St Louis comes to town!

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CARNOUSTIE glittered this week with a touch of the Mid-West in its heyday.

‘Meet Me In St Louis’, Carnoustie Musical Society’s latest offering, captured the excitement and goings-on of a family in the state capital of Missouri in the run up to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase World Fair Exposition.

The show opened on Monday night and from the time the curtain went up until the grand finale, the audience was convincingly transported back to the turn of the century and a much simpler way of life.

The story revolves around the relatively well-off Smith family and the events which colour their lives, from their charmingly awkward love lives to their good-natured squabbling and their excitement about the impending World’s Fair.

The Fair acts as a plot device driving the show forward and rarely a scene passes without a mention of it, until it reaches a point in the story when the odds conspire against the family and it seems to the audience that whispers will be all they ever see of it.

While the plot might be relatively lightweight by today’s standards the dialogue is still sharp, with plenty of great one-liners and enough cheese to make it a truly enjoyable family event.

Claire Laing reprises Judy Garland’s role from the film as Esther Smith and her vocal talents very much suit the role with numbers such as ‘The Trolley Song’ and ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’.

Starring as her sister, Rose, is Kerry Mitchell who puts her heart and soul into the part, in particular her confrontational duet ‘A Raving Beauty’ with her on-off beau Warren Sheffield (Chris Jukes).

Speaking of beaus, both Mike Burns, as Esther’s paramour John Truitt, and Chris Jukes, as Warren, are very entertaining as two men frankly bewildered by the whirlwind that is the Smith sisters.

John sings a number of duets with Esther with both voices complementing each other very well.

The Smith family is a very musical bunch, and each and every one of the remaining members has a tune to get their teeth into.

In particular Neil Watson as Lon demonstrates his fine voice with ‘The Banjo’, and Mr and Mrs Smith (Rodger Brunton and Liz Pardoe) reminisce on their love with ‘Wasn’t It Fun’, and Katie (Jane McNamara) leads Esther and Rose in ‘A Touch Of The Irish’.

Aimee Stanton and Cerys Fitzgerald, as Tootie and Agnes respectively, are marvellous, with their youth belying their singing and acting talents.

Special mention must go to the ensemble who have obviously been practising diligently with choreographer Lynsey Ellen Faulkner, and who were in fantastic voice, particularly in ‘The First Noel’.

The outfits supplied by Utopia Costumes gave the cast a bright contemporaneous look and Susan Kydd in the costume department had the dozens of items tailored to fit each individual member.

As always, set design was brilliantly executed, from the sumptuous interior of the Smith family home to the streets of St Louis and the World’s Fair itself.

‘Meet Me In St Louis’ comes to an end tonight (Friday) at the Carnoustie High School Theatre. At the time of going to press there were still a few tickets available by calling 01241 852715.

It will be a challenge for Carnoustie Musical Society to better their performance in whatever they choose next year, but with young talent obviously coming to the fore it will be a task that most audiences will enjoy experiencing.

JR