MEET ME IN ST LOUIS
book by Hugh Wheeler songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.
Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9PH To 18 January 2014.
Mon December 23 and 30 – 7.30pm
Tue–Wed & 23, 30 Dec 7.30pm Fri 7pm Sat, Sun 3pm and 7.30pm.
no performance 24-26 December, 31 Dec-2 Jan.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS:0207 737 7276.
Review: William Russell 16 December.
Have a Merry Little Christmas.
This British premier of the 1989 Broadway musical based on the famous 1944 Vincente Minelli movie should prove another hit for the Landor. It differs from the film, essentially a vehicle for Judy Garland, and focuses more on the other members of the Smith family who get the new songs.
The problem is that the film was essentially a series of American dream/Saturday Evening Post cover vignettes in which the seasons passed by and the Smith family in St Louis in 1903 looked forward to the World’s Fair the following year, growing upset when the father announced they were moving to New York. Then he changed his mind and everyone lived happily ever after. In other words nothing happened, except that girl got the boy next door and the trolley went clang, clang, clang.
Stage shows, however, need a first act curtain, a plot and more songs. Why does the feisty cook (Marjorie Main in the film) get a song and a couple of dances? Because on Broadway she was played by Betty Garrett. But sit back and enjoy the music, the first-rate band under Michael Webborn, the handsome set by Francisco Rodriguez-Weill and Robert McWhir’s assured staging and you will have a really good time.
As Esther – Garland’s role – Georgia Permutt in her professional debut is a delight, sings beautifully and while she cannot obliterate memories of Garland makes the role her own. Samuel Pope, as brother Lon, a cipher in the movie, gets one of the new numbers, ‘The Banjo’, and rises to the occasion with style.
Emily Jeffreys as elder sister Rose twinkles perhaps a shade too brightly – the elder sisters are now equal roles – but sings well.
As the youngest, Tootie, Rebecca Barry arouses much the same emotions as Margaret O’Brien, famed for being able to weep on demand, in Minnelli’s film. It is to her that Esther gets to sing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ – Permutt should be given a second chorus as it does get slightly lost.
On the first night the cast forgot to thank the orchestra. Rapped knuckles all round.
Tootie Smith: Rebecca Barry.
Postman/Peewee Drummond: James Robert-Moore.
Agnes Smith: Emily Carewe-Jefferies.
Lon Smith: Samuel Pope.
Mrs Anna Smith: Nova Skipp.
Katie: Carolyn Allen.
Grandpa Prophater: Tom Murphy.
Rose Smith: Emily Jefferys.
Esther Smith: Georgia Permutt.
Mr Alonso Smith: Bruan Kennedy.
Warren Sheffield: Thomas Judd.
John Truitt: Piers Bate.
Eve: Emma Ralston.
Paige: Terri O’Ryan.
Lucille Ballard: Lucy Mills.
Clinton Badger/Trolley Man: Ashton Charge.
Sidney Purvis: Harry Cooper-Millar.
Director: Robert McWhir.
Designer: Francisco Rodriguez-Weill.
Lighting: Richard Lambert.
Musical Director: Michael Webborn.
Choreographer: Robbie O’Reilly.
Associate lighting/Video: Maximilien Spielbichier.