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.”
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 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 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.
“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.
The Muny announced today 27 principal cast members for its 2021 season in Forest Park. Complete company casting will be announced throughout June and July.
After what will be a 23-month intermission, The Muny’s 103rd season will open with the Muny premiere of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, followed by the beloved classic The Sound of Music. The season continues with a newly reimagined Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Midwest regional and Muny premiere of On Your Feet! and closes with Broadway’s longest-running American musical Chicago. The Telsey Office is the official casting partner for The Muny.
“This is an amazing, thrilling, heart-stopping collection of talented artists,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “Our return this year in many ways has as much significance as our 100th season. It means so much to so many. I can’t wait for these amazing people to share their gifts.” SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE The Songs of Leiber and Stoller July 26 – August 1 Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller Sponsored by Ameren
CHARL BROWN (Sonny) is thrilled to be appearing on The Muny stage for the first time and at this historic moment for theatre. He was nominated for a Tony Award for the role of Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical and reprised this role opening the West End production. This winter, he is slated to appear as Brick in Virginia Stage’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other Broadway/tour: Jersey Boys, Sister Act, Hair. Select regional: The Who’s Tommy (Denver Center, Kennedy Center), Ever After (Paper Mill Playhouse), Johnny Baseball (American Repertory Theater), Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Six Degrees of Separation, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line. Select television: FBI, Evil, Madam Secretary. When not in an acting role, Charl tours the globe with his group, The Doowop Project, including venues such as The Blue Note Beijing, Disney Symphony Hall, Ottawa Symphony, City Winery Nashville and many others worldwide.
MICHAEL CAMPAYNO (Rod) originated the role of Rob Camilletti in The Cher Show and also starred as Fiyero in the hit musical Wicked on Broadway. A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, he made his television debut as Rolf in the NBC live telecast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood and can be heard on the cast recording. His other credits include Lancelot in Camelot starring Robert Sean Leonard and Barry Bostwick, productions at Pittsburgh CLO, and in concert with the Phoenix Symphony and Carolina Philharmonic. Television: The Other Two (HBOMAX), The Good Fight (CBS). Proud member of SAG, AFTRA and AEA. Follow @michaelcampayno
MYKAL KILGORE (Little Walter) is an award-winning actor and a Grammy and NAACP Image Award-nominated singer/songwriter. His debut album, A Man Born Black, is a gumbo of American roots and modern feels that highlight his ability to go from Broadway showtune storytelling to soul and jazz scatting to gospel. Mykal most recently starred in his online special, Mykal Kilgore Live… on the Innanets! Broadway: Motown: The Musical and Hair. National tour: The Book of Mormon. Other select credits: The Witch in Into the Woods at Barrington Stage Company, The Who’s Tommy at The Kennedy Center, Songs for a New World at Encores! OffCenter. TV/Film: NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, The Wiz Live! and Collateral Beauty. Mykal has racked up 10M+ views on social media with his videos, including his viral Reclaiming My Time video. #blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #loveoneanother MYKALKILGORE.COM
TIFFANY MANN (Willie Mae) Broadway: Be More Chill, Waitress. Off-Broadway: Jerry Springer: The Opera (Lucille Lortel Award), Invisible Thread, Cabin in the Sky. Other select theater: Dreamgirls (Effie), Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert. TV: New Amsterdam and Rise for NBC, Orange Is the New Black. @iamtiffanymann
HAYLEY PODSCHUN (Annette) Originally from Kansas, Hayley returns to The Muny after playing Dainty June in the 2018 production of Gypsy. Broadway: Wicked (Glinda, national tour), Hello, Dolly!; Something Rotten, Chaplin (Mildred Harris), Anything Goes, Pal Joey, Sunday in the Park with George, Hairspray (Broadway, national tour) and The Sound of Music. Off-Broadway: Freckleface Strawberry (Freckleface, original cast). Select regional credits: Holiday Inn (Linda Mason, Paper Mill Playhouse), I Married an Angel (Anna Murphy, NY City Center Encores!), The Royal Family of Broadway (Gwen, Barrington Stage, world premiere), Holiday Inn (Lila Dixon, Goodspeed, world premiere) Crazy for You (Polly, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), Peter Pan (Peter Pan, Artpark), Legally Blonde (Elle Woods, Arvada Center). Film/TV: Hairspray (Tammy), The Blacklist, Louie, Isn’t It Romantic and Hail, Caesar; You can also find Hayley on QVC as a guest host for Zodiac Shoes. IG: @hayley_podschun or www.hayleypodschun.com for more!
CHRISTOPHER SAMS (Cornelius) is ecstatic to join The Muny and Marcia Milgrom Dodge in turning up the summer heat with Leiber and Stoller’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Broadway credits feature Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. National touring credits include The Lion King (Ensemble, u/s Mufasa), The Color Purple (Ensemble/Grady/Buster), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr.) and Rock of Ages (Ensemble/Ja’Keith). Became a proud AEA member doing Smokey Joe’s Cafe with Ms. Dodge in 2016 and this is Chris’ third time rocking through the neighborhood.
NASIA THOMAS (Pearl) was most recently seen as Cathy in Out of The Box Theatrics version of The Last Five Years. In the fall, she can be seen as The Radio in the upcoming revival of Caroline, or Change on Broadway. Most recently seen in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations on Broadway. Broadway: Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. National tour: Beautiful. Regional: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (Berkeley Rep, Kennedy Center, Center Theatre Group, Mirvish Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (TUTS), Hairspray, (Muny). BFA Musical Theatre, Elon ‘15, The Governors School for the Arts ‘11. Member at DGRW Talent. IG: @nasiathomas.
JASON VEASEY (Doc) Jason is happy to be back in one of his favorite cities making his Muny debut! Theatre credits include the Broadway and national touring companies of The Lion King, the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop and a couple visits to Smokey Joe’s Cafe! He’s been at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Denver Center and The Public in New York. TV/Film credits include High Maintenance, Chicago Fire, Little Voice, Dash & Lily, Flatbush Misdemeanors and I’m Not Him.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC August 3– 9 Music by Richard Rodgers Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse Suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp Sponsored by Edward Jones
KATE ROCKWELL (Maria Rainer) is thrilled to be back at The Muny! Previous Muny credits include Beauty and the Beast (Belle) and Tarzan (Jane). On Broadway, she recently starred as the original Karen Smith in Mean Girls: The Musical (Drama Desk nomination). Her previous Broadway dumb blondes include originating the role of Skylar in Bring It On: The Musical, Rock of Ages, Hair and Legally Blonde. She’s been seen recently as Nina Bennett on Fox’s Almost Family, High Maintenance, Deadbeat and Sex and the City: The Movie. Upcoming: Harlem on Amazon. She released her debut solo album, Back To My Roots, in 2018 on Broadway Records, and has performed her solo concert by the same name at Birdland Jazz Club, City Winery and other venues in NYC. She is a WSET-certified wine lover and has the two cutest dogs on the planet.
MICHAEL HAYDEN (Captain Georg von Trapp) Broadway: All My Sons, Festen, Henry IV, Judgement at Nuremberg (Tony nomination), Cabaret, Carousel. Off-Broadway: The Lady from Dubuque, Measure for Measure, Dessa Rose, Far East. London: Cabaret, Carousel (Olivier nomination). Regional: Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, Henry V, Richard II, Merrily We Roll Along. Film: Patient 001, Charming Billy (American Film Institute Best Actor Award). TV: Evil, Elementary, Chicago Fire, Law & Order and Murder One.
BRYONHA MARIE PARHAM (The Mother Abbess) is thrilled to be making her Muny debut in her home state! Broadway: Prince of Broadway, The Book of Mormon, After Midnight, The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Ragtime. Off Broadway/NY: Promenade (NY City Center Encores!), Candide (Carnegie Hall), Ragtime (Lincoln Center). National tour: Falsettos. World premieres: Dave (Arena Stage), Prince of Broadway (Tokyo Theatre Orb). Concert: New York Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra (Bernstein’s Mass), Kansas City Symphony, 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists series. Regional: The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (American Repertory Theater), Ragtime (Kennedy Center), The Civil War (NETworks), Hair (Sacramento Music Circus), Dreamgirls (Effie, North Shore), Little Shop of Horrors (Berkshire Theatre Group) and many more! Television: The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!; Madam Secretary, Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert (Beggar Woman) and Show Boat in Concert, 66th and 68th Annual Tony Awards, The Today Show. Twitter/Instagram: @BryonhaMarie
ELIZABETH TEETER (Liesl von Trapp) is thrilled to return to the Muny stage after last being seen off-Broadway as Lily in The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theatre Company). Broadway: Betty in The Crucible, Young Elizabeth in The Audience, starring Helen Mirren; and Jane Banks in the closing company of Mary Poppins. Other NYC credits include workshops with Kathleen Marshall, Anne Kauffman, Leigh Silverman, Rachel Brosnahan and more. Regional: The Muny, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Tennessee Williams Festival, Variety Theatre. TV/Film: Leaving (short film), The Last O.G. (TBS). You can also see her this August as Laura in The Glass Menagerie with the Tennessee Williams Festival. Eleven years ago, she played one of the tiniest von Trapp children at The Muny and is honored for this full circle moment. @elizabethteeterofficial
ANDREW ALSTAT (Rolf Gruber) is thrilled to be returning to The Muny for his second season! Originally from Pomona, Illinois, Andrew is a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he received his BFA in Musical Theatre. He was last seen on the Muny stage as Chuck Cranston in Footloose. Recent credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Rocky) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Frederick) for CCM, Newsies (Albert, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts), Legally Blonde (Emmett) and Anything Goes (Billy Crocker) for McLeod Summer Playhouse. @a_alstat. @andrewalstat_photography
JENNY POWERS (Elsa Schraeder) is thrilled to be back at the Muny where her credits include 1776 (Abigail Adams, 2019), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Monotony Singer/Hildy, 2018), Mamma Mia! (Tanya, 2016); The Addams Family (Morticia Addams, 2014), Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins, 2013), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Milly, 2011), Camelot (Guenevere, 2009) and Oliver! (Nancy, 2006). Broadway: Rizzo in Grease and Meg in Little Women. Theatre highlights: Marie Dancing Still (5th Avenue Theatre), Lois Lane in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman (NY City Center Encores!), Donnybrook! (Irish Rep, Drama Desk nomination); Dangerous Beauty (Pasadena Playhouse), Happiness (Lincoln Center), Secondhand Lions (5th Avenue) and Little Dancer (Kennedy Center). TV: The Mysteries of Laura, Blue Bloods, Power, The Good Wife, Mercy, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Nurse Jackie, All My Children. She is also the co- founder of The Link Theatre Company thelinktheatre.org jenny-powers.com
JOHN SCHERER (Max Detweiler) has appeared at The Muny in Cinderella, Kinky Boots, Annie, Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot and Mame. He has appeared on Broadway in LoveMusik, By Jeeves and Sunset Boulevard. Off-Broadway credits include Dames at Sea, Olympus on My Mind and Preppies. Other NY credits include The Most Happy Fella (NY City Opera) and Out of This World (NY City Center Encores!). He has toured nationally in 42nd Street, Cats, Mame, Hello, Dolly! and White Christmas. His regional credits include Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Kennedy Center, Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse and many others. Television credits include Blue Bloods, The Shield, Crossing Jordan, Law & Order (SVU and CI) and Titus. He is originally from Buffalo, NY and is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS August 12 – 18 Book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay Lyrics by Johnny Mercer Music by Gene de Paul New Songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn Based on the MGM Film and “The Sobbin’ Women” by Stephen Vincent Benet Dance Music Arrangements by Sam Davis Sponsored by U.S. Bank
KENDRA KASSEBAUM (Milly Bradon) Muny: Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide, 2019). On Broadway, Kendra originated the role of Janice in the Tony-nominated production of Come From Away as well as Sam in Leap of Faith. She played Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, in San Francisco and on the first national tour (Helen Hayes nomination). Other New York: The Receptionist (Manhattan Theatre Club) and the Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated production of Assassins. Kendra made her Broadway debut in Rent. For Roundabout Theatre, she performed the role of Petra in A Little Night Music, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson. Kassebaum’s regional appearances include Actors Theatre of Louisville, The 5th Avenue Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Ordway, Florida Stage and her hometown St. Louis Muny. Film: The Other Woman (with Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow).
EDWARD WATTS (Adam Pontipee) is delighted to make his post-pandemic debut at The Muny! Broadway: Robert/David in Scandalous. Other New York: Superman (It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman), El Gallo (The Fantasticks), Joe (The Most Happy Fella) and Steve (Show Boa Tours: The Book of Mormon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Les Misérables and The Little Mermaid. Selected regional: The Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Old Globe), Harold Hill in The Music Man (Goodspeed Musicals), Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday (Guthrie Theater), Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music (Michigan Opera Theatre), Thomas Jefferson in 1776 (Goodspeed) and Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing… Forum (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Helen Hayes nomination). Television: NCIS: New Orleans, Quantico, The Sopranos, Rescue Me. Proud member of AEA. EdwardWatts.net.
ON YOUR FEET! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan August 21 – 27 Featuring Music Produced and Recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine Book by Alexander Dinelaris Sponsored by BMO Harris Bank
OMAR LOPEZ-CEPERO (Emilio) is deeply humbled to return to the Muny stage after appearing in Paint Your Wagon (Armando) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, he was seen in the off-Broadway premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Vincenzo). Broadway: On Your Feet! and American Idiot. Off-Broadway: The Public Theater’s Central Park concert of The Capeman. Regional/tour credits: The Flamingo Kid (Alejandro) at Hartford Stage, Guys and Dolls (Sky Masterson) at Theatre Under The Stars, Evita as Che (national tour, Fulton Theatre) and as Peron (Bay Street Theater). TV credits: Blue Bloods (CBS), The Detour (TBS), Vegas (CBS). He is a graduate of The University of Miami Frost School of Music with a degree in Vocal Performance. Alongside his performing career, he has developed an acting and voice studio where he coaches professional artists and students to maximize their potential. www.omarlopezcepero.com @omarlopezcepero
NATASCIA DIAZ (Gloria Fajardo) Most widely recognized for the documentary Every Little Step, this three-time Helen Hayes Award-winner returns to The Muny after her “breathtaking” turn as Velma Kelly in Chicago, and her award-winning turn as Anita in West Side Story. Broadway: Seussical (Bird Girl), Man of La Mancha (Antonia, u/s Aldonza). Off-Broadway: Tick, Tick…Boom!, Jacques Brel…; Washington DC: Petra (A Little Night Music) Rosalie (Carnival), Aurora (Kiss of the Spider Woman). Her first Helen Hayes happened in a tie with Chita Rivera for her transformation into Scottish rocker Monica in Rooms, and her second for her performance in Brel. Other favorites: Jenny (The Threepenny Opera), Betty 3, Collective Rage (Woolly Mammoth), Mariana (Measure for Measure), Savage (Savage in Limbo), Rafaella (Grand Hotel, NY City Center Encores!) and winning her third award for her “obsessively watchable, gorgeously sung” (Washington Post) role in a “career-defining performance” (BroadwayWorld) as Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion. TV: FBI IG:@LadyDiaz777
ALMA CUERVO (Consuelo) Broadway: On Your Feet!; Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret, Titanic, The Heidi Chronicles, Quilters, Is There Life After High School?; Censored Scenes from King Kong and Bedroom Farce. She has toured nationally in Wicked, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, M. Butterfly and Dancing at Lughnasa. Off-Broadway: Allegro (Classic Stage Company), Far From Heaven (Playwrights Horizons) and Road Show (The Public). She received an OBIE for her performance in Uncommon Women and Others and Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Ms. Cuervo has worked extensively in regional theatre, most recently In the Heights at Music Theatre Wichita and Yerma at Huntington Theatre. Film/Television: The Goldfinch, Bull, Lisey’s Story, City on a Hill, Instinct, The Slap, and she was a regular on Norman Lear’s AKA Pablo. She narrates many audiobooks and is a graduate of Tulane University and Yale School of Drama.
LEE ZARRETT (Phil) Broadway: My Fair Lady, On Your Feet!; Hair, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jane Eyre. National tours: Peter and the Starcatcher, Les Misérables. TV: The Blacklist, High Fidelity, Gotham, Louie, Boardwalk Empire. Off-Broadway: NY City Center Encores!, New Victory, Vineyard Theatre. Regional: Pittsburg CLO, La Jolla Playhouse.
CHICAGO August 30 – September 5 Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Foss Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins Script Adaptation by David Thompson Sponsored by Missouri Lottery
SARAH BOWDEN (Roxie Hart) Originally from Australia, Sarah most recently played Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre with Denis Jones directing and is beyond excited to be working with Denis again on this dream show! USA highlights include Cherry Sundae in the first national tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, playing Cassie in A Chorus Line in 2016 at The Hollywood Bowl opposite Mario Lopez, and her first Muny production of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway in 2018. Sarah spent many years in Germany playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Anita in West Side Story, Doralee in 9 to 5, Gloria in Flashdance and lastly, Esmeralda in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Scott Schwartz (director) and Chase Brock (choreographer). INSTA: @sarahbowden.de
J. HARRISON GHEE (Velma Kelly) is honored to be returning to The Muny playing Velma Kelly. Many thanks to family, friends, and his agency Nicolosi & Co. for continued love and support. Broadway/International tour: Kinky Boots (Lola/Swing), Mrs. Doubtfire (Andre Mayem). Regional: The Color Purple (Ensemble), The Sting (Johnny Hooker). Television: High Maintenance (Charles), Raising Dion (Kwame). Industrial: Tokyo Disney Sea’s Big Band Beat, Norwegian Cruise Line. Proud graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NY) @jharrisonghee
EMILY SKINNER (Matron “Mama” Morton) Muny: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Billy Elliot. Broadway: Side Show (Tony nomination, Drama League Award), The Cher Show, Prince of Broadway, Jekyll & Hyde, The Full Monty, James Joyce’s The Dead, Dinner at Eight (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Billy Elliot (BroadwayWorld Award). Off-Broadway: Picnic (Drama Desk nomination), Jerry Springer: The Opera (Carnegie Hall), Fiorello!; No Strings, Pardon My English, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (all for NY City Center Encores!). She has sung leading roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, WPA Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout Theatre Company, York Theatre, Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Regional: The Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Long Wharf, Old Globe, Goodspeed, Bucks County Playhouse, Virginia Rep, and many others. She has sung with symphonies around the globe and her numerous recordings may be found at Amazon.com. www.emily-skinner.com
JAMES T. LANE (Billy Flynn) West End: The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line (Palladium, revival). Broadway: Kiss Me, Kate (Paul), King Kong, The Scottsboro Boys (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates), Chicago and A Chorus Line (Richie). National tours: Jersey Boys, Cinderella, Fame. Regional: Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely, Virginia Stage Company), Mary Poppins (Bert, Drury Lane Theatre), The Wiz (Tin Man), Promenade, Grand Hotel and Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (all for NY City Center Encores!), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Sebastian, The Muny), Broadway at Music Circus, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater and Dallas Theater Center. Concerts: Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, Ottawa Symphony and many more. James is the creator of a one man show entitled Triple Threat: A Play That Moves and Sings. Look for streaming information, booking, as well as performance dates at www.jamestlane.com. Mr. Lane teaches music theatre dance when and wherever anyone will let him! Instagram: @jamestlane www.jamestlane.com
ADAM HELLER (Amos Hart) Muny: Gypsy, 1776. Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: Follies, Brighton Beach Memoirs. Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Elf, Baby, It’s You; Caroline, or Change; A Class Act, Victor/Victoria; Les Misérables. National tours: Titanic, Falsettos. Off-Broadway: Popcorn Falls (Davenport), A Letter to Harvey Milk (Theater Row), Peer Gynt (CSC), Wings (Second Stage), Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn and The Immigrant (New World Stages), Merrily We Roll Along (York). Regional: The Flamingo Kid (Hartford Stage), Fiddler on the Roof (Connecticut Critics Circle Award) and Rags (Goodspeed), The Chosen (Barrington Stage), My Name is Asher Lev (Arden), Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center). TV: The Bite, FBI: Most Wanted; Ray Donovan, The Good Fight, Elementary, Unforgettable, The Americans, The Sopranos, Law & Order (all), Oz, Submissions Only. Graduate: NYU/Tisch.
ALI EWOLDT (Mary Sunshine) is beyond thrilled to return to The Muny. She appeared here as Philia in Forum, Martha Jefferson in 1776 and Maria in West Side Story. Other credits include Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Misérables (Broadway, national tour), The King and I (Broadway, tour, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Maria in West Side Story (national tour, international tour), Luisa in The Fantasticks (off-Broadway), Fan/Mrs. Bonds in A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre) and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls (Sacramento Music Circus). Concert/symphony work: Alice Tully Hall, The Town Hall, NY Pops at Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, American Pops Orchestra, Kaohsiung Symphony and The Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart. Her TV/Film credits include The Michael J. Fox Show, Yield, Mia and The Cactus. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina American and member of Actors’ Equity. @aliewoldt
Current season ticket holders for the 2021 season will receive their season tickets later this month. New season subscriptions for the 2021 five-show season are currently available, with single tickets becoming available July 12. Tickets can be purchased online at muny.org or by phone by calling (314) 361-1900 ext 1550. Currently, the box office in Forest Park is closed for walk-up service until July 5.
To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Emerson is proud to be The Muny’s 2021 Season Sponsor.
Pandemic Results in Production Streamcast by HEC Media
New Jewish Theatre led the way with six awards at the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Max & Louie Productions’ performance of Indecent garnered five awards, followed by four awards to The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis for its production of A Lovely Sunday forCreveCoeur.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Circle’s gala event for this year’s award ceremony, originally scheduled for March 30, 2020 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, was canceled. Instead, HEC Media produced a version of the ceremonies that was streamcast on HEC Media’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hectv/live/) as well as telecast on Spectrum channel 989 and AT&T U-verse channel 99. Here is the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tCo0AFHbChE
Awards were given in 31 categories covering comedies, dramas
and musicals as well as two categories for opera. In addition, Ken and Nancy
Kranzberg received a special award for their philanthropic contributions to the
arts and theater in the St. Louis area, including many developments in Grand
Center. The awards honored outstanding achievement in locally produced professional
theater for the calendar year 2019.
A total of 21 productions and 14 companies were recognized by the awards, including eight individuals who have received honors in previous years. Will Bonfiglio, honored as Outstanding Actor in a Comedy for his performance in New Jewish Theatre’s production of Fully Committed, received an award for the third time in the last four years.
The 2020 presentation featured nominees from two companies,
Black Mirror Theatre and The Q Collective, which were represented for the first
time in consideration of St. Louis Theater Circle Awards. Each company received an award for
In all, 25 local companies received nominations in 33
categories for comedy, drama, musical and opera, as well as 125 individuals up
for awards. Honorees who have previously received St. Louis Theater Circle
Awards include Will Bonfiglio, J. Samuel Davis, Kari Ely, Michael Hamilton,
Patrick Huber, Sean M. Savoie, Margery and Peter Spack, and Maggie Wininger.
The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To
honor St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as
Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and
Washington D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar
Nominations for the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards were
divided into categories for musicals, dramas, comedies and operas. More than 120 local professional theatrical
productions were staged in the St. Louis area in 2019.
Honorees of the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle
Ensemble in a Comedy
Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Kelley Weber, A Lovely Sunday for Creve
Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Patrick Blindauer, Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Actress in a Comedy (tie)
Katie Kleiger, Pride and Prejudice, Repertory Theatre
of St. Louis
Maggie Wininger, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St.
in a Comedy
Will Bonfiglio, Fully Committed, New Jewish Theatre
Director of a Comedy
Kari Ely, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur,
Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Production of a Comedy
Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre
Ensemble in a Drama
Max & Louie Productions
Supporting Actress in a Drama
Carly Uding, Translations,
Black Mirror Theatre
Supporting Actor in a Drama
J. Samuel Davis, District Merchants,
New Jewish Theatre
Actress in a Drama
Donna Weinsting, Salt, Root and Roe,
in a Drama
Gary Wayne Barker, District Merchants, New Jewish
Director of a Drama
Joanne Gordon, Indecent, Max &
Production of a Drama
Max & Louie Productions
Design in a Play
Margery and Peter Spack, Brighton Beach Memoirs,
New Jewish Theatre
Costume Design in a Play
Felia Davenport, District Merchants,
New Jewish Theatre
Lighting Design in a Play
Indecent, Max & Louie Productions
Phillip Evans, Indecent, Max &
Design in a Musical
Mary Engelbreit and Paige Hathaway, Matilda, The Muny
Costume Design in a Musical
Sarah Porter, La Cage aux Folles, New
Lighting Design in a Musical
Sean M. Savoie, Man of La Mancha,
Stages St. Louis
Charles Creath, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t
Cope, The Black Rep
Dexandro Montalvo, Such Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare
Festival St. Louis,
Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine
Network of Public Media
Ensemble in a Musical
Supporting Actress in a Musical
Taylor Louderman, Kinky Boots, The
Supporting Actor in a Musical
Tielere Cheatem, La Cage aux Folles,
New Line Theatre
Actress in a Musical
Kendra Kassebaum, Guys and Dolls, The
in a Musical
Luke Steingruby, Hedwig and the Angry
Inch, The Q Collective
Director of a Musical
Michael Hamilton, Man of La Mancha,
Stages St. Louis
Production of a Musical
Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,
Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine
Network of Public Media
Nonsense and Beauty, by Scott C.
Sickles, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Achievement in Opera (tie)
Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, Fire
Shut Up in My Bones, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Roland Wood, Rigoletto, Opera Theatre
of St. Louis
Production of an Opera
Boheme, Union Avenue Opera
Ken and Nancy Kranzberg
Members of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Steve Allen,
stagedoorstl.com; Mark Bretz, Ladue News;
Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light;
Tina Farmer, KDHX; Michelle Kenyon, snoopstheatrethoughts.com; Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle (HEC Media); Chuck
Lavazzi, KDHX; Sarah Bryan Miller, St.Louis
Post-Dispatch; Judith Newmark, judyacttwo.com; Ann Lemons Pollack,
stlouiseats.typepadcom; Tanya Seale,
Broadwayworld.com; Lynn Venhaus, PopLifeSTL.com;
Bob Wilcox, Two on theAisle (HEC Media); and Calvin Wilson, St.
Mullin, local actress and arts supporter, is the group’s administrator.
For more information, contact [email protected]
or ‘like’ The St. Louis Theater Circle on Facebook.
By Lynn Venhaus
Broadway’s glorious past merges with The Muny’s dazzling state-of-the-art
present in “Guys and Dolls” for a sensational start to the second century that
bodes well for the future.
What an ideal show to show off the new stage and other upgrades made possible
through the Muny’s Second Century Campaign!
As impressive as the changes set out to be, all the spiffy
new elements made this endearing show sparkle – the redesigned stage allowed
the action flow smoothly, the sound was crystal clear (designers John Shivers
and David Patridge) and the lighting systems’ enhanced illumination by designer
Rob Denton and the expanded LED screens, with video designs by Nathan W.
Scheuer, were eye-catching. Director Gordon Greenberg was able to incorporate
the new downstage lifts into scenes. Overall, an A+ effort.
Besides the successful revelation, the weather was
tailor-made for the 101st season opener June 10. A crowd of 7,677 enjoyed
one of Broadway’s most delightful golden-age classics, filled with Frank
Loesser’s peppy and hummable musical numbers, sweet romance, and colorful
characters based on Damon Runyon’s short stories and given zip by the late
comedy writer Abe Burrows.
“Take Back Your Mink”Jaunty and joyous, “Guys and Dolls” combines hustling high rollers and honorable holy rollers in the bustle of the fabled Times Square, their intentions clashing when the gamblers want to be lucky and the evangelists want to save souls. Paul Tate dePoo III’s vibrant scenic design of neon signage and advertisements reflects a flashy bright lights, big city vibe that pops in every scene.
Once dubbed “the perfect musical comedy” by a critic and I
wholeheartedly agree, the Muny proved how evergreen the show can be, now in its
eighth time here and 15 years since the last one. The talent made sure this
first bicentennial production was a crowning achievement by integrating all the
new-fangled improvements seamlessly.
Zoe Vonder Haar, Orville Mendoza, Kennedy Holmes. Photo by Philip Hamer.Greenberg bathed this frothy concoction in the warm glow of
nostalgia while emphasizing the humor and elevating the romance. The high-spirited
cast injected it with zing through crisp and snappy movements, whether it was a
sharply choreographed number – those elastic dancers in “Crapshooters Dance”
and “Havana” made it fun — or the wise-guys singing Nathan Detroit’s praises
in “The Oldest Established.”
First-time Muny co-choreographers Lorin Latarro and Patrick O’Neill intertwined
different styles with energy and precision, and Music Director Brad Haak freshened
the songs, with arrangements by Larry Blank. Musicians were under a covered pit
for the first time, carrying the upbeat tempos well.
The creative team focused on the original 1950 roots and the rock-solid cast cheerfully
immersed themselves in this idiosyncratic world. One must accept its now dated
story as a period piece to fully appreciate the relationships. Calling women
“tomatoes” and “broads” is no longer acceptable, and no one in contemporary
times would, but this is from a bygone era – and displays how different men and
women roles were back then.
“Guys and Dolls” took Damon Runyon stories about New York
City from the 1920s and 30s, namely “The Idyll of Sarah Brown” and “Blood
Pressure,” with a nod to “Pick the Winner,” and radio comedy writer Abe Burrows
boosted Jo Swerling’s original script by giving the distinctive characters
Runyon’s unique vernacular, a mix of formal speech with slang. Damon, a
newspaperman and sportswriter, favored writing dialogue for gamblers, hustlers,
actors and gangsters.
However, this Runyonland appears more innocent. Detroit, the hapless but lovable mug behind the biggest crap game in NYC, keeps his adorable girlfriend Adelaide waiting for him to marry her after 14 years. The prim and proper Sarah Brown falls in love with the suave Sky Masterson in an opposites-attract storyline.
The script makes all of this seem logical and then throws in merry men named Benny Southstreet and Rusty Charlie, and it’s a surefire winner, especially with Kevin Cahoon hilarious as Harry the Horse and so is Brendan Averett as Big Jule.
From the first bars of the opening number “Fugue for
Tinhorns” to “The Happy Ending” finale, this cast connects with each other, and
ultimately, the audience.
As the sophisticated ladies man Sky Masterson, Ben Davis is
a welcome presence on the Muny stage, continuing his successful run of classic
male leads after Curly in “Oklahoma!” and Emile in “South Pacific.” He has
palpable chemistry with Brittany Bradford, who is one of the best Sarah Browns
I’ve ever seen (sometimes, the actors playing these different types don’t gel,
but this pair does). Their clashing couple delivers velvety-smooth ballads.
Bradford is quite a special talent, genuine in acting and a
splendid soprano. Her breakout number, “If I Were a Bell,” shows her
versatility. Their “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” superbly blends their
voices, another standout moment, and his sleek “My Time of Day” rendition was
Davis propelled “Luck Be a Lady” to be one of the evening
highlights, aided by the crackerjack ensemble.
St. Louisan Kendra Kassebaum lights up the stage as Miss
Adelaide, and wow, what a home-grown triple threat. Bubbly and bouncy, she displays
impeccable comic timing in her fully dimensional lived-in performance.
She’s a fitting and funny foil for wacky Nathan, well-played by Jordan Gelber. Their “Sue Me” was on point, and “Adelaide’s Lament” is confident and comical. She leads the Hot Box Girls in a vivacious “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink.” (Tristan Raines’ costumes fit each role appropriately, but those purple-sequin gowns draped with the gray furs are stunning.)
Kassebaum and Bradford are a dynamic duo in “Marry the Man
Today” (just don’t wince at those lyrics).
The best scene, the second act showstopper that puts its indelible stamp on “Guys and Dolls,” is “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” A marvel of movement and pure jubilation, this version is made even more special by the surprise appearance of Kennedy Holmes, the Muny Kid who placed fourth on “The Voice” in 2018, belting out the usual General Cartwright solo. (Zoe Vonder Haar has replaced Doreen Montalvo as General Cartwright),
Orville Mendoza fits, well, nicely, as Nicely-Nicely
Johnson, who leads the number, and is dandy in his duet with Jared Gertner as
Benny in the title number “Guys and Dolls.”
As Arvide Abernathy, Ken Page has a twinkle in his eye and adds
poignancy to the “More I Cannot Wish You” number sung to his granddaughter,
Sarah. This is his 41st appearance at the Muny – and little-known
fact, he played Nicely-Nicely in the 1976 Broadway revival.
The musical has been revived two more times, in 1992 and
2009, with the 1992 version starring Nathan Lane and Faith Prince the most
acclaimed, winning four Tony Awards including Best Revival and running until 1995,
tallying 1,143 performances. The original “Guys and Dolls” won five Tony Awards
in 1951, including Best Musical, and has been a favorite among regional, school
and community groups for decades.
That renowned 1992 version’s spunk is evident in this Muny
production, but the cast makes it their own. They put a fresh sheen on the
characters, imbuing them with heart and humor, and it never sags.
This production is worth rejoicing about, starting out the
summer in swell fashion.
The Muny presents “Guys and Dolls” June 10 – 16 nightly at 8:15 p.m. in Forest Park. For tickets or more information, visit www.muny.org
The Muny announced today its complete cast, design and production team for Guys and Dolls, the first show of its second century, June 10 – 16. Guys and Dolls is proudly sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors.
“We soar into our second century with one of the most beloved musicals of the last century,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “I can’t wait to see this amazing production on our beautiful new stage. Luck be a producer, indeed.”
Joining the previously announced Ben Davis (Sky Masterson), Brittany Bradford (Sarah Brown), Jordan Gelber (Nathan Detroit) and Kendra Kassebaum (Miss Adelaide) are Ken Page (ArvideAbernathy), Doreen Montalvo (General Cartwright), Orville Mendoza (Nicely-Nicely Johnson), Jared Gertner (Benny Southstreet), Brendan Averett (Big Jule), Kevin Cahoon (Harry the Horse) and Rich Pisarkiewicz (Lt. Brannigan). A high-rolling ensemble completes this cast, including Calvin Cooper, Darien Crago, Colby Dezelick, Tyler Eisenreich, Whitney G-Bowley, Berklea Going, Julie Hanson, Jeff Kuhr, Alicia Lundgren, Erin N. Moore, Jevares Myrick, Michael Santomassimo, Michaeljon Slinger, Matthew Steffens, Keith Tyrone, Amy Van Norstrand, Jerry Vogel and Sharrod Williams. The company will also be joined by the Muny Kid and Teen youth ensemble.
As previously announced, Guys and Dolls is directed by Gordon Greenberg and co-choreographed by Lorin Latarro and Patrick O’Neill with music direction by Brad Haak.
This production includes scenic design by Paul Tate dePoo III, costume design by Tristan Raines, lighting design by Rob Denton, sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge, video design by Nathan W. Scheuer and wig design by Leah J. Loukas. Production stage manager is Nancy Uffner.
BEN DAVIS (Sky Masterson) Muny: Jesus Christ Superstar (Pilate), Oklahoma! (Curly); South Pacific (Emile), Spamalot (Galahad). Ben was most recently seen as Cosmo Constantine in New York City Center’s Encores! Call Me Madam, opposite Carmen Cusack. Broadway: 2003 Tony Honor for La Bohème (Marcello), Dear Evan Hansen (Larry), Violet (Preacher), A Little Night Music, Les Misérables(Javert and Enjolras), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon). Tours: The Sound of Music (Georg von Trapp), Spamalot (Galahad). Regional: Kiss Me, Kate (Fred/Petruchio) at The 5th Avenue Theatre. UK: BBC Proms Kiss Me, Kate (Fred/Petruchio). Concerts: Philly Pops, Boston Pops, LA Philharmonic, RTÉ and many others. Film/TV: Blue Bloods, A Hand of Bridge, The Magic Flute, 30 Rock, Numb3rs. www.benjaminjaydavis.com
Actor | New York | Headshot| Brittany Bradford
BRITTANY BRADFORD (Sarah Brown) Muny debut! Brittany was recently seen in Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Merrily We Roll Along, staged by the critically-acclaimed Fiasco Theater. She made her Broadway debut last fall as Ophelia in Bernhardt/Hamlet opposite Janet McTeer. Additional credits: For Colored Girls… (Public Theater), Flyin’ West (Westport Country Playhouse), Family Resemblance (Eugene O’Neill), The Profane and Taming of the Shrew (Chautauqua Theater Company), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ten Thousand Things Theater), Neighbors, AvenueQ and Next to Normal (Mixed Blood Theatre), Ragtime and Stick Fly (Park Square Theatre). 2018 graduate of The Juilliard School, Group 47. Credits: Father Comes Home from the Wars, Hoodoo Love, Triumph of Love, King Lear, Cymbeline, Christina Martinez and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Co-Founder of HomeBase Theatre Collective. www.brittany-bradford.com
JORDAN GELBER (Nathan Detroit) Muny debut! Broadway: Sunday in the Park with George, Elf the Musical (Buddy), All My Sons, Avenue Q (original cast, special Outer Critics Circle Award). Off-Broadway: John Guare’s Nantucket Sleigh Ride (Lincoln Center Theater), Mike Leigh’s 2000 Years, Avenue Q, The Joke, Birth and After Birth. TV: Elementary, Mr. Robot, Mindhunter, Insatiable, Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Rescue Me, Ugly Betty, first three Law & Order series (recurring on SVU), The Sopranos, 100 Centre Street. Film: (upcoming) The Kitchen, Bleed for This, Dark Horse, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Everyday People (IFP/Gotham Award nominee for Breakthrough Acting), Riding in Cars With Boys, Changing Lanes. BA, Stanford University; MFA, NYU Tisch Graduate Acting (2000 Laura Pels Award). www.JordanGelber.com
KENDRA KASSEBAUM (Miss Adelaide) Muny: A Chorus Line (Val). On Broadway, Kendra originated the role of Janice in the Tony-nominated production of Come From Away as well as Sam in Leap of Faith. She played Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, in San Francisco and on the first national tour (Helen Hayes nominee). Other New York: The Receptionist (MTC) and the Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated production of Assassins, both directed by Joe Mantello. Kendra made her Broadway debut in Rent. For the Roundabout, she performed the role of Petra in A Little Night Music starring Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson. Kassebaum’s regional appearances include Actors Theatre of Louisville, The 5th Avenue Theatre, ACT, Ordway and Florida Stage. Film: The Other Woman (with Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow).
Ken Page will be in his 41st Muny show
KEN PAGE(Arvide Abernathy) is proud to be part of the 101st season of The Muny. This will be his forty-first show on the stage and his fourth year as “the voice” of the theatre. Ken made his Broadway debut as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the all-black revival of Guys and Dolls, receiving the Theatre World Award for his performance. This year, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The St. Louis Arts & Education Council and directed a sold-out run of Love, Linda with Max & Louie Productions. Recent/upcoming: live-to-film concerts of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Sebastian) at the Hollywood Bowl,Grumpy Old Men (La Mirada Theatre) and the UK live-to-film tour re-creating his role of Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
DOREEN MONTALVO (General Cartwright) Muny debut! Broadway: On Your Feet! (Gloria, original Broadway cast); In the Heights (original Broadway cast, Drama Desk Award). Off-Broadway: Curvy Widow (Heidi, Westside Theatre), Giant (Lupe, The Public Theater), Flashdance The Musical (Louise), Mamma Mia! (Tanya); In the Heights (Camila, Westport Country Playhouse), American Mariachi(Denver Center/Old Globe), La Lupe (Lupe, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre), In the Heights (37 Arts), Havana Under the Sea (Cecilia, INTAR Theatre). TV/Film: Law & Order, Elementary, Madam Secretary, The Tale of Timmy Two Chins, Smash, All My Children, One Life to Live. Recordings: American Soul/Latin Heart, Disney’s Moana soundtrack. Live: 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, The Metropolitan Room, The Duplex, Green Room 42. www.doreenmontalvo.com
ORVILLE MENDOZA (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) is thrilled to be back at The Muny where he got his Equity card 25 years ago in The King and I. Other Muny: Miss Saigon (2001), The King and I (2006), Godspell (2009). Broadway: Peter and the Starcatcher, Pacific Overtures. Most recently, the world premiere of The Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe, coming to Broadway). Previously, he toured with Small Mouth Sounds (Ars Nova). Off-Broadway: Found (Atlantic Theater Company), Pacific Overtures, Passion (Classic Stage Company); Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens and Road Show all at The Public Theater/NYSF. He’s worked all across the U.S. from La Jolla Playhouse to Long Wharf Theatre. TV: The Blacklist, Law & Order: CI and many commercials. Drama Desk nominee and Barrymore Award winner. www.orvillemendoza.com
JARED GERTNER (Benny Southstreet) Muny debut! Jared is best known for playing Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon on Broadway, on the first national tour and in London (Olivier nomination). Other New York: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway) and Ordinary Days (off-Broadway, premiere). Regional: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, Goodspeed, The Fulton, Cape Playhouse and Sacramento Music Circus. Television: Mom, Modern Family, 2 Broke Girls, Supernatural, Superior Donuts, How I Met Your Mother, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Ugly Betty, The Good Wife, American Dad, Family Guy and the popular Broadway-themed web series, Submissions Only. Jared also starred in an NBC pilot called How We Live. Film: Nightmare Cinema(upcoming), Smallfoot and Pup Star. Education: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Twitter: @JaredGertner Instagram: @Jaredgertner1
BRENDAN AVERETT (Big Jule) is excited to make his Muny debut. Off-Broadway: Hamlet (Waterwell), Sam and Dede (Custom Made Theatre/59E59), Titus Andronicus (NY Shakespeare Exchange), The Killer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (TFANA), As You Like It (Shakespeare in the Park), Massacre: Sing to Your Children (Rattlestick), Hamlet (Gallery Players), Passion Play (Epic Theatre Ensemble). Tours: Guys and Dolls. Regional: The Comedy of Errors, Kiss Me, Kate (Hartford Stage), Romeo and Juliet(Actors Theatre of Louisville), Of Mice and Men (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Cyrano de Bergerac, The Tempest (Theatricum Botanicum), Henry V (California Shakespeare Company), Bloody Poetry, The Alchemist (Everyman Theatre), Measure for Measure, Guys and Dolls, The Swanne: Pt. III(Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada). TV/Film: Law & Order: SVU, Trapped in the Closet, Blossom. Former Associate Producer for NYSX’s The Sonnet Project.
KEVIN CAHOON (Harry the Horse) Muny: The Wizard of Oz and Spamalot. Broadway: The Wedding Singer, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lion King, The Rocky Horror Show revival and The Who’s Tommy(debut). Off-Broadway: original Hedwig and The Angry Inch, How I Learned to Drive (Second Stage), The Foreigner (Roundabout, Lortel nomination), The Shaggs (Playwrights Horizons), The Wild Party (Manhattan Theatre Club), Hair and Babes in Arms (NY City Center Encores!). Regional: The Old Globe, Guthrie, Williamstown. TV: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Glow (upcoming), Nurse Jackie, Elementary, NCIS, Modern Family, The Mentalist, The Good Wife, CSI, Odd Mom Out, Six Degrees, Black Box, The Royale, Law & Order (original/CI). Film: I Am Michael, Mars Needs Moms, The Thing About My Folks, Curse of The Jade Scorpion. Debut album: Doll (OutMusic Award).
RICH PISARKIEWICZ (Lt. Brannigan) Muny 101 marks Rich’s 38th season on the Muny boards, appearing in over 80 productions, including last season’s An Evening with the Stars and Annie. He has appeared regionally with The Fox Theatres (Atlanta and St. Louis), Dallas Summer Musicals, Kansas City Starlight, and locally with Stages St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Black Rep, Westport Playhouse and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has also enjoyed working with the Variety Theatre in several productions, most recently The Wizard of Oz. Upcoming: Man of La Mancha (Stages St. Louis). 2019 is his 41st year in professional theatre beginning with 1776 at Summerstage in 1979.
Link for more information: muny.org/guys-and-dolls.
About the show:
Guys and Dolls is based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.
Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, Guys and Dolls gambles with luck and love during a time when Broadway was rampant with wise guys, mission girls and Lindy’s cheesecake. This all-time Broadway classic features a high-rolling score, including “Luck Be a Lady,” “If I Were a Bell” and “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.” With this Muny favorite, everyone’s a winner!
The seven shows in the 2019 Muny season are: Guys and Dolls (June 10 – 16), Kinky Boots (June 19 – 25), 1776 (June 27 – July 3), Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (July 8 – 16), Footloose (July 18 – 24), Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (July 27 – August 2) and Roald Dahl’s Matilda (August 5 – 11). For more information, visit muny.org.
Season and single tickets are currently on sale. Muny gift cards for the 101st season are available online and at The Muny Box Office. MetroTix is the only official online point-of-purchase vendor for The Muny. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.