Metro Theater Company (MTC), St. Louis’s premiere professional theater for youth and families, continues to expand its artistic footprint into the living rooms of families in St. Louis and across the world with the presentation of two more digital streaming productions this summer, including Early Days — Stories of the Pandemic Digital Archive: A St. Louis COVID-19 Digital Play (live streamed July 29 at 6:30 p.m.) and the virtual premiere of A Kids Play About Racism (available August 1-2).
Both productions are collaborations on the local and national level, and are part of Metro Theater Company’s ongoing efforts and mission to create productions that respect young people’s intelligence, tell compelling stories, stimulate curiosity and provoke thoughtful reflection, even as the St. Louis community adapts to the pandemic.

Early Days — Stories of the Pandemic Digital Archive: A St. Louis COVID-19 Digital PlayWednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m.FreeLive-streamed at https://www.metroplays.orghttps://mohistory.org/online-resources or MTC’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MetroPlays
This short play, written by MTC Producing Associate John Wolbers, is part of Metro Theater Company’s partnership with the Missouri Historical Society to document our region’s experiences with the historic COVID-19 pandemic from the unique perspectives of submissions from people of all backgrounds. Together, the two organizations have created an original 15-minute play set against the backdrop of a teen’s now-Zoom call birthday celebration, as a fictional St. Louis family navigates the changes, perspectives, emotions, and hopes we all shared in March as our lives began to change. MTC Artistic Director Julia Flood directs. The cast for this live-streamed story of courage and resilience features actors, Jacqueline ThompsonNicholas Kryah, and Teens Make History Apprentice Madeline Emke. A Q&A follows the performance.
Teens Make History is a work-based learning program for local high school students. Through long-term, paid apprenticeships in exhibitions and museum theatre, the program aims to build key professional skills and give students the confidence they need to succeed. For more information or to learn how you can support this program, please visit mohistory.org/TMH.
The COVID-19 Memory Project was launched by Metro Theater Company in March 2020 to further connect the St. Louis community through storytelling during this time of social distancing. As COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, play, learn, and connect, MTC encouraged community members to share their experiences, emotions, and hopes. This repository of experiences from young people and families are being adapted into a series of virtual performances, with an ultimate goal of translating these stories into a live performance when such performances can resume. Stories from the Memory Project were incorporated in the Arts United STL virtual fundraiser. This Zoom play is the next installment of new work created through the Memory Project. To submit a story, please visit metroplays.org/MemoryProject.


A Kids Play About RacismSaturday & Sunday, August 1 & 2
Free Streaming at Broadway on Demand, https://www.broadwayondemand.com
Metro Theater Company joins a groundbreaking collaboration among 37 Theatres for Young Audiences across the United States, led by the lead producing team of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, to present the virtual premiere of A Kids Play About Racism, a theatrical adaptation of Jelani Memory’s A Kids Book About Racism. Premiering August 1 and 2 on the streaming platform Broadway On Demand, the new work is adapted and directed by award-winning director and TYA artist Khalia Davis and will be brought to life by an entirely Black and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) cast and creative team from across the United States. A Kids Play About Racism utilizes theatre to offer young children and families a way to engage in meaningful conversation about race. As part of the production, educational materials developed by Seattle Children’s Theatre in collaboration with the Northwest African American Museum will extend the experience and enhance age-appropriate engagement. All 37 partnering theatres are members of Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), the national organization representing the field of theatre for children and family audiences. The streaming of A Kids Play About Racism is accompanied by interviews and educational videos.
The scale and breadth of this co-production has been made possible in part through the network cultivated by TYA/USA, which connects organizations and artists across the country focused on theatre for young people and families. Through the last few months, TYA/USA has offered a range of programming to provide deep connections and resource sharing in response to COVID-19. Through this network, TYA theatres across the country have been able to come together to find ways to support each other and their audiences through new and innovative collaboration models.
A Kids Play About Racism is adapted and directed by Khalia Davis, with music composed by Justin Ellington and Costume Design by Ron McCann (California). It will be performed by Davied Morales (California), Angel Adedokun (California), Moses Goods (Hawaii), Rapheal Hamilton (Arizona), Isaiah Harris (Texas), Jessenia Ingram (Georgia), and Regan Sims (New York).
The work is produced by Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre, in partnership with Adventure Theatre MTC, Arts on the Horizon, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Children’s Theater of Madison, Children’s Theatre Company, Childsplay, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Coterie Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dare to Dream Theatre, Des Moines Performing Arts, Filament Theatre, First Stage, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Imagination Stage, The Kennedy Center, Magik Theatre, Metro Theater Company, Nashville Children’s Theatre, New York City Children’s Theater, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Pink Umbrella Theater Company, ReNew Productions, Rose Theater, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Growing Stage – The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, The Gottabees, The Open Eye Theater, TheatreWorksUSA, Trike Theatre, Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University, and Orpheum Theatre Group.

Metro Theater Company (MTC), St. Louis’s premiere professional theater for youth and families, has launched a two-play summer digital streaming series, including the 2019 world premiere of The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus by Eric Coble (available May 27 – June 28) and the critically acclaimed 2016 production of And In This Corner… Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin (available June 23 – July 26). 
Both productions, which were directed by MTC Artistic Director Julia Flood, will be available in a pay-what-you-can pay-per-view environment at metroplays.org, expanding the company’s artistic footprint into the living rooms of families in St. Louis and across the world as the St. Louis community adjusts to changes in public gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus this summer. The streaming performances are presented in partnership with HEC Media, whose video production team captured and edited both productions.
Prior to this summer streaming series, both productions were part of a virtual international festival and conference hosted earlier in May by TYA-USA, the national service organization for theaters for youth and families, attended by over 1,200 theater and education professionals. 
Summer Streaming Productions
The Girl Who Swallowed a CactusMay 27 – June 28, 2020Streaming at metroplays.org/watchnowThe Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus originally toured to schools across the St. Louis region in September, October, and November 2019. During that school tour, it also received several public performances, in partnership with the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, and Urban Chestnut’s Oktoberfest. The pay-per-view performance being streamed was captured at the Missouri History Museum. The one-person play is an imaginative tour de force for actress Jamie McKittrick as she shares the story of a group of friends who go on a wild adventure in the American Southwest after a well-dressed talking coyote steals an orange traffic cone from their junkyard summer fortress.

Cassius Clay. Photo by Victoria Lafferty

And In This Corner…Cassius ClayJune 23 – 26, 2020 Streaming at metroplays.org/watchnowAnd In This Corner…Cassius Clay tells the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali and his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing in Jim Crow-era Louisville. The play was a hit of the 2015-16 theater season and generated numerous accolades for Metro Theater Company, including the Network for Strong Communities’ prestigious Paulie Award for creating positive change through collaborative nonprofit partnerships. Led by Trigney Morgan as Cassius Clay between the ages of 11 and 20, the play was celebrated by the St. Louis American for its “authentic chemistry among the cast” and its potential to encourage audiences “to channel their inner champion and fight for what’s right.” The streaming production was filmed during the play’s original February 2016 run at the Missouri History Museum.
Additional Virtual Offerings
Virtual Summer CampsJune 8–26, July 6–10, July 27–August 7, 2020   Available at metroplays.org/summer-campsIn response to COVID-19, Metro Theater Company has shifted its popular summer camps to run as virtual camps this year. Virtual camps begin with three weeks of middle school camp (June 8 – 26), each exploring a different theme, from Reality TV to a murder mystery whodunnit to characters from literature. High school camp is offered July 6-10, and two one-week camps for Pre K through Grade 5 are offered July 27 – August 7. All camps include a combination of drama, dance, music, and creative discovery, including audition technique, stage combat, stage make up, and playwriting for older campers. Camps start at $100 per week for half-day Pre-K and Kindergarten students. Registration and detailed pricing is available at www.metroplays.org/summer-camps

COVID-19 Memory ProjectOngoingOnline at metroplays.org/memoryproject Metro Theater Company also continues its COVID-19 Memory Project, sourcing stories from the St. Louis community throughout the pandemic. Stories and experiences shared with MTC are being adapted into virtual theatrical performances. The first short performance of material from the COVID-19 Memory Project will be included in the May 31 Arts United STL benefit for the Regional Arts Commission. The first of several short “Zoom Plays” will follow, beginning in early July. 

About Metro Theater Company: Since 1973, Metro Theater Company has been creating productions that respect young people’s intelligence, tell compelling stories, stimulate curiosity and provoke thoughtful reflection. The Company has reached a total audience of more than two million and has a national reputation for excellence in the field of professional theater for young audiences. Metro Theater Company has received major honors and awards, both locally and nationally. The company is led by Artistic Director Julia Flood and Managing Director Joe Gfaller. For more information, visit http://metroplays.org

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing EditorTHAT VOICE: Are you on Team Kennedy yet? If you haven’t heard Kennedy Holmes, 13, from St. Louis in her blind audition on “The Voice,” be prepared to be wowed and understand why it went viral.
Part of The Muny Kids for five years, Kennedy starred as Little Inez in the 2015 “Hairspray” production, has sung the national anthem for Cardinals’ games and appeared as one of the Cratchit children in “A Christmas Carol” at The Rep in 2016. She is an eighth grader at John Burroughs School.
Her confident delivery of Adele’s “Turning Tables,” which showcased her control and range, impressed all four judges and got a 4-chair turn – and standing ovation.
She auditioned in Indianapolis earlier this year and is the youngest person in the singing competition this season. Producers saved her for the last spot and teased her appearance in a sneak peek last week that set her schoolmates and local folks buzzing. The cliffhanger coach pick was easy to guess.
Kennedy, while remarkably poised singing, got emotional over Jennifer Hudson, and then sang with her idol in an impromptu “I Am Changing” from “Dreamgirls.”
The guys made convincing pitches.
Adam Levine: “Very, very rarely does someone come around that kind of reignites our passion for what we do. And to hear you sing today did that. Just to see that kind of confidence naturally exist in you at such a young age, it’s unheard of. After the 15 seasons, you really could become the absolute biggest thing to ever come from this show.”
Blake Shelton: “Let me be the first to thank you for coming to ‘The Voice,’ ’cause our ratings are going to shoot through the roof this evening. I think you are the best vocalist that has auditioned this year. I want you to pick me as your coach so you can teach me how to sing like that.”
After Kennedy’s pick, Hudson was ecstatic. “I think the game is over because I just won ‘The Voice’ with little Miss Kennedy. Yes, I did.”
Here’s the clip from the Blind Auditions, which started Sept. 24. To date, her audition video has been viewed 3.6 million times on YouTube.com.

This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kennedy. It will be fun watching her progress on the national stage, next in the Knockout Rounds, then hopefully Battle Rounds and Live Performances. (And the local television and radio stations are all over it.)
***DEVIL MAY CARE: As the calendar turns autumnal, it’s time for sinister, spooky suspense. Five local theater groups have teamed up to present “Faustival: The Devils We Choose” – one in August and the rest through December.
The artistic collaboration is between Equally Represented Arts, The Midnight Company, Theatre Nuevo, SATE, and the Post-Romantics. They are presenting works on the Faust myth from the 16th century – about a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for perks.
ERA FaustIn August, ERA, along with Kid Scientist, presented “Faust (go down with all the re$t),” an experimental rock-opera-adaptation of Goethe’s most celebrated work.
Currently, The Midnight Company is presenting the one-act “An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening,” along with another one-act by Mickle Maher, “The Hunchback Variations.”
For more information, www.midnightcompany.com
In October, Theatre Nuevo will present “whither should I fly” from Oct. 25 – Nov. 10 at the William A. Kerr Foundation, 21 O’Fallon St., St. Louis. For more information, visit www.theatrenuevo.com
Starting on Halloween, “Doctor Faustus, or the Modern Prometheus” by John Wolbers and Kit Marlowe will be performed by Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE) Wednesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 17 at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, St. Louis. For more information, www.slightlyoff.org.
The Post-Romantics will present “Doomsday Faust” Dec. 5 – 8 at the Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive Street, St. Louis.
For more information, please visit faustival.org.
***MOVING ON UP: The aforementioned John Wolbers, who has adapted Faust for SATE, shared some exciting news recently. He is a new Producing Associate at the Metro Theatre Company. He has served as the full-time resident teaching artist at MTC since the 2012-2013 season. He will assist Artistic Director Julia Flood with casting, directing and production administration.
Andrew Kuhlman is Broadway bound! He is currently working in New York as a co-producer on “The Prom,” the Broadway musical comedy that begins previews on Oct. 23. Andrew, an associate producer at Stages St. Louis, made the announcement Sept. 7.
“I am beyond excited to be taking this journey with a show that I could not believe in more. I cannot wait for audiences to fall in love with this hilarious, heartfelt and energetic musical,” he said.
“The Prom” has some prominent local connections – including Jack Lane, at Stages St. Louis, as one of its producers. Lane already has two Tony Awards as part of the group behind “Fun Home” and “The Humans.”
Joe Grandy, Andrew Kuhlman of “The Prom”The show lyricist and book writer is Chad Beguelin, who grew up in Centralia, Ill. He’s a multiple Tony nominee, for book and lyrics to “The Wedding Singer” and lyrics to “Aladdin.”
The cast includes Muny favorite Beth Leavel, Tony winner for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and Muny veterans, including St. Louis natives Drew Redington and Jack Sippel, and Fairview Heights native Joe Grandy.
***WHO’S WHO: Upstream Theater is hosting renowned director Marianne de Pury who will stage the U.S. premiere of “Chef” by UK/Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz. The one-woman show, starring Linda Kennedy, opens Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 14.
Linda Kennedy, Photo by ProPhotoSTL“Chef” is the gripping story of how one woman went from being an haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope.
Originally from the French part of Switzerland, de Pury is known for her work with the famed Open Theatre, where she composed music for “America Hurrah” and “Viet Rock.” Since those days she has directed all over the world–mostly in Germany, where her most recent work, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” was nominated as one of the year’s best productions.
Playwright Rob Urbanati came to the ‘Lou for Tesseract Theatre Company’s opening of his play, “Mama’s Boy,” which explores the relationship between a controlling mom and her son, who gained infamy as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
Here he is with the cast after Friday night’s show. They got our attention opening night at the .Zack, conveying a roller-coaster of emotions played out in historical context.
Urbanati, of New York City, is a playwright, screenwriter, book author, director, and director of new play development at Queens Theatre in the Park. His well-constructed 2015 drama is a fascinating exploration of family dynamics. It’s directed by Brad Schwartz.
From left: Jeremy Goldmeier (Robert Oswald), Brandon Atkins (Lee Harvey Oswald), playwright Rob Urbanati, Donna Parrone (Marguerite Oswald) and Carly Uding (Marina Oswald).
Lynn Venhaus photo***AROUND TOWN: Alas, the Stephen Sondheim appearance in St. Louis Oct. 4 is sold out. He is accepting the 2018 St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates for being one of the most eminent lyricists and composers of the modern era.
He is the first musical lyricist to win the award since its inception in 1967. In a remarkable career spanning 70 years, Sondheim has written the lyrics, music —or both, for some of the most iconic and long running plays in the history of American theater.
The response was overwhelming, and all seats in the Sheldon Concert Hall and the simulcast viewing room have been reserved. During the event, which begins at 7 p.m., Mike Isaacson, executive producer and artistic director – and major Sondheim fan – will interview him on stage.
Three-time Tony Award winner “Avenue Q” has been extended three more weeks for its winter presentation at the Playhouse @ Westport.
Because of overwhelming ticket response, the “furry, funny and feel-good musical” will now run Jan. 25 – March 3. The cast is a combo of local and touring performers.
Another famous St. Louisan, poet, novelist and playwright A.E. Hotchner, an alumnus of Washington University, has endowed an annual Playwriting Festival. Three new works will be presented this weekend (Sept. 28 and 29) – “Tom and Grace” by Scott Greenberg, “Arriving At” by Ike Butler on Saturday at 2 p.m. and “Florida” by Lucas Marschke at 7 p.m. The guest dramaturg is Michele Volansky, chair of the drama department at Washington College in Maryland. The event is sponsored by Newman’s Own Foundation. For more information, visit: pad.artsci.wustl.edu.
The Stage Left Grille is now under Fox Management, so you can stop there for a bite to eat before a show at the Fox Theatre, the Kranzberg Arts Center or The Grandel, or any place in the Grand Arts Center.
“Confessions of a Nightingale,” a production from the Tennessee Williams Festival set for Nov. 1-4, has to be postponed until 2019.
***CHAMPAGNE & MOONSHINE: If you saw “Always, Patsy Cline” at Stages St. Louis in 2014 or at The Playhouse at Westport the following year, you must remember Jacqueline Petroccia as the star. A national sensation in that role, I recall that her velvety voice was “like butter.” She has released a debut solo album, the double EP “Champagne and Moonshine,” Collaborators on the album include musician royalty from Music City, including members of the Nashville Symphony, the award-winning Rascal Flatts, and Broadway Musician Brent Frederick.
Recorded live, with special permission, at the legendary and historic Quonset Hut on Music Row in Nashville, Tenn.,the album is available online through CD Baby (physical copy), Amazon, and iTunes.
The first EP, “Champagne,” features a big band sound appropriate for any ballroom or supper club, including an original arrangement mix “Crazy/Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Mambo Italiano.” The second EP, “Moonshine,” features new country music hits, and her original debut single “Your Name in Lights,” written by Brandon Hood, Hillary Lee Lindsey, and Troy Verges
Her other stage credits include the national tours of :The Producers,” “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was a featured soloist on the album “Where the Sky Ends” by Michael Mott (Broadway Records) and has appeared on “Prairie Home Companion,” featured with the Williamsburg Swing Orchestra and in her solo cabaret show Sometimes Patsy Cline (productions at 54 Below and Regional Theatres). More information can be found at JacquelinePetroccia.com
***YOU GO GLEN COCO: “Is butter a carb? Whatever, I’m having cheese fries.”
Wednesday, Oct. 3, is unofficially known as National Mean Girls Day, so imaginative Chef Liz of Tenacious Eats has created a fun event for the evening. Tickets are $35 and include a Mean Girls-inspired cocktail, entree and Kalteen Protein Bar for dessert.
Expect some “fetch” prizes if you can answer some Mean Girls trivia and photo ops will be available with a Lindsay Lohan lookalike. Costumes are encouraged, and it is on a Wednesday, so you might want to wear pink!
The Tina Fey movie will be shown at 7 p.m. on the big screen at the West End Grill & Pub, 354 N. Boyle. Doors open at 6 p.m. for pre-show fun, Mean Girls trivia, prizes and photo ops. Tickets are available at: www.BrownPaperTickets.com.
***WORD: Decoding Theatre Reviews – a must-read: http://exeuntmagazine.com/features/theatre-reviews-decoded/
***GO SEE A PLAY POLL: Who are your favorite moms in musicals? Answer our poll and you will be entered in our drawing for two tickets to “One Funny Mother” at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m.
Dena Blizzard, former Miss New JerseyHilarious Dena Blizzard, best known as “The Target Mom,” is a viral sensation and former Miss New Jersey. Her one-woman show puts the fun in domestic dysfunction.
FAVORITE MOM IN MUSICALS:Mae Peterson in “Bye, Bye Birdie”Margaret Smith in “Carrie”“Big Edie” Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale in “Grey Gardens”Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray”The Witch in “Into the Woods”Lady Thiang in “The King and I”Margaret Johnson in “The Light in the Piazza”
Send your pick to: [email protected] by Monday, Oct. 1, at noon. Winner will be notified soon after, and arrangements will be made for your tickets to be waiting for you at the box office.
Our last winner was Christopher Strawhun for “Oklahoma!” at Stages St. Louis.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Let’s hear it for St. Louis native Chris Redd and longest-ever SNL cast member Kenan Thompson on their Emmy win for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for “Come Back, Barack,” a Boyz II Men-style parody from last November’s episode hosted by Chance the Rapper.

Q: Despite multiple nominations, SNL has won only once before, for what song?
Justin Timberlake and Andy Samburg’s collaboration, “D**k in a Box.”
Fun fact: Theme songs also count for the award. “Moonlighting,” “Cheers,” “Chico and the Man,” “Growing Pains” and “Police Woman” have won.
Chris Redd didn’t live in St. Louis long and moved to Chicago as a youth. He is back at “Saturday Night Live” for his second season, which starts this Saturday, with host Adam Driver and musical guest Kanye West.
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Tips? Contact: [email protected]