Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Welcoming a New Century at the Muny, Let's Salute the Old One

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Welcoming a New Century at the Muny, Let's Salute the Old One

Article excerpt

Somebody had to choose seven productions to play the Muny during its 2018 summer season the 100th season of musical shows at the outdoor theater in Forest Park.

"Somebody" is Mike Isaacson, the theater's executive producer and artistic director.

At a news conference Thursday, Isaacson announced the titles: "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," "Jersey Boys," "Annie," "The Wiz," "Gypsy," "Singin' in the Rain" and "Meet Me in St. Louis."

It wasn't an easy decision, Isaacson admitted. Determined to honor the theater's legacy and its deep, longstanding connection to the St. Louis audience, he went through draft after draft of schedules for the anniversary season.

"We produce work unlike any in the world," he said, so in 2018, "we wanted to use the power of the Muny."

That meant a season with something for everyone, a season with big shows, a season of shows with the "spirit and drive" that have made "American musicals our gift to the world." Only jazz, he said, can rival it.

Isaacson explained how he figured it out in the end. Tony winners "Jersey Boys" and "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" are both new to the Muny. The former celebrates the sound of American radio; the latter pays tribute to all of Broadway with its anthology of the work ("West Side Story," "On the Town," "Fiddler on the Roof," etc.) of a brilliant director/choreographer.

"Gypsy" is often described as a "perfect" musical, thanks to a book by Arthur Laurents considered so well-written, you'd still have a hit if you eliminated the score by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim. (But why would you want to?)

"Annie" and "The Wiz" both tell optimistic stories about spunky girls who have terrific adventures. Most Muny productions are family shows, but these two together show a real commitment to the youngest theatergoers, the ones who will have the power to keep musical theater, and the Muny, alive for years to come.

"Singin' in the Rain" plays to the Muny's strengths terrific numbers, a brightly comic story and the spectacle of a happy man dancing on a lamppost in a downpour. …

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