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'Meet Me in St. Louis'

Camelot Theatre Company is set to open the last musical of its 2007 season, the multiple-Tony-Award-winning "Meet Me in St. Louis."

"Meet Me in St. Louis" previews Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 28-29, and opens Friday, Nov. 30. It runs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 31. On New Year's Eve, there's a gala planned and the evening begins at 8:30 p.m. There also is a special pay-what-you-can performance Dec. 5 and a Christmas Eve matinee at 2 p.m.

New Year's Eve Gala tickets are an additional $25 and include a catered buffet, wine, champagne or cider, and dancing with a disc jockey until 2 a.m.

Based on the book by Sally Benson, "Meet Me in St. Louis" was produced on Broadway in 1994 and received Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book and a nomination for Best Score. It has music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and a book by Hugh Wheeler.

The 1944 movie version directed by Vincente Minnelli featured Judy Garland.

With songs like "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Meet Me in St. Louis" follows the Smith family from the summer of 1903 to the spring of 1904 and the opening of the World's Fair. This show is considered a musical classic.

Camelot Artistic Director Livia Genise directs, with Camelot veterans Rebecca Campbell choreographing and Karl Iverson doing triple duty as musical director, accompanist and playing the role of Lon Smith.

"Meet Me In St. Louis" features Leah Simon-Westreich as Esther, Wendy Spurgeon as Anna, Scott Ford as Alonso, Jack Seybold as Grandpa, Juliana Wheeler as Rose, with Meghan McCandless and Isabelle Schuler double- cast as Agnus and Caitlin Campbell and Kaya Van Dyke double-cast as Tootie. In other featured roles are Pat Garfas-Murphy as Katie, Christopher Horton as Warren and Jeremy Johnson as John Truitt, "The Boy Next Door."

The production also includes ensemble members Tina and Shay Astor, Aaron Falk, Taylor Kenney, Jocelyn Olson, Brandon Manley, Eddy McManus, Lillie Shepherd, John Simutis, Lisa Marie Taylor and Tara Watkins.

Simon-Westreich has performed at Camelot in "Into the Woods," "Man of La Mancha" and "Shakespeare inHollywood." Spurgeon was seen at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in "Rough Crossing" and "Idiot's Delight," and at Camelot in "Steel Magnolias," "Man of La Mancha," "Into the Woods," "Gaslight," and "Woody Guthrie's American Song."

Ford brings years of broadcast and Vaudeville-style performance experience to his Camelot debut. Most recent roles include Andy in the award-winning, locally produced, independent film, "Sixes and the One Eyed King," and Uncle Hugh in Oregon Stage Works' production of "A Modern Woman."

Seybold is appearing in his 12th Camelot production. His roles have included Condel in "Beard of Avon," Wally in "1940's Radio Hour" and the Padre in "Man of La Mancha." Juliana Wheeler's most recent roles at Ashland High School include Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Lily Miller in "Ah, Wilderness!" and Gloria Upson in "Mame." Tickets cost $12 for previews; other performances cost $21 for adults and $19 for students and seniors. Call 535-5250.

Actors rehearse a scene from Camelot Theatre Company's production of “Meet Me In St. Louis.” - Photo by Steve Sutfin