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August 28 2014

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Blasblog: Isaac, Meet Me In St. Louis

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Being a writer, not a day goes by when someone in my Midwestern family doesn’t give me an unsolicited tip or story idea. Why don’t I write about those cute twins down the street, or Mississippi River style, or the fashion shows in Osage Beach? (Yes, despite there not being an ocean in central Missouri, there is still a beach. And, apparently, fashion shows.) But over the winter holidays, Aunt Mary gave me a good lead for once: Isaac Mizrahi was making a pilgrimage to my beloved hometown to make his directorial debut for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with his very own production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, opening on June 6.

“I have been thinking about doing this production since I was 13 and I saw it on Broadway!” Mizrahi said in a recent chat, all the while—as I swelled with pride—praising “St. Louie”! Directing was the next logical step for the full-time fashion designer, who has already designed sets and costumes for other productions and even performed a one-man show Off Broadway in 2000. “This is my first time directing, but it feels like something I’ve been doing forever,” Mizrahi explained, adding that his fashion gigs aren’t too dissimilar to what he does backstage. “There are surely some similarities: sticking to your guns, learning how to listen to people—but then you just have to make it happen!” While he’s mum on the specifics he’s been working on for the past two years, he did offer up some sketches (pictured) and some projections. He’s envisioning some elements out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: the woods, the color green, and the whimsy of characters like Shakespeare’s Mustard Seed and Pease Blossom, all of which seems appropriate for Sondheim’s fairy-tale Sweden, where, as the lyrics have it, the sun doesn’t set. Toward the end of our chat, we both remembered this little commitment he has on February 18: his fashion show. Isn’t he a wee bit stressed out at the moment? “I’m not really that busy,” he joked. “I like to be inspired, to complete ideas—maybe that’s why I don’t feel busy. I feel motivated.” Then, after a laugh, he smiled: “I would be busier if I had to deny myself opportunities like this.” Denial, too, is a full-time job.

Illustration: Courtesy of Isaac Mizrahi

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