Sutu Forte doesn’t know what she will be doing with herself for the next year.
“How about nothing?” she said, laughing.
Forte will have a lot of time on her hands after tonight, which marks the final performance of her variety show, “Moulin Musique,” before the Missouri Theatre closes for renovations.
“Of course, the theater is beautiful. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Forte said. “But it’s falling apart. It’s been loved a lot.”
The theater will close Aug. 1 and reopen in June 2008.
Jamie Hunnicutt, co-host of the show, is also a performer in this “almost-dinner theater” production. Both women spoke excitedly about the food provided by Columbia-area caterers and the glass of wine or sparkling juice each audience member gets with a ticket.
Hunnicutt was once told the variety show felt like a private party. “At Moulin Musique,” she said, “you’re all part of the act.” The slogan is from the group’s theme song. Tonight, in a departure from the show’s routine, audience members can join in singing and dancing on stage.
With the theme “Thanks for the Memories,” the show will feature pianists, a magician, a poet and others. One act will be the “Biochemical Operetta,” a humorous piece that plays on the old fairy tale “The Frog Prince.”
Visual artists will also speak about their art, which can be seen on stage before and during the show.
Forte and her group of artists have been performing regularly at the Missouri Theatre since 2003.
“I’ve played with them at least 10 times,” said Jake Clayton, who plays electric bass with Moulin Musique.
Forte has left a strong impression on her artists. When asked to describe her, Clayton gave a little shrug; he couldn’t find the words.
Aubrey VanHoose, a guest drummer from the VanHoose Family Band, said she’ll miss playing with Forte. “It’s always interesting to see what Sutu comes up with,” VanHoose said.
The musicians with Moulin Musique all have ideas of what they’d like to see change in the theater as a result of renovations. “I’d like to see a bigger apron,” Hunnicutt said, referring to the part of the stage that extends beyond the curtain. “It would give us more room on stage.”
She also dreams of bigger, nicer dressing rooms and bathrooms.
“The beautiful painting, the frescos,” Forte said. “I can see how it must have been. I’d like to see it return to the original 1928 style.”
But no one seemed concerned the theater will lose any of its old-fashioned charm. “(Theater Executive Director) David White loves it so much,” Hunnicutt said.