She was 9 years old when she sang her first solo, God Gave Me a Song. “And today, I relish in that, because He truly did give me a song.”
The country’s oldest outdoor musical theater already is gearing up for an exciting 100th anniversary season in 2018, and while The Muny’s artistic director/executive producer, Mike Isaacson, deeply appreciates this St. Louis institution’s history, he is focused squarely on its future. “We’re not creating ‘museum theater,’ ” he says. “Yes, it’s a historic experience—you’ll always have the stage, the trees, the stars and the ritual. But the work on stage has to feel like it’s about the present. The future is what’s interesting to me; and the way we tell stories, and the technology we use need to be present-tense and future-tense. I want the audience members to look at the creativity on stage and say Look at this...and this is us.” To Isaacson, The Muny is a proxy for the city, and when it’s exciting and cutting-edge, it’s akin to the Cardinals winning the World Series—when everyone feels good about St. Louis.
Story: In this updated version of the classic fairy tale, Ella (Cinderella) toils away as a domestic for her haughty stepmother and two stepsisters following the death of her father. She dreams of a better life, which she fantasizes about with her friends, a woman named Crazy Marie who lives near the forest, and Jean-Michel, a young man who fights for the rights of the oppressed people of the kingdom.
Story: Henry Bingham has a tough track record as president of Quail Valley Country Club. That’s because his team has lost five consecutive times in the annual golf match with its arch-rival club, which is helmed by the insufferable Dickie Bell.
Story: Matt Drayton is a newspaper publisher in San Francisco, where his wife Christina owns an art gallery. Their domestic servant, Matilda “Tillie” Binks, keeps everything humming in their well-to-do home, which is a bit quieter since their daughter Joanna (“Joey”) has gone away to college, circa 1967.
New York's Times Square, which sees more than 360,000 pedestrians every day, is the most visited place in the world. With the proper mindset, a well thought-out plan and a hotel reservation, this crazy destination should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The Krewe is among the Veiled Prophet Organization’s longest-running committees, says Ken Howard. One of its annual highlights is at the Veiled Prophet Ball, where the Krewe welcomes guests and performs prior to the presentation of the Maids.
For St. Louis, this was a year with both ups and downs, and sprinkled among them were a few high points. We present LN’s Most Memorable Moments of 2014, through the recollections of some of the key players.
Story: It’s the holiday season in small-town Indiana. And, while it’s cold and snowy outside, young Ralphie Parker’s heart is warm with the thought that has motivated him this particular Christmas in the 1940s: To have an official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action, 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
Story: Annie, a contestant on the reality TV series Looking for Love, is ecstatic when she outlasts the competition and receives a wedding proposal from the focal eligible bachelor Matt, taped of course for a later broadcast. Meanwhile, producer Josh informs Annie and Matt that they are legally obligated to keep quiet about the results until the show airs or they will forfeit their winnings.
Story: Dr. Ruth Westheimer is known as a sex therapist who, at age 86, is still dispensing advice to an ever-present audience interested in matters of human bondage. That is the familiar scholar-turned-celebrity Dr. Ruth.
Story: A performing troupe under the direction of a Leading Player presents the tale of a young man named Pippin for its audience. We are told that the story will unfold in a series of segments under such titles as “Home,” “Glory,” “The Flesh,” “Revolution,” “Encouragement” and “Ordinary Life,” followed by an all-stops-out grand finale in which Pippin will perform an act of derring-do.
There are a multitude of ways to find yourself walking in a winter wonderland this time of year. Make the season bright with these family-friendly activities.
Story: War is raging in Europe, but novelist Charles Condomine enjoys the good life at his English country estate. Wishing to include an element of the occult in his next book, he invites Madame Arcati, a local eccentric who claims she is a medium to the spirit world, to his home.
Story: The heart is a lonely hunter, said novelist Carson McCullers. So it is with Nance, a 30s-something divorcee who juggles her responsibilities as a social worker with the trials and tribulations of raising a teenage daughter. Through a dating service she comes in contact with Tom, a divorced salesman who cautiously picks an art museum for their first meeting.
Story: When last we visited the Armadillo Acres trailer park in Starke, Florida, Donna (“Pickles”) was convinced she was pregnant, even though everyone else thought she was experiencing hysterical pregnancy. Guess what? Pickles was right, much to the surprise of her friends Betty and Linoleum (“Lin”).
Story: Singer/musician J.R. “Johnny” Cash was born in Arkansas in 1932 and died in Nashville in 2003. His impoverished childhood was grounded by a hard-working, God-fearing family, values that shaped his own philosophy. He was married twice, divorced once and briefly widowed after the death of his second wife, June Carter Cash, his spouse and oft-times performing partner for 35 years.
Story: Living in an orphanage is no picnic, and the Great Depression makes it even worse. Still, 11-year-old Annie has faith that she’ll find the parents who left her as an infant on the Municipal Girls Orphanage doorstep in New York City back in 1922.
Although it’s been 20 years since David Halen was named concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, he still savors that moment. “The announcement was made the night Isaac Stern was featured soloist for our orchestra," he recalls.
Story: Walter Lee Younger lives with his wife Ruth, son Travis, sister Beneatha and mother Lena in a rundown, cramped apartment on Chicago’s South Side. It’s 1959, and Walter spends much of his time dreaming about a better life. He had an opportunity to go into business with a friend years earlier, but Ruth talked him out of it. That business subsequently flourished, leaving Walter frustrated with his job as a chauffeur but determined to move forward with plans for a liquor store.
Story: In 1883 Alferd Packer is put on trial for the murder and cannibalism of five other miners he had led in 1873 from Provo, Utah in search of gold in the Colorado Territory. Packer returned alone from that expedition, claiming that one of the men, a minister named Shannon Wilson Bell, had murdered all of the others in a deranged state and then himself was killed by Packer in self-defense.
Story: In 1938, 8-year-old Berry Gordy Jr. witnessed the thrill his parents experienced when American boxer Joe Louis defeated German fighter Max Schmeling in a heavyweight bout. Gordy Jr. was determined to bring happiness to others in a way much like he saw in his parents’ faces at news of that epic boxing event.
Story: Five months after the outbreak of World War I, a number of British, French and German troops positioned in trenches alongside “no man’s land” in Europe stopped their fighting for a brief but poignant period on Christmas Eve, 1914. Tentative and leery at first, they slowly emerged from their rat-infested trenches to extend holiday greetings to each other. They sang songs, exchanged simple gifts and even participated in an impromptu soccer game on the frozen terrain.
Senator Claire McCaskill recently selected Michelle Wright as this year’s Angels in Adoption award recipient. In addition to adopting both of her daughters internationally, Wright also advocates for all children who require special-education services and programs.