By Lynn Venhaus With the nostalgic glow of scrapbook memories, the toe-tapping and hummable “Smokey Joe’s Café” opened The Muny’s eagerly anticipated 103rd season.
In this spirited localized production of the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, the creative team imagined a soulful stroll down memory lane, intersecting a generation’s familiar soundtrack with Gaslight Square, one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods.
And just like that, the U.S.’s oldest and largest outdoor theater demonstrated why it’s an essential part of St. Louis summers.
It had been over 700 days since we were last gathered under the stars in Forest Park – at “Matilda,” to be exact, which ran Aug. 5-11, 2019.
Nobody does what the Muny does, and did we miss it! On Monday, warm-and-fuzzy feelings energized the crowd of 5,956, who collectively exhaled and shared a glorious moment, sprinkled with pixie dust, during a pleasant July evening.
“You’re here. You made it through!” exclaimed Mike Isaacson, executive producer and artistic director, with palpable joy.
One glance at that expansive stage and we were home.
The impressive scenic design by Edward E. Haynes Jr., who was responsible for the bright and playful fantasy world of “The Wiz” in 2019, included realistic facades of Crystal Palace, Jack Carl’s 2¢ Plain (a New York-style deli), Annadel’s Olde-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Smokey Joe’s Grecian Terrace and a Sinclair service station built into the streetscape.
That bygone-era theme continued in Kevan Loney’s video design and Rob Denton’s lighting design, which bathed the nightclub scenes in neon and stardust.
In its heyday, Gaslight Square was the entertainment district in St. Louis – located between Olive and Boyle in the eastern portion of the Central West End. Attracting bohemians, hipsters and the well-heeled, it was known for comedy, dining and dancing. Such rising stars as Barbra Streisand, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen and The Smothers Brothers appeared in venues there. By the late ‘60s, urban decay took over and people were flocking to the suburbs.
Astute observers will be able to pick out “Easter eggs,” those clever nuggets from the past that mean something to fans — and a major find is shopping bags with the Stix, Baer and Fuller logo. There’s a Sealtest Dairy ad on a back cover – and more blasts from the past.
Never underestimate the emotional connection shared by a live audience, listening to a talented mix of performers sing their hearts out.
As we are all aware of how a global coronavirus pandemic disrupted our lives during the past 16 months, The Muny had been forced to cancel its 102nd season in 2020 – for the first-time ever – and moved five shows to this year, which received the green light when it was deemed safe to do so. Isaacson noted that the performers hadn’t been able to “do what they do” either.
Enter an eclectic cast of nine (five guys, four women), who could be classified as “acting singers” – and their strong interpretations created easily identifiable vignettes during musical numbers. All but three were making their Muny debut.
Robust ovations began early, even before they harmonized in the first number “Neighborhood,” and continued through the enduring catalogue of prolific lyricist Jerry Leiber and composer Mike Stoller, for a total of 39 songs, mostly hits from the 1950s and 1960s.
Mutual fans of rhythm-and-blues, Leiber and Stoller collaborated on a pop-rock sound known as “crossover” music back in the day. Their catchy melodies and tender ballads are thread together without a storyline or a chronological order.
From the dance party that is “Baby, that is Rock and Roll” to the classic Drifters’ chart-climber “On Broadway,” the songs vary in mood and tempo.
For the most part, they reflect a more innocent time, especially the amusing novelty songs heard on transistor radios — golden oldies “Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy” and “Love Potion No. 9.”
The assembled artists are a balanced group of pros with Broadway and national tour credits. By the time they united for a moving finale of “Stand by Me,” each performer had a knockout rendition.
First-timer Charl Brown. who was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Smokey Robinson in “Motown: The Musical,” showcased his smooth style and wide register with “There Goes My Baby” and “Young Blood.”
Immediately, the audience reacted to Christopher Sam’s rich, deep baritone, and his silky delivery wowed on “Spanish Harlem,” “Loving You” and “Dance with Me.” It’s easy to picture him as Mufasa in “The Lion King” on Broadway.
Belter Tiffany Mann was sensational with “Fools Fall in Love” and “Hound Dog,” soaring with the gospel tinged “Saved,” which closed the first act with a flourish. Mann, quickly a favorite, was in “Be More Chill” and “Waitress” on Broadway.
The charismatic Mykal Kilgore brought the house down with a passionate “I (Who Have Nothing).” He was Annas in the Muny’s 2018 “Jesus Christ Superstar” and part of the NBC live television concert version earlier that Easter, and also in the network’s live “The Wiz.”
Excellent dancers Hayley Podschun and Michael Campayno stood out with “Teach Me How to Shimmy.” Podschun, the dance captain, starred as Dainty June in the Muny’s 2018 “Gypsy,” and touched with her sweet solo “Falling.”
Campayno, who played opposite Tony winner Stephanie J. Block in “The Cher Show,” channeled his inner Elvis Presley to lead a peppy “Jailhouse Rock,” and charmed with “Ruby Baby.”
Podschun teamed with Nasia Thomas on a sassy “Trouble.” Thomas, who was in the 2015 “Hairspray” Muny ensemble and played Little Eva in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” on Broadway, sang “Don Juan” solo.
In a take-note debut, Dee Roscioli, a long-running Elphaba in “Wicked,” showed versatility in “I Keep Forgettin’” and “Pearl’s a Singer.”. The females all have frisky fun in “I’m a Woman.”
A Smokey Joe’s veteran, expressive Jason Veasey paired with Thomas on “You’re the Boss,” and lead the men in the burlesque homage, “Little Egypt.”
Many of the lyrics, being from a different time decades ago, feature sexual innuendo and set society roles. That means it is preferable for more mature audiences, not the wee ones.
Music Director Abdul Hamid Royal, a Tony Award nominee and NAACP Image Award winner for “Five Guys Named Moe,” nimbly conducted the skilled musicians placed on stage, initially behind a storefront and then in plain view during the second act.
Choreographer Josh Walden designed the movements based on original choreography by director Marcia Milgrom Dodge, with whom he has worked before. He wove in the buoyant Muny Teen youth ensemble with aplomb.
Dodge, a frequent Muny collaborator, had helmed “Smokey Joe’s Café” in Chicago, winning a Jefferson Award. Her vision here added oomph to the characters’ stories, and the ensemble seamlessly slipped into specific archetypes.
Costume designer Sully Ratke created characters’ backstories with a keen eye for vintage wardrobes, and the retro apparel captured their personas, especially snazzy hats. Their looks were accented with spot-on wig design by Kelley Jordan.
The sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge was crisp and did not have any noticeable issues.
At an estimated run time of two hours, 11 minutes, the Tony-nominated musical from 1995 zipped along in swift fashion.
Those who like a beefier story with their musical interludes will not be satisfied by the structure, but if you expect a concert-type experience, then you know what is in store.
What is surprising is how the elements all came together to elevate a conventional revue into a more layered theatrical experience. By expanding on what’s considered routine entertainment, the show — directed and performed with verve — is a cut above the ordinary.
Projecting genuine affection for the material and each other, this cheerful cast and splendid creative team achieved its shining moment. And voila! A community was reborn and welcomed back.
I will never take this tradition for granted ever again.
A Muny premiere, “Smokey Joe’s Café” opened July 26 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 1 at 8:15 p.m. on the outdoor stage in Forest Park. Emerson is the 2021 season sponsor.
For more information, visit www.muny.org. For tickets, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900 ext. 1550.
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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.
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