By Lynn Venhaus
The March winds are blowing in snow and ice, with productions starting strong,
and there is a mix of classic musicals, hard-hitting dramas and hilarious
comedies on local stages.
It’s the last weekend to catch the absorbing “Oslo” at the
Rep, the tenth anniversary “Rock of Ages” tour comes to The Fox, and “Avenue Q”
is extended at The Playhouse at Westport. New musicals opening include “The 25th
Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Company,” “La Cage Aux Folles.”
Wash U continues with “Angels in America” and SLU presents “The Misanthrope.”
“Well” opens at Mustard Seed Theatre, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, and “The Glitter Girls” at Alton
Little Theatre. The Black Rep’s “Milk Like Sugar” continues at The Black Rep.
Roar back and go see a play!
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” O’Fallon Theatre Works March 1-3 and 8-10 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon City Hall Tickets: www.ofallon.mo.us Tickets are on sale now at the Renaud Spirit Center and at the box office, which opens one hour before each show. What It’s About: Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with a funny book by Rachel Sheinkin and a vibrant musical score by William Finn.
An eclectic group of six adolescents vies for the spelling
championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching
stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of
(potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing,
pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling
mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get juice
A riotous ride complete with audience participation, “The
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a fast-paced crowd-pleasing comedy.
Director: Melissa Boyer, with music director Wendi Dicken and choreographer Cameron Bopp. Starring: Ann Hier Brown, Mark Killmer, Benni Jillette, James McKinzie, Ben Ketcherside, Josh Towers, Hayden Hays, Mia Porcelli and Stefanie Kluba.
FRIDAY, FEB. 1, 2019 – This is a promotional photo for “Angels in America” by Washington University’s Performing Arts Department. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./WUSTL Photos “Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches” The Performing Arts Department at Washington University Feb. 22 – March 3 Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Edison Theatre Tickets: 314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu What It’s About: an epic that ranges from earth to heaven; focuses on politics, sex and religion; transports us to Washington, the Kremlin, the South Bronx, Salt Lake City and Antarctica; deals with Jews, Mormons, WASPs, blacks; switches between realism and fantasy, from the tragedy of AIDS to the camp comedy of drag queens to the death or at least the absconding of God.
“Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 3 www.playhouseatwestport.com
What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with
heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a
college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account.
He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s
Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie
Starring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer
Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger
Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won three Tony
Awards, including Best Musical.
“Company” Over Due Theatre March 1-3, 8-10 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com
What It’s About: First produced in 1970, Company was
nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six, including Best
Musical. Company takes an unvarnished look at marriage through the eyes of
Bobby who, unmarried on his thirty-fifth birthday, finds himself lost in the
company of his married friends. With his trademark wit and sophistication,
Stephen Sondheim examines the flawed nature of human relationships as Bobby
journeys towards the realization that, in spite of all of his friends’
failings, there is no point in “Being Alive” unless he has someone with whom to
“The Glitter Girls” Alton Little Theatre March 1- 10 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alto 618.462.6562 www.altonlittletheater.org.
What It’s About: A brand new play economically described as
“Steel Magnolias” meets “Survivor,” with a big dose of quirky humor thrown in
for good measure. A strong ensemble play, which questions the wisdom of sudden
wealth and the bonds of friendship.
“La Cage Aux Folles” New Line Theatre Feb. 28 – March 23 Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drivewww.newlinetheatre.com
What It’s About: What happens when the son of a middle-aged
gay couple brings home the daughter of an arch-conservative politician — and
her parents — for dinner? Musical comedy ensues.
“La Cage Aux Folles” takes place on the French Riviera for
a night of love, laughs, illusions and truths, and the triumph of family over
bullies and bigots.
Based on the 1973 French play and its 1978 film adaptation,
“La Cage Aux Folles” tells the story of a middle-aged show business couple,
grappling with aging, fidelity, kids, and holding on to their dignity when the
world around them would rather strip it away. At the center is Georges, a St.
Tropez nightclub owner, and his husband Albin, who is also the club’s erratic
headliner Zaza. When Georges’ son gets engaged to the daughter of a right-wing
politician, we see the politics and culture wars of 2019, at their most
ridiculous and most fevered, onstage right in front of us.
Director: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez and choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae
Starring: Zachary Allen Farmer (Albin/Zaza), Robert Doyle (Georges), Kevin
Corpuz (Jean-Michel), Tielere Cheatem (Jacob), Zora Vredeveld (Anne), Kent
Coffel (M. Dindon), Mara Bollini (Mme. Dindon), Lindsey Jones (Jacqueline),
Joel Hackbarth (Francis), and as the notorious Cagelles – Jake Blonstein,
Dominic Dowdy-Windsor, Evan Fornachon, Tim Kaniecki, Clayton Humburg, and Ian
Of Note: In its original 1983 production, the show was a
safely old-fashioned musical comedy. But in its 2008 London revival and 2010
Broadway revival, the show was transformed from a lightweight comedy into a
more serious story with a lot of laughs.
The original 1983 Broadway production ran four years and
1,761 performances. The show received nine Tony nominations and won six,
including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book — beating out Sondheim’s
Sunday in the Park with George. It’s been revived on Broadway and in London
“Milk Like Sugar”
“The Misanthrope” Saint Louis University TheatreFeb. 28 – March 3Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box501 N. Grand Blvd.Tickets through metrotix.com or 314.534-1111.
What It’s About: This Molière classic looks at the hypocrisy of society and the consequences of total honesty and will be directed by Lucy Cashion.Of Note: The additional Saturday matinee was scheduled due to the limited seating at the venue. A seating policy is in place for this production: unfilled seats will be released 7 minutes prior to the start of the show.Yourcooperation is appreciated.
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves March 1-3, 7-10 Shows at 8 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves Tickets are available only at the door (cash or check). Sorry, we do not take advanced reservations www.theatreguildwg.org 314-962-0876
What It’s About: Ken Kesey’s iconic counter-culture novel
is set in a psychiatric hospital, where convicted criminal McMurphy winds up.
He challenges authority and changes patients’ lives. This is the play adaptation,
which was turned into an Oscar-winning film.
Director: Jessica Johns-Kelly.
Starring: Jerry Crump, Matthew Linhardt, Betsy Gasoske,
Greg Savel, Tyler Crandall, Hal Morgan, Jason Blackburn, David Eiben, Christian
Davis, Sherre Ward, Scott Ewers, Russ Leonard, Donald Kidd, Aaron Mermelstein,
Noreen Ann G. Rhodes and Amie Bossi.
Of Note: This show contains content not suitable for
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is very old historic
building with many steps and is not handicapped or wheelchair assessable.
Photo by Peter Wochniak
“Oslo” Feb. 8 – March 3 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 130 Edgar Road, St. Louiswww.repstl.org 314-968-4925 What It’s About: The winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play, this play by J.T. Rogers is set in 1993, when two bitter enemies shocked the world by shaking hands and agreeing to work towards peace. “Oslo” finds the unlikely story behind the historic event. The drama explores the secretive and precarious negotiations that made that moment possible and focuses on the Norwegian couple who brokered talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Director: Steven Woolf Starring: Jim Poulos, Kathleen Wise, Rajesh Bose, Ben Graney, Jerry Vogel, Michael James Reed, Amro Salama, John Rensenhouse, Michelle Hand, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Jeff Cummings, Jim Shankman, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jack Theiling and Tom Wethington. Of Note: “Oslo” is recommended for adult audiences. The show contains strong adult language and weighty discussions about global politics and diplomatic relations.
“Rock of Ages” The Fox Theatre March 1-3 Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm,. The Fox Theatre is at 527 North Grand in Grand Centerwww.fabulousfox.com What It’s About: Nominated for five Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Rock of Ages” captures the iconic era that was the big bad 1980s Hollywood. Know What Love Is, Feel the Noise, and Take Your Best Shot at one of the Sunset Strip’s last epic venues, a place where the legendary Stacee Jaxx returns to the stage and rock-n-roll dreamers line up to turn their fantasies into reality. Featuring the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister, and Whitesnake among many others, this Tenth Anniversary production features a dynamic new cast revisiting the larger than life characters and exhilarating story that turned the musical into a global phenomenon. This is one for the ages that will have you singing “Here I Go Again.”
“Well” Mustard Seed Theatre Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre 314-719-8060www.mustardseedtheatre.com What It’s About: Lisa Kron’s experimental play intends to explore racial and religious integration and cultural concepts of health. She does not want to talk about her Mother, who unexpectedly joins her on stage. What could possibly go wrong?
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.