If you aren’t already aware of Second Fiddle Productions, a company that produces staged readings of rarely produced musicals each year in the Twin Cities, let me introduce you. This year’s production was of Meet Me In St. Louis, a movie turned Broadway musical about a family living in the city of St. Louis during the World’s Fair in 1903. While the fair was a celebration for St. Louis and became a great source of regional pride, this musical celebrates a year in the life of the Smith family.
What I like best about these staged readings is the bare-boned nature, with actors standing before music stands with script and music in hand, featuring their acting and singing skills with the piece after a very short rehearsal period. With one rehearsal focusing on learning the music and another with a run-through of the piece, the result is always incredible, with wonderful acting and brilliant musicality. The casts feature some of the best of Twin Cities musical theater and this performance was certain no exception:
- Esther Smith – Sheena Janson
- Mrs. Anna Smith – Kym Chambers
- Tootie Smith – Natalie Tran
- Grandpa Prophater – Gary Briggle
- Rose Smith – Bergen Baker
- Katie – Shelli Place
- Agnes Smith – Anna Baker
- John Truitt – Adam Moen
- Lon Smith – Andrew Newman
- Mr. Alonso Smith – Bill Marshall
- Warren Sheffield – Robbie Droddy
- Lucielle Ballard – Ruthie Baker
- Eve/Ensemble – Elena Glass
- Postman/Motorman/Clinton Badger – Adam Qualls
The reading was directed by Emily England and also featured Kyle Picha as musical director/keyboard, Ellen Hacker on violin, Melissa Nielsen on horn, and Matt Nielsen on drums.
I’ve learned a great deal about musical theater from these staged readings and can’t recommend Second Fiddle enough. Keep an eye out for the upcoming 2018 season as well as a benefit that will happen this fall to help support future readings. And if you’d like to donate so that Second Fiddle can keep staging these rarely produced musicals, please visit their website and learn more about who they are and their past productions!