Early Bird Ticket Price Good Through May 12

Two versatile professional performers well-known in community theater circles and support for the arts community, Gerry and Kay Love, have been named co-hosts of this year’s Best Performance Awards.

After a two-year absence, Arts For Life will return to a live and in-person awards ceremony June 12, and tickets are now available for the formal afternoon event at the Frontenac Hilton.

Through AFL, the BPAs have honored musical theater in community and youth productions in the St. Louis and metro-east Illinois area since 2000, after the nonprofit organization was founded a year earlier.

Kay Love has won nine BPAs, all in the acting categories, the third most overall in the organization’s history, and has been nominated 29 times, a record for actresses.

Gerry Love has been nominated 12 times and won as the Narrator in Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of “Into the Woods” in 2000, for best performance in a non-singing role.

Kay Love in Stray Dog Theatre’s ” Ragtime”

They both have been nominated for St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, which recognizes excellence in regional professional theater.

“We are thrilled to be the hosts of the 2022 BPA’s.  We were involved with Arts For Life at its inception and are so happy to see how it has grown over the years. After two years of sitting on our couch, we will be ecstatic to spend the afternoon with so many dear friends!” Kay Love said.

AFL President Mary McCreight praised the Loves’ fervent support of the local arts community as well as their talent.

“They are definitely in the cream of the crop in St. Louis,” McCreight said. “They have a rich history in musicals, plays, concerts, and benefits.”

Plans For This Year’s Event

The 22nd Best Performance Awards will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, at the Frontenac Hilton, Clayton Ballroom, 1335 S Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis 63131.

This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons. Songs from musicals nominated for large ensemble, small ensemble and youth productions will be performed, with Diane Hanisch returning as music director.

Kimmie Kidd-Booker

Kimmie Kidd-Booker, a past BPA winner, current AFL board member, and professional entertainer, will perform “Show People” from the musical “Curtains” as the opening number.

“So happy to see the enthusiasm among theater groups for recognizing excellence among their peers and cheering each other on. It was a tough year to get out there, rehearse, and be among crowds. But through their diligence and willpower, the magic happened. Let’s celebrate!” McCreight said.

The Theatre Mask Awards, which have honored drama and comedy plays since 2015, were held April 9 at a brunch ceremony.

Because of the coronavirus public health crisis, AFL held its BPAs and TMAs ceremonies virtually in 2020, while BPAs were not held in 2021, but TMAs were virtually, and in a smaller capacity.

Prior to the pandemic, 15 theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participated in the BPAs while 11 were involved in the TMAs. As the region’s mitigations efforts were ongoing the past two years, only four youth-only groups and nine community theater organizations produced BPA-eligible musicals while seven participated in TMAs in 2021.

BPA Nominations

Thirteen groups received nominations for 16 musical productions in 2020 and 2021.

The Gateway Center for the Performing Arts led all groups with 25 nominations in total for their youth musicals “Annie” and “Cabaret”– 14 for “Annie” and 11 for Kander-Ebb’s “Cabaret.”

Goshen Theatre Project in Collinsville, Ill., earned 16 nominations –with 11 for “Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast” and five for “Nunsense.”

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild in Kirkwood, Mo., has 12 for the musical adaptation of the animated fairy tale “Shrek,” while Take Two Productions earned 10 for their regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home.”

Hawthorne Players received eight for the jukebox musical comedy “The Marvelous Wonderettes” and Monroe Actors Stage Company has seven for the Mel Brooks’ musical adaptation “Young Frankenstein.”

Looking Glass Players garnered a total of seven – The Tony Award 2014 winner for best musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” received four and the jukebox musical comedy “Rock of Ages” has three.

A complete list of nominees is available at: https://nebula.wsimg.com/5ec987b8d5580ca0c11ed016e97ce1a6?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Tickets $20 Through May 12 or $25 After

Formal attire is requested, and the event will be general admission theater-style seating. A cash bar will be available.

BPA tickets are either $20 as an early bird pricing before May 12, or $25 after that until June 12. They are available online with a service fee of $2 added: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/.

Reservations can be arranged through the mail and tickets can be picked up at the venues on event day. Please make check payable to ARTS FOR LIFE and mail to PO Box 16426, St. Louis, MO 63125.

All BPA ticket orders will be held at the box office unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included with ticket order. If ordering for a group, please attach a list of individual names for box office pick-up.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any special seating needs or COVID-19 related concerns. Handicapped seating is available

Community theater organizations who produced shows and were eligible for BPA Awards consideration during the specified time period include Christ Memorial Productions, Dayspring Arts and Education, Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, Goshen Theatre Project, Hawthorne Players, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, KTK Productions, Looking Glass Playhouse, Monroe Actors Stage Company, O’Fallon Theatre Works, Over Due Theatre, Spotlight Productions and Take Two Productions.

For more information or to see a list of nominees, visit the website at www.artsforlife.org

Kay Love

The Loves

The Loves, who live in Sunset Hills, met onstage at the Florissant Civic Center in 1994 and have been married for 25 years.

“We both have been singing all of our lives,” Kay said.

Gerry began acting in high school in Norman, Okla., in the dancing chorus of “Oklahoma” in 1969 and appeared in four more shows during those school days. After a 12-year hiatus, he returned to stages in Dallas, Texas, between 1982 and 1986. His first St. Louis production was in “42nd Street” at Hawthorne Players in 1988, and he was involved in their shows for 20 years. He also performed at other local venues, amateur and professional. Besides performing, he directed four shows, one for Alpha Players and three for Hawthorne.

Kay, a St. Louis native, has been in shows since seventh grade (“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”), graduated from Lindbergh High School, and attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Texas Christian University.

She performed on the Muny stage in 1985 and 1987, including four shows as an Equity actress – “My Fair Lady,” “Peter Pan,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was also in two later concert versions of “The Desert Song” and “The Merry Widow.”

Kay has created and performed three solo cabaret shows. For many years, she has sung with The Jeweltones and Caroling St. Louis.

An avid photographer since 2007, Gerry has shot photos of 50 community theater and university productions, plus dance concerts and actor headshots, and produced videos. He is currently the primary photographer for Webster University’s Department of Dance. He also served on the boards for Kirkwood Theatre Guild and Hawthorne during his time in St Louis.

The Loves have sung at Carnegie Hall and have appeared with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus during multiple seasons.  

Gerry Love in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Stray Dog Theatre

Making a Dramatic Difference

Arts For Life is dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved, and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it.

Nominations were announced Jan. 22 at AFL’s annual Trivia Night, which was a virtual event during heightened COVID-19 cases earlier this winter. They are listed on the website, www.artsforlife.org.

Starting in mid-March 2020, productions were postponed and canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, and safety precautions have been a priority for performers and performances because of the coronavirus public health crisis. Now that vaccines and COVID-19 tests are available, stage work has returned, and theaters are no longer dark.

“While we did about half the usual number of shows in 2021, it did not diminish Arts for Life’s vision for a community recognition program,” McCreight said

“These events recognize the incredible talent we have in St. Louis community theater and honor the passion and dedication of those who build this amazing and unique theatrical community,” she said.

Two classic 1930s comedies and a World War II anti-fascist drama were multiple winners at the seventh annual Theatre Mask Awards presented by Arts For Life on April 9.

Award-winning theater companies included Act Two Theatre in St. Peters, Mo., Clayton Community Theatre, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, Monroe Actors Stage Company in Waterloo, Ill., O’Fallon Theatre Works in O’Fallon, Mo., and the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves.

Through the nonprofit organization AFL, the TMAs have honored drama and comedy plays in the St. Louis and metro-east Illinois metropolitan area since 2015.

Saturday was AFL’s first live and in-person awards event since 2019, although the TMAs were awarded virtually in 2020 and 2021.

Live theater returned at regional community theater companies in the St. Louis-metro-east metropolitan area last year, with nine productions eligible for TMAs.

Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of the 1939 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” won five awards, including acting honors for Ken Lopinot as Outstanding Leading Actor in a Comedy, for playing the insufferable house guest and NYC radio wit Sheridan Whiteside; Kent Coffel as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, for playing British actor/playwright Beverly Carlton; and Brittany Kohl Hester as Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy as Whiteside’s secretary Maggie Cutler. The play also won for Best Director Danny Brown and Costume Designer Abby Pastorello.

Company of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” at Kirkwood Theatre Company

The play features 38 parts. KTG led all groups with 13 nominations, and had tied the record for most acting nominations in a single show, with eight for “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” In 2019, Clayton Community Theatre garnered eight for Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues.”

Act Two Theatre in St. Peters, Mo., took home four awards for Noel Coward’s sophisticated ghost story “Blithe Spirit” — Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Ensemble of a Play, Jacki Goodall winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy for portraying flamboyant medium Madame Arcati and Chase Coates for Best Lighting Design. They had received 11 nominations, second only to KTG.

Monroe Actors Stage Company in Waterloo, Ill., had nine nominations for Lillian Helman’s 1941 drama “Watch on the Rhine,” with two women winning for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Drama, Julia L. Petraborg as Sara Mueller, the American wife of the German engineer protagonist, and Caitlin Bomberger for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama as Marthe de Brancovis, who is married to a Nazi sympathizer.

Shane Rudolph

Other winners included Shane Rudolph for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Drama as escaped convict and ruthless killer Glenn Griffin in “The Desperate Hours,” which was presented by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, and Jonathan Garland for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama as the philosophical pianist Toledo in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” produced by Clayton Community Theatre.

Christopher Lanham and Ellie Lanham won Outstanding Set Design for their work on O’Fallon Theatre Work’s “Little Women.”

Seven award winners were first-time nominees. The 14 awards were presented during a brunch ceremony at The Christy in St. Louis.

This year’s TMAs were reduced from 19 to 14 awards, because of a smaller number of productions.

TMA Chairman Melissa Boyer was grateful to be celebrating theater again.

“2021 was a year of uncertainty, but I want to commend the passion and the bravery of our judges in venturing out to support our theaters. Congratulations to the many companies that were able to reopen this year with outstanding productions. And considering we only had a half a year – nine shows is outstanding,” Boyer said.

“So happy to see the enthusiasm among theater groups for recognizing excellence among their peers and cheering each other on. I heard many positive comments,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

Mark Lull, a local actor, nine-time awards nominee, and member of the AFL board of directors, served as the emcee.

Presenters included Kelsey McCroskey, Jesse Resimius, Heather Sartin, Ellen Schroeder, Nathan Schroeder, Caitlin Souers and Keaton Treece. Stephen Anderson handed out the trophies.

The complete list of nominations can be found at: https://nebula.wsimg.com/9b9b1e3565835dd90498e28468ef7f1d?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Prior to the pandemic, 15 theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participated in the BPAs while 11 were involved in the TMAs. As the region’s mitigations efforts were ongoing the past two years, only four youth-only groups and nine community theater organizations produced BPA-eligible musicals while seven participated in TMAs in 2021.

Arts For Life is a local not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved, and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it.

Caitlin Bomberger “Watch on the Rhine,” MASC

Best Performance Awards June 12

Next up is the Best Performance Awards, which has honored musical theater in community and youth productions since AFL’s founding in 1999.

Because of the public health crisis, AFL held its BPAs virtually in 2020, while BPAs were not held in 2021.

The 22nd Best Performance Awards will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, at the Frontenac Hilton, Clayton Ballroom, 1335 S Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis 63131.

Formal attire is requested, and the event will be general admission theater-style seating. A cash bar will be available.

This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons.

BPA tickets are either $20 as an early bird pricing before May 12, or $25 after that until June 12. They are available online with a service fee of $2 added: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/.

Reservations can be arranged through the mail and tickets can be picked up at the venues on event day. Please make check payable to ARTS FOR LIFE and mail to PO Box 16426, St. Louis, MO 63125.

All BPA ticket orders will be held at the box office unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included with ticket order. If ordering for a group, please attach a list of individual names for box office pick-up.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any special seating needs or COVID-19 related concerns. Handicapped seating is available

Groups participating in this year’s BPAs include Christ Memorial Productions, Dayspring Arts and Education, Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, Goshen Theatre Project, Hawthorne Players, Kirkwood Theatre Guild, KTK Productions, Looking Glass Playhouse, Monroe Actors Stage Company, O’Fallon Theatre Works, Over Due Theatre, Spotlight Productions and Take Two Productions.

For more information, visit the website at www.artsforlife.org

Live theater returned at local community theater companies last year, and Arts For Life will honor those efforts at this year’s Theatre Mask Awards on Saturday, April 9.

Three dramas and two comedies are vying for Outstanding Production at this year’s TMAs: the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy classic “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” by Kirkwood Theatre Guild in Kirkwood, Mo., which led all St. Louis area – metro-east Illinois community theater groups with 13 nominations; Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” by Act Two Theatre in St. Peters, Mo.; which has 11 nominations; the Tony-winning play “The Desperate Hours” by The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, which has five; Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” by O’Fallon Theatre Works in O’Fallon, Mo., which has seven; and August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” by Clayton Community Theatre, which has eight..

Monroe Actors Stage Company in Waterloo, Ill., has nine nominations for Lillian Helman’s drama “Watch on the Rhine.” Other productions that received nominations include “Lend Me a Tenor” by Looking Glass Playhouse in Lebanon, Ill., and “6 Rms Riv Vu” by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves.

The Man Who Came to Dinner at Kirkwood.has 13 nominations.

Let’s celebrate the return and resilience of community theater dramas and comedies in the bi-state region. And you get a tasty brunch too! To purchase tickets, here is the link: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/

“Blithe Spirit” at Act Two Theatre has 11 nominations. Photo by Lori Biehl.

Arts For Life is returning to live and in-person awards ceremonies this spring, and tickets are now available for both the Theater Mask Awards on April 9 and Best Performance Awards on June 12.

This year’s eighth annual TMAs will take place starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, at The Christy of St. Louis, 5856 Christy Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63116.

Talia Wright as Amy March in OTW’s “Little Women”


Cocktail attire is suggested. Seating will be eight per table, and seating assignments will be available at the entrance.

A brunch buffet featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, hash browns, fruit salad and pasta con broccoli will be served. A cash bar will be available. TMA tickets are $28. Tickets will NOT be available for purchase at the event.

This year’s master of ceremonies for the TMAs will be Mark Lull, a nine-time AFL nominee, who won Best Performance by a Comedic Actor as Uncle Fester in Alfresco Productions’ “The Addams Family” in 2015.

The complete list of nominations can be found at: https://nebula.wsimg.com/9b9b1e3565835dd90498e28468ef7f1d?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at Clayton Community Theatre.


Through the nonprofit organization AFL, the TMAs have honored drama and comedy plays since 2015 while the BPAs have honored musical theater in community and youth productions since AFL’s founding in 1999.

Because of the public health crisis, AFL held its BPAs and TMAs ceremonies virtually in 2020, while BPAs were not held in 2021, but TMAs were virtually, and in a smaller capacity. This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons.

“Live and in person!” AFL President Mary McCreight exclaimed. “So happy to see the enthusiasm among theater groups for recognizing excellence among their peers and cheering each other on. It was a tough year to get out there, rehearse, and be among crowds. But through their diligence and willpower, the magic happened. Let’s celebrate!”

For more information, visit the website at www.artsforlife.org

“Watch on the Rhine” at MASC has nine nominations, including best ensemble.
The Desperate Hours at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves.

Students who plan to pursue a career in the arts are eligible for an annual Arts For Life scholarship. The deadline is May 25 for submission, and two winners of $500 each will be announced at the Best Performance Awards on June 12.

Every year since 2012, the AFL board of directors has selected two college-age recipients through an application process. Requirements include pursuing a career in the arts, participation in local community theater, essays, and letter(s) of recommendation.

AFL is a non-for-profit arts and service organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating community and youth theatre in the St. Louis metropolitan and metro-east Illinois region.

Those entering college after high school graduation or continuing their college education in an arts undergraduate program must submit a completed application and cannot have been the primary recipient of a previous AFL scholarship.

An arts program includes, but is not exclusive to performing arts (music, dance, theatre) and visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, film, photography). Arts programs not defined as fine arts, but related to the arts, may be considered if superior work has been demonstrated in this area.

“As we watch music education and theatre programs rapidly die in our schools, the need to keep community theatre alive is more important now than ever. AFL, with the goal of ‘Making A Dramatic Difference,’ is passionate about the healing power of the performing arts, and is proud to salute, support, and serve the theatre groups in the Metro-St. Louis-Illinois area,” said Mary McCreight, president of the AFL board of directors.

To download an application: https://nebula.wsimg.com/e109f1e7c375e49d7ce981a697135ecd?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Besides a completed AFL Scholarship Application Form, which includes answers to essay questions and an information sheet that must be signed, the packet must include:

Resume of performing arts and/or visual arts experience.

List of metro St. Louis community theater involvement, either in the metro-east Illinois region or St. Louis city or county or St. Charles County.

List of any honors or awards received pertaining to involvement in the arts and/or scholastic achievement

One recommendation letter from a mentor in the arts: teacher, director, or board member.

Completed applications must be postmarked by May 25. Please mail completed applications to:  

ARTS FOR LIFE
Scholarship Application
P.O. Box 16426
St. Louis, MO  63125

You can also fill out the application online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/aflscholarship2022
Email completed application to [email protected]

Recipients will be notified of the award prior to the 22nd AFL Best Performance Awards on June 12, 2022.

For more information, contact [email protected]

Last year’s winners were Audrey Neace of Alton, Ill., and Isaiah Henry of St. Peters, Mo.,
Neace, a 2020 graduate of Alton High School, will be a sophomore at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., majoring in choral and music education/voice and opera. Henry, a 2020 graduate of Francis Howell Central High School, will be a sophomore at Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts, majoring in acting.

Arts For Life will return to live and in-person awards ceremonies this spring, and tickets are now available for both the Theater Mask Awards on April 9 and Best Performance Awards on June 12.

Through the nonprofit organization AFL, the TMAs have honored drama and comedy plays since 2015 while the BPAs have honored musical theater in community and youth productions since AFL’s founding in 1999.

Because of the public health crisis, AFL held its BPAs and TMAs ceremonies virtually in 2020, while BPAs were not held in 2021, but TMAs were virtually, and in a smaller capacity. This year’s BPAs include nominees from the shortened 2020 and 2021 theater seasons.

This year’s eighth annual Theatre Mask Awards will take place starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, at The Christy of St. Louis, 5856 Christy Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63116.

Cocktail attire is suggested. Seating will be eight per table, and seating assignments will be available at the entrance.

A brunch buffet featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, hash browns, fruit salad and pasta con broccoli will be served. A cash bar will be available.

“Live and in person!” AFL President Mary McCreight exclaimed. “So happy to see the enthusiasm among theater groups for recognizing excellence among their peers and cheering each other on. It was a tough year to get out there, rehearse, and be among crowds. But through their diligence and willpower, the magic happened. Let’s celebrate!”

This year’s master of ceremonies for the TMAs will be Mark Lull, a nine-time AFL nominee, who won Best Performance by a Comedic Actor as Uncle Fester in Alfresco Productions’ “The Addams Family” in 2015.

“I am thrilled and honored to be hosting the TMAs this year – in person!” he said.

Lull, currently the principal at Maryville Elementary School in Granite City, has performed at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, The Muny, and with other theater companies in the St. Louis metropolitan area. He serves as secretary on the Arts For Life board of directors.

The 22nd Best Performance Awards will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, at the Frontenac Hilton, Clayton Ballroom, 1335 S Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis 63131.

Formal attire is requested, and the event will be general admission theater-style seating. A cash bar will be available.

Ticket Information

TMA tickets are $28 and must be purchased by March 28.

BPA tickets are either $20 as an early bird pricing before May 12, or $25 after that until June 12.

Both TMA and BPA tickets are available online with a service fee of $2 added: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/.

Reservations can be arranged through the mail and tickets can be picked up at the venues on event day. Please make check payable to ARTS FOR LIFE and mail to PO Box 16426, St. Louis, MO 63125.

All BPA ticket orders will be held at the box office unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included with ticket order. If ordering for a group, please attach a list of individual names for box office pick-up.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any special seating needs or COVID-19 related concerns. Handicapped seating is available

Award Nominations

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Goshen Theatre Project

Nominations were announced Jan. 22 at AFL’s annual Trivia Night, which was a virtual event during heightened COVID-19 cases earlier this winter. They are listed on the website, www.artsforlife.org.

Starting in mid-March 2020, productions were postponed and canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, and safety precautions have been a priority for performers and performances because of the coronavirus public health crisis. Now that vaccines and COVID-19 tests are available, stage work has returned, and theaters are no longer dark.

“While we did about half the usual number of shows in 2021, it did not diminish Arts for Life’s vision for a community recognition program,” McCreight said

“These events recognize the incredible talent we have in St. Louis community theater and honor the passion and dedication of those who build this amazing and unique theatrical community,” she said.

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild in Kirkwood, Mo., led all St. Louis area – metro-east Illinois community theater groups, with 25 nominations – 13 for the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy classic “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and 12 for the musical “Shrek,” while the Gateway Center for the Performing Arts’ youth musicals “Annie” and “Cabaret” earned 25 nominations – 14 and 11 respectively.

Goshen Theatre Project in Collinsville, Ill., and Monroe Actors Stage Company in Waterloo, Ill., each earned 16 nominations – Goshen, with 11 for “Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast” and five for “Nunsense” and MASC, with nine for Lillian Helman’s drama “Watch on the Rhine” and seven for the Mel Brooks’ musical adaptation “Young Frankenstein.”

Act Two Theater in St. Peters, Mo., received 11 nominations for the Noel Coward comedy classic “Blithe Spirit” and Take Two Productions earned 10 for their regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home.”

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild also tied the record for most acting nominations in a single show, with eight for “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” For 2019, the Clayton Community Theatre broke the record for most acting nominations in a single show, with eight for Neil Simon’s ‘Biloxi Blues.”

Prior to the pandemic, 15 theater groups and 10 youth-only groups participated in the BPAs while 11 were involved in the TMAs. As the region’s mitigations efforts were ongoing the past two years, only four youth-only groups and nine community theater organizations produced BPA-eligible musicals while seven participated in TMAs in 2021.

Shrek at KTG. Photo by Dan Donovan

Other groups participating include Christ Memorial Productions, Clayton Community Theatre, Dayspring Arts and Education, KTK Productions, Hawthorne Players, Looking Glass Playhouse, O’Fallon Theatre Works, Over Due Theatre, Spotlight Productions, and Theatre Guild of Webster Groves.

Arts For Life is a local not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved, and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it.

TMA Event Sponsorships are available at either $100 or $50 if you also purchase an ad. Sponsorship includes group/company name and logo displayed at the event, website and on our social media platforms.

For advertising rates, BPA event sponsorship or more information, email [email protected] or visit the website, www.artsforlife.org

Are you ready to rock?

Want to see a Hall of Fame band in a Blaze of Glory?

Arts For Life & PopLifeSTL.com are giving away 2 pairs of mezzanine tickets for the Bon Jovi Spring Tour stopping at the Enterprise Center on April 21!

You can purchase $5.00 raffle tickets at the link below, with drawing on March 18.

Take a chance and you’re halfway there!

Proceeds benefit Arts For Life. For more information, visit www.artsforlife.org.

Visit here to purchase a $5 raffle ticket to enter the drawing for 2 sets of 2 tickets each for the Bon Jovi concert on April 21. Drawing March 18 on PopLifeSTL.com Presents podcast.https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/

Winner will be announced during the March 18 PopLifeSTL.com Presents…Podcast with Lynn Venhaus and Carl “The Intern” Middleman.

After careful consideration, the Arts For Life board of directors has decided to cancel the in-person Trivia Night event set for Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Kirkwood Community Center, and will instead host a Virtual Trivia Night via Zoom that evening.

The virtual event will still feature 10 rounds of general knowledge trivia questions and monetary prize awards for the first and second place teams.

Nominations for the annual Best Performance Awards, which honors excellence in community musical theater, and the Theatre Mask Awards, which recognizes outstanding dramatic and comedic plays, will be announced throughout the night.  

People who want to register for the virtual event or have already registered should contact Kim Klick at: [email protected] Table registration is $160/8 players per team and individual registration is $20 per person. Mulligans and 50/50 raffle tickets are also available.

You can register and pay at: https://arts-for-life-2.square.site/

Questions start at 7 p.m., but the Zoom link opens at 6:30 p.m. All teams will be in the same room at the beginning of each round. Emcee Kimmie Kidd-Booker, with assist from Colin Dowd, will present each category and questions before sending each team to their breakout room.

You will then have a set amount of time to collaborate on your answers and submit via a Google document. When time is up, all teams will return to the “main” room where the answers will be displayed.

“We will still celebrate theater!” said AFL President Mary McCreight. “Since teams are playing via Zoom this year, feel free to recruit team members from around the globe.”

McCreight said the board was concerned about the health and safety of the theater community as the St. Louis-Metro East Metropolitan Region is experiencing a surge of the Omicron variant outbreak.

“There were just too many risks at this time during the ongoing COVID-19 -pandemic. We will continue to monitor data from local officials and health and safety experts in planning for our awards ceremonies — those details will be announced later,” McCreight said. “We look forward to celebrating on future dates.”

For the past 23 years, AFL has honored musical theater with the Best Performance Awards and introduced the Theatre Mask Awards to honor comedy and drama productions in 2015.

AFL hosted a virtual trivia event in 2021, and the Best Performance Awards were cancelled because the coronavirus public health crisis forced cancellation of shows, but the Theatre Mask Awards were held virtually, in a smaller capacity, for the productions that were able to be presented.

AFL held its BPAs and TMAs ceremonies virtually in 2020, honoring work in 2019.

This year’s BPA nominations take into consideration the musicals that were performed in 2020 before the pandemic shutdown began in mid-March and the productions that were mounted in 2021 after restrictions lessened.

Safety precautions have been a priority for performers and performances, and with mitigation efforts, including vaccines, COVID-19 tests, masks, and social distance seats are available, stage work has returned, and theaters are not dark, unless there is a virus outbreak forcing cancellations and postponements.

“While we did about half the usual number of shows in 2021, it did not diminish Arts for Life’s vision for a community recognition program,” “These award events recognize the incredible talent we have in St. Louis community theater and honor the passion and dedication of those who build this amazing and unique theatrical community,” McCreight said.

Master of Ceremonies Kimmie Kidd-Booker is a local professional actress who has won two AFL Best Performance Awards for Best Featured Actress in “The Wiz” at Hawthorne Players in 2014 and as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” in 2020.

She was nominated as Best Actress in a Featured Role as Sister Mary Hubert in “Nunsense” at Hawthorne Players in 2015 and as The Witch in “Into the Woods” at Curtain’s Up Theater in 2018. She currently serves on the AFL board of directors.

Event Sponsorships are available at $50. Sponsorship includes group/company name and logo displayed at the beginning and end of event as a sponsor, then group/company name and logo displayed on our social media sites as a sponsor.

Arts For Life is a local not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the underserved and the community, with its goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference.”

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theater, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are a part of it.

For more information, visit the website, www.artsforlife.org, or email: [email protected]

By Lynn Venhaus
We have been enriched by Steve Woolf as a titan in regional theater, and his loss will be deeply felt.

For 33 years, he guided The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, until his retirement in 2019. He died Monday at age 75.

I had the opportunity to interview and talk with him on several occasions, and I am very grateful to have been in his orbit for a bit. It was an honor. His immense love of theater was obvious from the moment you encountered him – his eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas.

I have been reviewing plays at The Repertory Theatre since 2005. Their “Take Me Out” I consider to be the gold standard for plays in St. Louis. As a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle in 2012, I have presented him with a lion’s share of awards. Every year, from 2013-2019, he was always gracious and sincere, no matter how many trips he took to the stage.

During the past decade, The Rep has earned more than 100 awards. They have led the way in innovation and excellence – in acting, direction, set design, lighting design, sound and much more.

As an Arts For Life board member, I helped facilitate his Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, for his “vision, passion and excellence,” and he was so genuine about the honor. But that’s what he did — lived an authentic life. He never forgot that he was a kid from Milwaukee living out his dream.

And so, he could inspire — he talked about the magic of live theater, being in a dark room, sharing a special experience with other people that changes us and connects us.

His work spoke for itself: He directed “Red,” one of my favorites, and he brought the complex “Oslo” to the stage as one of his final — and most intense — works. He committed to making it relatable, no easy task with a large sprawling cast.

During rehearsals for the stellar “All the Way” in 2015 (I was there to interview Brian Dykstra, playing LBJ, and Woolf, who was directing — https://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article34672659.html), he told me about his experience seeing “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” in London.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at The Rep

He had been gobsmacked. He didn’t think The Rep could do it — very technical show, intricate — but the wheels were turning. He was so excited about trying to bring it to The Rep. “I think I’ve found a way we can do it,” he said to me later. (And it would win the Theatre Circle’s Outstanding Production, which opened the 2017-2018 season, and Best Director, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, in 2018.)

The enthusiasm he had for the process and the collaboration of “putting it all together” were so obvious. I cherish a brief interchange I had with him — in a stairwell at The Rep — about “The Humans,” which was a thought-provoker, had many layers. I had made an observation, and he wanted to hear more of my thoughts. It had received a mixed reaction — but he was firm in his fervor. He was just so darn insightful.

During an interview before the 50th season, which opened with “Follies,” he recalled the first time he saw the show as a young man studying theater. We geeked out about our mutual love of Stephen Sondheim. “Follies” was brilliant, but his other major production at The Rep, in 2012, the magnificent “Sunday in the Park with George,” was breathtaking. Truly memorable.

Every year, he would go to New York to soak up multiple theater productions. And hearing about his experiences was always a treat. During intermission of yet another “Mamma Mia!” at the Fox, I went over to chat with Joe Pollack, and Steve Woolf also came over to talk to Joe, and he regaled us with tales from his recent Broadway adventures. How fortunate to hear his vision and just how he radiated joy about theater (I mean, he was at “Mamma Mia!”).

One of my favorite Steve Woolf remembrances was, in fact, at Joe Pollack’s memorial service on March 17, 2012, at The Rep, of course. His widow, Ann Lemons Pollack, had arranged for five main speakers — all from a different facet of Joe’s life/illustrious career. Steve was the representative for theater, only fitting. He said as a critic, Joe just wanted the theater groups to “get it right.” Oh, yes, what a perfect summation.

And yes, Steve, you “got it right” more often than not. You will be missed, for your wit, your wisdom, your humanity, your desire for theater to spark conversations — and how you appreciated St. Louis audiences.

May God rest your soul. Your memory is already a blessing to me. And I hope you and Joe can continue to have some great conversations.

Mark Bernstein, retired managing director at The Rep, summed it up perfectly in a statement: “Steve always had his finger on the pulse of the St. Louis community, programming plays that resonated in the here and now, and showcasing the work of outstanding directors, designers and actors. St. Louis audiences responded by filling the seats, night after night, week after week, year after year.”

Standing O, Steve!

”Here is an article I wrote for the Webster-Kirkwood Times when he was getting multiple awards before retiring:

https://www.timesnewspapers.com/webster-kirkwoodtimes/curtain-call/article_ee301692-61dc-11e9-bcf0-1b566b2e37e4.html?fbclid=IwAR3drHmQpZXanye8Tvo9OH-cdSItTeegAOBC9WfeJ0CSmlemUlWlUpSPJ9U

Follies

My review of “All the Way,” in the Belleville News-Democrat on Sept. 17, 2015: https://www.bnd.com/entertainment/article35666526.html

My review of “Follies,” in the Belleville News-Democrat on Sept. 21, 2016: https://www.bnd.com/entertainment/article103265847.html

Photos provided by The Rep

The local not-for-profit arts organization, Arts For Life, has announced that it will return to in-person judging of community theater productions beginning July 1.

With the goal of “Making a Dramatic Difference,” AFL is passionate about the healing power of the performing arts, and is proud to salute, support, and serve the theater groups in the St. Louis, MO-IL Metro East region.

AFL is dedicated to promoting public awareness of local community theatre, encouraging excellence in the arts, and acknowledging the incredible people who are part of it.

Since 1999, the annual Best Performance Awards has celebrated achievements in musical theater and youth productions. In 2015, the Theatre Mask Awards were started to honor outstanding work in plays – in both dramas and comedies.

About 25 community theater organizations are eligible to participate in AFL.

Additionally, the group is seeking volunteer judges to evaluate shows and performers for their annual awards recognizing excellence in the region. Volunteers are the “eyes and ears” of AFL, ambassadors in the community. The deadline for applications is Monday, June 7.

Judges are required to attend a meeting before they are assigned shows to score. You must be 18 years old or older and choose either musicals or plays. If interested, fill out the form here for the Theater Recognition Guild, either the TMAs or BPAs:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021trgjudgeapp

Mandatory judges’ training meetings will be on the Zoom teleconference platform, offered at three different dates and times: Wednesday, June 23, and Sunday, June 27, both at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, June 26, at 1 p.m. The TRG chairmen will go over AFL’s policies and procedures, giving the judges the tools to be fair and conscientious.

For not-for-profit registered theater groups who want their shows to be eligible for accolades, they must fill out the paperwork eight weeks prior to opening night. Those forms are located here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021participationforms

“Welcome back! AFL is thrilled to see our theatre groups getting ready to start putting on shows again. We are recruiting judges, scheduling training and looking forward to getting back to enjoying theatre in the St. Louis-Metro East areas,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

“Thank you to everyone who stayed the course and who are still excited to entertain. We are ready and hope you are too. See you soon!” McCreight said.

AFL had suspended judging activities beginning in April 2020 because of the coronavirus public health emergency in Illinois and Missouri. The board of directors adopted measures to foster the protection of those who work and play in community theater until it would be safe to return.

As the CDC and local officials have recently eased restrictions and more Americans are vaccinated, the AFL board of directors, at their May 15 meeting, agreed to move forward and resume normal operations on July 1.

In mid-March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic shutdown included closing performance venues, limiting capacity at gatherings, and protocols for social distancing and face coverings.

AFL had transitioned to virtual streamed formats for both their TMA and BPA shows honoring productions in 2019 last summer and for the recent TMAs recognizing shows produced in early 2020 and one in the fall.

The BPAs were cancelled for 2021. and the few musicals that were performed in early 2020 will be considered for the 2022 awards, along with those performed from July through December in 2021.

AFL board members have continued their focus on encouraging and promoting community theater in the region and supporting charitable programs. They will award two annual youth scholarships in June.

In recent years, AFL has initiated an Adopt-a-Student mentoring program and presented an online series on diversity and inclusion last fall.

“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.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community.

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected] or visit the website, www.artsforlife.org

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Clayton Community Theatre’s production of the classic romantic comedy “The Philadelphia Story” swept the 2021 Theatre Mask Awards, winning seven out of its eight nominations.

For the second year in a row, a virtual ceremony took place. On April 3, the 17-minute pre-recorded announcement honored excellence in community theater productions of comedies and dramas, as the TMAs have done since 2015.

Only for 2020, Arts For Life scaled back the format to reflect the number of eligible plays performed before the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Awards were presented in 10 non-musical play categories instead of the usual 18.

TMA Steering Committee co-directors Melissa Boyer and Tim Naegelin announced the winners. The presentation is available on Arts For Life’s YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

Clayton Community Theatre, last year’s big winner in both comedy and drama with “Biloxi Blues” and “A Soldier’s Play,” added to their overall total of 28 awards and 113 nominations. They won for Play, Director Heather Sartin, Leading Actress Kelsey McCroskey, Supporting Actress Caitlin Souers, Costume Designer Julie Smailys, Lighting Designer Nathan Schroeder and Set Designers Andrew Cary, Zac Cary and Heather Sartin.

They staged “The Philadelphia Story” in March 2020. The 1939 play by Philip Barry deals with family dynamics and class prejudice at the affluent Lord estate, where everyone has gathered for socialite Tracy Lord’s second wedding, but romantic entanglements ensue and she must choose between three men – her fiancé, ex-husband and reporter covering the society event.

The winning actresses, McCroskey and Souers played Tracy Lord and her younger sister Dinah respectively. This is Schroeder’s third award for lighting design, winning for CCT’s “Macbeth” in 2015 and “A Soldier’s Play” last year.

Act Two Theatre’s production of the comedy “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” won two – for Best Supporting Actor Todd Micali and Best Ensemble. The St. Peters-based group had led this year’s awards with nine nominations.

They staged the 2004 farce by Michael Parker in February 2020. It is about a California billionaire who has bequeathed all of his assets to his only daughter, Constance – except the $22 million yacht he wanted Josephine to have, a $25 million art collection left to Renee, and some priceless antique automobiles willed to Marjorie. She arrives at her father’s mansion with her lawyer to find out who these women are and discovers the butler seems to hold the key.

Micali, playing the bumbling detective Davis, has won in the supporting actor category before –as Felix Ungar, in “The Odd Couple” in 2016, and a Best Performance Award for Comedic Actor in multiple roles in “Spamalot” in 2014.

Alton Little Theater won one for Leading Actor, Shea Maples, in “Inherit the Wind.” He played the character Matthew Harrison Brady, which is based on attorney William Jennings Bryan, in the drama that is a fictional account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trail.

Arts For Life announced the TMA nominations on March 12, during the nonprofit organization’s first-ever virtual trivia night.

“The TMAs were able to do eight shows last year and so the show must go on. Several categories were combined to allow for more nominees,” said AFL President Mary McCreight.

Naegelin explained the reasoning behind 2021’s awards ceremony.

“2020 was a difficult year. Most theatre was cancelled after March, but the TMA Steering Committee and the AFL Board of Directors believed the Theatre Recognition Guild had reviewed enough shows to make a successful TMA event. With only eight shows eligible, some categories were combined so that we did not lose the integrity of our awards and nominations.  To that end, there was not a division of drama and comedy categories for this year,” Naegelin said.

During 2020, beginning in mid-March, because of the public health emergency in Illinois and Missouri. performance venues were closed, gatherings limited to a percentage of capacity and safety protocols in place, including social distancing and face coverings to lessen community spread.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, AFL adopted measures to foster the protection of those who work and play in metropolitan St. Louis-southwest Illinois community theater.

“We will continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once it is safe to do so,” McCreight said.

The Philadelphia Story

The 2020 TMA winners are:

BEST PRODUCTION
“The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR
Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST LEADING ACTOR
Shea Maples, “Inherit the Wind,” Alton Little Theater

BEST LEADING ACTRESS
Kelsey McCroskey, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Todd Micali, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?” Act Two Theater

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Caitlin Souers, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theater

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Julie Smailys, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Nathan Schroeder, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST SET DESIGN
Andrew Cary, Zac Cary and Heather Sartin, “The Philadelphia Story,” Clayton Community Theatre

BEST ENSEMBLE
Act Two Theatre, “Who’s in Bed with the Butler?”

Winners can record an acceptance speech, no more than two minutes in length, and send it by April 9 to [email protected]

AFL will upload the recording to its YouTube channel.

Who’s in Bed with the Butler? cast

AFL Adjusts Events in 2020-2021/Mission Remains the Same

Last year, AFL transitioned to streamed formats for both their TMA and Best Performance Awards (musical theater and youth productions) shows honoring productions in 2019.

The BPAs have been cancelled in 2021, and the few musicals that were performed in early 2020 will be considered for the 2022 awards. In April 2020, the AFL president suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, and then the board extended suspension of the Theatre Recognition Guild judging activities, for the BPA branch (musicals), through July 1, 2021.

“All is well with AFL. We will survive and look forward to meeting again in July.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I thank all theater groups who are working to create a safe and pleasing future,” McCreight said.

McCreight emphasized that the AFL board will continue to base their decisions upon the best information currently available and will continue to share information promptly and transparently.

Naegelin is hopeful that more productions will be able to be mounted in 2021.

“I love the work that AFL/TMA does in supporting and promoting community theatre.  From helping provide a sense of community, to providing scholarships, and mentoring at risk students in local theatre programs, AFL/TMA provides a full range of support to the St. Louis metro area.  I’m excited that we can continue that, even in our limited way, in 2021, he said.

AFL was founded in 1994 by Lucinda Guyrci as a local non-profit organization dedicated to the healing power of the arts through its work with youth, the under-served and the community. The BPAs have honored musical theater since 1999 and the TMAs have honored plays since 2015.

To see a complete list of the nominees and awards history, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

Be sure to subscribe/like to our social media: https://www.facebook.com/artsforlifestlouis, https://twitter.com/arts_for_life and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA