Revival, HELLO, DOLLY! is the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the year!” and the Los Angeles Times says “distills the mood-elevating properties of the American musical at its giddy best.”DirectorJerry Zaks’ “gorgeous” (Vogue) new production is “making people crazy happy!” hails The Washington Post. Afterbreaking box office records week after week and receiving unanimous raves on Broadway, this HELLO, DOLLY! is now touring America, paying tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion – hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history. Rolling Stone calls it “a must-see event. A musical comedy dream. If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket, you’ll be seeing something historic. Wow, wow, wow, indeed!”

DEAR EVAN HANSEN | October 22 – November 3, 2019

The much anticipated DEAR EVAN HANSEN, winner of six 2017 Tony® Awards including Best Musical and the 2018 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is coming to St. Louis this fall.  A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told and a life he never dreamed he could have, Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.  DEAR EVAN HANSEN has struck a remarkable chord with audiences and critics everywhere, including The Washington Post which says DEAR EVAN HANSEN is “one of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history.” The New York Times calls it “a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical.” And NBC Nightly News declares the musical “an anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond.” DEAR EVAN HANSEN features a book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson, a score by Grammy®, Tony and Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman), and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal).

SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSCAL | January 15-26, 2020

She was a girl from Boston with a voice from heaven, who shot through the stars from gospel choir to dance floor diva. But what the world didn’t know was how Donna Summer risked it all to break through barriers, becoming the icon of an era and the inspiration for every music diva who followed.  With a score featuring more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,” this electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.  SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL takes us through Donna Summer’s tumultuous life, tempestuous loves and mega-watt musical hits. Spend the night in her electrifying universe.

THE BAND’S VISIT | February 25 – March 8, 2020

Spend an evening in the company of unforgettable strangers at THE BAND’S VISIT—now one of the most celebrated musicals ever with ten 2018 Tony® Awards including Best Musical. And now it’s also a Grammy Award® winner for Best Musical Theater Album. THE BAND’S VISITrejoices in the way music brings us to life, brings us to laughter, brings us to tears, and ultimately, brings us together.  In an Israeli desert town where every day feels the same, something different is suddenly in the air. Dina, the local café owner, had long resigned her desires for romance to daydreaming about exotic films and music from her youth. When a band of Egyptian musicians shows up lost at her café, she and her fellow locals take them in for the night. Under the spell of the night sky, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, and this once sleepy town begins to wake up.   

Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY | March 17-29, 2020

Roald Dahl’s amazing tale is now St. Louis’ golden ticket! It’s the perfect recipe for a delectable treat: songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters of Hairspray.   Willy Wonka is opening his marvelous and mysterious chocolate factory…to a lucky few. That includes Charlie Bucket, whose bland life is about to burst with color and confection beyond his wildest dreams. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing joyride through a world of pure imagination. St. Louis audiences will experience the wonders of Wonka like never before – with Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper!

CATS | April 7-19, 2020

CATS, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages, is now on tour across North America! Audiences and critics alike are rediscovering this beloved musical with breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater—”Memory”. Winner of 7 Tony Awards® including BEST MUSICAL, CATS tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. The original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock, Sunset Boulevard), original scenic and costume design by John Napier (Les Misérables), all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (Aladdin), all-new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (Phantom) and direction by Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables) make this production a newCATS for a new generation!

HAMILTON | May 5 – June 7, 2020

HAMILTON is  the  story  of  America’s  Founding  Father  Alexander  Hamilton,  an  immigrant  from the  West  Indies  who  became  George  Washington’s  right-hand  man  during  the  Revolutionary War  and  was  the  new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.  With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Series Specials

Seven Broadway specials will be offered to 2019–2020 season ticket holders for priority seating before their public on-sale dates.

The party starts with Jimmy Buffett’s ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE October 18-20, the musical comedy featuring both original songs and your most-loved Jimmy Buffett classics. See what all the noise is about with STOMP November 15-17, now celebrating 25 years in New York City. CIRQUE DREAM HOLIDAZE lights up the Fox stage with its popular and electrifying holiday stage spectacular November 29-30. St. Louis’ most “popular” musical WICKED returns for the holidays December 4-29.JERSEY BOYS will take you from the streets of New Jersey to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame January 30-February 2. RIVERDANCE comes back to St. Louis with a powerful and new 25th Anniversary production February 14-16. Back by popular demand, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony® Award winning show RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences February 21-23.

New seven-show season ticket packages will go on sale May 8 at 10 a.m. Current U.S. Bank Broadway season ticket holders will receive their renewal information the week of March 18. On-sale dates for individual shows will be announced later. For more information, please call the Fox Subscription office at 314-535-1700. Groups of 10 or more should call 314-535-2900 for special rates and reservations. The Broadway Series at the Fabulous Fox Theatre is presented by U.S. Bank.

2019 – 2020 U.S. Bank Broadway Series Shows and Specials:

(The Seven Season Ticket shows are in bold)

HELLO, DOLLY! * October 1-13, 2019

Jimmy Buffett’s ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE * October 18-20, 2019

DEAR EVAN HANSEN * October 22 – November 3, 2019

STOMP * November 15-17, 2019

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE * November 29-30, 2019

WICKED * December 4-29, 2019

SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL * January 15-26, 2020

JERSEY BOYS * January 30 – February 2, 2020

RIVERDANCE New 25th Anniversary Show * February 14-16, 2020

RENT 20th Anniversary Tour * February 21-23, 2020

THE BAND’S VISIT * February 25 – March 8, 2020

Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY * March 17 – 29, 2020

CATS * April 7-19, 2020

HAMILTON * May 5 – June 7, 2020

#              #              #

Megan Ketcherside

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing EditorA STAR WAS BORN: It was as if scripted in a movie. You’ve heard of that classic moment in the 1933 movie “42nd Street” when an understudy takes over for an injured diva. Well, it really happened right here in St. Louis one summer 46 years ago at The Muny.
On Aug. 14, 1972, MGM musical star Ann Miller was playing Reno Sweeney to Michael Callan’s Billy Crockett in “Anything Goes.” The classic Cole Porter romantic romp was underway when right after the song “Friendship” during a scenery change, Miller was conked on the head by a steel boom. Callan had followed her off-stage, then found her on the floor, dazed and bruised.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” A call went out from the stage and 15 doctors responded. The show was cancelled and Miller taken to Deaconess Hospital with a mild brain concussion and loss of equilibrium. She spent 23 days there.With Miller out but not wanting to cancel the week, Muny brass sought a replacement. They plucked Pat St. James, a senior at Webster University, from the ensemble. She rose to the occasion.
St. James, whose parents were local broadcast celebrities Clif and Nance St. James, was praised for her soaring performance. She later thrived in a musical theater career.
But in 1999, she switched gears, earning a degree in theology and ordained an Episcopal priest. She was married to David Roberts, and they lived in Atlanta with their two children, Oliver and Julia. At age 61, after a four-year battle with cancer, she died on Dec. 5, 2010.
Her moment in the sun became a Muny legend.
“Anything Goes” may have been Miller’s first appearance at The Muny but it wouldn’t be her last. She would be persuaded to return in the next decade, for ‘Sugar Babies” with Mickey Rooney in 1984.
Miller starred in “Kiss Me Kate,” “Easter Parade,” “On the Town,” “Stage Door,” “Room Service” and “Mulholland Drive” (?!?).Side Note: I actually saw Pat St. James as Reno Sweeney that week at The Muny. Everyone was abuzz.
(“Anything Goes” photo from Muny archives, from left, Pat Paulsen, Pat St. James, Michael Callan.)
***HELLO, USA!: Congratulations to Madison Johnson of St. Louis, who has been cast in the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” that begins in late September. She is part of the ensemble and understudy for Minnie Fay.This tour of the Broadway revival, which won four Tony Awards in 2017, will feature Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi and Lewis J. Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder. Stadlen, a three-time Tony nominee, has been in several Muny shows, including “The Producers,” “Damn Yankees,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Madison has been part of the Muny ensemble the past six years, recently playing Lucille Ballard in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” She was Kristine in “A Chorus Line” last summer and Frenchie in 2014’s “Grease.” She started at age 7 as a Muny Kid. A graduate of Whitfield School and Elon College, she moved to New York City in 2016.
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SIX DEGREES OF ST. LOUIS: John David Washington is starring in “BlackkKlansman” as undercover cop Ron Stallworth, who wrote the book that Spike Lee has adapted into this acclaimed film.

He was signed by the St. Louis Rams in 2007 after he was not drafted in the NFL Draft. Later cut from the Rams, he was a running back for the Hamburg Sea Devils, a German team playing in the NFL Europe League. Fun fact: Eldest son of two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
Photo: Adam Driver and John David Washington
***GO SEE A PLAY! POLL: The St. Louis Fringe Festival’s local headlining act is an original musical written and composed by Colin Healy called “The Gringo.” The world premiere will be performed four times from Thursday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug. 19, at the .Zack, 3224 Locust.
It’s about how art can bring a community together. Set in Miami, a local street artist is wrongfully gunned down by police. As told through the lens of a successful painter, this community faces injustice and rapid gentrification. They learn what it means to fight for your home.
The cast includes Gheremi Clay, Kevin Corpuz, Robert Crenshaw, Evann De-Bose, Riley Dunn, William Humphrey, Omega Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Alicia Revé Like, Brittany Losh, Samantha Madison, Gabby McNabb, Carly Niehaus, Janine Norman and David Zimmerman.
Healy directs, with Bradley Rohlf assistant director; Christopher Page-Sanders choreographer and Carly Uding costume design.Tieliere Cheatem contributed the artwork. On opening night, they will give this portrait away that has been signed by the cast and the crew. Tickets available at Metrotix.com

For a chance to win two tickets to one performance, enter our poll drawing!Poll Question: What Is Your Favorite Show About Art? “Art”
“Is He Dead?”“Red”“Sunday in the Park with George”“Sight Unseen”
Submit your selection to [email protected] by noon on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Please include your phone number. You will be notified that afternoon if you won, and you can select what performance so that tickets can be arranged. The show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Thanks for participating.
Winner of our two tickets to “Meet Me in St. Louis” was Chuck Brinkley. Thank you, Muny!
“Meet Me in St. Louis” received the most votes as the favorite local movie shot in or made about St. Louis.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Oscar winner Shelley Winters, whose career spanned five decades, was born Shirley Schrift on Aug. 18, 1920, in St. Louis to Jewish immigrant parents. Her father, a tailor, moved the family to Brooklyn when she was a child. She died at age 86 in 2006.
Once nicknamed “The Blonde Bombshell,” she later became known for forceful dramatic roles.For what movie performances did she win her two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress?Answer: “The Diary of Anne Frank” in 1959, as a shrill Mrs. Van Daan, and “A Patch of Blue” in 1965, in which she played a slatternly mother cruel to her blind daughter.
Her breakthrough role on stage was as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!” five years into the run, and she was noticed in “A Double Life” starring Oscar winner Ronald Coleman in 1947.But after a dissatisfying number of movie roles, she finally got the role of her lifetime in “A Place in the Sun” with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor.
Some of her other big movies were “A Night of the Hunter” in 1955 and “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972. Earlier, she had returned to studying at the Actors Studio and became a big advocate of the Lee Strasberg method.
A lifelong progressive Democrat and outspoken on feminist issues, she became quite a raconteur on talk shows during the 1970s and ‘80s. Her two tell-all autobiographies created quite a stir, as she had some high-profile leading-men dalliances.
Fun fact: She roomed with Marilyn Monroe when they were just starting out in Hollywood.
Happy Birthday, Shelley! (She would have been 98 Monday).Photo at right: Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters.
***ICYMI: A movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning “In the Heights” is planned for summer release 2020. Jon M. Chu, who helmed the new romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” will direct.Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” will be made into a movie, and production is to start in November. Stars signed so far are Tony winners James Corden and Ian McKellen, along with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Grammy winner Taylor Swift.
***WORD/DOWN MEMORY LANE: “Would you shut your phones off for Christ sakes?” – Stanley Tucci, during the Aug. 14, 2002, performance of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. An audience member’s cell phone kept ringing. Calls for a ban on cell phones at NYC’s theatres grew louder, and a law was put into effect in 2003.
***Have any tidbits for this people column? Contact Managing Editor Lynn Venhaus – [email protected]
.All photos from archives or submitted. Featured image is of St. Louis native Shelley Winters.