By Lynn Venhaus
Making weekend plans? Light-hearted laughs, splashy musicals and thought-provoking dramas are among the offerings this mid-November, before the holiday season kicks in to high gear. From historic theaters in Lebanon and Waterloo,Illinois to St. Charles Community College in Cottleville, you can be entertained these cold snowy nights. Go see a play!
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
St. Louis Community College at Meramec
Nov. 14 – 18
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Campus Theatre, 11333 Big Bend Blvd.www.stlcc.edu/MC or call 314-984-7500.
The Fox Theatre
Nov. 7 – 25
527 N. Grand Blvd.www.fabulousfox.com
MetroTix or Fox box office.
What It’s About: A thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
Cast: Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Lissa deGuzman (Jasmine), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Jef Feder (Kassim), Philippe Arroyo (Omar), Jonathan Weir (Jafar), Jay Paranada (Iago) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Of Note: Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the US tour, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin,
“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914″
Mustard Seed Theatre
Nov. 15 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Sundays
Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
What It’s About: Celebrate the power of peace in this a capella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets.
Director: Deanna Jent
Starring: Sean Michael, Anthony Heinemann, Greg Lhamon, Micheal Lowe,
Chris Hickey, Abraham Shaw, Gerry Love, Jeff Wright, Kent Coffel
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”
The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6, no performance Thanksgiving Day
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heightswww.playhouseatwestport.com
MetroTix: www.metrotix.com or 314-534-1111
What It’s About: An all-new holiday show is set in 1959, on the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. During holiday preparations, the down-to-earth ladies are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present. Content to do things the way they have always been done, yet pondering new ideas, the reality of everyday life hits home as they plan the Sunday School Christmas Program.
As the children rehearse in the sanctuary, several of the ladies are in the kitchen finishing up the treat bags filled with apples, peanuts and ribbon candy while the others put the final touches on the nativity pieces. As they mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them.
Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!
Directors: Lee Anne Mathews and Emily Clinger, with music direction by Joseph Dreyer
Cast: Rosemary Watts, Lee Anne Mathews,
Of Note: Performances are Sundays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays* and Fridays at 2 p.m., Saturdays** and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Additionally, tickets will be available at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more can call 314-616-4455 for special rates.
All five installments of the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies” are inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller “Growing Up Lutheran.”
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.
2041 Delmar Ave., Granite City, Ill. 62040
What It’s About: The French fairy tale is now a beloved Disney musical.
Director: Camille Fensterman
Cast: Rebecca Porwoll, Danny Brown, Gage Seitz, Joel Brown, Mike Hodges, John Jauss, Jacqueline Roush, Diane Mueller, Julia Gilbert, Ken Elliff, Maeve Durkee, Ian Wonders, Elizabeth Semko, Kayla Dressman, Lindy Elliott, Ashley Nicole Pavlige, Bryn Fleckenstein, Kevin Williams-Gardner, Lisa Hinrichs, Elliana Fiorno, Marcus Porwoll, Aaron Kamphoefner, Kya Wonders, Jayde Mitchell, Doug Pritchett, and Aaron Williams
Of Note: Saturday is sold out.
“Doctor Faustus, or The Modern Prometheus”
Nov. 7 – Nov. 17
Wed – Sat. 8 p.m.
6238 Alexander Drivewww.slightlyoff.org
What It’s About: Written by John Wolbers, it is a modern-day retelling of the age-old bargain for limitless control over one’s own fate. The brilliant Doctor Faustus grows weary of those in charge abusing their power; so, with the noblest of intentions, sells her soul to save the world. Thus, begins an epic journey of seduction and love, justice and mercy, despair and hope, and ultimately damnation and redemption. Along the way Faustus must choose between good, evil and the compromise known as humanity.
Director: Ellie Schwetye
Cast: Ashley Bauman, Erik Kuhn, Kareem Deanes, Joe Hanrahan, Lex Ronan, Nicole Angeli, Mike Pierce and Taleesha Caturah
Of Note: Wolbers retains much of Christopher Marlowe’s original poetry, but reframes the story to examine: How does one effect change in an increasingly complex world? What is the value of a soul in today’s modern age? And what holds us back from transcending our baser instincts to become our best selves
“Don’t Talk to the Actors”
St. Charles Community College
Nov. 14 – 18
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
FAB Theatre, 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Cottleville, Mo.www.stchas.edu
What It’s About: The best-laid plans go awry when the cast and crew of a Broadway-bound play resort to manipulation, diva-like behavior, and chaotic abandon to get what they want. Fledgling playwright Jerry Przpezniak and his fiancée are a couple of Buffalo greenhorns suddenly swept up in the whirlwind of New York’s theatre scene when Jerry’s play is optioned for the big money, ego-driven world of Broadway. It’s a young playwright’s dream, but the crazy characters and dilemmas they encounter are the things that spawn theatrical nightmares.
“Every Brilliant Thing”
Nov. 16 – Dec. 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center black box theatrewww.r-stheatrics.com
What It’s About: When a six-year-old starts a list of every brilliant thing in life to encourage her despondent mother, little does she know that the list will take on a life of its own and thread its way throughout the girl’s life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this one-woman show reminds us to celebrate the beauty in our lives and in those we love.
Starring: Nancy Nigh
Bruce Vick, Dylan Comer“Frost/Nixon”
Looking Glass Players
Nov. 8 – 11 and Nov. 15 – 18
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon, Ill.
What It’s About: British talk-show host David Frost has become a lowbrow laughingstock. Richard M. Nixon has just resigned the United States presidency in total disgrace over Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Determined to resurrect his career, Frost risks everything on a series of in-depth interviews to extract an apology from Nixon. The cagey Nixon, however, is equally bent on redeeming himself in his nation’s eyes. In the television age, image is king, and both men are desperate to out-talk and upstage each other as the cameras roll. The result is the interview that sealed a president’s legacy.
Director: Glenn Saltamacchia
Cast: Bruce Vick, Dylan Comer, Mike Russell, Mike Wells
Rachel Bailey, Heather Sartin. Photo by John Lamb“The Great Seduction”
West End Players Guild
Nov. 15 – 18
Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 -.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 N. Union at Enright in the Central West End
What It’s About: In the mid-19th century, the prolific French playwright and author Alexandre Dumas penned a five-act bedroom farce “Mademoiselle de Belle Isle.” It was a tasteful telling of the story of an arrogant Duke, a randy Countess, a young stud of a chevalier and an innocent maiden freshly arrived from the provinces, seasoned with generous dollops of low humor and decolletage. Well, okay. It wasn’t exactly tasteful. But it was a rollicking and bawdy smash hit.
A century and a half later, playwright Vladimir Zelevinsky decided it was time for the Madmoiselle to return to the stage. His new playretains all the wit and charm of Dumas’s original work in a tighter two-act format and with a different and surprising climax that adds a clever twist to one of the most important moments in French history.
Director: Steve Callahan
Starring: Rachel Bailey, Alex Fyles, Jason Mayers, Gracie Sartin and Heather Sartin.
Of Note: The West End Players Guild opens their 108th season with this show. Playwright Playwright Vladimir Zelevinsky was on hand for opening weekend’s performances.
“Into the Breeches”
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Oct. 28 – Nov. 24.
The Grandel Theatre
What It’s About: Building on its beloved summer productions in Forest Park, and the acclaimed Shakespeare in the Streets program, the Festival now presents its very first season of contemporary American plays by writers in dialogue with Shakespeare, headlined by the regional premiere of “Into the Breeches!” — a hilarious and heartwarming look at the WWII home front and a group of ladies left behind who band together to keep the local theater going with their very own production of Henry V.
Director: Nancy Bell
Starring: Kari Ely, Ben Nordstrom, Gary Wayne Barker, Michelle Hand, Katy Keating, Mary McNulty, Laura Resinger and Jacqueline Thompson
Of Note: Student tickets to all performances are free with an ID but it is recommended they be reserved in advance. Military discounts are available as well.
Washington University Performing Arts Department
Nov. 15 – 18
Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu.
What It’s About: Big sister Hiro has come back home to Kentucky to rescue her sister Sophie from an abusive father and from marrying a born again Christian she only just met! Here’s a “dramedy” with music and talking cats and ethnic and cultural divides as old as the hills.
“The Shoemaker and the Elves”
St. Louis Public Library
Nov. 5 – Dec. 8
Different times at various branches
What It’s About: . A timeless winter’s tale of kindness and compassion. A modest shoemaker shows generosity to a cold and bedraggled foreigner despite his own fears about the future. Magic ensues and two mischievous creatures transform his life forever. A warm and fuzzy frolic about the power of friendship.
Photo by Jon Brooks“Shotspeare”
The [email protected]
Nove. 15 – Dec. 8
Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings
Tickets: MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111.
What It’s About: “Shotspeare” combines the greatest playwright in history with audience participation, a drinking game and a sleeve of saltines, creating a must-see comedic twist on classic literature. After years of successful performances in New York City, Las Vegas and festivals around the world, Emery Entertainment Inc. brings this laugh-out-loud show back.
“Shotspeare’s” raucous adaptation of Romeo & Juliet includes five sword-wielding actors, one lucky audience member, copious amounts of beer and tons of Shakespeare, all in 90 minutes.
Of Note: No performances Thanksgiving Weekend.
Upon entering the theatre, select guests are given “Shotspeare Cards” and are instructed to use them at any given time when they want to see the actors drink. One lucky audience member even gets to join the cast for the duration of the production, becoming one of the Shakespearean characters and partaking in the always challenging and entertaining, “Wheel of Soliloquy.”
“Witness for the Prosecution”
The Monroe Actors Stage Company
Nov. 15 – 18
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre, Waterloowww.masctheatre.org
What It’s About: Leonard Vole stands accused of murdering a rich widow. The stakes are high with shocking witness testimony, impassioned outbursts from the dock and a young man’s fight to escape the hangman’s noose. Generally regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s most accomplished plays, this suspenseful thriller keeps audiences guessing until the very end.
Director: Warren Frank
Cast: Tim Conrad, Amy Sochowski, David Zimmermann, Dan Irwin, Lindell Webb, Gary Baum, Jim Bradley, Donna LaPorte, Hannah Sochowski and Rebecca Zimmermann.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.