Light as a feather and as corny as a cornfield in July, this production of Meet Me in St. Louis shines, thanks to the Wonder Theatre’s capable team.
With a book by Sondheim favorite Hugh Wheeler (Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music) and songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine, this show certainly stays true to its 1944 film origins, which in turn transports the audience even farther back to the summer of 1903.
It certainly expands on the original. Along with the classic tunes that everyone knows (the title song; The Trolley Song; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; The Boy Next Door), the stage production adds several more numbers to keep the plot rolling along.
Inhabiting the role of Esther Smith, a part originated by Judy Garland, Sami Serrano makes the part her own rather than merely doing an impersonation. A wise choice. Brian Hodges complements her nicely as John Truitt, “the boy next door.” Lyndsea Woodall and Alonzo Corona are also fine as the other Smith siblings, Rose and Lon.
However, the sassiest lines are given to the smallest of the Smith clan, Tootie and Agnes (Natalia Yutani and Madison Aikens), and they’re pretty funny, especially when Tootie declares that her doll is dead — for no particular reason. As a matter of fact, she keeps declaring that other people are dead as well.
Michael Cooling (grandfather), Robert Nauman (father) and Michelle Baumgarner (mother) round out the rest of the Smith adults.
So what’s wrong with time-traveling back to the turn of the last century at Christmastime? The nostalgic atmosphere here is abetted by Rose Kennedy’s delightful costume design and Benjamin Grabill’s lush scenery.
Also notable is the musical direction by Jane Haas and the choreography by Myles Harris. It’s all brought together by Lizel Sandoval’s assured direction.
Meet Me in St. Louis plays Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. It continues on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 3:00 p.m. and wraps up Dec. 20-21 at 7:00 p.m. and Dec. 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. The Wonder Theatre is located at 1920 Fredericksburg Rd. and tickets are available here.
Feature photo: Sami Serrano, Lyndsea Woodall, Brian Hodges and Alonzo Corona. Photos by Crystal Truong.