The Muny in Forest Park closes out the 2013 season with "West Side Story," the much-loved musical that's still an audience favorite. Featuring music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and a young Steven Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents, this modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet still feels fresh and exciting, even though it has been more than 50 years since its debut.
The U.S. had been an Asian empire at least since the Spanish-American War. But the engagements in the Pacific in World War II brought the culture conflicts of East and West home more thoroughly than ever before, penetrating even that most popular and American of entertainments, musical comedy. The result was two of the finest works by the leading post-war words-and-music team, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Have you ever seen "Nunsense"? Has anyone not seen "Nunsense" in one of its seven versions, 10,000 productions, or five DVDs over the last 30 years?
The Muny opened its 2013 season on Monday night, a little late and with some trepidation. The monsoon Monday afternoon washed out the final dress rehearsal, which The Muny normally has on the afternoon of the opening evening. So as Executive Producer Mike Isaacson noted a little uneasily in his lengthy curtain speech, Monday night was technical rehearsal, dress rehearsal, and opening night rolled into one.
Last night, despite oppressive heat, the amazing company of Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat brought the audience to its feet amid shouts of “Bravo!” and “Whoooooo!” and “Yeah!”
Thirty years after its huge Broadway success, Dreamgirls has made it to The Muny. One can speculate about why it took this musical longer to get to Forest Park than other late 20th century megahits like Les Miz, Miss Saigon, or Jesus Christ Superstar. But it's here now.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to love this musical. I mean, it's a musical based on a cartoon for heaven's sake.
I was worried about how The Muny was going to handle Kander and Ebb's “Chicago”, a musical that seems to be more suited to a smoky, intimate, dangerous jazz club in 1920's Chicago.
I'm a little puzzled by the continuing popularity of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at The Muny. It's one of the shows that pops up regularly. But it's hardly in the Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition of a memorable score and a story that involves you in sympathetic characters.