By Lynn Venhaus
With magic to do and the ‘Lou turning its lonely eyes to them, the Muny blazed another trail Monday with its introduction of “The Muny Summer Variety Hour Live!”

The first episode was a nifty package of show tunes, personalities, bouncy sing-a-longs, behind the scenes with dedicated staff and several special live moments, all shared on social media in real time by an audience spanning coast to coast. (Latest figures: 25,000 tuned in!).

Oh, what a treat to be reminded of what makes the Municipal Opera so special for 102 years – and not only because it is the oldest and largest outdoor theater in the country, but because it is “our Muny,” right here in St. Louis. And summer isn’t really summer until the Muny opens.

Two of our hometown’s greatest showmen – Lara Teeter and Ken Page – entertained us in royal fashion, with Tony nominee Lara recreating a vintage musical dance he called “Take Me Away!” as his fleet feet took him throughout the great expanse of the Muny grounds one sunny day. He was joined by his son Charlie in the segment.

And live, from the Culver Pavilion, with four musicians socially distanced, the regal Ken Page sang “Memory,” the signature song from “Cats,” in a showstopper that was one for the ages. Night had fallen, and this stage legend gave an emotional powerful rendition. Chills. Leaky eyes.

Add it to the countless memorable Muny moments we have experienced over the years, even though it was remote. We all felt it sitting in our living rooms.

When host Mike Isaacson, Muny executive producer and artistic director, began this maiden voyage from backstage, he said: “We are together in real time.” He is always mindful of being entrusted with the Muny legacy.

I literally burst into tears. I didn’t realize how badly we, well me, needed such a pick-me-up. Oh sure, I have been a realist as to the why, but still wistful: “This would be opening night at the Muny,” I said to myself June 15, remembering the rainbow that came out after intense rainstorm right before the opening of ‘The Wizard of Oz” in 2016.

Tammy Duensing and I at the Muny 2017

And there are those Facebook memories that pop up, recalling how I felt about a production or selfies with my frequent Plus One, Tammy Duensing, whose belting rendition of the national anthem always gets compliments from the people in the seats around us.

In a year that is all about Plan B while trying to be safe and adapt to unprecedented times during a public health crisis, this savvy move to online specials was a ‘next best thing’ scenario, a balm for disappointment. And spoiler alert – this starburst of a show is longer than an hour (thank you!) and it has a 7-minute intermission. What a grand night for singing! And dancing. And laughs.

What a jolly time the “Munywood Squares” trivia interlude was, hosted by the outstanding director Gordon Greenberg, with such good sports as E. Faye Butler, Ann Harada, Vicki Lewis, John Scherer, Christopher Sieber, Steve Rosen, Raymond J. Lee, all Muny favorites. I was able to see contestants staffer Jaclyn Sales and Leon Dobkowski for the first time, who has designed some of the best costumes in recent years (Tarzan! The Wiz! Hairspray! Mamma Mia! Seussical!) and on the panel Jeffrey Schecter (Schecky) when he is not a whirling dervish being Scuttle or Cosmo or filling in as Pseudolus in “Forum.” And J. Harrison Ghee, who was so memorable as Lola in “Kinky Boots” last summer, looked like a million dollars. No signs of Quarantine 15.

E Faye Butler in “The Wiz.” Photo by Phillip Hamer

Because the world turned upside down six months ago when the coronavirus spread became a global pandemic, life as we know it has changed in nearly every aspect. “The new normal” means live theater is on hold, for the most part, and that meant postponing the Muny’s 102nd season line-up to 2021. While the extended break is another sad sign of many life changes in 2020, that didn’t stop the creative minds churning to see how little bits of summer tradition could be rescued.

Online programming became the go-to, and the Cast Party reunion gatherings on Monday were a wonderful opportunity to connect with people who have given me a great deal of joy that is etched in my memories. The Muny TV YouTube channel is a treasure trove of spectacular dance moments and lustrous voices on a warm summer night. They brought us the Muny Magic concerts from the Sheldon, which were a showcase for the incredible talent that graces the Muny stage, and exciting show/cast announcements the past few years.

Using playful retro colors and designs, this “Summer Variety Hour” throwback to 1970s staple TV programs was a merry way to celebrate the good times we share with family and friends – only they used modern technology to make it happen. Zoom and other virtual platforms have been our saving grace during the lockdown.

Through the Brady Bunch grid of the Zoom, The buoyant Muny Kids sang “Happiness” from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” demonstrating the exuberance of young talent. Not to be outdone, the gifted and energetic performers, often seen in the ensemble, under the helm of the Colby Dezelick Dancers, came together from their home spaces, to perform a lively “We Go Together” from “Grease.” Colby’s been a fun fixture on the Muny stage – last seen as Angie the Ox in “Guys and Dolls” and the doctor in “Matilda” in ’19.

Muny veterans Jen Cody and Hunter Foster, who have been married for 23 years, performed “The Doctor Is In,” from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Scenes of their past work – including Jen as the Grandma in “The Addams Family” with Puggsley (Michael Harp) in one of that show’s funniest exchanges, and Hunter in a new production of “Pirates!” were shown.

Of course, you couldn’t have a Muny show without displaying the exquisite voices that fill the back rows of the 11,000 seats, and Emma Degerstedt as Ariel certainly did in the inspired “The Little Mermaid” in 2017, one of my favorite productions in the past decade. Her “Fathoms Below/Where I Belong” evoked my water-colored memories of a sweet shimmering show. It was lovely to see the lithe Muny ensemble dancers as well.

Ashley Brown, a Muny player during her college years who originated the role of “Mary Poppins” on Broadway, has a glorious voice, as exemplified in “The Sound of Music” and “Cinderella” at the Muny. She sang “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from her mother’s home in Florida, as her infant daughter napped.

Through archived clips, we saw a rousing “A Brand New Day” from the resurgent “The Wiz” in 2018, featuring Danyel Fulton as Dorothy, Jared Grimes as the Scarecrow, James T. Lane as the Tin Man and Darius de Haas as the Cowardly Lion. And “Lida Rose” from “The Music Man” with the Barbershop Quartet of Ben Nordstrom, Adam Halpin, J.D. Daw and Joseph Torello harmonizing beautifully.

Mamie Parris and Matt Bogart in “Paint Your Wagon” Photo by Phillip Hamer

To close, 18 cast members of last summer’s reimagined robust “Paint Your Wagon!” sang a vigorous “How Can I Wait?” from all over America, including leads Matt Bogart and Mamie Parris, and supporting players Omar Lopez-Cepero, Bobby Conte Thornton, Maya Keleher, Allan K. Washington, Andrew Kober, Austin Ku, Raymond J. Lee, Rodney Hicks and others. What a perfect song to end an enchanted evening with hope and love. (And it knocked the score of “Hamilton,” which has been playing on constant loop in my brain, since July 3, out and became my new ear worm. Go to Muny TV to hear Mamie Parris in the show.)

This monumental effort to pull all these segments together is applause-worthy – and the hours it took to plan and executive I can only imagine. Everyone was in high spirits – connecting us all in a new, and welcome, way.

If you missed the first one, you have one more opportunity to see it, for Episode 1 will be re-broadcast at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, July 23. There will be four more episodes shown every Monday, then repeated Thursday. On Wednesdays, they will announce the plans for the next episode on social media.

I took this photo during the Birthday Bash, when we could go on stage. May 2018.

We are not sitting under the stars in Forest Park, but Munygoers share a special bond, and this endeavor was a unique experience that brought back fond memories. Like many of you, I have a lifetime of them, starting when my grandma took me when I was 10, a poor kid from a big family in Belleville, watching live theater in wide-eyed wonder. Theater would become a major part of my life, and my appreciation began across the river on those warm summer nights.

One of my favorite things about Episode 1 was how they highlighted the many employees who make Muny nights happen by their tremendous commitment to this outdoor slice of theater heaven. There is such passion in their work. I enjoyed the back story of triple-threat Corbin Bleu, as Don Lockwood in the splendid “Singin’ in the Rain” in 2018, getting to dance in the rain for the first time in his rubber shoes, as told by production manager Tracy Utzmyers. And for technical director Tim McDonald explaining how they make the rain happen for that show, and the previous two, in 2005 and 2011.

And my favorite thing about the Muny since 2009, when a Belleville News-Democrat editor asked me to review the season and I enthusiastically said yes, is the possibilities that a new opening night brings seven times a summer. Will they pull off a premiere or classic with uncommon flair? Will everyone rise to the occasion? What will be the night’s “Wow” moments? I remain in awe of the talent and sweat equity it takes to put on a show, and I am enriched by the storytelling and the performers who connect with me, no matter where I am sitting.

And some have become familiar faces that I look forward to seeking out on stage, and I am grateful for these opportunities to see where the directors’ and production team vision takes me. It’s a all about a community coming together in collaboration – that’s what live theater is and what we miss. (That, and the hugs!).

And thanks to some shining moments Monday night, I was transported to a happy place — and just being able to think about the possibilities ahead, is reason to smile. This is only intermission.

Take care. Stay safe. Be strong.

And thank you Muny and your sponsors, for serving us a refreshing summer tonic that was part nostalgia and part pizzazz, and all heart. It might not be perfect – what live event is? – but it’s important.

By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorRewind, reboot, reimagine. Time to look back and move forward. We have kids young and old: smart kindergartners, sarcastic ’50s high school seniors, defiant ’80s high school dancers, poor struggling college students in Paris and Biblical brothers, munchkins and French rebels.

And it’s not exactly a bed of roses for the adults either — but we have spry seniors in Florida, hardy pioneers seeking fortunes in the California Gold Rush, three possible dads on a Greek island and New Yorkers staying at The Plaza .

Growing up, coming of age, growing old — all universal tales. Get refreshed and renewed — go see a play!

Betsy Bennett and Rick Compton “Assisted Living: The Musical” The Playhouse at Westport Aug. 1-11 Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through MetroTix at www.metrotix.com or by calling 314-534-1111. Tickets are also available at the Playhouse box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more should call 314-402-2430 for special rates. For more information, visit www.playhouseatwestport.com What It’s About: Betsy Bennett and Rick Compton, who wrote it, play 18 different characters who live in a senior living community, Pelican Roost, in Naples, Fla.“Footloose” The Hawthorne Players Aug. 2-3, 9-11 Florissant Civic Center Theatre 314- 921-5678 www. hawthorneplayers.info What It’s About: The musical is based on the 1984 movie, “Footloose,” and features some of those songs: “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” “Holding Out for a Hero” and the title song.  The dance-heavy show is about a new kid in town who clashes with the town minister after he learns dancing and rock music is not allowed.

Photo by ProPhotoSTL “Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, “Grease” blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Knitel, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

 “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” July 26 – Aug. 4 OverDue Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview Drive, Olivette, MO 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, “Joseph”
is one of the most enduring shows of all time and reimagines the biblical story
of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors.

Dress rehearsal on July 23, 2019 for Union Avenue Opera’s production of La bohème.“La Boheme” Union Avenue Opera July 26 – Aug. 2 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: Puccini’s opera about a group of poor artists and their search for love and happiness.

Starring: Jesse Donner, Yulia Lysenko, Andrew Wannigman, Cree
Carrico, Isaiah Musik-Ayala, Nicholas Ward, E. Scott Levin, Dale Obermark, Randell
McGee

Ensemble: Linda Brady, Madeline Buckley, Chasity Cook,
David Goldman, Michael Hawkins, Adam Kosberg, Christina Kruger, Randell McGee,
Jamison Mckeehan, Elizabeth Ducey Moss, Dale Obermark, Michaele Postell, Ross
Rubright, Tina Sayers, Miles Wadlington, Danielle Yilmaz

Of Note: The opera is sung in Italian with projected
English text.

“Les Miserables” School EditionGoshen Theatre ProjectAug. 1 – 4Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.Sunday at 1:30 p.m.The Hettenhausen Center for the Performing Arts

“Mamma Mia!” July 26 – Aug. 4 Hard Road Theatre Productions Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s About: ABBA songs on a Greek isle. Three possible
dads, a wedding, and Donna and the Dynamos.

“Matilda” The Muny Aug. 5 – 11 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org

What It’s About: Adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel about a precocious kindergartener, her special powers, and the kindness shown to her in the face of wicked adults. Director: John Tartaglia Starring: Beth Malone (Miss Trunchbull), Conforti (Matilda), Laura Michelle Kelly (Miss Honey), Ann Harada (Mrs. Wormwood), Josh Grisetti (Mr. Wormwood) and Darlesia Cearcy (Mrs. Phelps). The ensemble completing this cast will feature Maya Bowles, Colby Dezelick, Sean Ewing, Ryan Fitzgerald, Berklea Going, Trevor Michael Schmidt, Gabi Stapula and Sharrod Williams, as well as The Muny Kid and Teen youth ensemble.

Of Note: Beth Malone is the first female to play Miss Trunchbull in a professional production of “Matilda.” Mary Engelbreit designed the costumes and set.

Photo by Philip Hamer “Paint Your Wagon” The Muny July 27 – Aug. 2 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: A reimagined version of a 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical set in the California gold rush. It’s a moving tale of ambition, love and home that features such songs as “They Call the Wind Mariah,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” This adaptation has a revised book by Jon Marans. It’sproduced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

Director: Josh Rhodes, also choreographer, with
Starring: Bogart (Ben Rumson), Mamie Parris (Cayla Woodling), Omar Lopez-Cepero
(Armando), Bobby Conte Thornton (William), Maya Keleher (Jennifer Rumson),
Allan K. Washington (Wesley), Andrew Kober (Jake), Austin Ku (Ming-Li), Raymond
J. Lee (Guang-Li), Rodney Hicks (H. Ford) and Michael James Reed (Craig
Woodling). A golden ensemble completes this cast, including Akilah Ayanna, Juan
Caballer, Matthew Davies, Richard Gatta, Sally Glaze, Michael Milkanin, Trina
Mills, Pascal Pastrana, Michael Seltzer and Cooper Stanton. The company will
also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.

“Plaza Suite” Act Two Theatre July 31 – Aug. 11 St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 1 St Peters Centre Blvd. www.act2theater.com. What It’s About: Neil Simon wrote three one-acts that all take place at The Plaza Hotel in NYC

“Rising Stars Showcase” The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation Sunday, August 4, at 2 p.m. Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center www.foxpacf.org/event/rising-stars-showcase-2 What It’s About: This free event is open to the public and is an afternoon of amazing talent from the Finalists and Nominees of both the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition and the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards.

“The Wizard of Oz” Alton Little Theater July 25 – Aug. 4. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org

What It’s About: Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy
needs to find her way home after following the yellow brick road and making her
way to the Emerald City.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby Conte Thornton as William. Photo by Phillip Hamer

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
A variety of classics old and new are currently on local stages. Opening this
weekend are “Paint Your Wagon” at The Muny and “La Boheme” at Union Avenue
Opera, with community theater productions of “Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Mamma Mia!”, a college production
of “Catch Me If You Can” and youth productions of “Carrie,” “Frozen Jr.,” “Seussical”
and “Into the Woods.”

An annual tradition, “The Rocky Horror Show,” is performed
twice each evening on Friday and Saturday at the Looking Glass Playhouse in
Lebanon.

Continuing on regional stages are “Grease,” “Jaws the
Parody: Live” and the second leg of the LaBute New Theater Festival.

“Carrie” at Debut TheatreWhatever your plans on this last weekend in July, go see a play!“Carrie” Debut Theatre Company July 26-28 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. The Olive Tree, 1211 S. Newstead Ave., St. Louis https://debuttheatreco.weebly.com/ What It’s About: Based on the Stephen King novel and Brian DePalma movie, Carrie White is bullied in high school and her religious fundamentalist mother doesn’t want her going to the prom. Carrie has telekinesis and all hell will break loose.

Starring: Carrie White-MacLean Blanner, Margaret White-Isabel Cecilia Garcia, Sue Snell-Jessica Watts, Tommy Ross-Charlie Wehde, Chris Hargensen-Gabby Anderson, Billy Nolan-Sam Guillemette, Ms. Gardner-Ally Wukitsch, Norma-Emma Gulovsen, Helen-Gabby DeRennaux, Frieda-Allison Crandall, Claudia-Savannah Lamb, -Thomas Molen, Freddy-Nathan Hakenworth and Stokes-Santino Bono. Also Featuring Ginger Cox-Young Carrie, Children’s Ensemble- Tatum Douglas, Chloe Grieshaber, and Riley Kummer.“Catch Me If You Can” July 24-28 St. Charles Community College FAB Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, Mo 636-922-8050 www.stchas.edu/events

What It’s About: Based on the hit film and the incredible true story, “Catch Me If You Can” is a musical comedy about chasing your dreams without getting caught. Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abignale Jr., runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. When Frank’s lies catch the attention of FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, though, Carl pursues Frank across the country to make him pay for his crimes“Frozen Jr.” Rock Show Productions Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m., Friday, July 26 at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m. The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63103www.rockshowproductions.org What It’s About: Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” based on the Disney animated musical adaptation.

“Beauty School Dropout”“Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, GREASE blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Knitel, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

“Into the Woods” COCA July 26-27 Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m. Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus www.cocastl.org

What It’s About: An epic fairytale about wishes, family and
the choices we make. James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite
storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless, and relevant,
piece.
Director: Jim Butz, with music direction by Colin Healy and choreography by
Christopher Page-Sanders

Of Note: Ages 9 and up.

Great White Shark scares“Jaws The Parody: Live!” St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre July 19 – July 27 Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 and 25, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.  Regional Arts Commission in University Citywww.stlshakespeare.org What It’s About: A spoof of the 1975 movie about the killer shark that terrorized a New England beach community, Amity Island, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 bestseller.

Director: Donna Northcott
Starring: Ryan Glosemeyer as Chief Brody, James Enstall as Matt
Hooper, Rob McLemore as Quint, Shannon Nara as Ellen Brody, Dylan Comer as
Mayor Vaughn and playing multiple roles are CeCe Day, Jack Janssen, Maya Kelch,
Deanna Massie, Bethany Miscannon, and others.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” July 26 – Aug. 4 Over Due Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview Drive, Olivette, MO 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, “Joseph”
is one of the most enduring shows of all time and reimagines the biblical story
of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors.

“La Boheme”“La Boheme” Union Avenue Opera July 26 – Aug. 2 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: Puccini’s opera about a group of poor artists and their search for love and happiness.

Of Note: The opera is sung in Italian with projected
English text.

LaBute New Theater Festival July 19-28 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. The Gaslight Theatre 358 N. Boyle, St. Louiswww.stlas.org 314-458-2978 Box Office: www.ticketmaster.com, 800-982-2787; will also be available at the theater box office one hour prior to performances

What It’s About: New previously unproduced one-act play
submissions of 45 minutes or less are juried and selected. They must not have
more than four characters and be able to

 Six plays were
chosen: One group was performed in the first two weeks of July, the final group
in the second two weeks. “Great Negro Works of Art,” a Midwest Premiere from
Mr. LaBute, will be performed every night for the run of the festival.

Set 2 includes:

 “Great Negro Works
of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson, starring Carly Rosenbaum and
Jaz Tucker

“Predilections” by Richard Curtis, directed by Wendy Renee
Greenwood, starring Kim Furlow and Tielere Cheatem
 “Henrietta” by Joseph Krawczyk,
directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Carly Rosenbaum and Chuck Brinkley

“Sisyphus and Icarus a Love story” by William
Ivor Fowkes, directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Colleen Backer, Shane
Signorino and Tielere Cheatem

“Mamma Mia!” July 26 – Aug. 4 Hard Road Theatre Productions Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s About: ABBA songs on a Greek isle. Three possible
dads, a wedding, and Donna and the Dynamos.

 “Overdone” by David
Hamley and “Screaming at Optimum Pitch” by Peg Flach
First Run Theatre
July 19 – 28
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, 517 Theatre Lane in Webster Groves, Mo. www.firstruntheatre.com.

“Paint Your Wagon” The Muny July 27 – Aug. 2 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: A reimagined version of a 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical set in the California gold rush. It’s a moving tale of ambition, love and home that features such songs as “They Call the Wind Mariah,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” This adaptation has a revised book by Jon Marans. It’sproduced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

Director: Josh Rhodes, also choreographer, with Starring: Bogart (Ben Rumson), Mamie Parris (Cayla Woodling), Omar Lopez-Cepero (Armando), Mark Evans (William), Maya Keleher (Jennifer Rumson), Allan K. Washington (Wesley), Andrew Kober (Jake), Austin Ku (Ming-Li), Raymond J. Lee (Guang-Li), Rodney Hicks (H. Ford) and Michael James Reed (Craig Woodling). A golden ensemble completes this cast, including Akilah Ayanna, Juan Caballer, Matthew Davies, Richard Gatta, Sally Glaze, Michael Milkanin, Trina Mills, Pascal Pastrana, Michael Seltzer and Cooper Stanton. The company will also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.

Russ Reidelberger as Dr. Frank N. Furter“The Rocky Horror Show” Looking Glass Playhouse Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., July 26 and 27 301 W. St. Louis St. in Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com What It’s About: In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.“Seussical the Musical” DaySpring Arts July 26-27 at 7 p.m.; July 28 at 3 p.m. DeSmet High School, 222 N. Ballas Road, St. Louis dayspringarts.org

What It’s About: The musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn
Ahrens brings Dr. Seuss’ beloved characters to life, including Cat in the Hat, Gertrude
McFuzz and Horton the Elephant.

“The Wizard of Oz” Alton Little Theater July 25 – Aug. 4. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org

What It’s About: Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy
needs to find her way home after following the yellow brick road and making her
way to the Emerald City.

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

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

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
The Muny is stepping into its second century with two smash-hit premieres among its seven-show 2019 season.
It will be the first theatre in the U.S. to produce the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical “Kinky Boots.” Pop icon wrote 16 original songs for this adaptation of the movie about a struggling British shoe factory. It won six Tony Awards in 2013, and had 13 nominations.
In addition, the Muny will premiere Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,”which won four Tony Awards in 2013 and seven Olivier Awards in 2012. Based on Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel, Matilda is a smart girl with a vivid imagination.
A revised edition of Lerner and Loewe’s first musical, “Paint Your Wagon,” is being developed specifically for the largest and oldest outdoor theater in the country. During the past two seasons, the Muny was the birthplace of two re-imagined musical classics, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “The Wiz.” This 1951 collaboration, set in the California gold rush, has a revised book by Jon Marans, and will be produced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures. The one and only time the show had been at the Muny before was in 1956.
Two Muny favorites return — “Guys and Dolls” for the eighth time, but it has not been staged since 2004, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which is the 2013 Broadway version making its debut. Previously, the Muny presented the show, which was based on the 1957 TV edition, five times, the last one in 2003.
The Tony-winning musical that tells the behind-the-scenes of The Declaration of Independence, “1776,” will return after 20 years. It was presented in 1972, 1976 and 1999.
“Footloose,” the dance-favorite with the chart-topping hits from the 1984 movie, is back for a second time after its debut in 2010.
The announcement of the 101st season took place Oct. 17 during the annual “Muny Magic” concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“This is a thrilling, eclectic line-up that I believe will take the Muny audience on another great summer adventure,” Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson said. “It’s a new century, and a new stage, and here we go. Gulp!”
The Centennial Season was historic, drawing more than 400,000 theatregoers over nine weeks this past summer.
“As the first season of our second century, this line-up is both ambitious and nostalgic,” Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan said. “On our brand new stage, the 2019 season promises the thrills and unforgettable Muny magic that have defined our theatre for over a century.”
Show order, performance schedule and audition dates will be announced later this fall. Subscription renewals will be mailed in early December.
New subscriptions will go on sale in March 2019, and single tickets will be available beginning May 2019.
World Wide Technology and The Steward Family Foundation became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They are committed to continuing in this role with their leadership gift as The Muny’s 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor.
“Both WWT and The Steward Family Foundation are committed to The Muny and to making exceptional musical theatre, accessible to everyone,” said David Steward, Chairman and Founder of WWT. “This year’s season promises to be spectacular and will showcase how much the performing arts enrich our community.”
Muny gift cards for the 101st season are now available online and at The Muny Box Office. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.
For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’s Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org