In case there was any doubt about what kind of future Drury Lane Oakbrook would have following the death of Drury Lane patriarch and founder Tony DeSantis last summer and the subsequent death of his daughter Diane van Lente, a third generation has taken over with Kyle DeSantis at the helm who clearly wants to send a message: Drury Lane is back, bigger and better than ever before. Bringing in veteran Broadway director Jim Corti to stage the Broadway adaptation of the 1944 Judy Garland vehicle “Meet Me in St. Louis,” all of the stops have been pulled out for this extraordinary production, which is on the par with any Broadway touring production that you could see downtown, for a fraction of the cost. That said, this is a show that you aren’t likely to see downtown anytime soon, with its quaint nod to family life a century ago and a score filled with hits of the day as well as the three legendary original songs penned for the movie by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane—“The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”—along with additional numbers the team wrote for the Broadway version, some of which have inexplicably been cut for this version, including the best scene in the movie and the show, the Halloween scene. Jessie Muller and Justin Berkobien make for stunning leads and sing up a storm and have great onstage chemistry, but every family member is superbly cast. The lavish costumes, choreography, sets and musical direction—complete with the luxury of an onstage orchestra—help make this a very special experience and given the opportunity to see and hear the original context for the poignant “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” make this the ideal holiday show. (Dennis Polkow)
At Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, (630)530-0111. This production is now closed.