STAGES St. Louis is thrilled to announce that five team members of the Pre-Broadway production of THE KARATE KID – The Musical have been nominated for 2022 Tony Awards. Lighting Designer Bradley King, Scenic Designer Derek McLane, and Projection
Designer Peter Nigrini each received nods, as did producer Kumiko Yoshii and STAGES St. Louis Executive Producer Jack Lane, when the full slate of this year’s nominees were announced May 9.

“I am thrilled for all of this year’s nominees, and most especially for my treasured collaborators on THE KARATE KID,” stated Kumiko Yoshii. “Today is a day of celebration for an industrthat has made a remarkable return to form.” King was nominated for Best Lighting Design of a Musical for FLYING OVER SUNSET, McLane and Nigrini were both nominated for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for MJ: THE MUSICAL.

Yoshii also serves as Co-Producer of MJ: THE MUSICAL, which earned 10 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and Lane serves as a Co-Producer for COMPANY, which earned 9, including Best Revival of a Musical “These nominations are a testament to the caliber of talent that is surrounding THE KARATE KID – The Musical, and certainly add to the excitement of STAGES’ first Pre-Broadway World Premiere,” Jack Lane said. “What a great day for the city of St. Louis!”

THE KARATE KID – The Musical will “kick-off” the 36th Season at STAGES St. Louis at The Ross Family Theatre at the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, running May 25 – June 26. Following the Pre-Broadway World Premiere will be the STAGES Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s To Award-Winning IN THE HEIGHTS (July 22 – August 21) and the return of the Pulitzer and Tony
Award-Winning classic A CHORUS LINE (September 9 – October 9).

Tickets are on sale now online at StagesStLouis.org or by phone at 314.821.2407. For more information, please follow STAGES on Facebook and Instagram or visit StagesStLouis.org

Flying Over Sunset

In celebration of the reopening of live theatre in St. Louis and their 35th Anniversary Season,
STAGES St. Louis has announced their 2022 Season will feature the regional premiere of the Tony-Award
Winning IN THE HEIGHTS, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

IN THE HEIGHTS is a vital and thrilling musical about the American Dream set in the vibrant NYC
neighborhood of Washington Heights. Exploring the hopes and dreams of family, community, and more,
the production is a perfect fit for the STAGES mission and audience.

Before there was HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s IN THE HEIGHTS took Broadway by storm, winning the
Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. An acclaimed film
adaptation, directed by Jon M. Chu and starring Anthony Ramos, was released this past weekend.

“We are beyond excited about presenting IN THE HEIGHTS at STAGES in 2022. I can’t think of a better
show to be a part of our first full season at the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center. Everything about this
beautiful and melodic musical speaks to the stories that STAGES so loves to tell,” said Mosbacher Family
Executive Producer Jack Lane.

On its Broadway opening in 2008, The New York Times raved, “When this musical erupts in one of its
expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year
or two.” That energy will no doubt be alive and thriving on The Ross Family Theatre stage at the Kirkwood
Performing Arts Center in 2022.

STAGES St. Louis will announce the remainder of their 2022 Season later this summer. In the meantime,
tickets for STAGES 35th Anniversary Season, featuring the fan-favorite production of ALWAYS… PATSY
CLINE (August 6 – September 5) and the STAGES premiere of JERSEY BOYS (September 24 – October 24)
are on sale now. You can purchase two-show subscriptions or single tickets by visiting their website at
StagesStLouis.org or by calling the Box Office at 314.821.2407.

For more information, please follow STAGES on Facebook and Instagram or visit the organization’s website.
STAGES St. Louis is the region’s foremost not-for-profit company committed to preserving and advancing
the art form of Musical Theatre through excellence in performance and education. In 2021, STAGES
celebrates its 35th year of producing Broadway-quality theatre, as well as the grand opening of our new
home, the $25 Million Kirkwood Performing Arts Center.

STAGES Performing Arts Academy is regionally renowned for its innovative and multi-disciplinary programs
that transform lives through immersion in the Musical Theatre arts. Celebrating its 16th year, it is also the
only such program in the St. Louis region to be connected to a professional theatre company.


For more information on the Academy or to register today please call 636.449.5775 or visit us online at
www.StagesStLouis.org.Two-show subscription and single tickets for the 2021 Season are on sale now. For more information,
please call 314.821.2407 or visit www.StagesStLouis.or

By Lynn Venhaus
“In the Heights” is indescribably delicious — and one of the best movie musicals of the 21st century, splendidly transferred from stage to screen.

Bursting with exuberance and featuring a bustling street tableau, this long-awaited adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical is teeming with colorful sights and sounds.

Besides a richly textured, pulsating score with primarily hip-hop lyrics and a salsa beat, what made the musical special is how it captures a universal story of people chasing their dreams with a specific sense of place.

Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos) is the owner of a small bodega in New York City’s Washington Heights. As the neighborhood braces for changes and people follow their dreams, family stories are revealed.

Usnavi has a crush on Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who dreams of being a designer and wants to live in the West Village. His childhood friend, Nina (Leslie Grace), the “one who made it out” by landing a scholarship to Stanford University, thinks she is disappointing her dad, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits), who owns a local car service company. Nina’s love interest, Benny (Corey Hawkins), works for her dad. Meanwhile, Abuelo Claudia (Olga Merediz) dispenses love and advice as the neighborhood’s matriarch. Merediz played the role on Broadway.

And Usnavi discovers his store has sold a winning lottery ticket for $96,000 – money that could make a lot of dreams possible.

Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera

As a celebration of Latino heritage, from Caribbean islands, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, this film arrives at the perfect time – it’s a valuable immigrant representation and a major achievement in 2021.

Set during a blistering summer heat wave in the barrio over the course of three days, you feel “all the feels” — You will fall in love with these characters and their devotion to family, culture and finding their place in the world.

Showcasing an abundance of charisma, three stars are born: Anthony Ramos as Usnavi, Melissa Barrera as Vanessa and Leslie Grace as Nina. Ramos, most known as John Laurens and Alexander’s son Philip in “Hamilton,” sings and dances up a storm, but also has the emotional heft for good-hearted, hard-working Usnavi. Barrera and Grace dazzle in every musical number – and their personal stories tug at the heartstrings.

The entire cast is terrific — Corey Hawkins as Benny, Daphe Rubin-Vega as Daniella, Olga Merediz as Abuela Claudia, Jimmy Smits as Kevin Rosario and Gregory Diaz IV as Sonny, among them.

Jon M. Chu, who directed “Crazy Rich Asians,” has a flair for keeping things moving at a brisk pace in massive musical numbers but also creating an intimacy with the duets and personal struggles. For a movie with a running time of 2 hours and 23 minutes, that is no small feat.

Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the musical’s original book plus the screen adaptation) brings it into today, with references to Dreamers (DACA), activism and current class struggles. The women characters are all strong role models, too.

Best of all are the energetic dance scenes. Vibrant choreographer Christopher Scott will have you moving and up from your seat! He brings so much joy to these lively street scenes, and their precise moves – on asphalt, park, water or sand – are striking. He is a Busby Berkeley for the modern age, keen on making the action ‘pop.’

And for Miranda’s devotees and “Hamilton” fans, there are a few tasty in-jokes. Check out the phone muzak while Jimmy Smits is on hold – recognize a signature tune? — and there is a rivalry between his “The Piragua Guy” and a Mr. Softee truck (with a certain actor once known as Mr. President – and who played Benny in the original cast). Christopher Jackson and Miranda go way back to 2002.

Miranda was the first composer to put hip-hop lyrics in a Broadway show — and the youngest to win the Tony for Best Music Score in 2009. While that is remarkable in itself, what he has managed in his career to date is awe-inspiring — and means a lot is expected from him. Next up, his directorial debut with “Tick, Tick…Boom,” basically the Jonathan Larson story, which will premiere on Netflix this fall. He credits the “Rent” composer with being one of his influences.

His “Hamilton” Dream Team of Tommy Kail, Alex Lacamoire and Andy Blankenbuehler worked together on all the stage versions of “In the Heights,” so while not specifically involved in the movie, their influence can be felt.

Miranda wrote a new song, “Home All Summer,” which plays over the credits and features Marc Anthony, who has a minor role as Sonny’s father, in addition to Ramos and Grace.

Sonny’s father wasn’t in the original musical, and there are a few alterations here, including a new framing device and ending, but it only adds to the material, not detracts. A few songs were cut from the 25, and the soundtrack now includes 17, including the new one.

Movie musicals can be a dicey proposition these days, for every “Chicago” (Oscar winner) and “Les Miserables” (Best Picture nominee), there is an epic failure like “The Phantom of the Opera” and the unwatchable “Cats.”

This is a fun, global experience that will be a certain summer sizzler. After a pandemic delay, “In the Heights” is a welcome refresher in the magic of music and movies.

“In the Heights” is a musical directed by John M. Chu and starring Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Daphne Rubin-Vega,  Corey Hawkins, Marc Anthony and Jimmy Smits. It is rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive references, and runs 2 hours, 23 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: The movie is in theaters starting June 10 and on HBO Max June 10 – July 11.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing EditorA STAR WAS BORN: It was as if scripted in a movie. You’ve heard of that classic moment in the 1933 movie “42nd Street” when an understudy takes over for an injured diva. Well, it really happened right here in St. Louis one summer 46 years ago at The Muny.
On Aug. 14, 1972, MGM musical star Ann Miller was playing Reno Sweeney to Michael Callan’s Billy Crockett in “Anything Goes.” The classic Cole Porter romantic romp was underway when right after the song “Friendship” during a scenery change, Miller was conked on the head by a steel boom. Callan had followed her off-stage, then found her on the floor, dazed and bruised.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” A call went out from the stage and 15 doctors responded. The show was cancelled and Miller taken to Deaconess Hospital with a mild brain concussion and loss of equilibrium. She spent 23 days there.With Miller out but not wanting to cancel the week, Muny brass sought a replacement. They plucked Pat St. James, a senior at Webster University, from the ensemble. She rose to the occasion.
St. James, whose parents were local broadcast celebrities Clif and Nance St. James, was praised for her soaring performance. She later thrived in a musical theater career.
But in 1999, she switched gears, earning a degree in theology and ordained an Episcopal priest. She was married to David Roberts, and they lived in Atlanta with their two children, Oliver and Julia. At age 61, after a four-year battle with cancer, she died on Dec. 5, 2010.
Her moment in the sun became a Muny legend.
“Anything Goes” may have been Miller’s first appearance at The Muny but it wouldn’t be her last. She would be persuaded to return in the next decade, for ‘Sugar Babies” with Mickey Rooney in 1984.
Miller starred in “Kiss Me Kate,” “Easter Parade,” “On the Town,” “Stage Door,” “Room Service” and “Mulholland Drive” (?!?).Side Note: I actually saw Pat St. James as Reno Sweeney that week at The Muny. Everyone was abuzz.
(“Anything Goes” photo from Muny archives, from left, Pat Paulsen, Pat St. James, Michael Callan.)
***HELLO, USA!: Congratulations to Madison Johnson of St. Louis, who has been cast in the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” that begins in late September. She is part of the ensemble and understudy for Minnie Fay.This tour of the Broadway revival, which won four Tony Awards in 2017, will feature Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi and Lewis J. Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder. Stadlen, a three-time Tony nominee, has been in several Muny shows, including “The Producers,” “Damn Yankees,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Madison has been part of the Muny ensemble the past six years, recently playing Lucille Ballard in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” She was Kristine in “A Chorus Line” last summer and Frenchie in 2014’s “Grease.” She started at age 7 as a Muny Kid. A graduate of Whitfield School and Elon College, she moved to New York City in 2016.
***
SIX DEGREES OF ST. LOUIS: John David Washington is starring in “BlackkKlansman” as undercover cop Ron Stallworth, who wrote the book that Spike Lee has adapted into this acclaimed film.

He was signed by the St. Louis Rams in 2007 after he was not drafted in the NFL Draft. Later cut from the Rams, he was a running back for the Hamburg Sea Devils, a German team playing in the NFL Europe League. Fun fact: Eldest son of two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
Photo: Adam Driver and John David Washington
***GO SEE A PLAY! POLL: The St. Louis Fringe Festival’s local headlining act is an original musical written and composed by Colin Healy called “The Gringo.” The world premiere will be performed four times from Thursday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug. 19, at the .Zack, 3224 Locust.
It’s about how art can bring a community together. Set in Miami, a local street artist is wrongfully gunned down by police. As told through the lens of a successful painter, this community faces injustice and rapid gentrification. They learn what it means to fight for your home.
The cast includes Gheremi Clay, Kevin Corpuz, Robert Crenshaw, Evann De-Bose, Riley Dunn, William Humphrey, Omega Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Alicia Revé Like, Brittany Losh, Samantha Madison, Gabby McNabb, Carly Niehaus, Janine Norman and David Zimmerman.
Healy directs, with Bradley Rohlf assistant director; Christopher Page-Sanders choreographer and Carly Uding costume design.Tieliere Cheatem contributed the artwork. On opening night, they will give this portrait away that has been signed by the cast and the crew. Tickets available at Metrotix.com

For a chance to win two tickets to one performance, enter our poll drawing!Poll Question: What Is Your Favorite Show About Art? “Art”
“Is He Dead?”“Red”“Sunday in the Park with George”“Sight Unseen”
Submit your selection to [email protected] by noon on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Please include your phone number. You will be notified that afternoon if you won, and you can select what performance so that tickets can be arranged. The show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Thanks for participating.
Winner of our two tickets to “Meet Me in St. Louis” was Chuck Brinkley. Thank you, Muny!
“Meet Me in St. Louis” received the most votes as the favorite local movie shot in or made about St. Louis.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Oscar winner Shelley Winters, whose career spanned five decades, was born Shirley Schrift on Aug. 18, 1920, in St. Louis to Jewish immigrant parents. Her father, a tailor, moved the family to Brooklyn when she was a child. She died at age 86 in 2006.
Once nicknamed “The Blonde Bombshell,” she later became known for forceful dramatic roles.For what movie performances did she win her two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress?Answer: “The Diary of Anne Frank” in 1959, as a shrill Mrs. Van Daan, and “A Patch of Blue” in 1965, in which she played a slatternly mother cruel to her blind daughter.
Her breakthrough role on stage was as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!” five years into the run, and she was noticed in “A Double Life” starring Oscar winner Ronald Coleman in 1947.But after a dissatisfying number of movie roles, she finally got the role of her lifetime in “A Place in the Sun” with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor.
Some of her other big movies were “A Night of the Hunter” in 1955 and “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972. Earlier, she had returned to studying at the Actors Studio and became a big advocate of the Lee Strasberg method.
A lifelong progressive Democrat and outspoken on feminist issues, she became quite a raconteur on talk shows during the 1970s and ‘80s. Her two tell-all autobiographies created quite a stir, as she had some high-profile leading-men dalliances.
Fun fact: She roomed with Marilyn Monroe when they were just starting out in Hollywood.
Happy Birthday, Shelley! (She would have been 98 Monday).Photo at right: Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters.
***ICYMI: A movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning “In the Heights” is planned for summer release 2020. Jon M. Chu, who helmed the new romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” will direct.Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” will be made into a movie, and production is to start in November. Stars signed so far are Tony winners James Corden and Ian McKellen, along with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Grammy winner Taylor Swift.
***WORD/DOWN MEMORY LANE: “Would you shut your phones off for Christ sakes?” – Stanley Tucci, during the Aug. 14, 2002, performance of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. An audience member’s cell phone kept ringing. Calls for a ban on cell phones at NYC’s theatres grew louder, and a law was put into effect in 2003.
***Have any tidbits for this people column? Contact Managing Editor Lynn Venhaus – [email protected]
.All photos from archives or submitted. Featured image is of St. Louis native Shelley Winters.