Meet Me in St. Louis
April 7, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Monmouth College
Coming to the Wells Theater this weekend is Monmouth College’s production of Meet Me in St. Louis, based on the 1989 musical and 1944 film. Directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Vanessa Campagna, the two-hour long musical begins at 7:30 p.m. April 7 and 8, with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
Meet Me in St. Louis takes place in 1904, set before the opening of the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Focusing on the lives of the Smith family, the audience sees St. Louis through their eyes over the course of one year. The musical numbers include “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song.” The cast includes Monmouth students, current and retired faculty members, children of faculty members, local middle school and high school students, and local adults.
Meet Me in St. Louis was chosen to be the spring semester’s production as far back as June 2016. Auditions for the musical were held in November and production was in full force by the beginning of 2017. The theatre department had initially chosen to do an adaptation of Cinderella, but was denied due to the national touring production playing in Chicago, as well as a high school in a nearby area requesting the rights earlier. In order to avoid competing productions of the same show, Meet Me in St. Louis was then chosen instead.
“We believed that the musical’s storyline was appropriate for, and would appeal to, a co-production with the local community through the Buchanan Center for the Arts,” said Campagna. “I have a special fondness for this musical because it was the first major production I was in as a child. It seemed fitting to direct and choreograph the musical to mark this milestone in my career.”
“This show in particular is important because it brings students and members of the community together to achieve a common goal; to put on the best musical possible,” said senior Jessica Simmons, who plays Rose. “It also gives everyone involved a chance to be transported to another world.”
Behind the curtain, there are many things that go on behind the scenes that audiences don’t notice that are crucial in making the production perfect. Several students work behind the scenes to build props, manage electronics, and do makeup for the actors. Over 100 hours will be put into a production that is only two hours long and is performed four times.
“People are usually astounded to learn of the amount of work that artists invest in a mainstage show,” said Campagna.
Several Monmouth seniors are involved in this year’s musical, so production has been bittersweet, especially for theatre arts major Johnny Williams III, who plays Warren Sheffield. “This is my last major production as an undergraduate student so this whole process has been bitter sweet. For me, performing is how I can be the most honest version of myself while being someone else.”
“I would simply like to say that the students involved have met and even exceeded my expectations,” praised Campagna. “The level of talent they are displaying is beyond what I have seen as of yet in my time at the college. They have worked tirelessly to learn how to dance and to hone their skills in singing and acting. I am profoundly proud of and grateful for each of them.”
Tickets for Meet Me in St. Louis can be purchased online or at the Wells Theater. Prices are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a college ID.
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