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 Production.

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 Illinois.

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.

Best Small Ensemble Musical “A New Brain”

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 event.

“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.

Performances from nominees for large ensemble musicals, two small ensemble musicals and five youth productions premiered on AFL’s YouTube channel for 10 days leading up to the awards, and are now available there, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

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 Valjean.

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).

Norbert Leo Butz

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

Jennifer Kerner

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 disorders.

McCreight was thrilled about Hanisch’s national award.

Diane Hanisch

“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.

CMP’s Oklahoma!

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).

Winners Will Shaw and Kimmie Kidd-Booker in “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

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 remain closed.

“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.

Riverbend Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone

A souvenir program is available to download online: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YlomcYjVNqDNqmPTCrYGSjnAtDwkn9QT/view

A limited number of copies will be available for purchase as well.

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

To see a list of the 2019 nominees and winners, as well as the awards history 1999-2019, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

Follow AFL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2020 Best Performance Award Winners:

Best Musical Production Large Ensemble: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Musical Production Small Ensemble: “A New Brain,” Hawthorne Players

Best Youth Musical Production: “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Director: Dani Mann, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Project

Best Musical Direction: Kathy Eichelberger and Joseph Paule Jr., “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Choreography: Kimberly Klick, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Lead Actor: Cole Guttmann, “The Bridges of Madison County, “Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Lead Actress: Jaclyn Amber, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Featured Actor: Mike Huelsmann, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Featured Actress: Kimmie Kidd-Booker, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Supporting Actor: Caleb Long, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Supporting Actress: Dianne M. Mueller, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Actor in a Comedic Role: George Doerr IV, “Young Frankenstein,” Alfresco Productions

Best Actress in a Comedic Role: Margery Handy, “The Wizard of Oz,” Alton Little Theater

Best Cameo Actor: Jacob Streuter, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Looking Glass Playhouse

Best Cameo Actress: Chelsie Johnston, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Actor in a Non-Singing Role: Will Shaw, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Actress in a Non-Singing Role: Maria Wilken, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Duo/Group: Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller, “Annie,” Take A Bow Showcase

Best Set Design: Matt Dossett, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

Best Lighting Design: Jonathan Hartley, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Costume Design: Krysta Wenski, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Juvenile Performer: Leontine Rickert, “Annie,” Take a Bow Showcase

Best Youth Director: Kristi Doering, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Music Direction: Michael Frazier and Alison Neace, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Choreography: Stephanie Fox, “Spring Awakening,” Gateway Center for the Performing Arts

Best Youth Lead Actor: Jayson Heil, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Lead Actress: Alli McDonald, “Once Upon a Mattress,” St. John’s UCC Performing Arts Camp

Best Youth Supporting Actor: Will Dery, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Supporting Actress: Natalie Cochran, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Costume Design: Terry Pattison, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Set Design: Brisby Andrews and Greg Rackers, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Lighting Design: Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project



The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has announced that it will postpone the beginning of its 2020-2021 season until at least December 2020 in order to ensure the safety of its patrons, guest artists, staff and volunteers.

Following months of consultation between the theatre’s leadership, board members and fellow St. Louis cultural institutions, The Rep will push back its usual September start time and reconfigure its schedule for the upcoming season. The theatre’s plan is to reopen in December with A Christmas Carol and then run an extended winter/spring season in 2021.

The Rep will formally announce its rescheduled season on September 1.

“While we are going to greatly miss connecting with our patrons in September, we understand that The Rep exists within a much larger public health picture for the St. Louis region,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “We want to ensure that when we reopen, it’s in a way that maximizes the health and safety of our community. We look forward to throwing open our doors this December to launch the joyous holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol for St. Louis families.”

As part of its planning, The Rep has banded together with its fellow cultural organizations as part of the St. Louis Reopening The Arts Work Group. This collective is forming a unified plan that takes under consideration the CDC’s recommendations as well as any federal, state and local government directives.

“Our group is exploring the implementation of disinfecting, social distancing, face coverings, temperature screenings and more throughout all St. Louis arts venues,” Sharif said. “Our goal is to create a safe environment for everyone to enjoy live art, music and theatre as soon as possible.”

The Rep, as a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), is also collaborating closely with the five labor unions whose members help to bring its plays to the stage, ensuring that the theatre will continue to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Until it returns to staged productions, The Rep will continue its educational and outreach work throughout the St. Louis community, including free efforts like Play at Home and the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival. Stay tuned to repstl.org for continued updates, as well as exciting virtual arts activities.


 The theatre will produce classics Moby Dick and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as two world premieres at two different theatres this season
 ST. LOUIS — The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis announces a dynamic new set of shows for its 2020-2021 season designed to delight, excite and engage theatregoers like never before.

“This year, we want to share the magic of The Rep with both our longtime supporters and new audiences across the region,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “Our new season will feature classics, contemporary thought-provoking shows and robust family programming to make theatre accessible to more people than ever before.”

The 2020-2021 season will include well-known works such as Moby Dick and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as groundbreaking contemporary plays like Hir, a dark comedy that explores family dysfunction and gender roles in America, and Mlima’s Tale, a captivating work from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.

The Rep will also debut world-premiere productions of Top of the World, a riveting psychological thriller, and The Gradient, a daring new play set in a near-future world where there are rehabilitation centers for men accused of sexual misconduct.

Sharif announced the season lineup at an event Thursday evening at Delmar Hall emceed by Julie Tristan, award-winning host and journalist for 98.1 FM and KPLR 11, and featuring special guest Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, who delivered a proclamation welcoming Sharif to Missouri.

For the first time, two of The Rep’s productions this season will be presented in partnership with COCA – Center of Creative Arts in the soon-to-be-opened, state-of-the-art Berges Theatre in University City.

“Welcoming partners such as The Rep into our space is just the type of new programming we envisioned as we launched COCA’s expansion plans,” said Kelly Pollock, Executive Director of COCA. “Hosting part of The Rep’s season in the new Berges Theatre creates an opportunity to support professional theatre in St. Louis, while providing opportunities for young people brings us all closer to creating a St. Louis that is connected and inclusive.”

Event guests also got a sneak peek of the 2020-2021 season lineup with a special musical performance from Little Shop of Horrors, performed by vocalists Shayna Blass and Mark G. Meadows.

In addition to the six Mainstage shows and three Studio shows, The Rep will also produce the story of Donny Hathaway in Twisted Melodies, three productions for young audiences as part of its Imaginary Theatre Company, as well as an expanded New Play Festival in the fall. This season also kicks off a new holiday tradition with a December production of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. (Detailed descriptions and run dates of all shows below and at repstl.org/2020-2021).

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS
The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. Learn more about The Rep at www.repstl.org.


The Rep’s 2020-2021 Season

MAINSTAGE:

Little Shop of Horrors
Book by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
 
Previews: Sept. 4-10, 2020
Performances: Sept. 11 – Oct. 2, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts (130 Edgar Rd.)
 
It’s a classic tale, really: Girl meets boy. Boy meets carnivorous alien plant. Carnivorous alien plant develops an insatiable taste for blood. Join Seymour and Audrey on this musical comedy joy ride bursting with pop melodies, soul ballads and girl group swagger. Buckle up for an evening of romance, action and a just a touch of overzealous dentistry.
 
Top of the World
by Catherine Butterfield
 
Performances: October 2020
Performed at COCA’s Berges Theatre (524 Trinity Ave.)
 
A riveting psychological thriller makes its world premiere at The Rep. Following the suicide of his wife, television crime show runner Brendan Murray desperately seeks any clues he might have missed. The mystery deepens when an episode of Brendan’s TV show begins to mirror his real-life tragedy all too closely. As Brendan and his family replay their memories seeking answers, they only unlock more questions. One question looms above the rest: how do they find a pathway to healing?
 
The Great Leap
by Lauren Yee
 
Previews: Oct. 30 – Nov. 5, 2020
Performances: Nov. 6-22, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
Armed with a lethal crossover dribble and a knack for devastating trash talk, 17-year-old Manford Lum is the star point guard of a U.S. college basketball team traveling to Beijing for an exhibition match between two rival coaches. But as this Chinese-American phenom arrives amidst the roiling backdrop of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Manford discovers himself at the epicenter of a personal, political and cultural standoff. Lauren Yee’s formidable play bristles with all the relentless energy of its underdog hero.
 
Native Gardens
by Karen Zacarias
 
Previews: Jan. 15-21, 2021
Performances: Jan. 22 – Feb. 7, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” In Karen Zacarías’ brilliant comedy, cultures and gardens collide, turning well-meaning neighbors into feuding enemies. The play begins as a polite backyard dispute between the young, upwardly mobile Del Valles and the thoroughly Baby Boomer Butleys. But as the pairs squabble over the two feet of dirt where their properties meet, the action spirals into a symphony of inspired chaos.
 
Oo-Bla-Dee
by Regina Taylor
 
Performances: February 2021
Performed at COCA’s Berges Theatre
 
The piano is rollicking, the bass is thumping and the saxophone is wailing. It can only mean one thing: Evelyn Waters & The Diviners are in town. Regina Taylor’s swinging musical chronicles a 1940s Black female jazz band as they journey from St. Louis to Chicago seeking fame and freedom in a climate of racism, sexism and an unforgiving industry. Inspired by the true stories of Billie Holiday, Sweethearts of Rhythm, Valaida Snow and May Lou Williams, Oo-Bla-Dee celebrates all the women musicians who fought for and earned their rightful place in American history.
 
Moby Dick
Adapted by David Catlin
From the book by Herman Melville
 
Previews: March 12-18, 2021
Performances: March 19 – April 11, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
Madness, obsession and bloodlust take harrowing flight in a thrilling revision of Melville’s masterpiece. Captain Ahab’s hunt for the great White Whale soars to new heights through exhilarating acrobatic and theatrical spectacle that invites audiences into the heart of the action. This adaptation from Lookingglass Theatre Company brings a literary legend to life in an experience that’s both visceral and evocative.
STEVE WOOLF STUDIO SERIES:

Hir
by Taylor Mac
 
Previews: Oct. 9-15, 2020
Performances: Oct. 16 – Nov. 1, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
As Isaac returns from the war zone of Afghanistan, he finds fresh battle lines have been drawn in his childhood home. This dark comedy sees the soldier’s dysfunctional family in a total role reversal: a tyrannical father enfeebled by sickness, a once timid mother drunk with power and a sibling transitioning into a person he doesn’t recognize anymore. With the family’s former identity upended, old wounds and unresolved grudges drag them into all-out chaos.
 
The Gradient
by Steph Del Rosso
 
Previews: Jan. 8 – Jan. 14, 2021
Performances: Jan. 15-31, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

In this world premiere satire set in the not-so-distant future, a new facility promises to take men accused of sexual misconduct and rehabilitate them into responsible citizens. But inside the walls of The Gradient, the culture ruled by profit margins and corporate buzzwords muddles its high ideals. New employee Tess is eager to do her part, but finds herself locked in a subtle psychological battle with her latest client – one who has the perfect answer to her every question. Steph Del Rosso’s bold new play asks: can we mass-produce forgiveness?
 
Mlima’s Tale
by Lynn Nottage
 
Previews: March 26 – April 1, 2021
Performances: April 2-18, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

Mlima, a majestic and powerful African elephant, is murdered for his tusks. From beyond the veil of death, Mlima’s spirit follows the path of his tusks on a moving, lyrical journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade. From Lynn Nottage, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Sweat and RuinedMlima’s Tale is a captivating and haunting fable come to life.
Kelvin Roston Jr. as Donny Hathaway
SPECIAL SHOWS:*
 
Twisted Melodies
Written by and starring Kelvin Roston, Jr.
 
Performances: July 2020
 
This powerful one-man show is based on the life of St. Louis soul music icon Donny Hathaway, perhaps best known for his duets with Roberta Flack. Twisted Melodies is an immersive and crushing play about the brilliant singer and composer’s compelling inner struggle. Torn between the muses that inspire him and the mental illness that torments him, Hathaway evaluates his life in a gripping performance by St. Louis native Kelvin Roston, Jr.
 
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Michael Wilson
 
Previews: Dec. 6-10, 2020
Performances: Dec. 11-30, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
At long last, the ghosts of Ebenezer Scrooge’s past, present and future have caught up with him. Now London’s most infamous miser must take a transformative journey as he faces the worst parts of himself and discovers unexpected redemption. Families are sure to delight in this enchanting winter’s tale filled with the wonder of Christmas in a theatrical extravaganza unlike any that St. Louis has seen before. Don’t miss the start of a new tradition as The Rep launches its annual production of Michael Wilson’s fantastical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale.

* Single-ticket exclusives
IMAGINARY THEATRE COMPANY:
 
A Gnome for Christmas
by Sarah Brandt
Music and lyrics by Stephen James Neale
 
A warm-hearted holiday musical sprinkled with fun and hijinks, A Gnome for Christmas returns to the Imaginary Theatre Company. Lulu’s father is an inventor…just not a very successful one. After another of his failed inventions lands the family at a rundown farmhouse, Lulu’s about ready to give up. But when mysterious and magical things start happening, it seems that this farm might be home to more than meets the eye. A mischievous enchanted gnome, Timmy, is determined to bring Lulu a little Christmas cheer. With memorable songs and lovable characters, it’s the perfect holiday confection.
 
Puss in Boots
by Nathan and Jennifer Roberts
 
Everyone’s favorite feline fable is here to charm and beguile! The miller’s son is not finding life easy, with barely a penny to his name and no inheritance from his father, save for a useless cat and a pair of too-small boots. But this cat hides a secret: She can talk! And sing! And she has a plan to take them from the poorhouse to a princely castle. But how long can this extraordinary kitty keep up the ruse before the cat is out of the bag? Bring the whole family and share the legend of Puss in Boots!
 
Tomás and the Library Lady
Adapted by José Cruz Gonzalez
From the book by Pat Mora
 
Dive into a fantastical world of books in this celebratory true story. As Tomás’ family heads north to Iowa for work, they find fewer and fewer people who speak their native Spanish language. Looking for a place to fit in, Tomás finds a new passion when he befriends a librarian who introduces him to the magical world of books. This enchanting story adventures through the pages of towering dinosaurs and ferocious tigers, igniting Tomás’ imagination and bringing the audience along for the ride.

This December, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice swept into The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and charmed theatregoers from every corner of the region. In the process, it shattered The Rep’s preexisting sales records and grossed more than $1 million.
 
Adapted by Christopher Baker and directed by The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director, Hana S. Sharif, the play handily topped the theatre’s previous top-seller – 2016’s A Christmas Carol – and enchanted more than 20,000 audience members during its run.
 
“Part of the joy of directing Pride and Prejudice was watching everyone – from the cast to the creative team to audiences – fall in love with Jane Austen’s characters and storytelling all over again,” Sharif said. “It is a gift to witness the magic of an incredible onstage team forging an emotional connection with sold-out houses. This was my first love letter to St. Louis and I am honored to witness its historic success.”
 
The production marked Sharif’s directorial debut at The Rep, and served as a triumphant capper to the first half of her debut season as The Rep’s artistic leader.
 
Sharif officially arrived at The Rep in June, part of a new wave of leadership at regional theatres throughout the nation. This fresh crop of leaders is younger and more diverse  – in a survey of 101 regional artistic director positions filled since 2015, Bay Area theatre directors Rebecca Novick and Evren Odcikin found that 42 of these incoming leaders were women (up from 22) and 29 were people of color (up from 13).
 
As an African-American woman taking the reins at one of the country’s most prestigious regional theatres, Sharif quickly became one of the leading faces of this exciting sea change.
 
In just six months, Sharif has galvanized The Rep’s presence both onstage and in the community. The theatre has rapidly expanded its outreach programs, hiring a Special Events Manager and a Community Organizing Manager to help bring The Rep beyond its home in suburban Webster Groves to the rest of the St. Louis region.
 
“This first year is very much about learning from and listening to the community,” Sharif said. “We’re planting seeds for the next era of The Rep, and a major part of that is understanding what the community needs from its art. We’ve learned at every step of the way, from our season-opening Angels in America through Pride and Prejudice, and it’s all informing our plans for the 2020-2021 season and beyond. I can’t wait to share our next act with St. Louis.”

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Photo by Philip Hamer.

Charles Glenn, an iconic performer and recently retired St. Louis Blues anthem singer, will provide the musical entertainment at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ Summer Block Party.

The Rep will host its Summer Block Party from 5 to 8 p.m. on July 25 at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves. The event is completely free and open to the public.

Glenn’s impassioned performances of the national anthem have been a staple at Blues games for the last 19 years. In April, he announced that the 2018-2019 campaign would be his last with the Blues. But the team wouldn’t let him retire without one last magical run, as Glenn’s singular voice helped to soundtrack the team’s journey all the way to its first-ever Stanley Cup championship.

In recognition for his contributions to the city, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson declared June 9 “Charles Glenn Day” on the date of his final Blues anthem performance.

While his performances at the Enterprise Center might be his best-known, Glenn boasts a lifetime of musical greatness. The son of an accomplished opera singer, he has performed at events throughout the region and served as the opening act for such artists as Smokey Robinson, the Allman Brothers and Huey Lewis and the News.

It’s fitting that a St. Louis icon will help to power The Rep’s Summer Block Party.

The event serves as both an introduction to the theatre’s new artistic director, Hana S. Sharif, as well as a celebration of the community The Rep calls home. Other attractions at the event will include food trucks, lawn games, Q&As and demonstrations from Rep artists, kids’ activities and more. Sharif will be on hand to meet with attendees and share her vision for The Rep.

For more information on The Rep’s Summer Block Party, visit repstl.org/blockparty.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is excited to introduce Amelia Acosta Powell as its new associate artistic director.Beginning on June 17, Acosta Powell will join The Rep’s new artistic leadership team headed by Augustin Family Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif.Acosta Powell most recently served as line producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a Tony Award-winning organization that stands as one of the preeminent destinations for American regional theatre. Before that, she worked as the casting director and artistic associate at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Georgetown University (where she dual-majored in theatre and Spanish), Acosta Powell’s wide-ranging artistic career includes producing and directing plays throughout the D.C. area.In 2017, American Theatre magazine named her as a rising star in the industry as part of its “Theatre Workers You Should Know” series.“Amelia is an extraordinary producer and a talented director that is a joyful addition to the artistic team,” Sharif said. “I look forward to collaborating with her in creating captivating theatre that captures the indomitable spirit of St. Louis.”“I’m very humbled and honored,” Acosta Powell said. “Hana is an inspiring and galvanizing leader who is both compassionate and persistent. It was an easy ‘yes’ when she offered me this role. The more that I’ve learned about the work at The Rep, the more excited I am to be a part of this organization and the city of St. Louis. It’s ripe with opportunity.” Acosta Powell will succeed Seth Gordon, The Rep’s associate artistic director of nine years, as he moves on to pursue new opportunities outside the organization.Acosta Powell says that she expects to spend much of her first year in St. Louis on a “listening tour,” learning more about the theatre and the city as she focuses on building The Rep’s outreach into the community. Her day-to-day work will include serving as a facilitator and liaison between The Rep’s artistic leadership, guest artists and staff.She’s most excited about the work that will happen on The Rep’s intimate stages.“What I love about theatre is being live in the room together,” Acosta Powell said. “I love to engage in the dialogue that happens when you’re at a play that doesn’t necessarily happen at a movie or other entertainment events. I love when the story that’s being told on stage is impacting the people in the room. Whether it’s loud laughter or groans of recognition at something cringeworthy, that kind of really visceral response is unique and thrilling.”One of Acosta Powell’s Oregon colleagues can’t wait to see what happens next in her career.“Amelia is a sophisticated artist, intrepid producer, and an exemplary leader who has had an extraordinary impact on the evolution of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” said Mica Cole, repertory producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “Her appointment as associate artistic director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis makes me not only ecstatic for the future of The Rep, but for the seismic shift Hana and Amelia will undoubtedly bring to the field at large.”