By Lynn Venhaus
St. Charles will literally become a ghost town when actors take over the streets during “Legends and Lanterns” this weekend and next. Strange things will be happening not only in neighborhoods but on local stages this week, too.
More Halloween spirit can be found in “Evil Dead: The Musical” at Stray Dog Theatre and “The Zombies of Penzance” at New Line Theatre.
The Bard gets spooky in “Macbeth,” and Rebel and Misfits starts its third Immersive Theatre Project Oct. 24 with a preview of “Macbeth: Come Like Shadows.”
The Bard also gets stormy in “The Tempest,” a gender-swap production from St. Louis Shakespeare.
For fantasy fun, Variety Club celebrates its 10th season with “The Little Mermaid” at the Touhill.
Times, they are a-changing for women in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” now surprising audiences at The Rep, while a punk-rock, lesbian chef holds court in “Raging Skillet at The New Jewish Theatre.
The LGBTQ community is sharing their stories in “The Coming Out Festival” from the Q Collective. The tragic hate-crime death of Matthew Shepard is explored in “The Laramie Project” at Clayton Community Theatre.
Mustard Seed Theatre offers a provocative look at sin, grief and grace in “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” with 13 actors portraying 27 characters.
Fun, fantasy, comedy, drama, spooky or tragic — take your pick, but Go See a Play!
Amanda Brasher rehearses “Weird” by Nicholas Pappas in The Coming Out Festival.The Coming Out Play Festival
The Q Collective
Oct. 19 and 20
Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Monocle on Manchester in the Grove
What It’s About: Six one-act plays that explore the coming out experience.
“A Doll’s House, Part II”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Oct. 11 – Nov. 4
Browning Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Center
130 Edgar Roadwww.repstl.org
Michael James Reed as Torvald and Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL.comWhat It’s About: Lucas Hnath’s audacious sequel was written more than 135 years after Henrik Ibsen’s original. The familial drama remains a foundational piece of theater, with a still-controversial ending in which a married woman chooses to walk out on her family. But in 2017, Hnath took the themes and characters of that familiar classic and flipped them on their heads, imagining what would happen if protagonist Nora Helmer returned home 15 years after her dramatic exit.
Director: Timothy Near
Starring: Caralyn Kozlowski, Andrea Abello, Michael James Reed, Tina Johnson
Photo by John Lamb“Evil Dead: The Musical”
Stray Dog Theatre
Oct. 11 – 27
Thursday through Saturday; Added performance Wednesday, Oct. 24
Tower Grove Abbey
What It’s About: Based on the 1980s cult classic “Evil Dead” films, this campy show bursts with farce and blood. Five college kids take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods and encounter ancient evil spirits and revenge-seeking Candarian demons.
Director: Justin Been, with music direction by Jennifer Buchheit and choreography by Sam Gaitsch.
Starring: Riley Dunn, Dawn Schmid, Maria Bartolotta, Josh Douglas, Stephen Henley, Jennelle Gilreath, Kevin O’Brien, Corey Fraine and Christen Ringhausen.
Of Note: Some performances are sold out, and tickets are predicted to be limited during run. Wait lists will begin nightly at 7 p.m. (when the lobby opens) at the box office for any unclaimed seats and those will be handed out at 7:55 p.m.
The Splatter Zone is considered Signature Seating. With your purchase of a “Splatter Zone” seat you also receive an exclusive T-Shirt with just enough white space for us to create a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Those adventurous enough to sit in the “Splatter Zone” are encouraged to dress down. Stray Dog Theatre is not responsible for property damage or loss resulting from the “Splatter Zone.”
“The Laramie Project”
Clayton Community Theatre
Oct. 11 – 21
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Washington University South Campus Theatre (old CBC high school)
What It’s About: Based on the true story of gay Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old victim of a hate crime in 1998 in Laramie, Wy., “The Laramie Project” unfolds through the words of people in Laramie who were interviewed by members of Tectonic Theater Company in the 18 months following Matthew Shepard’s death (Oct. 12, 1998), creating a portrait of the community and key individuals in the aftermath of the event and as the victim’s killers were brought to trial and convicted.
Director: Jim Danek
Starring: Jim Abels, Kelly Hunter, Jack Janssen, Mark Lull, Tim Naegelin, Elizabeth Penny, Tina Renard, Lucy Sappington, Rob Tierney, Johnathon Waller, Chrissie Watkins
Of Note: This is the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death.
In connection with its production, Clayton Community Theatre will be hosting post-show discussion of the issues raised in the play on Friday, Oct. 19. These conversations will be hosted by Denny Patterson, who has studied the Shepards, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and their ongoing legacy.
Chris E. Ware and Jesse Munoz as Judas and Jesus. Ann K Photography“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”
Mustard Seed Theatre
Oct. 10 – 28
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., No Friday
Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
What It’s About: Set in Purgatory, the trial to determine Judas’ fate is underway. A defense attorney argues that the disgraced disciple should not be damned for all time, that others are culpable in the greater scheme of things, while an overzealous prosecutor thinks a special place in hell is just fine.
A jury will decide Judas’ fate, but not before a parade of high-profile witnesses take the stand
Director: Adam Flores, resident artist
Starring: Courtney Bailey Parker, Rae Davis, Graham Emmon, Carmen Garcia, Chelsea Krenning, Erick Lindsey, Carl Overby, Chandler Spradling, Arielle Rovinsky, Rachel Tibbetts, Chris E. Ware, and Eric Dean White
Of Note: Mature/adult subject matter, language and content. Not recommended for children.
There are no Friday performances. Thursday evening performances on Oct. 18 and 25 are Pay With A Can/Pay What You Can performances.
Photo by Ann K Photography
“Legends and Lanterns”
Historic Main Street in St. Charles
Oct. 20-21, 26-28
Saturday, Oct. 20 – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 21 – noon to 5 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27 – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28 – noon to 5 p.m.
What It’s About: This Halloween, St. Charles will become literally a ghost town. Historic Main Street will be invaded by a plethora of playful paranormal poltergeists from parts unknown. These notorious and infamous witches, villains, and spirits from lore and legend will unleash the magic of their enchanted lanterns to bring you eerie entertainment. But don’t worry, these friendly ghouls have more treats to offer than tricks, and they enjoy meeting “little monsters” of all ages.
Finding its inspiration from the past, Legends & Lanterns offers the vintage charm of Halloween in the 1910s-1930s, to the historical rituals and customs brought to the holiday by the Druids and Victorians, to the ethereal atmosphere depicted in American ghost stories and Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
As you explore every mysterious nook and cranny of Main Street, you’ll unearth various activities that will bring to “life” the backstories and origins of this beloved holiday, All Hallow’s Eve. It’s a little bit silly. It’s a little bit macabre. But it’s all fun.
Some of the programs include “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Writers Block: Unbound,” and “Eerie Jamboree.”
Pick-up your official Legends & Lanterns Passport at the Tourism Center (230 South Main Street), Scarecrow Glen, Hayride Locations, or Plaza del Dia de los Muertos.
The Little Mermaid presented by Variety – Children’s Charity St. Louis at Touhill at University of Missouri – St. Louis on Oct 23, 2014.“The Little Mermaid”
Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18 – 21
Touhill Performing Arts Center
University of Missouri – St. Louis
What It’s About: Sing, dance and swim along as we follow Ariel’s journey to walk on land and find true love. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Variety Theatre is the country’s only production of its kind. Featuring an inclusive children’s ensemble performing alongside a professional adult cast, this Broadway classic is a must-see event.
Director: Lara Teeter
Starring Terrence Mann as King Triton; Berklea Going as Ariel; David Bryan Johnson as Prince Eric; Joy Boland as Ursula: Drew Humphrey, Alan Knoll, Ian Nolting, Dustin Crumbaugh, Michael Hawkins, Chandler Ford, Will Bonfiglio, Eileen Engel, Larissa White, Whit Reichert, Corbyn Sprayberry, Dena DiGiancina, Allison Newman, Caitlin Witty, JR Pruski, Jimmy Capek and Mason Kelso.
Of Note: In 2018, Variety Theatre was awarded the “Special Award for a Body of Work” by the St. Louis Theater Circle, an honor only presented when it is felt it is truly deserved.
“Macbeth: Come Like Shadows”
Rebel and Misfits Productions
Immersive Theatre Project
Oct. 24 – Nov. 10
Wednesday through Saturday at location patrons are bused to.
What It’s About: Dive into a shocking world and discover the heart and dark underbelly of a story that you have undoubtedly come in contact with before, but never allowed full access to the dripping heat and intimacy pulled along by its characters. This is one of Shakespeare’s boldest and most passionate plays deeply imagined.
Who are the inhabitants? Why do their souls choose the courses they embark upon? What is behind the door? Immerse yourself in a world of direct interaction, walk into this complexly-woven tale, wade into its unlocked depths.
Co-Directors: Kelly Hummert, Sean Patrick Higgins with Jordan Woods assisting.
Starring: Sean Patrick Higgins, Jeffrey Cummings, Spencer Sickmann, Reginald Pierre, Paul Cereghino, Shane Signorino, Kelly Hummert, Aarya Locker, Phil Leveling, Patrice Foster, Joel Antony, Hailey Medrano, Tyler Cheatem, Cynthia Pohlson, Ali Linderer, Kevin Corpuz and Jordan Woods
Of Note: We invite you to meet these characters as you never have before. Drink with them. Dance with them. Share your secrets with them. They will, in turn, weave you into the fabric of the action. Come and experience this high-octane, dangerous, and sexy world, where nothing is ever quite what it seems.
Pick Up Location: 1615 South Broadway, St Louis, MO 63104 (parking lot near DB’s), buses will transport the audience to and from the location.
“The Naked Magicians”The Playhouse at Westport
Oct. 19-21 (5 shows)
Tickets: MetroTix at metrotix.com or by phone at 314-534-1111. Additionally, tickets will also be available at the box office one hour prior to show time.
What It’s About: The Naked Magicians, the world’s naughtiest and funniest magic show, strips away the top hats and capes to promise full-frontal illusions with magic, muscles and endless laughs.
Starring: Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, two of Australia’s most famous magicians, w who have performed in seven countries and 200+cities. “Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants,” Tyler said.
Of Note: They are back by popular demand after their sold-out performances last year. Post-show meet-and-greet tickets for an additional $20.
The show includes coarse language, sexual references and some nudity and is intended for audiences 18+. For more information, go to www.nakedmagicians.com.
“Raging Skillet”New Jewish Theatre
Oct. 4 – 21
JCCA Wool Theatre, Creve Coeur
What It’s About: A tasty adaptation of celebrity Chef Rossi’s autobiographical memoir, “Raging Skillet” – is equal parts book launch, cooking demonstration, heaping helping of comedy and a side of Jewish mother guilt. When Rossi’s Jewish mother discovers the microwave, home-cooked meals become a thing of the past. What starts as a rebellion against her Orthodox parents, chauvinism in the kitchen and the pressures of conformity ends with Rossi becoming New York’s #1 punk-rock, Jewish, Lesbian caterer. This hilarious and heartfelt new comedy is based on her true-life story.
Director: Lee Anne Mathews
Starring: Sarajane Alverson as Chef Rossi, Kathleen Sitzer as her mother, and Erin Renee Roberts as DJ Skillet, sous chef and part-time DJ.
Of Note: Talkback scheduled for Oct. 18.
There is food.
“Redemption of a Dogg”
Friday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m.
What It’s About: Je’Carvous Johnson’s new stage play examines the internal battle one man has between preserving his lifelong legacy and losing the love of his life, when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family. It is set against a backdrop of Snoop Dogg’s greatest hits.
“The Rocky Horror Show”
The Performing Arts Department
Oct. 19 – 28
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
What It’s About: Cult classic rock musical. Newlyweds Brad and Janet have blown a tire. They abandon their car and stumble into Frank N Furter’s castle in Transylvania.
Insight Theatre Company
Oct. 19 – Nov. 4
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center, 510 N. Grand
314 – 556-1293
What It’s About: When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love.
Director: Maggie Ryan
Cast: Gwen Wotawa, Henrietta Leavitt; Alex Freeman, Peter Shaw; Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Margaret; Jenni Ryan, Willamina; and Chrissy Steele – Abigail.
Of Note: The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Oct. 12 – 21
What It’s About: A story of shipwreck and magic, “The Tempest” begins on a ship caught in a violent storm. Alonso, the king of Naples, is on board. On a nearby island, the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, tells his daughter, Miranda, that he has caused the storm with his magical powers.
Director: Patrick Siler
Bread and Roses
Saturday, Oct. 20
Communications Workers of America Local 6300
Brunch Buffet & Performance Tickets are $20 in advance or at the door
Westport: 2258 Grissom Drive St. Louis, MO 63146
What It’s About: Written and performed by members of Service Employees International Union, Communications Workers of America, United Media Guild, Labor Engagement for the United Way, and others involved in the arts and organized labor.
Every sketch is full of good music, some history and lots of political humor featuring these workers-turned-actors.
Director: Kathryn Bentley, associate professor at SIU-Edwardsville and Artistic Director of the Black Theater Workshop. Music and script editing by Colin McLaughlin.
“The Zombies of Penzance”
New Line Theatre
Sept. 27 – Oct. 20
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Marcelle Theater
3310 Samuel Shepard Drive in Grand Arts Center
What It’s About: The world premiere of the rock musical, “The Zombies of Penzance: At Night Come the Flesh Eaters,” is based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Based on the conceit that the original draft, never seen before, was dated December 1878, Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn’t want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance, for obvious reasons.
Co-Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Windsor-Dowdy. Miller has painstakingly reassembled these rediscovered materials into their original form, filling in the gaps with educated guesses based on other G&S shows and drafts. St. Louis composer and orchestrator John Gerdes is reconstructing Sullivan’s music.
Cast: Most of the cast from New Line’s public reading in January will return, with Sean Michael as Frederic, Melissa Felps as Mabel, Zachary Allen Farmer as Major-General Stanley the Zombie Hunter, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as the Zombie King, with Mara Bollini, Kent Coffel, Robert Doyle, Matt Hill, Lindsey Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Kyle Kelesoma, Melanie Kozak, Sarah Porter, Christina Rios, and Kimi Short.
Of Note: New Line Theatre, “the bad boy of musical theatre,” opens its 28th season of adult, alternative musical theatre. New Line has shocked the music world by discovering a controversial, long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896.
One of the team’s best-known works, The Pirates of Penzance, originally debuted in New York in 1879, and was revived to great success in the early 1980s with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, and Rex Smith. What we now know is that there was an earlier, stranger draft of the show, which nobody knew about, with most of the same characters but a somewhat different plot.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.