Online Theater Review: ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’: A Holiday Special in Song and on Screen

December 21, 2020 Updated: December 30, 2020

Get set for a terrific two-hour virtual production on YouTube.

The scene is a middle-class home in St. Louis in the year 1903. The Smith family eagerly awaits the arrival of the World’s Fair the following year.

Charlotte Moore, artistic director of the Irish Repertory Theatre has adapted the story (based on “The Kensington Stories” by Sally Benson) from the well-loved MGM movie and later Broadway production of “Meet Me in St. Louis,” in which Moore was a featured member of the cast. Here, she also directs.

Creators of this delectable event include book by Hugh Wheeler and songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.

The time, 1903, places us long before the shattering conflagrations that would throw the entire world into turmoil.

Now, life is easy, without conflict. The most stressful event is the inability of young John Truitt (Max von Essen) to retrieve his tuxedo in time to take his lovely neighbor Esther Smith (Shereen Ahmed) to the ball that evening.

Esther, on her part, is enabled to sing “The Boy Next Door.” Ahmed by the way, is a treat to look at, and her gorgeous soprano would move almost any young man.

This household is steered by Alonzo Smith (Rufus Collins), who must have dinner served at exactly at 6:30, and his level-headed wife Anna (Melissa Errico).

Others who make up the household include daughters feisty young Tootie (Kylie Kuioka), Rose (Ali Ewoldt), and Agnes (Austyn Johnson); son Lon (William Bellamy); and Grandpa (Jay Aubrey Jones). Then there is Katie the cook (Kathy Fitzgerald).

Others include Kerry Conte as Lucille Ballard, Ian Holcomb as Warren Sheffield, and Ashley Robinson as Postman and Trolley Man.

Shereen Ahmed as Esther Smith
Shereen Ahmed as Esther Smith in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” (Irish Repertory Theatre)

Daily life is uneventful, with major emphasis placed on the romantic attachments of Esther and Rose, the latter on tenderhooks as she waits for an important phone call from Chicago—a man!

They all treat themselves to a ride on the trolley, giving voice to the boisterous “The Trolley Song.” Other lovely tunes include “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “You’ll Hear a Bell.”

It’s an era of innocence and simplicity. Father Alonzo does complicate matters later, and tension builds for the first time. But all is set right by the fall of the curtain.

Charlotte Moore deserves kudos for serving up a complex and enticing dish. Performances are uniformly splendid, with Ahmed and von Essen being standouts. And complementing all is musical direction by John Bell, orchestrations by Josh Clayton, terrific scene design by Charlie Corcoran, video editing by Meridith Sommers, sound design by M. Florian Staab, lighting design by Michael Gottlieb, costume consulting by Tracy Christensen.

Streaming is free, but donations are cheerfully accepted and are much appreciated during these sparse times.

‘Meet Me in St. Louis’
Irish Repertory Theatre
Reservations: 212-727-2737 or IrishRepOnline
Streaming closes: Jan. 2, 2021

Diana Barth writes for various theatrical publications and for New Millennium. She may be contacted at diabarth99@gmail.com