Mary Engelbreit’s art takes a star turn in 101st season at The Muny

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Photo courtesy of Phil Delano

St. Louis-based, internationally-known artist Mary Engelbreit’s long list of artistic accomplishments veered in a new and completely unexpected direction when she was tapped by Mike Issacson, Artistic Director and Executive Producer of The Muny, to design the costumes and set for this season’s production of Matilda.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

This isn’t Engelbreit’s first association with 11,000 seat outdoor musical theater in Forest Park. Her delightful drawing,”I Knew He’d Like It,” above, was the cover art on the program for 2012’s season.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Engelbreit said that when Issacson reached out to her earlier this year “I was floored. I said yes I’d LOVE to do that!…I don’t know how to do that!”

Issacson explained that there were “real” costume and set designers working on the show, and that all she had to do was draw the characters and set pieces as she envisioned them. They would take it from there. The design team was also granted access to Engelbreit’s database of 13,000 drawings to mine for more ideas.

The Roald Dahl book and the subsequent movie had been favorites of the Engelbreit/Delano family. She had read the book to her boys, and she and her daughter Mikayla saw the play in New York, which they both loved.

When I visited Engelbreit’s studio, I was able to photograph her early sketches for the project, above. Those who are familiar with her work will recognize the resulting graphics, costumes, and depiction of characters, below, which are saturated in her signature style.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

From left, Mike, Zinna Wormwood, Mr. Wormwood, and Matilda.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Zinna Dance for Matilda

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

The plaid fabric and contrasting tie designed for Mr. Wormwood are so perfectly ME.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Engelbreit’s sketch of  the dreaded chokey.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

From left, Mary Engelbreit’s design for the Matilda t-shirt, Crunchem Hall Primary School, and the Russian sketch.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater For kids  The Muny Roald Dahl's Matilda Mike Issacson Mary Engelbreit Forest Park

Matilda t-shirts, sized from youth to adult—$15, $20, and $22—are available at The Muny and on the website.

Matilda at The Muny, August 5 to 11, ticket information here. The Muny generously offers 1,450 free seats to the public each night during the season, available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Aaron Elliott

    May 30, 2019

    MARY!!!!! Love these images. Roald Dahl was my go to as a young boy. I LOVE Mr. Wormwood’s get-up! I would totally wear that. I wish you would have done a drawing of “The Trunchbull”. XO

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