- OnStage St. Louis Critic
St Louis MO - Summer in St. Louis means another amazing season at the Muny in Forest Park. The most recent production was the classic “The Music Man”. Sitting in the seats and feeling the wind brought back some wonderful memories from my high school senior year production. The crowd was excited and happy for the show and the decent weather.
The staging, I have to confess, was not my favorite. It took a while for me to see where they (Michael Schweikardt -scenic design and Rob Ruggiero-director) were going with the set. The Muny stage is large and known for the turntable. Many sets are built back to back and the turntable takes care of the scene change. Most of the time this system works out perfectly, creating Muny magic. The timing just seemed off in some scenes, and at one time Harold Hill (Hunter Foster) led the children through the Paroo house and up the staircase to reach the other part of town. Normally the runway that circles the pit would have been use, but it was taken out for this production. Another time Mayor Shinn (Mark Linn-Baker) began to speak and turntable made a complete stop and was visible from my seat. These issues did take me out of the show a few times. But even with the timing trouble, the set looked amazing and fit the story well. My favorite part was the forest behind the footbridge in act two. And the backdrop video screen (Rob Denton) looked beautiful in that Iowa sort of way.
The cast was wonderful. Foster brought a fresh take on Hill’s con style, and his energy could be felt all the way in the free seats. Elena Shaddow (Marian Paroo) and Foster had great chemistry. The arc of their relationship was easy to feel. The Quartet (J.D. Daw, Adam Haplin, Ben Nordstrom, and Joseph Torello) gave me goosebumps. They worked the harmonies and gave a new air to the classic barbershop sound. I must add that Owen Hanford (Winthrop) and Gretta Leigh Clark (Amaryllis) were stand outs. They handled the dramatic and comedic scenes with ease earning laughs and sighs from the audience. Of course I cannot forget the Muny kids and teens. These young talents proved they were ready for the big stage doing the large group songs.
Overall this was a wonderful production. The costumes (Amy Clark) popped on the stage and worked well with the choreography (Chris Bailey). The cast fit together perfectly and the harmonies were amazing. I would recommend a trip to River City, via Forest Park in St. Louis. Check out Muny.org for ticket information and show details.