Meet me in St. Louis, Scarborough Choir Society says

Alonso Smith, a St. Louis lawyer and family man, has just received an unexpected job promotion — in New York City.

His family is less than thrilled. They are forced to leave behind their home, friends and memories despite their excitement for the coming St. Louis World Fair.

Set in Missouri in 1904, Meet me in St. Louis follows the Smith family as it reluctantly prepares for the move.

The Scarborough Choir Society (SCS), one of Toronto’s longest-running community theatre groups, is getting set for its first production of the classic movie musical, which promises to transport audiences back to the early 1900s with the help of enchanted music, sets and Broadway-styled performances.

“We have some new, wonderful young female performers in the leading roles that will surely bring to life the daughters of the family with their hopes of romance and the excitement of the era,” said Lorraine Kimsa, the artistic director of 15 years with SCS.

Sarah Angus will star as Esther, played by Judy Garland in the movie.

“The trouble with doing this show is that it’s iconic: everyone has heard Judy Garland sing the lead,” she said. “Obviously, there is no doing it as Judy Garland did it. Period.

“I just want to play Esther as honestly as I can.”

For Angus, Meet me in St. Louis is a dream come true. Playing the lead role in one of her all-time favourite movies is still a shock, the rising star said.

“I keep reminding myself how lucky I am,” she said. “I get to perform music that I’ve loved since I was a kid, music that I never thought I’d get to sing.

“I intend to do my absolute best, have as much fun possible and soak in every second.”

Many of the play’s leads have thorough musical training and hold university degrees, in addition to having experience performing. The cast ranges in age from eight to 81 years old.

The sets and costumes in Meet me in St. Louis are recreations faithful to the year 1904 without any modern-day twists, art director David Adolphus said.

Barbara Back, a performer and the producer of the show, said the shows the SCS chooses to put on are picked carefully.

“We checked and have found that no one has done this show in the Toronto area for a very long time,” she said. “We keep track of all the community theatre productions in order to decide what to do.

“We did this show because of the great music and good script with characters that can appeal to the whole family.”

The show is set more than 100 years ago, but the themes of family, love and hope are sure to resonate with audiences today, Kimsa said.

“The audience should leave the theatre with a smile on their face, humming the most memorable songs from this show,” she said. “It’s a show about a family for a family audience.”

Meet Me in St. Louis is set to show at the Bayview Glen Upper School Theatre at 85 Moatfield Dr. at 8 p.m. on March 25 and 26, and April 1 and 2. Matinees are scheduled for March 27 and April 2 and 3. Tickets are $26, $24 for seniors and students, and $15 for children.

For more information, visit the SCS website or call 416-556-9552.