'St. Louis' takes audience on musical journey

Photo ProvidedKatie Weston, as Esther Smith, and Laramie Ziegler, as John Truitt, rehearse their roles in "Meet Me In St. Louis." The DLO Musical Theatre will be performed Saturday and Sunday in Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at Danville High School.

DANVILLE — With period costumes and realistic sets, “Meet Me in St. Louis” will transport the audience into another time.

DLO Musical Theatre will present the heartwarming play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at Danville High School.

The play is based on the film starring Judy Garland.

In fact, director Jennifer Hess said, “This classic musical has been a favorite with my family, starting with my mother, for years. It’s a family tradition to watch the movie every Christmas.

“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to share the stage version with our community.”

“Meet Me in St. Louis” takes the audience on a musical journey back to the early 1900s, on the brink of the 1904 World’s Fair.

In the show’s center are the Smiths, a humble middle-class family made up of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (portrayed by Beckey Burgoyne and Rick Welchans), their four daughters Rose, Esther, Agnes and Tootie, and their son Lon.

During the course of a year, the family’s mutual respect, tempered with good-natured humor, helps them through romance, opportunity, and heartbreaks.

This musical features memorable musical numbers such as “The Boy Next Door,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Trolley Song,” and “A Day In New York.”

Burgoyne had a lot of praise for the orchestra, under the direction of Dave Schroeder.

"Dave put together all-star musicians," she said. "If you come for nothing else but the music, you'll get a treat."

One difference between the movie and the play, she said, is that there are more singing parts in the stage version. In the movie, Judy Garland does almost all of the singing.

The production isn’t dance-heavy, Hess said, but the audience will enjoy a cute dance number, “Skip to My Lou,” and an Irish jig.

Also, Hess said, the set will be a feast for the eyes. For example, a big trolley was designed by Gary Lickfett, and Heather Miyagi helped with the sets. There’s also a World’s Fair set at the end of the show, which should be fun, Hess said.

“It’s a fairly big set with the (Smith) house, trolley and fair at the end,” she added.

The costumes, which were rented from Parkland Community College, are beautiful, she said, adding, “They’re period accurate and well-made.”

Burgoyne said the young cast members love the old-time costumes. "The young girls went crazy over the gloves," she said. "They've had the best time with the pretty clothing."

The musical will appeal to all ages, Burgoyne said.

"The older audience will absolutely adore it. It will be a great reminiscing of simpler times," she said. "The young people will enjoy it, too. Most of the focus is on the kids and their love dramas."

It's definitely a family-friendly show, she and Hess said.

While the audience will enjoy the show, the cast is having a good time, too. Hess said, “The cast loves it — the show and their characters. They’ve been a delight to work with.”

Burgoyne agreed, saying of the young cast members, "They have so enjoyed it. It's not too old-fashioned for them. They've been the best to work with."

The cast features 20 local performers, including Tom Bianco, Katie Westin, Emily Whitman, Laramie Zeigler, Lee Bridgman, Polly Norton, Amber-Christine Reed, Kelli Carlton, Jayyn Hess, Colin Hess, Brittany Thomas, Aubrey Falconio, Sebastian Skinner, Lorenzo Skinner, Amanda Brown, Emily Everett, Kylie Moubry and Zander Nolan.

The original Broadway production was nominated for four Tony Awards in 1990, including Best Musical.

FYI

Tickets are $20 for adults and $7 for students and may be purchased online at www.dlomusicaltheatre.com, by phone at 431-1660, or at the Village Mall weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

For information, call the box office or email boxoffice@dlomusicaltheatre.com.

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