Dennis Brown offers up his ten most memorable Muny moments

• Show Boat (1952) The Cotton Blossom made a spectacular entrance via the revolving stage. Twenty minutes into the show, Joe (William C. Smith) sat on a barrel, opened his mouth to sing — and the heavens opened. As we all sought shelter from the rain, the woman sitting next to us made a fervent plea that I can still hear: "At least let him get through 'Ol' Man River.'" It was not to be, and my earliest Muny memory is of a rainout.

• Meet Me in St. Louis (1960) The world premiere of the Judy Garland movie was exciting stuff. And when the Skinker trolley made its first appearance, again on the revolving stage, "The Trolley Song" was a giddy meshing of stage and screen.

• Destry Rides Again (1961) Michael Kidd's stirring choreography for this cowboy musical was as virile as his work on the "Barn Raising" in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Kidd's Broadway dances were restaged to exacting perfection by Marc Breaux. Because the show has never been revived, this was the only time I've ever seen Kidd's stunning bullwhip dance.

• Around the World in 80 Days (1962) Another world premiere of another colorful movie. High point: seeing the ever-stylish Cyril Ritchard as Phileas Fogg high over the Muny stage in a hot-air balloon.

• Camelot (1965) Pernell Roberts, straight from TV's Bonanza, was a dynamic King Arthur. His "proposition" speech at the end of Act One was delivered, first through a trickle, then a downpour. This time no one sought shelter; Roberts' presence was that commanding.

• The Royal Ballet (1967) More rain, this time on the closing Sunday night of a sold-out engagement starring Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. When the setting sun re-emerged at 7:30 p.m., the stage crew began to dry the stage. There, in a bathrobe and tights, was Nureyev himself, mop in hand, working along with the others. After all, he was the one who would be dancing on that stage — but not until it was dry.

• Call Me Madam (1968) For its 50th anniversary season, the Muny imported some heavyweights: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in My Fair Lady, John Raitt reprising his lead role in The Pajama Game. Most memorable of all was Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam. When she and Russell Nype sang the buoyant Irving Berlin duet, "You're Just in Love," the reprises seemed to go on forever.

• The Baker's Wife (1976) En route to Broadway (which it would never reach), the ill-starred Stephen Schwartz musical based on the Pagnol story played St. Louis. Amid all the onstage confusion was one indelible moment: Patti LuPone galvanized the audience with her rendition of "Meadowlark." Although she was still three years away from Evita and stardom, in that one song her future was inevitable.

• Kismet (1977) Len Cariou and George Rose brought panache and substance to a show that is usually little more than cotton candy. Best moment? Every moment that Rose was onstage, re-inventing the vicious Wazir as a craven coward.

• Show Boat (2002) No rain this time. Michel Bell's spine-tingling rendition of "Ol' Man River" was one for the ages — a song that brought Munygoers of all ages to their feet at every performance.

 
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