“Meet Me in St. Louis” is a rare treasure, a show that sparkles with optimism and good tunes, featuring the famous “Trolley Song” and “Meet Me In St. Louis.” The magic begins at the site of what is to be the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. The Smith family are gathered at Skinker’s Swamp to watch the ground breaking ceremony for the Fair, the “greatest show that ever showed.” Ester has designs on her neighbor John Truitt to whom she has never spoken. The two youngest Smith sisters complicate things by getting into trouble and annoying everyone. Lon, the eldest Smith child invites his friend, Douglas Moore, a West Point cadet, to dinner and Rose falls for the handsome newcomer. He is off to Princeton and everyone is there to say good-bye. That evening Ester and John fall in love as they snuff out the candles in the Smith’s house. Mr. Smith is worried about his finances and announces that they will all have to move to New York. Their whole lives will change, the girls will lose the only home they have ever known, and Katie will only have a small kitchen in which to cook. Worst of all, they will miss the World’s Fair! It is finally time to leave, and the family gathers in the living room with boxes of their belongings. Mr. Smith arrives home and tries to cheer the family up with a box of bon-bons. He suddenly realizes how much the family is dreading the move. In a sudden flash of clarity, he realizes that they must stay in St. Louis. He announces to the family “We’re not moving to New York, and l don’t want to hear another word about it!”
Songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Book by Hugh Wheeler
Closing out the main stage portion of the 81st season was the musical “Meet Me In St. Louis.” This show had a unique set of technical demands that were successfully met by the scenic designer Stuart Cartwright. The trolley car was strung across the apron of the stage using a pulley system that allowed two stage hands, off on each side, to pull the low hung cable attached to the ends of the trolley. While loaded with people, singing their way across the stage, the trolley could be easily and safely pulled and then unhooked for storage. The ‘Victorian’ house of the Smith family was designed in two sections. The house was hinged on one end and when closed would show the front porch and the main entrance to the house decked out in gingerbread trim and moldings. Inside of the porch and front wall section was a small space where a stage hand stayed during the show and smoothly walked the porch piece open to reveal an interior complete with a functioning staircase. “Meet Me in St. Louis” had a talented cast and was a kid-friendly, family-oriented musical.
In the lobby display case were items collected over time from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. These items were loaned to Players for display during the run of “Meet Me in St. Louis” by Mr. Ron Frazier. Thanks also went to Jo Gallahger from Robert Schmidt Costumes for providing an original uniform from the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. Robert Schmidt created all if the costumes worn on the midway portion of the show.