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Hamptons Theater Review: Center Stage's "Meet Me In St. Louis"

T.J. Clemente

Meet Me in St. Louis is a perfect Christmas show to bring the whole family to. (Photo: Dane Dupuis)

The Southampton Cultural Center's Center Stage is currently presenting Meet Me in St. Louis, A Live Radio Play, a wonderful adaptation by Joe Landry that includes the songs of Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine. Directed by Michael Disher, this presentation is based on the MGM motion picture, Meet Me in St. Louis that starred Judy Garland. Pamela Morris plays Esther Smith, the role Garland played in the movie, and her singing voice is brilliant. It is worth the price of the admission just to hear Morris sing. I sat up in my chair every time she sang. She is that good.

The show overall was well presented in a 1950ish radio show format along with tongue in cheek creations of old style radio ads. The actors shuffled to and from authentic old style radio microphones on stands. Disher seems to have a certain knack for giving a unique energy to this "radio play" format as he does picking actors to play the roles.

Besides the amazing star talent of Morris, I particularly enjoyed the strong distinguished singing voice of Michaal Lyn Schepps who plays Mrs. Anna Smith, Ester's mom. There is no need for a microphone for her voice, she can really hit the notes with power and a beautiful tone. One reason I mention the singing is because the show is filled with old classic songs. The song I enjoyed most was perhaps a less know number, A Touch of the Irish, sang by Morris, Catherine Maloney, and Alyssa Kelly. I applaud them again.

In fact the whole cast shined and the show flowed effortlessly and kept me totally entertained. It's a big cast but everyone had a moment or two. Lon Shomer as Mr. Alonzo Smith, delivered some one-liners that reminded me of my 1950s dad! Joey Giovingo played a few roles but my favorite was his Grandpa role and the voice he used. Alyssa Kelly plays the part of Rose Smith with great dash. Kelly also stood out as a dancer with her angular graceful moves. Gabriel DiFrancesco with his roles brought a young energy to the show as did Anna Schiavoni who nailed her casting as young seven-year-old Tootie Smith. Catherine Maloney's Irish brogue was spot on as Katie. Katrina Lovett handled her various parts splendidly and has great stage presence.

The play is a wonderful adaptation by Joe Landry that includes the songs of Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine. (Photo: Dane Dupuis)

A special note of praise goes out to John Lovett as John Truitt, the love interest of Ester Smith. I believe Lovett was able to stop time at the show's most important moment. Kudos to Michael Casper who also played a few roles but with a keen enthusiasm that added to the show.

The musical engine of the show was the flawless piano playing from Amanda Jones.

Meet Me in St. Louis is a perfect Christmas show to bring the whole family to. It's fast moving filled with holiday songs along with wonderful performances by booming voices with a really good fun energy. I left the theater humming songs. In fact I still hear them - so get to the Southampton Cultural Center and see this show before it ends on December 9.

Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play can be seen at Southampton Cultural Center's Levitas Center for the Arts Friday, November 23 through Sunday, December 9, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $12 for children (under 21). There is also special Dinner/Theater packages available.

Southampton Cultural Center's Levitas Center for the Arts is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, call 631-287-4377 or visit www.scc-arts.org.

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