Story: New York City is bustling in 1895, and in the middle of the action is Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi. The widow of Ephram Levi makes her living by selling her services to teach dancing, play musical instruments and a dozen other occupations, most notably arranging marriages.
Story: A young girl finds herself drawn into a magical world guided by the most imaginative and individual Cat in the Hat. Soon she becomes a character herself as Jojo, the daughter of the mayor of Whoville and his wife, Mrs. Mayor.
Story: Poverty is a way of life in northeastern England, where the dirty and dangerous occupation of coal mining has been the main source of income to the locals for centuries. In 1984, though, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has sworn to shut down the government-operated coal industry, threatening to take away the livelihood of 300,000 miners.
Under the stars in Forest Park, the lights will soon go up on another memorable season of musicals created exclusively for The Muny’s storied stage. “There really is nothing like it in the world,” says Muny executive producer and artistic director Mike Isaacson.
From the simple act of playing catch with his son in the backyard to the big moment of walking his daughter down the aisle, dad holds a special place in our hearts throughout childhood and beyond. And those moving experiences have inspired many a song about the everlasting father-child bond. Here, leaders in local theater share their favorite songs about dad—who always will be their leading man.
All of a sudden it’s nearing the end of December and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions dance in our heads. Before we enter 2014, however, let’s reflect on what the past year has given us on local stages.
The 35th annual St. Louis Jewish Book Festival opened with Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein. Mike Isaacson, executive producer of The Muny, interviewed the Broadway legend about his career and volunteer efforts. Fierstein also gave away personalized t-shirts from his shows Newsies and Kinky Boots, and signed copies of his books and CDs. More than 900 fans attended the event.
Story: Spanning a period from 1815 to 1832, Les Miserables tells the story of Jean Valjean against the backdrop of revolution in 19th century France. Imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving son, Valjean is freed from a slave labor camp only to be branded as an outcast because of his criminal record.
Story: Lampooning the hallowed Arthurian legend, Monty Python’s Spamalot details in irreverent fashion the story of England’s King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and how they might have come to be.
Mary Strauss and Fox Theatricals' Mike Isaacson at the Tonys
If you were among the record 7.24 million viewers who tuned in to last weekend’s Tony Awards, you know that Kinky Boots was one of the evening’s biggest winners, giving Webster University alum JERRY MITCHELL his second Tony (the first was for his choreography work in La Cage Aux Folles in 2005). Bravo!
Mike Isaacson, Michael Adorjan
A cool breeze will now flow through the hot summer nights at The Muny in Forest Park. Audiences can sit back and take in the comforting effect of high-tech fans as they experience the open air theater’s new season of shows. The 95th year will open June 17 with Monty Python’s Spamalot, starring John O’Hurley of Seinfeld fame. LN recently spoke with executive director Mike Isaacson for the scoop on the season, its stars and many more surprises.
Joe Ditmeyer, Mike Isaacson
The year 2012 was tumultuous in many respects, so perhaps fittingly Wicked is the title of the production that brings down the curtain on the last 12 months. A record drought plagued the St. Louis area, temperatures sweltered in an elongated summer and the area’s economy staggered toward a slow but steady recovery. All of this took place in the face of impending doom predicted centuries ago by the Mayan calendar.
Rick Dildine with Joe Carpenter and Mike Isaacson at reception for Tony Kushner, the recipient of the 2012 St. Louis Literary Award from Saint Louis University Library Associates
Story: In 1862, the king of Siam (modern-day Thailand) is interested in modernizing his nation. He enlists the aid of a Burmese contact to find a British woman who will teach his dozens of children the language of English as well as European customs. Anna Leonowens, widow of an English Army officer, accepts the position and moves to Siam with her son Louis on the conditions that she be paid for her work and that she be given a house in which to live, to which the king agrees.
Story: Young Frederic has been raised by pirates who roam the Caribbean Sea in the 19th century. There’s a stipulation, though, that he is to be freed upon his 21st birthday. Honorable fellow that he is, Frederic reluctantly vows to track down the band of brigands who raised him because they are outlaws. This doesn’t set well with the Pirate King, who informs Frederic that if he were to marry a virgin he can reverse a curse on his pirate pals and free all of them. As it is, they’re destined for a life of loneliness at sea.
Story: An aspiring trio of singers from Chicago travels to the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1962 to audition their “girl group” at the venue’s famous “Amateur Night” competition. They don’t win, thanks in part to an enterprising car salesman back stage named Curtis Taylor Jr., who instantly observes their talent and convinces them to let him be their manager.
Story: The Roaring Twenties was a decade of debauchery, when illicit booze flowed in clandestine speakeasies while guys and gals treated themselves to loud and lusty good times despite the reign of Prohibition. Chicago was a city ruled by gangsters such as Al Capone and filled with two-bit players, such as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, searching for the big time. The former was incarcerated in the Cook County jail for killing her unfaithful husband and his lover, her own sister, while Mrs. Hart went to jail for plugging her boyfriend, Fred Casely.
Story: Millie Dillmount departs Salina, Kansas on a train bound for New York City. It’s 1922 and Millie, who considers herself a ‘modern girl,’ sets her sights on landing a job and a husband at one of Gotham’s corporations. No sooner does she disembark from the train than she is robbed, leaving her with no money, no suitcase and not even both of her shoes. She trips an amiable passerby named Jimmy, a young man who advises her to leave the big city that clearly is too daunting for her.
The banners for this summer’s shows are flying in the springtime breeze as The Muny awakes from its annual hibernation. There is even more anticipation for opening night than in years past, as Mike Isaacson makes his debut as the new executive producer.