Sunday, October 15, 2017

reviews - MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS - Hale Centre Theatre

Holly Payne and Jacob Goodman
photo courtesy Hale Centre Theatre
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 25th.

"...Hale Centre Theatre has picked the perfect time to present the beloved, holiday themed, family friendly musical Meet Me in St. Louis. The talented cast led by Holly Payne, making her auspicious Hale debut, along with smart direction and Hale's always exceptional creative elements, create a charming production of this simple, sweet and sentimental show....The musical adaptation is fairly faithful to the 1944 MGM film, which starred Judy Garland...It includes the classic songs "The Boy Next Door," "The Trolley Song," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," along with several additional numbers by the composers of those tunes, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine....The added songs aren't quite on par with the beloved film tunes, and most will be forgotten as soon as they end, ..There is very little conflict and too quick of a resolution in Hugh Wheeler's book..yet it still amounts to a warm, witty and charming story. With a voice that is incredibly pure, strong, and simply beautiful, Holly Payne is a knock out as the quirky, feisty, go-getting Esther. ...As John Truitt, the boy next door whom Esther falls for, Jacob Goodman is charming and sweet....Rob Stuart and Rochelle Barton are quite good as Esther's parents..Heidi-Liz Johnson and Stephen Serna make a lovely, bright and winsome couple as Rose and Warren, and Allan DeWitt is cheerful and appealing as Lonnie..As Grandpa, Dan Stroud gets some of the best comical lines in the show and receives big laughs from his perfect delivery...Cambrian James' direction ensures the charm, love and nostalgic elements of the family centric show are front and center. His creative choreography includes some nice old-fashioned touches..Mary Atkinson's meticulously designed and brightly colored costumes are sumptuous...The combination of (Brian) Daily's effective trolley design with (Kristen) Peterson's perfect lighting makes the final stage image that ends act one, with Payne's Esther belting out the last lyric of "The Trolley Song" as she leans out the back of the trolley while it moves across the stage and swiftly glides out through the stage exit, a lasting, memorable moment that is a feast for the eyes and ears. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...Meet Me in St. Louis was a movie musical long before it ever hit the stage.... the overall story revolves around the upper-middle-class Smith family ...(in) turn of the last century America...Actual conflicts are minimal,...The most important event of the first half, besides whether the long-distance call from Yale graduate Warren Sheffield (Stephen Serna) will be a marriage proposal to Rose, or if the boy-next-door, John Truitt (Jacob Goodman) will ever notice that Esther (Holly Payne) is practically pining for his attention while he plays catch, is the fact that the 1904 World’s Fair is ten months away....The second half introduces a bigger conflict... the young ladies are given the choicest characterizations....Like the film, there are three great songs and they all belong to Esther.  Due in large part to Holly Payne’s excellent vocals, "The Boy Next Door," the fun and extremely well-staged "Trolley Song," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" remain true delights.  ...the new material never quite measures up. ...However, Rochelle Barton makes "You’ll Hear A Bell" a fine new addition.  It almost makes up for a couple of clunky songs in the second ...director and choreographer Cambrian James makes great use of Hale’s theatre-in-the-round setting...Hale Centre Theatre’s production is such a friendly, likable, and extremely well-staged musical, you can’t help but surrender, even if nothing of real consequence ever happens. ..."  -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

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