By Lynn Venhaus Among the many thousands of people tuning in to the Muny’s Summer Variety Hour Live! on Monday nights, a health care professional told Mike Isaacson, the executive producer and artistic director who conceived this musical mash-up, that the show has saved her sanity and her summer. I second that.
If this summer were a mix-tape, mine would include all the magical
Muny-ized showtunes, “Hamilton” (just because) and the TwinstheNewTrend (just
watch). This bittersweet blend has become Operation: Summer Salvation. We
didn’t know how desperately we needed this balm, like a cool breeze on an
unbearably muggy day (or a Lemon Freeze under a Muny fan).
Why else would tears be streaming down my face as the
sublime Kennedy Holmes beautifully sang “Children Will Listen” live under the
Culver Pavilion, with Tali Allen on piano on Aug. 10, the fourth episode? Holmes,
who broke out as Little Inez in 2015’s “Hairspray,” went on to become a phenom
on “The Voice,” with a fourth-place finish. (She was robbed!). She remains a
loyal Muny Teen and, as the soloist Monday, displayed a stunning maturity.
Under Isaacson – who loves Stephen Sondheim as much as I do
– we were able to witness an extraordinary “Into the Woods” in 2015, and as I
teared up at least five times during the Muny production back then, watching
Tony winner Heather Headley sing “Children Will Listen” was the highlight among
many. Leave it to a young woman, Kennedy, to remind us:
Children will look to you
For which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”
From a musical stressing the reality behind the
make-believe, Monday’s rendition took on a greater poignancy. And being able to
see Kennedy’s growth and blossoming as a future major star was another unforgettable
In a crazy world of scary happenings and headlines, we have been comforted by
the talent of this joyful, faithful and hopeful ‘family’ of entertainers and the
time-honored tradition of the Municipal Opera, now 102 years old, for four
shows so far. Every superbly mixed show has elicited a rollercoaster of
emotions as we take our seat, not in the 11,000 open-air theater, on a warm
summer night, but instead before our televisions and computer screens, tissues
at the ready.
The anticipation is matched by the exquisite renditions,
whether live or on tape, but the added bonus has been seeing the work of such creative
spirits – putting together all those filmed clips and using Zoom technology.
And then you have the sunny optimism of those Muny Kids and Teens, and well,
It feels real, even if it is make-believe. Somehow, through
cyberspace, we feel connected. And we need it, apparently, for more than
140,000 people tuned in to the first three.
“Through the years, we’ll always be together, if the fates
allow” — little did we know how much the lyrics of “Meet Me in St. Louis”
would mean during a pandemic, “right here.” So, of course, this cast from the
Centennial presentation in 2018 would be this week’s heartwarming sing-a-long
The sentimentality showed up in waves during the
penultimate super-duper deluxe show, despite a heavy thunderstorm in the region
that caused uprooted trees, power outages and flash flooding. Yet, here was
Mike, underneath the stage, guiding us through another enchanted evening. We
weren’t huddled together with our umbrellas, but nonetheless united.
And the urgency of underlying theme “Gotta Dance!” saved
the day with some fresh, fantastic choreography.
The unbridled happiness of tap dancers, near and far, took
us from stages to home spaces in “Tap Your Troubles Away.” Conceived and
choreographed by Muny Resident and Teen Choreographer Katie Johannigman, this was
a jolt of jubilation that had me grinning ear to ear, featuring alums from the
past decade. And then Jack Sippel’s moving contemporary dance piece,
“Speechless” featuring Muny Teens. Breath-taking! A St. Louis native, Broadway
performer and Muny alum, Sippel is currently working on the Netflix version of
“The Prom,” as he was the dance captain of the Broadway show.
“West Side Story” is my all-time favorite musical, and the Jerome Robbins choreography is swoon-worthy, so to be treated to the goosebumps-inducing “Dance at the Gym” from “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” in 2018 was a treat. The Muny’s 2013 production of “West Side Story” will always stand as one of the best ever, and the West Side Story suite from the Robbins’ greatest-hits compilation reminded me why the show is timeless 63 years later.
The archival footage included “Jersey Boys,” the sensational national premiere outside Broadway/national tours in 2018, and the splendid re-imagining of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” with life force Beth Malone from 2017. Plus, one of the best “Annie” shows I’ve ever seen – “NYC”! — in 2018 helmed by the one-of-a-kind John Tartaglia.
It would not be a Muny summer without the exceptional Tartaglia, and he delivered the night’s best laugh-out-loud surprise – appearing as Murray the Muny Raccoon,” the pesky scene-stealer who waddled on stage during ‘The Addams Family” and is missing his scraps and his adoring fans. The versatile performer has memorably played The Cat in the Hat in “Seussical,” the Genie in “Aladdin” and won the St. Louis Theater Circle Award for Supporting Actor in a Musical for playing Hysterium in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” in 2017, in addition to his directing work. He started as a puppeteer on “Sesame Street,” and went on to “Avenue Q” and playing Pinocchio in “Shrek.”
For the weekly Couple Duo, we had not one but two. Real-life
couple Jason Gotay (Jack! Prince Eric! Prince Charming (well, Topher) in
Cinderella!) and Muny regular Michael Hartung charmingly performed “Song on the
Sand” from “La Cage aux Folles.”
Then the adorable power couple Jenny Powers and Matt Cavenaugh – who wowed us at the Sheldon a few years ago – brought baby daughter Rose with them to reprise “New Words,” a song by composer Maury Yeston. It’s not from a show, but he has composed “Titanic,” “Nine,” “Grand Hotel” among others. Waterworks.
This multi-tissue moment brought the house down, so to
speak. All across the nation, we collectively burst into tears while they sang
about “the moon, stars and love.”
Wait there was more! “Do-Re-Mi,” a special song-and-dance
performance by those effusive Muny Kids and Teens. And those indomitable teens
sang a bouncy rendition from “It Roars” from “Mean Girls.”
The Munywood Squares was another fun segment, and behind
the scenes is always illuminating. We heard about the Clydesdales Ace and
Deuce, and seeing the excitement of that experience from the creative anecdotes
was a nice perk.
One more chance to see this show Thursday at 8:15 p.m. on
Muny TV. For more information: muny.org/varietyhour/
And then Monday will be the swan song. Supersized (and with the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” too). Aug. 17, 8:15 p.m.
I’m so glad we’ve had this time together, just to have a
laugh or sing a song…
By Lynn Venhaus Christ Memorial Productions’ presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” won eight Best Performance Awards for choreography, music direction, lighting, costumes, acting and Best Featured Dancer while Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of the George and Ira Gershwin 1920s musical-screwball comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” won seven, including Best Large Ensemble Musical Production, Best Director and five acting awards, from Arts For Life Sunday.
It was KTG’s sixth win for musical production since 2000. Both
shows had been nominated for 17 awards apiece. “A New Brain,” which was a local
community theater premiere for Hawthorne Players, won Best Small Ensemble
Arts For Life is a nonprofit organization that encompasses
140 communities and 8,460 square miles in St. Louis city, county and St.
Charles County in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in
Founded in 1994 by Lucinda Gyurci as a group dedicated to
the healing power of the arts, AFL has honored community theater musicals for
performances and achievements since 1999 (BPAs), plays since 2015 (Theatre Mask
Awards) and expanded awards in youth musical theater in 2013.
But this is the first time AFL did not host a live gala.
Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ceremony was re-imagined as a
pre-recorded virtual celebration. The 21st annual BPAs took place
June 14, which was the original date, but transitioned to a streaming format broadcast
on Facebook and YouTube.
AFL President Mary McCreight said the coronavirus safety
measures in place and restrictions on gatherings in St. Louis County were
factors in the decision to cancel the live show but still have some sort of
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for our local arts
community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding
achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.
There were 15 community theaters and 10 youth-only groups
who participated last year. More than 60 judges in the Theatre Recognition
Guild scored 46 shows — 19 large ensembles, 3 small and 24 youth, featuring
939 roles. For 2019, there were 154 individual nominations from 22 groups, with
36 percent first-time nominees and 65 percent first-time winners.
Goshen Theatre Project, which led all groups with 18
nominations, won five youth awards overall for “Les Miserables School Edition,”
including Best Youth Musical Production, Supporting Actress Natalie Cochran as
Eponine, costume design (Terry Pattison), lighting design (Halli Pattison and
Blake Churchill) and Bennett English as Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean
Other multiple winners in the youth categories were Riverbend
Theatre, which won three for “The Drowsy Chaperone” — director (Kristi
Doering), music direction (Michael Frazier/Alison Neace) and lead actor (Jayson
Heil as the Man in Chair), and Young People’s Theatre, which won two for
“Newsies” – best supporting actor (Will Dery as Les) and set design (Brisby
Andrews and Gary Rackers).
Thirty-three awards honoring excellence during 2019 were
announced by past winners and members of the AFL board of directors, with two
special guest presenters — Norbert Leo Butz, two-time Tony Award winner who
grew up in St. Louis, and Hana S. Sharif, the Augustin Family Artistic Director
of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Butz, who also announced the youth musical production
winner, told the audience to believe in themselves, even when it’s hard, and follow
their dreams, noting he had supportive parents and “great” teachers.
“Believe in yourself and keep on being grateful. Stick to
it,” he said from his home in New Jersey. “(Performing arts) feeds our soul,
our minds, our hearts.”
AFL donated to Butz’s charity, The Angel Band Project,
which uses music therapy to help victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence
and advocates for rights of survivors. For more information, visit www.angelbandproject.org
Four special honors were given out to Jennifer Kerner for
her inclusion efforts, Bennett English for Best Youth Musical Performance as
Jean Valjean in Goshen Theatre Project’s “Les Miserables: School Edition,”
Kayla Dressman for Best Featured Dancer as Dream Laurie in CMP’s “Oklahoma!” and Diane Hanisch, the BPA
musical director/conductor for the past 20 years, who won a national Spotlight
Award from the American Association of Community Theatres, presented by Quiana
Clark-Roland. A Lifetime Achievement Award was not designated this year.
Kerner’s recognition was for her advocacy on inclusion and
helping to make the live theater experience accessible to all individuals.
Kerner, a local singer and actress, works to help place people with
developmental disabilities in jobs. She has guided local theater companies in
providing sensory-friendly performances and has worked to create comfortable
environments for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing
McCreight was thrilled about Hanisch’s national award.
“This award is designed to help pay tribute to an
individual for long or special service. It recognizes outstanding dedication,
service and contribution to your organization. It is for someone who has made a
significant impact on the quality of your organization. Diane has done just
that with per professionalism and charm. She is a gem! Not only can she calm
the nerves of a 12-year-old singing a solo, but others who are singing in front
of 700 people for the first time. She arranges and writes the music, gathers
her professional band, and conducts the show with aplomb. Diane cares as much
about our legacy as anyone involved on the Arts for Life Board. No one is more
deserving,” she said.
The annual Youth Scholarships, which are awarded to two students
pursuing a degree in the arts, were announced, with Alaina Bozarth, a graduate
of Metro East Lutheran High School, and Josiah Haan, a graduate of Fort Zumwalt
High School, each given $500. Bozarth plans to major in musical theatre at
Belmont University in Louisville, Ky., and Haan plans to major in technical
theatre and design at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
Other ensemble nominees include “Hello, Dolly!” from
Wentzville Christian Church, “Oklahoma!” from Monroe Actors Stage Company and
“The Bridges of Madison County” from Alpha Players of Florissant for Best Large
Ensemble and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from O’Fallon
TheatreWorks for Best Small Ensemble.
For Best Youth Production, in addition to “Les Miserables,”
nominees include “The Drowsy Chaperone” from Riverbend Theatre, “Matilda” from
Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, “Newsies” from Young People’s Theatre
and “Spring Awakening” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.
For the record books, Kimberly Klick won her sixth BPA for
choreography for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”. She had previously won for CMP’s “Mary
Poppins” and “The King and I,” plus “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Big the
Musical” and “Fiddler on the Roof” for other companies. It was her 10th
overall, including wins for Best Featured Dancer in “Brigadoon” in 2000, Lead
Actress for Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2006 and Jo in “Little Women”
in 2008, and Cameo Actress in “Titanic” 2003.
It was three in a row for Jonathan Hartley, who won for
lighting design of “Oklahoma!” and had won last year for “Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at DaySpring Center for the Arts; he won for set
design for DSA’s “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017. Stephanie Fox won her third
in four years for choreography in Gateway Center for the Performing Arts shows –
“Spring Awakening” 2019, “Carrie the Musical” 2017 and “Thoroughly Modern
Millie” 2016. Terry Pattison also won her third for costume design since 2017:
“Peter Pan,” “The Lion King Jr.” and “Les Miz,” all for Goshen Theatre Project,
and won set design for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in 2018.
Joe Paule Sr. won his third for musical direction, for
CMP’s “Oklahoma!”, following CMP’s “The King and I” in 2014 and Hawthorne
Players’ “The Producers” in 2010. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award
last year. It was the second award for Michael Frazier and Alison Neace for
musical direction, this year for Riverbend Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” and
for Alton Little Theatre’s “The Spitfire Grill” in 2011.
Other multiple winners included two for Alpha Players of
Florissant’s “The Bridges of Madison County” for Lead Actor (Cole Guttmann) and
Cameo Actress (Chelsie Johnston) and Take a Bow Showcase for “Annie” – juvenile
performer (Leontine Rickert) and duo/group (Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller).
In the acting categories, Mike Huelsmann’s award for Best
Featured Actor as Jud Fry was his third, after Lead Actor as Javert in Take Two
Productions’ “Les Miz” (2013) and as part of Best Duo/Group in Looking Glass
Playhouse’s “Young Frankenstein” 2015. Kimmie Kidd-Booker’s award for Best
Featured Actress as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was her second
win, after Best Featured Actress in “The Wiz” in 2014. George Doerr IV won his
second, as Igor in Alfresco’s “Young Frankenstein,” after winning Best Actor in
2017 for Alfresco’s “The Rocky Horror Show.”
The virtual program included the following production team:
directors Mary McCreight and David Wicks Jr., video supervisor Kim Klick,
visual designers Colin Dowd and Bethany Hamilton, voice-over announcer Ken
Clark and host Karen Fulks.
A list of winners is included here, below.
AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards was originally set for April 4,
then moved to July 18, but now will also be a virtual celebration. The 2020
TMAs will honor excellence in community theater productions of dramas and
comedies during 2019 in a live interactive viewing event at 11 a.m. Saturday,
July 18, on the AFL Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The awards show will be recorded
beforehand and the content will remain on social media.
On March 16, McCreight suspended all public activities of the AFL organization
because of the public health crisis. The extension has been extended until
further notice. Both TRG and TMA branch judges and participating groups will receive
announcements on future developments. As the region re-opens, social distancing
and wearing face coverings continues. At this time, all AFL performance venues
“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies –
the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for
their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our
local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.
Any company that won can have a representative pick up
their trophies on July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Clayton
Community Theatre, which is located at the Washington University South Campus
Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117.
Edward Albee, Kenneth Lonergan, Disney Princesses and the musicals “Annie” and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ among the 17th Season slate.Stray Dog Theatre is excited to announce its 2019-2020 season. All subscriptions and individual tickets will go on sale Aug, 1, 2019. For more information please visit our website at www.straydogtheatre.org. THE WHO’S TOMMY Book by Des McAnuff and Pete Townshend / Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend / Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon Back by popular demand!
Based on the iconic 1969 rock concept album, The Who’s TOMMY is an exhilarating tale of hope, healing, and the human spirit. The story of the pinball-playing, deaf, dumb, and blind boy who triumphs over his adversities has inspired and amazed audiences for 50 years. Intended for mature audiences.
Performances: October 10-26, 2019 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performances 10/20 at 2PM and 10/23 at 8PM
DISENCHANTED! Book, Music, Lyrics by Dennis T. Giacino Snow White and her posse of disgruntled princesses take the stage in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm.
Forget the princesses you think you know – the original storybook heroines have come to life to set the record straight and give fairytales the bird. Intended for mature audiences. Performances: December 5-21, 2019 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performances 12/15 at 2PM and 12/18 at 8PM THREE TALL WOMEN By Edward Albee A young lawyer has been sent to sort-out the finances of an elderly client, although more than money is at issue.
With a nurse companion steadily alongside, the old woman’s conflicted life is laid bare in all of its charming, vicious, and wretched glory. Winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize, Three Tall Women, a semi-autobiographical view of the playwright’s mother, is often seen as Albee’s most personal and compelling play.
Performances: February 6-22, 2020 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performance 2/16 at 2PM
ANNIE Book by Thomas Meehan / Music by Charles Strouse / Lyrics by Martin Charnin
America’s most beloved orphan brings her special brand of moxie and determination to the musical stage! Based on the popular 1920s Harold Gray comic strip, this multiple Tony Award-winning favorite features unforgettable hits like “Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” and the iconic Broadway standard “Tomorrow.”
Performances: April 9-25, 2020 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performances 4/19 at 2PM and 4/22 at 8PM
Artwork by Justin Been
LOBBY HERO By Kenneth Lonergan Loyalties are strained to the breaking point when a hapless security guard is drawn into a local murder investigation; a conscience-stricken supervisor is called to bear witness against his troubled brother; and a naive rookie cop must stand up to her formidable male partner. Truth becomes elusive and justice proves costly. Performances: June 4-20, 2020 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performance 6/14 at 2PM THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Music by Alan Menken / Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz / Book by Peter Parnell
Set in 15th-century Paris, Victor Hugo’s epic story of love, acceptance, and what it means to be a hero comes to life with an emotionally rich score. Including unforgettable music from the Disney film and new songs by Menken and Schwartz, this powerful production asks the question, “What makes a monster and what makes a man?”
Performances: August 6-22, 2020 | 8PM Thursday-Saturday, Additional Performances 8/16 at 2PM and 4/19 at 8PM
Artwork by Justin Been
SDT is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), professional theatre company and is funded, in part, by Ameren Missouri; Area Resources for Community and Human
Services; Arts and Education Council; City of Saint Louis Recreation Division; City of Saint Louis Youth and Family Division; First Bank; Flooring
Systems, Inc.; Garden View Care Centers; Hesse Martone, P.C.; Lawrence Group; Missouri Arts Council; MOHELA; Regional Arts Commission; Saint
Louis Public Schools; Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated; Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association; United 4 Children; and Volunteer
Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.
By Lynn Venhaus
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and there are offerings to get you into the Christmas spirit — whether traditional like ‘A Christmas Carol” or “A Christmas Story,” or more humorous parodies, like Magic Smokey Monkey’s take on the stop-motion animation TV classics.
God’s a character in both Stray Dog’s “The Most Outrageous Story Ever Told” and New Jewish Theatre’s “An Act of God.:
Warm family-fare like “Annie” and “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming” are on community theater stages.
Whether you’re feeling like Scrooge (two productions) or ready to deck the halls (Church Basement Ladies, A Christmas Story), go see a play!
(Editor’s Note; Been having lots o’ computer problems, so this is late this week, but the good news is that a new laptop is ready to hook up! YAY. Apologize for delays.)
Alan Knoll in “An Act of God.” Photo by Eric Woolsey“An Act of God”
New Jewish Theater
Nov. 29 – Dec. 16
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Wool Studio Theatre
Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeurwww.newjewishtheatre.org
What It’s About: Delivering a new and improved set of Commandments, God’s introduction of the revised laws is positive, insisting on separation of church and state, and encouraging us to believe in ourselves, not some elderly white guy in the sky. He sets the record straight, and he’s not holding back.
Director: Edward Coffield
Starring: Alan Knoll, Cassidy Flynn and Amanda Wales
“All Is Calm”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 acapella 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
Clinton County Showcase
Dec. 7 – 16
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Avon Theatre
525 N. Second St., Breese, IL
What It’s About: The sun will come out tomorrow…With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6
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.”
“A Christmas Carol”Dec. 6 – 9
The Fox Theatre
Friday at 7: 30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m.www.fabulousfox.com
What It’s About: An annual tradition, presenting Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey through time and space, forced to confront his past, present and future through the aid of his spiritual guides.
Of Note: The Nebraska Caravan production has 23 actors playing the characters.
“A Christmas Carol”
Dec. 6 – 9
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Looking Glass Playhouse
301 St. Louis St.
“A Christmas Story”
Jerry Naunheim Jr. PhotoThe Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Nov. 28 – Dec. 23
Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.repstl.org
What It’s About: “You’ll shoot your eye out”! An adaptation of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story” is about Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Filled with small-town family vignettes and colorful characters,
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Charlie Matthis, as nine-year-old Ralphie, and Ted Deasy, as the grown-up Ralph who narrates the play.
Brad Fraizer is The Old Man, Laurel Casillo is Mother, Spencer Slavik is younger brother Randy, Jo Twiss is Miss Shields. Tanner Gilbertson, Gigi Koster, Ana McAlister, Rhadi Smith and Dan J. Wolfe are featured child performers.
Of Note: The show had an acclaimed run at The Rep in 2009.
Equally Represented Arts and
Dec. 5 – 8
Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive Street
What It’s About: A post-modern collage that re-imagines Marlowe’s tragic hero is an ambitious businessman who strikes a deal with the devil to become the most magical and powerful leader on the world stage. This is a re-imagined post-modern collage that says Faustus’ doomsday, as well as our own, is just on the horizon.
“The Holiday Stop-Motion Extravaganza Parody”Nov. 30 – Dec. 8
St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre
Regional Arts Commission in University City
Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 5 and 6, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
What It’s About: Join Rudolph, Santa, Hermey, Bumble, the Miser Bros and other wonderful misfits as they parody your favorite 1970s childhood holiday shows by Rankin/Bass. If you’ve ever had aspirations of becoming a dentist, this parody is for you! This parody includes: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “The Year Without Santa Claus.”
Director: Suki Peters
Starring: Ben Ritchie, Tyson Blanquart, Amy Kelly, Ron Strawbridge, Payton Gillam, Robert Thibaut, Stan Davis, Joseph Garner, Joseph Cella, Jeremy Branson, Shannon Nara, Cliff Turner and Mike Stephens.
Of Note: Magic Smoking Monkey is partnering with Shriner’s Hospital to help make the holidays merry and bright for children in the St. Louis area. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the box office with you on any night of the performance to be entered in a special drawing to win 4 tickets to a future Magic Smoking Monkey production.
“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”
Stray Dog Theatres’ The Most Outrageous Story Ever ToldStray Dog Theatre
Dec 6 – 22
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Special performance Wednesday, Dec. 19
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Ave.www.straydogtheatre.org
What It’s About: This outlandish comedy by Paul Rudnick is about the first men on earth, Adam and Steve, and their lesbian friends Jane and Mabel, who decide to start civilization, despite the challenges. The stage manager, who might be God, leads them through the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, a visit with a Pharaoh and the Messiah’s birth.
Starring: Patrice Foster, Luke Steingruby, Jennelle Gilreath, Stephen Henley, Maria Bartolotta, Angela Bubash, Jeremy Goldmeier, Dawn Schmid.
Of Note: For mature audiences.
Stray Dog Theatre presents The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told Thursdays through Saturdays, December 6 – 22. There will also be a show at 8 pm on Wednesday, December 19. “First men on earth Adam and Steve and their lesbian friends Jane and Mabel decide to start civilization, despite the provocative challenges of procreation. They are led by the stage manager (who may be God) through the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, a visit with a highly rambunctious Pharaoh, and finally, the birth of the Messiah. This outlandish comedy is a perfect alternative holiday treat!” Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.
“Of Human Kindness – An Evening of Short Plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.,
Dec. 6 – 16
Black Mirror Theatre Company
Kranzberg Arts Center
What It’s About: Discarded lives. Some bound by hate, some by indifference – all human. All true stories, true enough – informed by eye witnesses: the psychiatrist who spoke of his homeless clients’ longing to lead meaningful lives, or the homeless man who told of his need for validation; by the letters from Mom and Dad – advice on growing up Black in America, or of Saint Maria Skobtsova who had the Jewish children hidden in her trash emptied to freedom outside of the city – executed, among so many others, in Ravensbruck; or of Isabella, Sojourner Truth, a Dutch speaker, beaten by her English owners for not obeying orders she couldn’t understand yet she became an ardent, iconic American voice for equal treatment of all.
“Perfect Arrangement”R-S Theatrics
The Marcelle Theatre
Dec. 7 – 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m.
“Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming”
Alton Little Theatre
Dec. 7 – 16
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Alton Little Theatre, 2450 N. Henry in Alton
What It’s About: The Sanders Family, subject of the “Smoke on the Mountain” musicals, continue to be roles models of inspiration, humor and hope. Songs are a mix of Southern Gospel, hymns, country and bluegrass favorites from the World War II era.
“The Three Sisters”
Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts
Nov. 28 – Dec. 9
Wednesday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Emerson Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center
Webster University campus.www.webster.edu
What It’s About: Adapted by Sarah Ruhl, the Chekhov play is about three sisters trapped in a provincial Russian town after the death of their father, and lament the passing of better times and long for the excitement of Moscow. One of them has married a local teacher; another has become a teacher herself; the third has settled for a dull job in the local telegraph office. Their principal interest is focused on the officers of the local regiment, of which their father had been commandant, men who bring a sense of sophistication and the world outside to their suppressed existence. In the end the fateful pattern of their lives is made clear –their dreams will be denied but, despite all, there must always be hope, however futile, and the ways of the world are to be accepted, if not understood
“Tribes”St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Nov. 30 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle.
What It’s About: Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. He was raised inside its fiercely idiosyncratic and politically incorrect cocoon. He has adapted brilliantly to his family’s unconventional ways, but they’ve never bothered to return the favor. It’s not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood.
Director: Annamaria Pileggi
Starring: Miles Barbee, who is deaf; Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Bridget Bassa, Elizabeth Townsend, Greg Johnston and Hailey Medrano.
Of Note: This comedy-drama by Nina Raine was staged in London in 2010 and off-Broadway in 2012, winning the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play.
William Roth, founder and artistic director of St. Louis Actors’ Studio, has announced that they will donate $2 of each ticket price to Deaf Inc, St. Louis. Deaf Inc is dedicated to providing effective communication access to the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals in the St. Louis area. For more on this organization, visit www.deafinc.org.
Opening Night and all Sunday and Thursday performances will be sign-interpreted for our deaf patrons. Email [email protected] for details.
For more on Miles Barbee, visit www.milesbarbee.com.
“Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure”Metro Theatre Company
Dec. 2 – Dec. 30
The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center
What It’s About: Part rock concert, part theater, all of your favorite characters as Metro Theater Company presents this new, wild and wondrous take on Lewis Carroll’s beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization. A cast of actors/musicians plays an eclectic mix of everything from soul and rock to punk to ska as Alice chases through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. A fun, hip, and refreshing fusion of music, theatre and poetry, it is the search for one’s authentic self, asking how can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you’re still writing the song? It places Alice in a strange, new world, where she conquers her fears and uses her musical skills to defeat the Jabberwock.
100th Season Included Two Regional World Premieres
The numbers are in: 393,398 people attended the Muny’s Centennial season under the stars at America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater.
It is a six percent increase over 2017, and that includes an 11 percent growth in season tickets. Nearly 100,000 guests experienced a Muny production at no cost through The Muny’s free seat and community access programs.
Of the seven shows, “Meet Me in St. Louis” drew the biggest crowds, with 76,500 in attendance. The season included “Annie,” 69,638; “Singin’ in the Rain,” 56,385; “Jersey Boys,” 54,766; “The Wiz,” 49,486; “Gypsy,” 43,712; and “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” 42,911.
“This season – from that magnificent Gala all the way through the fireworks finale of Meet Me In St. Louis – was truly a community-wide celebration,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “We are so proud to have had this opportunity to share this summer with the hundreds of thousands of audience members who have made The Muny’s storied past and inspiring future possible.”
“Muny 100 was a season we will all remember the rest of our lives,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “The passion and joy we received from the audience was palpable, and everyone on and backstage gave their extraordinary best. The only response I can have is profound awe and gratitude.”
In addition, 6,804 guests attended The Muny’s Centennial Gala, An Evening with the Stars. When combined, total attendance for the seven-show summer season and An Evening with the Stars: 400,202.
VIDEO recap of 2018 Season: https://youtu.be/WsMENOI8yv4
100th Season attendance by show:
Jerome Robbins’ Broadway: 42,911
This monumental world regional premiere was a celebratory start to our centennial season! Scenes from some of Robbins’ biggest hits, including West Side Story, On the Town, Peter Pan, The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof showcased the talent of Tony Award-winning director and choreographer, Jerome Robbins. In its first ever staging since its original Broadway production and national tour, it enchanted audiences.
The Wiz: 49,486
In its first Muny production in 36 years, this feel-good favorite had audiences clicking their heels in the aisles all night long. Sparkling with heart-pounding soul, unforgettable gospel and infectious rock rhythms, this reimagined familiar favorite had audiences ready to “Ease on Down the Road” to meet The Wiz!
Singin’ in the Rain: 56,385
Known for its splashy production numbers and snappy dialogue, this timeless Muny favorite was a downpour of pure delight. The forecast predicted sunny smiles and dazzling dancing, and stars Corbin Bleu, Berklea Going and Jeffrey Schecter splashed right into audiences’ hearts.
Jersey Boys: 54,766
The story of the magic behind the music of international sensation Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons arrived at The Muny in style in its world regional premiere. The star-studded cast even captured the heart of real-life Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio, who stopped by to give our production his heartfelt blessing.
Everyone’s favorite plucky, freckle-faced orphan did not disappoint! Audiences took a stroll down “Easy Street” to follow the story of Annie’s journey from a “Hard Knock Life” to her forever home. With songs and kick-lines that entertained the entire family, this production was a multigenerational hit!
Fans were awestruck by the countless showstoppers and striking backstory of famous burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. The hidden hardships and highlights of show business came center stage with a heart-stirring performance by Beth Leavel as Momma Rose in this cherished classic. We loved letting them entertain us all night long!
Meet Me In St. Louis: 76,500
Zing, zing, zing went our heartstrings! Meet Me In St. Louis was the perfect finale to our majestic centennial season. Showcasing a boy-next-door romance and a close-knit, Midwestern family, this production was the perfect ribbon on a monumental season…right here in St. Louis.
The Muny’s 101st Season announcement will take place at Muny Magic at The Sheldon on October 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now, online at muny.org, by phone 314-534-1111 or at The Muny Box Office.
The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 390,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season.
Celebrating 100 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the
premier institutions in musical theatre. For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org