PLAYBILL PICKS: The Stage's Ten Greatest Christmas Scenes

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25 Dec 2013

Jason Workman and Donna Kane in the Broadway production of Meet Me in St. Louis.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Meet Me in St. Louis
This title began as a 1944 Judy Garland movie and was converted into a Broadway stage vehicle in 1989. This gave theatre audiences the chance to experience live the much-loved score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, which included "The Trolley Song" and "The Boy Next Door." Like Mame, only a small section of the plot takes place at Christmastime. But that segment features the classic ode to Yuletide melancholia, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Esther Smith sings it to cheer up her little sister Tootie (as well as herself), who is upset over an impending move from wonderful St. Louis to mean old New York. The lyrics were originally more mournful than they are now, but Garland objected, forcing Martin to alter them. Still, it remains one of the more measured, and touching, expressions of Christmas cheer ever composed. "This is the all-time great Christmas song, as far as I'm concerned," stated Suskin. He added, however, that when the tune was delivered in the stage version of the story, "it didn't really come across; it was lost." Here's the famous clip from the M-G-M movie:


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