A holiday heart-warmer
The action focuses on the four Smith sisters, who are excited about the opening of the fair, and equally excited about engineering their only brother’s love life. When their father announces the family will be moving to New York before the fair, the siblings figure out how to get their way.
It’s a very family friendly show with lots of humorous moments, touching scenes and great music, said Elizabeth Pullen, who’s directing the musical. Audiences will be especially familiar with the show’s most famous song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as well as the title number and “The Trolley Song.”
“People will get a good feeling from this show,” Pullen said. “They’ll feel like they’ve known the characters their whole lives.”
“Meet Me in St. Louis” will continue at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 14. Tickets are $16 general and $14 for students and seniors. For reservations, call the Gallery box office, at 503-472-2227.
The Saturdays of Nov. 23 and Dec. 7 are sold out to groups for fundraising, so tickets will be available only through those organizations. For the Nov. 23 First Baptist Church event, contact Asherlee LaPlante at 503-472-7941 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets. For the Dec. 7 show for St. Barnabas ministries and soup kitchen, contact Sue Davison at 971-241-2053 or email@example.com.
Pullen said she jumped at the chance to direct the musical, written by Hugh Wheeler with songs by Hugh Marti and Ralph Blane. The stage play is based on the 1944 MGM movie of the same name, which, in turn, is based on”The Kensington Stories” by Sally Benson.
“’Meet Me in St. Louis’ is the the movie I watched every Christmas; it was my father’s favorite movie and my grandmother’s favorite,” she said, remembering the film that starred Judy Garland.
Her grandmother, Karalee Hemphill Maksym, died when Pullen’s mother was a teenager. The director said staging the show is an way for her to connect with the grandmother she never met.
“There are moments in the show that feel so beautiful ... I feel like my grandmother is there with me, in some way,” Pullen said.
This is her first directing job at Gallery. She appeared in “Quilters” last year and served as dialect coach for “The 39 Steps.”
Pullen has a degree in vocal performance. She has sung opera and teaches voice.
She is serving as vocal director as well as overall director for “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Co-director Ken Moore is overseeing staging and sets. Stephanie Belt-Verhoef is doing choreography.
The show will feature piano accompaniment that’s incorporated in the action as the Smith’s family piano. Pullen said the theater is using a 1903 instrument from Rejoice Pianos. Brynn Hurdus plays it in costume, as if she’s the Smith’s personal pianist.
The cast features almost two dozen people of all ages. Many are familiar faces at Gallery, but others are newcomers -- a nice mixture of fresh blood and veterans, the director said.
“The cast is doing really well. Everyone is working hard and picking things up so quickly,” Pullen said, adding that she and the cast are having fun, as well.
She noted that cast members include several family pairs, such as Jordan Ferry and her dad, Dave, and Jamie Corff and her daughter, Zoe. Braids & Braves square dancers also are part of the group to add authenticity, she added.
Other cast members are Kelly Ashton, Caleb Janzen, Makayla Norwood, Don Myatt, Alice Darnton, Ethan Keleher, Justin Jenks, Kira Weaver, Brenda Fields, Colton Price, Brenda Fields, Deena Myatt, Sandra Pinion, Barbara Pinion, Lakshmi Sawhney and Kira Weaver.
Victorian-era costumes are by Antonia Osterhout. The costume crew includes Deidre Errand, Anne Marie Eason, Kristie Norwood and Carol Burnett.
Mike Pace designed the lighting. Sami Whitmore is the light and sound technician.
Vickie Edwards is the stage manager. Paula Terry, Deb Barcenerro and Edwards are responsible for property design.
The backstage crew includes Abby Pace, Alaina Mayfield and Karent Root.
Robert Osterhout is the technical adviser. Anne Britt was the rehearsal pianist.
For tickets and more information, check the website, www.gallerytheater.org.