Muny Magic

 In Culture, Feature

Of the seven shows in The Muny’s spectacular 2014 season, four are Muny premieres, two are big-time Muny favorites and one will be the first time The Muny has hosted a national tour in many years. But, oh, what a tour. “There’ll be something fresh and new onstage every show,” says Mike Isaacson, executive producer at The Muny. The iconic theater’s season kicks off June 16 with “Billy Elliot,” the heartwarming story about a boy who wants to be a dancer, starring Broadway actress Emily Skinner as the ballet teacher. Another casting surprise is the return of John Tartaglia —who impressed local audiences as the Genie in “Aladdin” two years ago—playing Cat in the Hat in “Seussical.”

Arguably most surprising is the national tour of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival, which will play at The Muny July 7-13. It’s a rarity for The Muny to bring in a tour, but the show, which is very difficult to stage because of the large cast of operatic talent it requires, was too good an opportunity to pass up. “That Gershwin music is probably some of the greatest American music written in the last century,” Isaacson says. “To have it on our stage—to hear ‘Summertime’ under the stars and under the trees—that’s just going to melt everyone’s heart.” “Porgy and Bess” features St. Louis native Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life, who sings “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The remaining shows in The Muny season are “Tarzan,” “The Addams Family,” “Grease,” and “Hello, Dolly!”

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