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Damascus Theatre Company Meet Me in St. Louis

By • Nov 14th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Meet Me in St. Louis
Damascus Theatre Company
Olney Historic Stage, Olney, MD
Through November 18th
2:25 with intermission
$20/$18 Students, Seniors (plus fees) (Sale price available online for Thursday 11/15)
Reviewed November 10th, 2012

Come to the World’s Fair! 1904 was a much simpler era. The male/female roles were solidly in place and all was right with the world. Well almost. The Smith family encountered a few hiccups over the course of a season. Meet Me in St. Louis is a musical based on the 1944 musical film of the same name. The stage production’s music and lyrics are by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, with book by Hugh Wheeler. Rose, the eldest daughter, is eagerly anticipating a marriage proposal which her father accidentally intercepts and angrily ends in order to return to dinner. When the caller tries again, Rose answers and ends up hanging up when the call centers on the weather and NOT marriage. Esther, the next oldest Smith daughter is experiencing her first romance with none other than the boy next door. One misunderstanding leads to another when the head of the Smith family announces everyone, including Grandpa, will be moving to New York in the next month, before the Fair opens. After many tears and imploring Mr. Smith decides to stay put and everyone gets to go to the fair.

All in all, Damascus Theatre Company’s production was well-performed, with detailed sets, stylish costumes and entertaining actors made for a satisfying evening. There were some minor technical issues with the mics which interrupted the flow of the evening in places.

Sisters Rose (Laura Searles) and Esther (Ellie Borzilleri) Smith were a good match. Both girls had believable expressions and emotions that were easy to read. Esther’s beau John Truitt (Gabriel Potter) and Rose’s beau Warren Sheffield (Matt Kopp) were fun to watch as John tried to woo Esther without getting beaten up by her somewhat fiery temper and Kopp tried to be a little less polite and more take charge around the energetic Rose. Neither Borzerilleri nor Searles held back their feelings when it came to their men.

The youngest Smith girls, Agnes (Caitlyn Shea Gilbert) and Tootie (Hedy Hosford) were delightful with Tootie playing delightfully to win hearts and create laughter. The youngsters were cute and the audience fell in love with them. Micky Goldstein as patriarch Mr. Smith was perhaps a bit stiff, but played angry quite well. The Smith’s son Lon was played by DJ Wojciehowski. He had some upbeat dance numbers that were well done.

This group pf performers had the most smoothly choreographed scene changes seen in a long while. Everyone had an assigned task which was done smoothly and quickly without distraction. Set Designers Bill Brown and Chad Wheeler created a detailed multi-level set that was colorful and fit the time period well. The costumes were bright on the ladies and dapper on the gentlemen. Costume Designer Flo Arnold made sure there was just the right flare for 1904, with plaids, patterns, and flared skirts.

The only curious thing about this production was the purpose of Ron Schwartz who played Mr. Neely and the Cable Car driver. He would come out periodically and put up a new sign on Stage Right. Each sign was attractive, but the sign change itself was a bit distracting, and wasn’t really needed within the play.

Meet Me in St. Louis featured a large cast that was comfortable on stage, even in 1904. The production plays one more weekend, with discount tickets available for Thursday night’s performance.

Director’s Note

Welcome to the Damascus Theatre Company’s Production of Meet Me in St. Louis! This musical classic tells the story of a simpler time with the Smith family just prior to the 1904 World’s Fair.

Meet Me in St. Louis is based on the 1944 musical film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer which tells the story of an American family living in St, Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair in 1904. It starred Judy Garland and was adapted by Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe from a series of short stories by Sally Benson, originally published in The New Yorker Magazine, and later in the novel 5135 Kensington. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, who met Garland, on the set, and later married her.

In 1904, St. Louis hosted a World’s Fair to celebrate the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904, to allow for a full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The fair opened April 30, 1904, and closed December 1, 1904.

There were over 1,500 buildings, connected by some 75 miles of roads and walkways. It was said to be impossible to give even a hurried glance at everything in less than a week. The Palace of Agriculture alone covered some 20 acres.

Exhibits were staged by 62 foreign nations, the United States government , and 43 of the then-45 states. These featured industries, cities, private organizations and corporations, theater troupes, and music schools.

There were over 50 concession-type amusements found on “The Pike”; they provided educational and scientific displays, exhibits and imaginary “travel” to distant lands, history and pure entertainment. An estimated 19,694,855 individuals were in attendance at the fair.

I would like to thank the families, spouses and loved ones of our cast and crew for lending me these talented, extraordinary individuals. You will now get to see the hard work and time that they put into this piece. Sit back and join us as we head to 5135 Kensington Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri in 1904, just before the World’s Fair!

Chad Wheeler

Photo Gallery

The Smith Family singing 'Whenever I'm With You' 'Skip to My Lou'
The Smith Family singing ‘Whenever I’m With You’
‘Skip to My Lou’
'Under the Bamboo Tree' Hedy Hosford, Ellie Borzilleri, Caitlyn Shea Gilbert 'Over the Bannister' with Ellie Borzilleri and Gabriel Potter
‘Under the Bamboo Tree’ Hedy Hosford, Ellie Borzilleri, Caitlyn Shea Gilbert
‘Over the Bannister’ with Ellie Borzilleri and Gabriel Potter
'The Trolley Song' featuring Ellie Borzilleri as Esther and the Ensemble 'Touch of the Irish' Laura Searles, Rachel Hickson, Ellie Borzilleri
‘The Trolley Song’ featuring Ellie Borzilleri as Esther and the Ensemble
‘Touch of the Irish’ Laura Searles, Rachel Hickson, Ellie Borzilleri

Photos by Elli Swink

Cast

  • Mr. Alonso Smith: Micky Goldstein
  • Mrs. Anna Smith: Liz Weber
  • Lon Smith: DJ Wojciehowski
  • Rose Smith: Laura Searles
  • Esther Smith: Ellie Borzilleri
  • Agnes Smith (Nov. 9-11): Caitlyn Shea Gilbert
  • Agnes Smith (Nov. 15-18): Maddie Reefe
  • Tootie Smith (Nov. 9-11): Hedy Hosford
  • Tootie Smith (Nov. 15-18): Sophia Leizman
  • Grandpa Prophater: Gary Fackenthall
  • Katie: Rachel Hickson
  • John Truitt: Gabriel Potter
  • Warren Sheffield: Matt Kopp
  • Lucille Ballard: Megan May
  • Eve: Sara Lawless
  • Mr. Neely/Motorman: Ron Schwartz
  • Clinton Badger: Ivan Carlo
  • Peewee Drummond: Paul May
  • Sidney Purvis: Zach Harris
  • Young Adult Ensemble: Julia Bratburd, Nick Cox, Danielle Leizman, Madeline Mulligan, Jennifer Nardi, Marko Oven-Rivera
  • Adult Ensemble: Elissa Borzilleri, Melissa Law, Ron Schwartz, Dave Silberstein
  • Children’s Ensemble: Molli Broadus, Katherine Judge

Production Team

  • Artistic Director: Chad Walker
  • Co-Producers: Elli Swink & Peggy May
  • Music Director: Mary McConnell
  • Choreographer: Laurie Newton
  • Assistant Choreographer: Ramon Munos
  • Dance Captain: Megan May
  • Rehearsal Pianists: Arielle Bayer & Keith Tittermary
  • Technical Director/Lighting Design: Rick Swink
  • Sound Design: Vitol Wiacek
  • Prp[erties/Set Dressing/Set Painting: Maria Littlrfield
  • Set Design: Bill Brown & Chad Wheeler
  • Master Carpenters: Jim Korte & Bill Rippey
  • Stage Manager: Cathy Clark
  • Stage 7 Technical Crew: Carol Boyle, Bruce Clark, Julia junghans
  • Costume Design: Flo Arnold
  • Set Construction: Jim Korte (Lead), Bill Rippey (Lead), Scott Conlon, David Hickson, Dave Robinson, Tom DeReggi, Bill Lebair, Vitol Wiacek
  • Bruce Clark, Dennis Hawkins, Richard Ridge
  • Set Painting: Maria Littlefield (Lead), Liz Korte, Rachel Styles, Cathy Clark, Melissa Law, Elli Swink, Milena Hamilton, Megan May, Paul Tilton, Julia Junghans, Peggy May, Rob & Liz Weber, Matt Kopp. Mary McConnell, Chad Wheeler
  • Program: Elli Swink
  • Photography: Kate Lewis
  • Webmaster: Vitol Wiacek
  • Concessions Manager: Kelly Tilton
  • House Management: Tiffany Broadus

Orchestra

  • Piano: Arielle Bayer, Keith Tittermary
  • Drums: Ric okin
  • Reeds: Laura Bornhoeft, Amanda McCurry
  • Flute: Jackie Miller
  • Trombone: Kenny Horan
  • Trumpet: Earl Smith
  • Bass: Tony Aragon
  • Violin: Alaya Hardy
  • Guitar: Belvedere Morton

Disclaimer: Damascus Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. DTC also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site, which did not influence this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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