FOREST PARK – For the first time in sixteen years, the Muny stage has been home to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Cinderella,” which opened on July 8th and closes on July 16th.
For one of the ensemble members of the company, this production also marked a return to the Muny stage. Emma Gassett, who grew up on the Muny stage, celebrated her 16th appearance on that stage, and she says that, for her, the magic is still there.
“It’s always a joy to come back to the Muny, because it’s where I grew up,” she said, adding, “and I have a younger sister that is now a kid and teen, so it’s nice to sometimes be able to share the stage with her.”
Gassett, a storied performer, dancer and choreographer who has worked both in St. Louis and in New York, had her first Muny performance at age 10, when she appeared in the 2004 rendition of the musical theater classic “Annie” as one of the orphans. She said she remembered that experience fondly.
“I specifically remember playing cards with all the other orphans,” she said, ”and I remember all our costumes’ being lined up on racks, and I just thought it was the coolest thing.”
But it was a community theater production of “The Wizard of Oz” that sparked Gassett’s initial interest in theater, starting first and foremost with dance. She attended Oklahoma City University, where she focused on dance with some acting and voice components.
Now back on the Muny stage for “Cinderella,” she hopes she can spark that same love of theater in some of the younger attendees.
“I hope that I can be that inspiration for kids who are little and come to see their first theatrical production,” she said.
Her personal favorite moment from this Muny production is the number “The Prince is Giving a Ball,” which she named as particularly exciting due to its humor and liveliness. She said that, with a big dance break and nearly 80 cast members on stage, the production really came to life
Now an Equity-card-carrying member of the professional theater community, and with many more performances under her belt, Gassett said that the Muny was still a place she loved to perform.
“It continues to feel colossal every time I step out onto that stage,” she explained. Calling it a trip down memory lane, she said she still had memories of every costume she had worn on the Muny stage.
Of the new construction to the stage, she added, “I love that even with the new construction on the new stage that occurred this year, the Muny didn’t lose any of its luster and its marvelousness.”
“Cinderella” closes at the Muny on July 16th. The next show up is “Footloose,” which opens on July 18th. For more info about the Muny’s 101st season, visit https://muny.org/.