By Lynn Venhaus
Inspired by an adored golden-age movie musical 67 years ago, the stage version of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” has been updated to rework some of the more problematic portions of the plot for contemporary audiences.

While the Muny’s latest production tries mightily to breathe new life into one of the more neanderthal mid-century musicals, selling the macho characters is a pesky issue to overcome – even with a cast deep with exceptionally skilled dancers and singers.

Head of an all-male household in the mountains, Adam’s caveman way of thinking has influenced his uncultured backwoods brothers. However, they have their ‘teachable’ moments in the revamped book.

The focus on the uncouth siblings becoming more civilized around women – as they have zero experience with the opposite sex – is part of the show’s enduring charm.

They are tutored by their new sister-in-law, the dissatisfied yet determined townswoman Milly (Kendra Kassebaum). Though strong-willed, she is coerced into marrying Adam (Edward Watts) in a weak moment when he comes to town on a woman-hunt.

We can look it this as a ‘glass half full’ or a ‘glass half-empty’ experience.

After all, that is the period. The time is 1850, during the great migration to the Pacific Northwest on The Oregon Trail, when men still acted like women were property, and society felt marriage was in part a financial transaction.

In so many words, people didn’t discuss gender politics. Times, as they tend to do, have changed. But we are still evolving as a society, and theater must address the modern sensibilities to stay relevant. Musical theater, by virtue of its history, is forced to mirror those changes, and this discussion will be ongoing.

As we are painfully aware, during this 21st century, particularly in the last five years, with the #MeToo and #Time’s Up movements, the old-fashioned sexist attitudes on display in the old chestnuts are hard to get beyond. (Think of the abused women in “Carousel” and “Oliver!”). In the upcoming “Chicago,” we hear another side from fed-up females in “Cell Block Tango.”

Thankfully, among the improvements to “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” they have removed Adam’s song, “A Woman Ought to Know Her Place,” and Milly’s “One Man.”

Edward Watts and Kendra Kassebaum as Adam and Milly. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

They have added a feisty “I Married Seven Brothers” for a peeved Milly – a highlight for Kassebaum — and “Where Were You?” as a vehicle for Adam to vent his anger from his perspective.

Nevertheless, a musical that is based on a Stephen Vincent Benet short story, “The Sobbin’ Women,” which was shaped by an ancient Roman legend called “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” that’s just hard to spin – and swallow — these days. And the plot hinges on the other six brothers encouraged to kidnap women they took a shine to in town, so that is a controversial hurdle.

And despite a Herculean effort from the Muny’s creative team to focus on a battle of the sexes and bring out the personality and humor, the aggressive song “Sobbin’ Women” and some of the remaining dialogue are wince-inducing, even like nails on a chalkboard.

I know, I know – people generally go to musical theater to be entertained, to escape the realities of daily life and usually aren’t seeking enlightenment while enjoying song and dance. They are just fine taking a respite, blissfully unaware of the real world. They enjoy a bouncy, tuneful musical and take it all in stride.

That’s not me. So, this review is from my perspective. As a friend said, “Every musical is someone’s favorite.” I had to keep reminding myself: “Context.”

It’s like my inexplicable fondness for “Mamma Mia!” Everything screams silly, but I love it, and have seen it at least six times — reminds me of “Gidget” movies when I was growing up, comfort food for the soul.

Under a magnifying glass, many musicals can’t hold up to current scrutiny, but that debate will keep on keeping on.

Peruse a list of musicals from the 1940s through 1970s, and so many female characters are underwritten – typically waiting for a man to rescue her or change her life, which should be annoying to current generations.

Modern musical theater has hopefully moved beyond that. Maybe someday our princes will come, but none of that royal superiority, he’ll be on equal footing, and in the meantime, we’re following paths trailblazed by women who clamored to be heard.

Next week’s “On Your Feet!” will show a true partnership between a husband and a wife, Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” isn’t the first musical to deal with deception – for starters, the list includes “Light in the Piazza,” “The Most Happy Fella,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (and ‘go!’), among others.

And bull-headed Adam and assertive Milly work on trust issues to advance the plot.

People really do have affection for the 1954 movie. It was nominated for Best Picture, losing the Oscar to “On the Waterfront,” but won Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. In 2006, the American Film Institute named it one of the best American musicals ever made, and in 2004, the Library of Congress’ U.S. National Film Registry selected it for preservation because of it being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Many fans enjoy the nostalgia, the appealing leads – brawny Howard Keel as Adam and sweet girl-next-door Jane Powell as Milly, plus the gymnastic Russ Tamblyn as youngest brother Gideon, and foremost, those rousing dance numbers.

The Muny drew 6,907 patrons on opening night. This is the sixth time the Muny has produced the show. Taking a cue from a reworked version by the Goodspeed Opera House in 2005, brought in David Landay, an original co-writer of the stage play, to do some rewrites and editing. A female contribution may have been helpful too.

The script feels like whiplash. One minute, the women are acting empowered, and the next minute the guys seem in “Me, Tarzan, you Jane” mode. It’s like when people attempt to update Shakespeare by a couple hundred years, but don’t commit to a wholly new vision.

Oh well. Baby steps. Growth is good.

In recent years, the Muny has resurrected some of the creakier shows and presented versions with freshened books – most notably “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Paint Your Wagon,” both of which I enjoyed.

I was hoping this would be similar. Several members of the “Paint Your Wagon” production team have returned for this reboot, including director-choreographer Josh Rhodes and associate director-choreographer Lee Wilkins, along with music supervisor Sinai Tabak.

The music direction by Valerie Gebert is crisp. Additional arrangements and orchestrations are by Larry Blank and Mark Cumberland. That’s quite a collaboration.

The Muny was one of the first theaters in America to present the stage adaptation of the movie, back in 1978 during a pre-Broadway tryout. The new stage show didn’t make it to Broadway until 1982; its last year at the Muny was 2011.

The music retained from the movie, written by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, includes “Bless Your Beautiful Hide,” “Wonderful Wonderful Day,” “Lonesome Polecat” and “Goin’ Courtin’.”

Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn wrote “Love Never Goes Away,” “We Gotta Make It Through the Winter,” and “Glad That You Were Born” for the stage show.

The maidens in The Quilt Dance. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

The show has always been considered a major dance vehicle, and five-time Tony Award winning choreographer Michael Kidd cemented his reputation through his robust barn-raising dance and his movements based on reality.

Kidd’s unpretentious style earned him Tony Awards in “Guys and Dolls,” “Can-Can,” “Lil Abner,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Destry Rides Again,” and lasting Hollywood admiration (check out Danny Kaye in “Knock on Wood.”)

His uncommon approach transformed frontier chores into rollicking dance numbers. He once said if he had made slobs in the woods break out in ballet, people would have ridiculed it.

And the Muny has assembled an outstanding dozen triple threats to portray the men and women going courting – the Pontipee brothers show off their muscular moves in “The Challenge Dance” at the church social while the maids-in-waiting demonstrate a graceful, sophisticated elegance in “The Quilting Dance.” The finale, “The Wedding Dance,” wraps everything up on an enthusiastic, happy note as a long winter has turned into spring.

Rhodes has emphasized the ensemble’s energy and spotlighted the athletic and acrobatic dances. He helmed an exhilarating “Newsies” in 2017 and has finessed these pieces with vigor.

Kassebaum, who grew up in St. Louis, was impressive as lovable and comical showgirl Adelaide in the 2019 “Guys and Dolls” (and won a St. Louis Theater Circle Award for that performance). She is an emphatic Milly, strong in voice and spirit.

Edward Watts, saddled with a distracting shaggy hairstyle, struggled with the push-pull of that stubborn barbaric character, but is assured in his commanding vocal numbers and a sturdy physical presence as the dominant hero.

The brothers, nowhere near as educated as the snotty East Coast-bred smart-alecks running the town, show plenty of spirit and ‘street smarts’ when they are struck by love and try to impress the town maidens.

Raised to think marriage is the end-all for their young lives learning how to cook, sew and clean, the women must play the stereotype common to the era. But here, they have a tad more gumption, individually attracted to the guys, no matter what their dads say.

Harris Milgrim is a standout as second-oldest brother Benjamin, and lithe Carly Blake Sebouhian’s beautiful movements and ballet-training are noticeable as Martha.

The seven brothers. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

The limber Pontipee lads include Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva as Caleb, Ryan Steele as Daniel, Garett Hawe as Ephraim, 4-time Muny vet Kyle Coffman as the tempestuous Frank, and Brandon L. Whitmore as Gideon.

The supple refined city girls are Leslie Donna Flesner as Dorcas, Shonica Gooden as Sarah, Sarah Meahl as Ruth, Mikayla Renfrow as Alice and Kristin Yancy as Liza.  

Michael Schweikardt has provided majestic mountains to convey the grand open spaces and dense forests for the topography while video designer Caite Hevner’s striking work on the changing seasons and the Echo Pass avalanche are spectacular. Schweikardt’s multi-floor log farmhouse is masterful in levels and details.

While some shows like the culturally inappropriate “Flower Drum Song” have unofficially been ‘retired,’ the jury is obviously still out on this show. The passionate performers carry this one here over the threshold

A look back can be a step forward in some instances. The Muny has put a tremendous amount of effort in making this production palatable for its multi-generational audience. Yet, the outdated debate will continue.

As Thursday’s opening night rainout indicated, patience is a virtue. Not to be a Debbie Downer, this isn’t a step backwards, but some of us are ready to move on.

The company of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Photo by Phillip Hamer.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is at 8:15 p.m. through Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the Muny outdoor stage in Forest Park.

The shows remaining are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Aug. 12 – 18), On Your Feet! (Aug. 21 – 27) and Chicago (Aug. 30 – Sept. 5). 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) 534-1111.

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


Muny Photos by Phillip Hamer.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Eureka! A robust makeover to an unremarkable ‘50s era musical “Paint Your
Wagon” has hit pay dirt on the Muny stage.

Those behind the new edition have dreamed as big as the
characters in this fresh look at the American identity, those yearning for a
better life who came over land and by sea, as many as 300,000 during the
rough-and-tumble California Gold Rush.

It’s one of our nation’s most significant tipping points (1848-1855).
The musical, set in a mining camp in 1853, has everything we associate with
those rugged settlers – the wild untamed west, the wide-open spaces and the
pioneer spirit, only this version sharpens the American melting pot feel.

Despite its Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe pedigree,
the 1951 homage to the Old West had fallen out of favor – not that it ever was
a hot property, for it had only run on Broadway for 289 performances. And then,
there was the much-maligned 1969 movie starring those songbirds Lee Marvin and
Clint Eastwood (27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes!).

The latest incarnation, developed by the Frederick Loewe
Foundation and playwright Jon Marans, has new orchestrations, vocal
arrangements, dance and characters – and presents the reimagined story through
a different lens. You won’t be able to forget this one, an unvarnished snapshot
that touches on bigotry and prejudices as fortune seekers headed West.

Photo by Phillip HamerMarans has focused on historical accuracy and made deep
incisions so that it’s not merely unsatisfying filler between the signature
songs “They Call the Wind Maria,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star,”
but a journey about lives and loves with real emotional heft.

Those compelling changes are as much a surprise as Josh
Rhodes’ inspired direction and innovative choreography, assisted by Lee
Wilkins, because they have rescued an otherwise lightweight show and connected
with a modern audience.

Marans wrote the 1996 Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “Old
Wicked Songs,” a character study about a Holocaust survivor and his burnt-out
pupil. A New Jewish Theatre production won Best Drama at the St. Louis Theater
Circle Awards in 2017.

The story still has brawny prospector Ben Rumson (Matt Bogart) as the strong center, the enterprising leader among the rag-tag settlers of “No Name City,” but in the first act, the only female is not his daughter, as the earlier incarnations, but his lovable new wife, Cayla (Mamie Parris).

He ‘wins’ her in a bidding contest, like a commodity, for
she has been abused by her despicable lout of a husband (Michael James Reed,
yelling at 11). Well, that was awkward. Parris, so winning as Irene in the 2014
“Hello, Dolly!,” conveys genuine warmth and caring, and her lilting voice is
lovely.

Mamie Parris and Matt Bogart. Photo by Phillip HamerBogart and Parris have combustible chemistry, and their harmonies mesh beautifully. While Bogart didn’t seem to be as smooth as other performers on opening night, he delivered an electric “They Call the Wind Maria,” and his other numbers showcased his commanding baritone.

After striking it rich, sturdy Ben becomes the boomtown’s
chief developer. Now named Rumson City, the outpost becomes home to Rumson
Palace in the second act, a place for socializing and gambling that he
envisioned for everybody.

Michael Schweikardt’s scenic design is a distinct mix of awe-inspiring
panoramic exteriors and fresh-hewed lumber interiors. Lighting designer John
Lasiter makes the night sky glow while video design by Caite Hevner expanded picture
postcard vistas.

However, Ben’s one-world theory isn’t exactly practiced when his right-hand man Armando (Omar Lopez-Cepero), whose wealthy and cultured family lived in the Mexican territory of northern California,  takes a shine to Rumson’s feisty daughter, Jennifer (Maya Keleher), who has traveled from the East Coast to join her father.

Much to the horror of his college-educated daughter and wife,
Rumson will not accept the Armando-Jennifer union, therefore not practicing
what he preaches. His luster is dimmed, only to see him work through those
feelings.

Racism is rampant among the rowdy miners, who are frustrated
and fearful of the ‘foreigners.’ Two brothers from China, Ming Li (St. Louis
native Austin Ku) and Guang Li (Raymond J. Lee), once of royal lineage now just
wanting to survive; a down-on-his-luck Irish immigrant William (Bobby Conte
Thornton), who regrets leaving his family but is desperate to provide for them after
the Great Famine (aka Irish Potato Famine); two African-Americans, free man H.
Ford (Rodney Hicks) and slave Wesley (Allan K. Washington); and Europeans of
various nationalities all jostle for their piece of the pie.

Ku, Lee, Thornton, Hicks and Washington are outstanding talents who immersed themselves in these meatier roles. And the men revealed bold and controlled voices in such numbers as “How Can I Wait?” and “Four Hundred People Came to No Name City.”

Allan K. Washington and Rodney Hicks. Photo by Phillip HamerSome of the characters are contemptible, especially Preston
Truman Boyd as an intolerable loudmouth Jake, a Southerner who owns a tavern
and looks at all of life as transactional.

Sinai Tabak is conducting the Muny orchestra for the first
time, and the richly textured sound adds another layer of complexity to a testosterone-heavy
show. There is a harp among all the strings, and the sounds of country and bluegrass
impart an Americana homespun feel.

One is reminded how elegant and lyrical Lerner and Loewe
were, as this show was written in between the more successful “Brigadoon”
(1947) and “My Fair Lady” (1956). 

Photo by Phillip HamerThe dancing girls show up in the second act, in quite the
entrance – arriving by stagecoach, “There’s a Coach Comin’ In.” Two magnificent
Clydesdale horses pull them – and the audience went crazy.

Some of the lonely men lose their way and go a little batty,
and this 180-degree turn, while true to life, is disconcerting. Gold fever makes
some of the men envious, greedy and bitter. Things get ugly, reminding us that
while the high road is preferred, human nature suggests otherwise. This is harsh
and hard-hitting, recovering in a hail of hope. If you are expecting fluff,
this is not that kind of show, dancing girls aside.

Nevertheless, the performers are indeed the gold nuggets
enticing us to make the emotional investment. The vocal prowess on display is as
breathtaking as the scenery, so it’s unfortunate there was a myriad of uncharacteristic
sound issues Saturday – static, mics cutting out or not on for singers, and
rough patches. Sound design is by John Shivers and David Patridge.

“Paint Your Wagon” was one of those lackluster second-rate musicals whose contemporary overhaul is quite an accomplishment, and the Muny has polished it with tender loving care. You might as well forget any previous version.

A new world premiere production in Los Angeles, with a revised
libretto by David Rambo, ran from Nov. 23, 2004 to Jan. 9, 2005. Then a fall
2007 production by the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah had a
cast of nearly 30. An Encores! Staged concert production in New York City in
March 2015 starred Keith Carradine as Rumson and Justin Guarini as Julio.

There is no Julio here, replaced by Armando. It’s a stronger role, and Lopez-Cepero unleashes a glorious voice in his standout performance. His “Carino Mio” duet with Keleher is lush and romantic.

Photo by Phillip HamerHelping to shape the in-the-works musical is a natural fit
for the Muny, for it presented spirited reboots of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
in 2017 and “The Wiz” last year. During the Mike Isaacson era, the emphasis on
imagination and the theme of home has been recurring elements. So, it’s no
surprise that the Mother Lode Muny is again a birthplace, producing in
association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

By virtue of its American patchwork quilt make-up, “Paint Your Wagon” may remind people of “Oklahoma!” – especially that number pleading harmony, “The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends,” but I recalled “Fiddler on the Roof” instead, a proud community clinging to its customs but having to move forward at great sacrifice for survival. In the West, hardships knocked down many a soul, but hope springs eternal in “Paint Your Wagon,” and smartly addressing changing tides so dramatically will be able to resonate. You can hear America singing with its varied voices. The Muny presents “Paint Your Wagon” evenings at 8:15 p.m. July 27 – Aug. 2. For more information, visit www.muny.org.

Bobby Conte Thornton as William. 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