Stages Premieres New Musical In Progress At Their Cheers Fundraiser

Erik Keiser, Bronwyn Tarboton, Julie Cardia, John Flack, Leah Berry and Austin Hohnke sing the songs of Maltby and Shire at the Stages fundraiser.

Erik Keiser, Bronwyn Tarboton, Julie Cardia, John Flack, Leah Berry and Austin Hohnke sing the songs of Maltby and Shire at the Stages fundraiser.

Hi, it’s good to be back. For those of you who don’t know- my wife had serious back surgery in October and spent time in the hospital, rehab and skilled nursing before coming home in March. So my last review on Stage Door St. Louis was five months ago. I’ll still be limited on my theatre-going because she really does need round-the-clock care. We were able to get her out the Stages St. Louis annual fundraiser for their Education and Artistic Programs- a program we’ve supported and attended every year. Thanks for sticking with Stage Door STL for the past few months and checking in every now and then to see what’s been published.

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maltby-logoTwo great Stages St. Louis programs combined this past week as they celebrated their annual fundraiser benefiting their Education and Artistic Programs. Recently Artistic Director Jack Lane (recent Tony winner) told me they have been working on a new program called the Emerson American Musical Creative! which is an attempt to create new musicals through Stages. We experienced a preview of their first attempt by award-winning musical writing team, Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire. It’s called “The Story Goes On” and this hour-long presentation is scaled down version of what will probably be a 90 minute revue.

maltby-darkstairsMaltby and Shire wrote “Baby” and “Big,” among others (both together and with other collaborators) but really had success with two different compilations from their songbook of musicals that were briefly staged- “Starting Here, Starting Now” and “Closer Than Ever.” “The Story Goes On” is another compilation of their works, repeating songs from these four and other musicals to tell a series of love stories from three generations of couples. The title song is from “Baby” and sums up the experiences we encounter throughout this sung-through show.

The cast of "The Story Goes On" perform at the benefit for Stages Education and Artistic Programs.

The cast of “The Story Goes On” perform at the benefit for Stages Education and Artistic Programs.

A superb cast and dynamic trio of musicians gather on the set of Stages current MainStage show, “Anything Goes,” to create a powerful story about the trials and tribulations of love, marriage and everything else that comprises a relationship featuring the insight of a young couple just starting out, a middle-aged couple and an older couple. All performers have worked on the stage in Kirkwood with Stages previously and some are currently performing or will perform in the next production.

The women confront the men in Maltby and Shire's "The Story Goes On" at Stages St. Louis

The women confront the men in Maltby and Shire’s “The Story Goes On” at Stages St. Louis

Veteran of many local stages, John Flack, teams with  Julie Cardia as the mature couple while Leah Berry and Austin Hohnke are the “middle couple” and Bronwyn Tarboton and Erik Keiser represent the young couple. They run through the charming, dramatic and fun songs that Maltby and Shire have brought us over the years. Highlights include the rhythmic feel of “Travel”, the poignant “Patterns” and the clever lyrics of both “I Don’t Believe It” and “Another Wedding Song.”

The cast and band of "The Story Goes On."

The cast and band of “The Story Goes On.”

It’s all brought to life with the wonderful onstage of Lisa Campbell Albert on piano, Don Drewett on drums and Vince Corkery on bass. Ms. Albert also did many of the new arrangements for this new production. Stephen Bourneuf directed and choreographed  while James Wolk designed the set around the “Anything Goes” background and Jeff Behm provided a delightful lighting design.

As this was a fundraiser, another veteran performer, Kari Ely and a newer member of the company, Brennan Caldwell, co-hosted the opening and the intermission “auction” which always goes too long and, in this case, broke the continuity of the show a bit. But the money is really why we’re here, so it was magical that over $77,000 was raised this night. Normally it’s more of a cabaret show featuring Stages performers but, since this was a preview of a new show, it’s a shame that we had to have that long break.

Congratulations once again to Stages St. Louis and the continuation of their highly successful student programs. And we can look forward to more original material from the exciting programs coming out of the Emerson Musical Creative! As the cast and “crew” of “Anything Goes” might say, “bon voyage” to this exciting new musical and the many more that are sure to come.

Stages Stages

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