By Pam Johnson
The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is proud to bring to their stage the classic family musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” based on the 1944 film starring Judy Garland and on the book by Hugh Wheeler.
It’s 1903 and the Smith family — as well as all of St. Louis — is preparing for the 1904 World’s Fair.
Each home is brimming with excitement, and the Smith family has their share of hopes and expectations for the fair as well as for their upcoming days, months and years. But, as the audience soon finds out, things don’t always go according to plan, which can wreak havoc on family dynamics.
“‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ is a charming, humorous and touching look into the lives of an American family,” Ryan Gray, who is both assistant director and portrays the son, Lon Smith, said. “But when an unexpected turn of events occurs regarding the family’s future, relationships are tested and ultimately come together in this timeless musical tale of endurance and love.”
Family tension and squabbles are a given for most any family…whether in 1903 or 2018. Yet many believe it’s how people handle those disagreements that shape and strengthen family relationships and grow them into something even stronger.
“It is about the importance of every member of a family, from the smallest to the oldest, really listening to one another and having empathy,” Liz Dollar, playing the mother, Anna Smith, said. “The Smith family works best when all communicate and have an equal opportunity to voice an idea. When you take the time to actively listen to one another and consider another’s point of view, you will discover more about that person and yourself.”
“I really like that this show is centered on a family,” Kylie Green, who portrays Esther Smith, said “They don’t always like each other, and they more often than not say the wrong things to their loved ones, but they have each other’s best interests at heart. It’s that familiar sentiment of ‘If you borrow my sweater again, I’m going to kill you,’ along with, ‘Dinner is ready – I made your favorite.’ I think audiences will walk out knowing exactly who our characters are, because they’re going home to them.”
Whether they’re familiar with the movie or not, audience member are sure to recognize songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and “Whenever I’m with You.”
The music, the characters, the singing, the dancing, and everything about this show is designed to warm the heart and leave everyone with wonderful nostalgic feelings.
“This is a beautiful ‘slice of life’ story,” Director Karen Elb summed up. “It brings us well-developed characters that paint a picture of an average American family at the beginning of the 20th century. These folks are just at the beginning of the technological boom that vastly shaped and changed the next century. So much of how they view the world is different than how we view it; this story takes place before the phrase ‘world war’ existed. And yet so much about family and love has endured, and we can still see that reflected in our own lives today.”
Fourth-grader Sophia Dollar, who plays the youngest sister, Tootie, encourages everyone to see this production. “The show is family friendly, and it relates to real life because it shows the teenagers and kids in truthful situations. Also it’s funny, and you can learn some life lessons from it.”
The music and lyrics of “Meet Me in St. Louis” are by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. The show is directed by Karen Elb, assisted by Ryan Gray, with music direction by Jennifer Ross and choreography by Brittany Whitson.
The sponsors are Ferguson, Sonia King and Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Tabatha Bird, Vanessa Bushell, Hollyn Dixon, Andrew Duncan, Brent Edwards, Joseph Gumina, Shawn Hale, Isaiah Johnson, Charles Landry, Ashley Light, Mandy Mangiacotti, Shelly Mangiacotti, Catherine Phillips and Cody Shivers.
Shows are Jan. 26 through Feb. 11. Tickets are $16 general admission, and $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com. The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough.