This production wisely sticks to the original spirit of the show, with period costumes and a basic set furnished with pieces you’d find in many an attic. The energy of the cast makes up for any lack of dazzle in the design budget, with consistently strong voices and many winning performances across the board.
As Esther and Rose Smith, the two sisters in search of love, Phoebe Clark and Grace Driscoll make an eloquent duo. Matthew Predny, as Esther’s love interest John Truitt, has a fine high baritone and an authentic awkwardness in the face of Esther’s romantic plans. Katelin Koprevic, as the family matriarch, shines in her solo numbers, while Lincoln Elliot, as the father, Alonso Smith, is the nearest we get to a villain in this cosy drama. The only hint of pain and anguish (aside from the agonies of a broken heart) comes from the lurid imaginings of the youngest daughter, Tootie Smith, played with a precocious swagger by Amy Humphreys.
It’s great to hear (if not to see) a live band (conducted by music director Oscar Balle-Bowness) and a hearty, well-focused sound from the ensemble, who handle the four-part harmonies with impressive accuracy. The choreography, by director Matt Hourigan, is limited by space but not ability.
Starkeeper Productions bills itself as a new Australian independent company “here to produce diverse, innovative and unexplored theatre.” A trad production of a nostalgic celebration of Americana, mounted at the Hayes Theatre only last year, is hardly that. But it’s a start, a good start. More, please.
Meet me in St Louis runs until December 21.