COVID-19 Pandemic Results in Production Streamcast by HEC Media

New Jewish Theatre led the way with six awards at the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Max & Louie Productions’ performance of Indecent garnered five awards, followed by four awards to The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis for its production of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Circle’s gala event for this year’s award ceremony, originally scheduled for March 30, 2020 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, was canceled. Instead, HEC Media produced a version of the ceremonies that was streamcast on HEC Media’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hectv/live/) as well as telecast on Spectrum channel 989 and AT&T U-verse channel 99. Here is the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tCo0AFHbChE

Awards were given in 31 categories covering comedies, dramas and musicals as well as two categories for opera. In addition, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg received a special award for their philanthropic contributions to the arts and theater in the St. Louis area, including many developments in Grand Center. The awards honored outstanding achievement in locally produced professional theater for the calendar year 2019.

A total of 21 productions and 14 companies were recognized by the awards, including eight individuals who have received honors in previous years. Will Bonfiglio, honored as Outstanding Actor in a Comedy for his performance in New Jewish Theatre’s production of Fully Committed, received an award for the third time in the last four years.

The 2020 presentation featured nominees from two companies, Black Mirror Theatre and The Q Collective, which were represented for the first time in consideration of St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.  Each company received an award for outstanding achievement.

In all, 25 local companies received nominations in 33 categories for comedy, drama, musical and opera, as well as 125 individuals up for awards. Honorees who have previously received St. Louis Theater Circle Awards include Will Bonfiglio, J. Samuel Davis, Kari Ely, Michael Hamilton, Patrick Huber, Sean M. Savoie, Margery and Peter Spack, and Maggie Wininger.

The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.

Nominations for the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards were divided into categories for musicals, dramas, comedies and operas.  More than 120 local professional theatrical productions were staged in the St. Louis area in 2019.

Honorees of the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are:

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Kelley Weber, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Patrick Blindauer, Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy (tie)

Katie Kleiger, Pride and Prejudice, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Maggie Wininger, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy

Will Bonfiglio, Fully Committed, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Director of a Comedy

Kari Ely, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Production of a Comedy

Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre

Indecent

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama

Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

Carly Uding, Translations, Black Mirror Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama

J. Samuel Davis, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Actress in a Drama

Donna Weinsting, Salt, Root and Roe, Upstream Theater

Outstanding Actor in a Drama

Gary Wayne Barker, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Director of a Drama

Joanne Gordon, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Production of a Drama

Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Set Design in a Play

Margery and Peter Spack, Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play

Felia Davenport, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play

Patrick Huber, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Sound Design

Phillip Evans, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical

Mary Engelbreit and Paige Hathaway, Matilda, The Muny

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical

Sarah Porter, La Cage aux Folles, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical

Sean M. Savoie, Man of La Mancha, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Musical Director

Charles Creath, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, The Black Rep

Outstanding Choreographer

Dexandro Montalvo, Such Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,

Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

Matilda, The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

Taylor Louderman, Kinky Boots, The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

Tielere Cheatem, La Cage aux Folles, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Kendra Kassebaum, Guys and Dolls, The Muny

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Luke Steingruby, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Q Collective

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Michael Hamilton, Man of La Mancha, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Such Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,

Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media

Outstanding New Play

Nonsense and Beauty, by Scott C. Sickles, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

La Boheme

Outstanding Achievement in Opera (tie)

Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Roland Wood, Rigoletto, Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Production of an Opera

La Boheme, Union Avenue Opera

Special Award

Ken and Nancy Kranzberg

Members of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Steve Allen, stagedoorstl.com; Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; Tina Farmer, KDHX; Michelle Kenyon, snoopstheatrethoughts.com; Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle (HEC Media); Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX; Sarah Bryan Miller, St.Louis Post-Dispatch; Judith Newmark, judyacttwo.com; Ann Lemons Pollack, stlouiseats.typepadcom; Tanya Seale, Broadwayworld.com; Lynn Venhaus, PopLifeSTL.com; Bob Wilcox, Two on the Aisle (HEC Media); and Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.Eleanor Mullin, local actress and arts supporter, is the group’s administrator. 

For more information, contact [email protected] or ‘like’ The St. Louis Theater Circle on Facebook.

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By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorShow me Summertime! It’s here, the official start of summer, and there are 20 plays, musicals and operas, plus one circus, to enjoy this weekend. (Is this a record?)Outdoors, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis closes out its park run of “Love’s Labors Lost,” this weekend, while “Kinky Boots” at the Muny is the second show of the second century, ending Tuesday.It’s the last chance to see “Be More Chill” at New Line — OK, the run is sold-out, but there are still student tickets and a waiting list that they manage to get in most of the time.

Others ending their run include the A.R. Gurney comedy “Sylvia” at Stray Dog Theatre, and Act Inc. in St. Charles, with their double header, “Travels with My Aunt” and “Leaving Iowa.”The Opera Theatre of St. Louis is in repertory with their four summer offerings. The midwest premiere of “The Boy from Oz” continues at Stages St. Louis.New offerings include Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at SIUE, “101 Dalmatians” for young audiences at Stages St. Louis, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” by the Q Collective and “Indecent” by Max and Louie Productions.

In Community Theatre, Looking Glass Playhouse’s Youth Show is “Singin’ in the Rain” and O’Fallon Theatre Works presents “The Miracle Worker.”

Whatever your preference, go see a play and kick off a summer of fun.

“101 Dalmatians” Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences June 18 – 30 Robert Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Condensed from the Disney animated film, “101
Dalmatians” is about the evil Cruella DeVil and her two klutzy henchmen as they
trey to steal a litter of the cutest puppies ever to hit jolly old London Town.
But not to worry – thus fur-raising adventure ends happily with plenty of puppy
power to spare!

Director/Choreographer: Peggy Taphorn
Starring: Tyler Jent, Eric Michael Parker, Larissa White, Drew Humphrey, Dena
DiGiacinto, Laura Ernst, Ryan Cooper, Joshua Roach

“An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri” Gitana Productions June 20-23 Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand www.gitana-inc.org.

What It’s About: This provocative original play is inspired
by the amazing stories of such remarkable individuals as Friedrich Munch, Judge
Arnold Krekel and August Boernstein; German immigrants and leading
abolitionists in the State of Missouri. Through the lens of history, we will
bring to life the elements of what it means to strive for social justice for
“others” when advocating within and outside of one’s own cultural
group. While many Germans who came to the Midwest were staunch defenders of a
“color-blind” democracy some immigrants set aside their values in
order to survive and be accepted during the period before and after the Civil
War. As is the case with most Americans there are often contradictions in our
beliefs often colliding and challenging us to clarify what is most important.
The German story is an important American story…where the ideal of Democracy brings
together unlikely and diverse champions.

“As You Like It” Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville June 21 – 30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Metcalf Theatre 618-650-2774 www.siue.edu

What It’s About: The theatrical and enchanting Shakespeare that you have come to expect from SIUE Summer Theater continues. This beloved romantic comedy moves from the magical Forest of Arden to the mysterious 1930’s Ozark forests,  complete with original Old-Time Tunes. Our hero Rosalind, finding herself on the run from the evils of the city with her best friend Celia and her philosophical fool Touchstone, disguises herself as a young man and begins a journey of self-discovery. Falling in love and learning who you are by “acting the part” are the heart of this classic tale of romance and reconciliation.

Songwriters Summer Baer, Lisa Hinrichs, Lizzie Weber and Christopher Sears are featuring lots of Old Time music and original tunes inspired by the genre. Guitars, ukuleles, a cello and a fiddle, a couple of banjos, a cajon drum, rounded out with tambourine and washboard, will be performing the music.

Director: Ellie Schwetye Cast:

Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“Be More Chill” May 30-June 22 Thursday – Sunday, 8 p.m. New Line Theatre The Marcelle Theatre, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive www.newlinetheatre.org 314-534-1111 What It’s About: “The Breakfast Club” meets “Little Shop of Horrors” in the new sci-fi rock musical, “Be More Chill,” with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, based on the bestselling novel by New Vizzini. It’s a look at life in the digital age, exploring teen depression, bullying and other current issues through the comic lens of sci-fi films of the 50s, horror flicks of the 80s and the teen movies of the 90s.

Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez
Starring: Jayde Mitchell (Jeremy), Dominic Dowdy-Windsor (Squip), Kevin Corpuz
(Michael), Zachary Allen Farmer (Jeremy’s Dad), Melissa Felps (Brooke), Evan
Fornachon (Rich), Isabel Cecilia Garcia (Jenna), Grace Langford (Christine),
Ian McCreary (Jake), and Laura Renfro (Chloe).

Of Note: “Be More Chill” made its world premiere at the Two
River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2015, it’s now being produced across
the country, and it just opened on Broadway in March. Received a Tony Award
nomination for music and lyrics.

“The Boy from Oz” May 31 – June 30 Stages St. Louis Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwoodwww.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Dazzling and hilarious as the legendary
Peter Allen himself, THE BOY FROM OZ follows the Australian singer-songwriter
from his humble beginnings performing in backcountry pubs to his international
stardom beside such Hollywood icons as Judy Garland and her daughter Liza
Minnelli.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: David Elder as Peter Allen, Sarah Ellis as Liza Minnelli, Zach
Trimmer as Greg Connell, Corinne Melancon as Marion Woolnough, Michele Ragusa
as Judy Garland, Brad Frenette as George Woolnough, Steve Isom as Dick
Woolnough, Erik Keiser as Chris Bell, Nic Thompson as Mark Herron, Ben Iken and
Simon Desilets as Young Peter, Lydia Ruth Dawson, Bryn Purvis and Madison
Tinder as Trio, Frankie Thams as Trick, Nathanial Burich as Dealer and Ashley
Chasteen as Alice. Ensemble includes Kari Ely and Caleb Dicke.

“The Caper on Aisle 6” Circus Flora June 7 – June 30 Big Top Tent in Grand Center (air-conditioned)www.circusflora.org What It’s About: A trip to the grocery store is a place of intrigue and excitement when an ancient and powerful substance, long thought to be gone from the Earth, is found in the unlikeliest of places: aisle six of the local grocery store. What secrets does aisle six hold, and what adventures will it set in motion?

Photo by Eric Woolsey“The Coronation of Poppea” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 9 – 28 Loretto-Hilton Center, 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644

What It’s About: The fight for the throne is never
dignified. Poppea will stop at nothing to become Empress, no matter who she has
to blackmail, betray, or kill. And Emperor Nero, who is infatuated with Poppea,
is not thinking with his head. Separately, they’re bad enough. Together, they
will turn Rome upside down. Sexy, bloodthirsty, and unapologetic, this opera is
the best kind of political thriller.
Of Note: The opera runs 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission and is
performed in English with English supertitles.

Jeremy Denis and Davóne Tines, with Michael Redding,  “Fire Shut Up My Bones” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 15 – June 29 Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.experienceopera.com 314-961-0644

What It’s About: When Charles discovers that his cousin has
returned to his Louisiana hometown, he races home from college to confront his
past. Memories and shadows surround Charles as he strives to move beyond a
cycle of violence and forge a brave new path.

Of Note: Writers are Terence Blanchard, composer of OTSL’s sold-out hit “Champion,” teams up with screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”) for a haunting, powerful, and tender coming-of age story inspired by a memoir celebrated as “stunning” (Essence), “riveting” (Chicago Tribune), and “exquisite” (The New York Times). The opera runs approximately two hours and 25 minutes with one intermission and is performed in English with English supertitles.

Luke Steingruby as Hedwig“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”The Q CollectiveJune 20-22 and 27-298 p.m. evenings Thursday – Saturday, with additional 10:30 p.m. performance SaturdaysThe Monocle, 4510 Manchester in The Grovewww.eventbrite.com

What It’s About: John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s groundbreaking, Obie-winning Off-Broadway musical has the internationally ignored song stylist Hedwig Schmidt, herself, tells us her wild life story, as a fourth-wall smashing East German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation. This outrageous and unexpectedly powerful story is dazzlingly performed by Hedwig (née Hansel) in the form of a rock gig/stand-up comedy backed by the hard-rocking band The Angry Inch. It’s a rocking ride, funny, touching, and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them an inch when they deserved a mile.Director: Jordan Woods with assistance by Camille Fensterman, music direction by Holly Barber

Starring: Luke Steingruby as Hedwig, Sarah Gene Dowling as Yitzhak

“Indecent”Max and Louie ProductionsJune 20-23, June 27-30Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Centerwww.maxandlouie.com

What It’s About: Winner of numerous awards including an acclaimed Tony-winning run on Broadway, “Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, is the true story of a groundbreaking scandalous play and the courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. Director: Joanne GordonStarring: Paul Cereghino – Actor, Zoe Farmingdale – Actor, John Flack – Actor, Katie Karel – Actor, TJ Lancaster – Lemml, the Stage Manager, Judi Mann – Actor, Tim Schall – Actor; ;Musicians Alyssa Avery, Kris Pineda, Jack Thieling

Photo by Phillip Hamer“Kinky Boots”The MunyJune 17-25, evenings at 8:15 p.m.www.muny.orgWhat It’s About: The owner of a failing shoe factory teams up with a drag queen to fill a niche market — high-heeled thigh-high boots for drag queens.Director: DB Bonds, recreating Jerry Mitchell’s direction, and choreographer Rusty Mowery recreating his choreography, with music direction by Ryan Fielding GarrettStarring: J. Harrison Ghee, Graham Scott Fleming, Taylor Louderman, Paul Whitty,

Leaving Iowa. Photo by John Lamb“Leaving Iowa” Act Inc. June 14-16, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., June 21-22, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Cener for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles www.actincstl.com

What’s It All About: Remember the family road trip? Sure
do! Mom, Dad and the kids all packed up in the car with maps and snacks. Road
games, billboards, gift shops and the ultimate rest stops and Motel 6. Giggles
and battles, smiles and tears. Those were the days! Columnist Don Browning decides
to bury his Dad’s ashes at the old family farm. When he discovers that the
homestead is now the site of a supermarket he embarks upon a journey of
reconciliation and discovery in his quest for the perfect resting place for Dad
in the middle of the USA. If you are interested in the perfect “staycation”
look no further. “Leaving Iowa” is a delightful postcard that will leave you
with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Director:
Starring:

 “Love’s Labors Lost” May 31 – June 23 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org

What It’s About” Belonging to Shakespeare’s “lyrical”
period, which also included Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the
play tells the story of the Princess of France and her ladies who arrive on a
diplomatic mission to Navarre only to be met by a young king and his lords who
have taken a vow not to see women. Affairs of state give way to affairs of the
heart as Shakespeare reveals with great humor and compassion the way our
culture sometimes doesn’t fully prepare us for the realities of love and
intimacy. A feast of language and theatrical virtuosity, Love’s Labors Lost
shimmers with all the passion and promise of a first kiss.

Director: Tom Ridgely
Starring: Philip Hernandez as Don Adriano de Armado, Bradley James Tejeda (Duc
de Biron), Kea Trevett (Princess of France), Sky Smith (King of Navarre),
Patrick Blindauer (Costard), Katy Keating (Nathaniel), Michael James Reed
(Forester/Marcadé), Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), Carine
Montbertrand (Holofernes), Randolph (Moth), Laura Sohn (Rosaline), Molly Meyer
(Jaquenetta), Sam Jones (Longueville), Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria), Kiah
McKirnan (Catherine), and Riz Moe (DuMaine).

“The Marriage of Figaro” May 25 – June 29 Opera Theatre of St. Louis Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Road on Webster University campuswww.opera-stl.org 314-961-0644

What It’s About: Mozart’s comedy masterpiece is about complicated life at court and how love should always prevail. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. The opera runs three hours and ten minutes with one intermission and is sung in English with English supertitles. “The Miracle Worker” O’Fallon Theatre Works June 21-23 and 28-30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon Municipal Centre, 100 Main St., O’Fallon, Mo. 636-474-2732

What It’s About: The story of teacher Annie Sullivan’s
affect on Helen Keller, blind and deaf after a fever as a baby, which has left
her unable to communicate, frustrated and angry. Sullivan is able to get
through to her pupil and they form a bond.

“The Mueller Report: Read, Sing, Resist” Saturday, June 22, from 2 to 5 p.m. That Uppity Theatre Company Projects + Gallery 4733 McPherson in the Central West End Free event What It’s About: A diverse array of artists, activists, elected officials and community people will come together to participate in a free event to read excerpts and summaries of the Mueller Report and offer related commentary through song. The event will also include voter registration in partnership with St. Louis Voter Registration Group, refreshments, a selfie station and the debut performance by the St Louis chapter of Sing Out, Louise, a New York social activist group founded in 2017 that writes parodies with political commentary of iconic songs.

“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Verdi’s powerful “Rigoletto” is a tale of innocence lost, wrenchingly poignant and all too human, presented in English with English supertitles. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.

“Singin’ in the Rain” Looking Glass Playhouse June 20-23 Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m 301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon, Ill. www.lookingglassplayhouse.com

What It’s About: The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay in Singin’ in the Rain. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make Singin’ in the Rain the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.

“Sylvia” June 6 – 22 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Stray Dog Theatre Tower Grove Abbey 2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995

What It’s About: Greg brings home a dog he found in Central Park – or that has found him – bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her collar. She offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. To his wife Kate, however, Sylvia becomes a rival for affection. This touching comedy celebrates our love of man’s best friend.

Director: Gary F. BellStarring: Susie Lawrence, Kay Love, Tim Naegelin, Melissa Harlow

Photo by John Lamb

“Travels with My Aunt” Act Inc. June 22 and June 23, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles.www.actincstl.com

What It’s About: Retired bank manager, Henry Pulling’s life
is so quiet that he muses, “I found myself agreeably excited by my
mother’s funeral.” From that inauspicious beginning Henry finds his life
turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of his eccentric, Aunt Augusta. A cross between
“Auntie Mame” and Mata Hari, she spirits him around the globe
encountering all sorts of intoxicating characters and exhilarating adventures
along the way.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
A powerhouse cast makes sure we fall head-over-high-heels about “Kinky Boots,” a
flashy and fun musical that soars into the starry night at the Muny.

This regional premiere is polished to perfection. For the
first time, I understood the show’s heart and soul, and how its universality touched
people, becoming an international smash-hit and winning six Tony Awards, including
Best Musical, the Olivier Award and a Grammy for original cast recording.

The basic premise is simple yet resonates. It is inspired
by true events and a BBC documentary, which was adapted into a 2005 British feature
film with Chiwetel Ejiofor as Lola and Joel Edgerton as Charlie. A failing shoe
factory owner teams up with a drag queen to save his family business by
diversifying the product. That niche market in women’s footwear would be “kinky
boots” – bright, glittery sturdy stilettos made well to meet the needs of flamboyant
performers-in-drag.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

Charlie of Northampton, meet Simon of Clacton. They are
from different worlds, but share the weight of parental expectations and
self-acceptance issues. Their duet “I’m Not Your Father’s Son” is an
exclamation point on the matter. They work through this and more, all to the eclectic
beats of rockstar Cyndi Lauper’s first foray into show tunes, with new wave and
club music influences.

The unlikely pair find a common bond, as do the employees
in this relatable workplace comedy. One enlightened blue-collar bloke says: “When
you can change your mind, you can change the world!”

The message of tolerance is a fitting one for Gay Pride Month
as the musical celebrates individuality and inclusion. It’s wrapped in a
feel-good dance party with get-on-your-feet rhythms, and the cast is brimming
with vim and vigor.

Many elements make this first U.S. theatrical production
outside Broadway/national tours so special, but one factor is certain: casting
performers with experience in “Kinky Boots” was a stroke of genius. And it
shows in the brisk crisp and snappy staging.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

The theatricality of swaggering sparkplug J. Harrison Ghee
as Lola, who toured internationally in the role and was a Broadway replacement,
thrusts him into legendary diva status. Looking and sounding like Whitney
Houston in her prime, he tugs at everyone’s heartstrings in “Hold Me in Your
Heart.”

We are truly in “The Land of Lola,” as it’s obvious from Ghee’s
first entrance. During “Sex Is in the Heel,” he seizes the expansive stage,
strutting with major attitude. His moves in those high heels are a triumph over
physics.

The lithe and blithe Ghee showcases his dramatic flair and
knows how to get a laugh, tossing off book writer Harvey Fierstein’s pointed
barbs with ease.

Then there is Graham Scott Fleming as Charlie, who plays
the shoe factory heir apparent with conviction. His conflicts are genuine. However,
his vocal prowess is where he really shines.

His vocal range is well-suited for Tony-winner Lauper’s compositions,
and he interprets the heartfelt lyrics well, especially in “Step One” and “The
Soul of a Man.” He has had much success in Toronto, including nabbing a
Canadian theater award nomination for his performance as Charlie.

Tony-nominated Taylor Louderman, a native of Bourbon, Mo., who
began as a Muny Teen ten years ago, showcases her multiple talents reprising
the goofy lovestruck assembly line worker Lauren that she played on Broadway.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

In her standout number, “The History of Wrong Guys,” she demonstrates
her deft physical comedy skills and how she has come into her own. It’s a blissful
Muny moment. The crowd may not have noticed her at first for entrance applause,
but she sure earned a big ovation after that number.

The perky Louderman, with several Broadway credits and a
few key roles at the Muny – last seen as Amneris in “Aida” (the best thing
about that 2015 production), took off as Regina in “Mean Girls” to appear in
this show.

The ensemble is a tight mix, with Paul Whitty a standout as
bigoted foreman Don.

Photo by Phillip HamerJohn Scherer, a master of comic timing as evident in his
turns in “The Foreigner” and “Noises Off!” at The Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis, is hilarious as the old-school manager George.

So is Jen Perry, who reprises the role of saucy older
worker Trish she originated on Broadway.

Several cast members were in the Broadway production, which
opened April 2013 and ran for six years and 1,400 performances until April 7
this year, including Meryn Becket, Holly Davis and Maggie McDowell, and Angels Callan
Bergman, Ian Fitzgerald and Kyle Post. Angel Ricky Schroeder was in the
national tour.

Caroline Bowman, who plays Charlie’s unlikable
materialistic social-climbing fiancé Nicola, originated the role of Maggie and
then closed as Nicola in April. Ross Lekites plays Charlie’s friend Harry after
being in Broadway and national tour ensembles.

St. Louis performers are also an integral part of the
action. Omega Jones, in his debut as Simon Sr., has a tear-jerking moment at
the nursing home where Lola is entertaining. Veteran Zoe Vonder Haar is funny
as the Milan Stage Manager. Victor Landon and Khaydn M. Adams are the energetic
young Charlie and Simon characters respectively.

When the eight drag queens known as The Angels make their striking
entrance, it’s a magical Muny moment – and received an enthusiastic ovation.

Photo by Phillip HamerOther high-stepping moments include the Act One finale, “Everybody Say Yeah,” which is a marvel of movement on conveyor belts, and the rousing grand finale, “Raise You Up/Just Be,” which should empower everyone to “Feed your fire.”

Music Director Ryan Fielding Garrett, who conducted the “Kinky
Boots” national tour, skillfully drives the catchy tunes and heart-tugging
ballads.

The human connection is an important part of this show,
just as it is at the oldest and biggest outdoor theater in the country. And the
Muny connections for this show, I feel, have boosted its value and worth.
Namely, the original stylish direction and cheerful choreography of Jerry
Mitchell, one of Broadway’s most lauded artists who won a Tony Award for “Kinky
Boots” choreography. Involved in 50 Broadway shows, he earned his Equity card
at the Muny and was a Webster University student.

His work is recreated here by director DB Bonds, who played
Emmett in “Legally Blonde” eight years ago at the Muny, and choreographer Rusty
Mowery, who worked on Muny productions “Hairspray” and “Legally Blonde.”

Those special ties just boost the care you notice in this
production, a passion project for all involved.

Photo by Phillip HamerOn the technical side, the creative team’s work continues
to shine on the new stage with the upgrades, especially light, sound and video
screens.

Scenic Designer Michael Schweikardt’s grid work in the
Price and Sons Factory is efficient, functional and flows with purpose. His
glitzy touch to the Milan runway is as over the top as the boots – his ‘wow’
moment. Video Designer Shawn Duan seamlessly extended the expansive exterior
shots.

Also stepping up his game is Lighting Designer Nathan W.
Scheuer, who made sure the musical numbers glow and sparkle.

Co-sound designer John Shivers won a Tony Award for “Kinky
Boots.” He and David Patridge have been a team at the Muny since 2015.

Costume designer Gregg Barnes, two-time Tony winner for “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Follies” revival, provides his impressive Tony-nominated “Kinky Boots” designs, and The Angels and Lola’s bold eye-popping outfits befit fashionistas. Costume coordination is by Lindsay McWilliams.

The wig work is also outstanding, with original design by Josh Marquette, and work by additional wig designer Kelley Jordan.

“Kinky Boots” finds its footing early on and grows in goodwill as people build upon their dream with helping hands. Endearing in portrayals and intent, its power is a slow build, but it’s lasting, and that is “The Most Beautiful Thing.” And you’ll walk away lifted by this new outlook.

The Muny presents “Kinky Boots” every evening at 8:15 p.m. June 17-25. For more information or for tickets, visit www.muny.org

Photo by Phillip Hamer

The Muny announced today its complete cast, design and production team for Kinky Boots, the second show of its second century, June 19 – 25. Kinky Boots is proudly sponsored by Missouri Lottery.

“We are so honored and grateful to be the first theatre in the U.S. to produce Kinky Boots,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “This promises to be a magical, thrilling Muny night, and this team is committed to creating a soaring production on our new stage.” Joining the previously announced Graham Scott Fleming (Charlie Price), J. Harrison Ghee (Lola) and Taylor Louderman (Lauren) are Caroline Bowman (Nicola), John Scherer (George), Paul Whitty (Don), Victor Landon (Young Charlie) and Khaydn M. Adams (Young Lola). A glittering ensemble completes this cast, including Meryn Beckett, Callan Bergmann, Holly Davis, Ian Fitzgerald, Duane Martin Foster, Todd A. Horman, Valton Jackson, Patrick Oliver Jones, Jacob Lacopo, Ross Lekites, Maggie McDowell, Michael Olaribigbe, Jen Perry, Kyle Post, Anthony Sagaria, Ricky Schroeder, Joey Taranto and Zoe Vonder Haar. The company will also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.  Kinky Boots original Broadway direction and choreography are by Jerry Mitchell, with choreography re-created by Rusty Mowery and direction re-created by DB Bonds. Music direction will be by Ryan Fielding Garrett. The design team leading this production includes scenic design by Michael Schweikardt, costume design by Gregg Barnes, costume design coordination by Lindsay McWilliams, lighting design by Nathan W. Scheuer, sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge, video design by Shawn Duan, wig design by Kelley Jordan. Production stage manager is Nancy Pittelman. 

GRAHAM SCOTT FLEMING (Charlie Price) is ecstatic to be making his Muny debut with this brilliant show. Graham was the Canadian Charlie in Kinky Boots and nominated for a Dora for Best Male Actor in a Musical. Broadway: Miss Saigon. Papermill Playhouse: My Very Own British Invasion. Premieres (Canada):Ghost, Kinky Boots, Jukebox Hero. Film/TV: Love You Like Christmas (Hallmark),Odd Squad. Graham is also a singer/songwriter, and his latest album Young, Wild & Free can be found on Spotify. Instagraham: @grahamsfleming  J. HARRISON GHEE (Lola) is elated to make his Muny debut with the show that has changed his life. International tour: Kinky Boots (Lola/Swing). Regional: The Color Purple (Ensemble). Television: High Maintenance. Proud graduate of AMDA (NY). @jharrisonghee 

Taylor Louderman headlines “Kinky Boots” at the Muny this summer

TAYLOR LOUDERMAN (Lauren) Muny: Aida (Amneris), Grease (Sandy), Hairspray(Amber) and as a Muny Teen 10 years ago! This Tony-nominated actress from Bourbon, MO is currently starring on Broadway in Mean Girls as Regina. Taylor is reprising her role as Lauren after performing in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Her career began at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla where she currently serves on the board and contributes to rural Missouri’s theatre education. She made her Broadway debut starring in Bring It On: The Musical produced with The Muny’s own Mike Isaacson. Favorite credits: NBC’s Peter Pan Live! (Wendy), Nickelodeon’sSunny Day (Blair), CBS’s The Good Fight, HBO’s High Maintenance, Showtime’s The Loudest Voice. @taylizlou CAROLINE BOWMAN (Nicola) is thrilled to return to The Muny after appearing inAll Shook Up (Natalie/Ed). Broadway/Tours: Kinky Boots (Nicola), Wicked(Elphaba), Evita (Eva Perón), Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Grease (Rizzo) andFame (Carmen). BFA, Penn State. @carolinebowman5 JOHN SCHERER (George) has previously appeared at The Muny in Annie, Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot and Mame. Broadway: LoveMusik, By Jeeves and Sunset Boulevard. Off Broadway: Dames at Sea, Olympus On My Mind. Other New York: The Most Happy Fella (New York City Opera), Out Of This World (NY City Center Encores!) and A Tribute to Comden and Green (Carnegie Hall). National tours: 42nd Street, Cats, Mame and White Christmas. He recently appeared in the critically-acclaimed revival of The Drowsy Chaperone at the Goodspeed Opera House. Other regional: Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Ahmanson Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse and many others. Film/TV: Spinning into Butter, The Shield, Crossing Jordan, Titus and Law & Order (SVU and CI). He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. PAUL WHITTY (Don) is thrilled to be making his Muny debut! Broadway: Gettin’ the Band Back Together, Amelie, Once, The Full Monty. Off-Broadway and other NYC: Once (New York Theatre Workshop), Bayonets of Angst (NYMF), Violet (NY City Center Encores!), Twelfth Night (Sonnet Repertory). Regional: Baby Doll, A Streetcar Named Desire (Le Petit Theatre), Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood! (Old Globe), Amelie (Berkeley Rep, CTG), Peter and the Starcatcher (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Judge Jackie (Sharon Playhouse), Be More Chill (Two River Theater),Once (American Repertory Theatre), Reasons to Be Pretty, Art (Crescent Stage), Circle Mirror Transformation (PURE Theatre), Doubt (Village Rep). Film/TV: Song One, Law & Order SVU, Guiding Light. BFA Acting, UNCSA.VICTOR LANDON (Young Charlie) is delighted to join the cast of Kinky Boots. Muny: Gypsy (Newsboy) and youth ensemble for The Little Mermaid, Newsies andAn Evening with the Stars. Other St. Louis area favorite roles include JoJo inSeussical (Arts for Life Award) and Gavroche in Les Misérables. He loves performing with the Muny Kids troupe.KHAYDN M. ADAMS (Young Lola) is thrilled to make his theatrical debut at The Muny! Khaydn has a passion for musical theatre and has participated in several small productions, including Madagascar Jr. for his 6th grade class and plays at church, where Khaydn is the youngest member of the mass chorus and has been a featured soloist. Khaydn sings and dances with COCA in University City and says he ‘loves performing as much as he loves chicken’ (that’s saying a lot)! Khaydn has been trained in violin, cello, alto and tenor saxophone but is self-taught on the piano. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and making slime. Khaydn aspires to be a professional artist when he grows up and is grateful for this opportunity to perform live on stage.

Link for more information: muny.org/kinky-boots.

About the show:

Kinky Boots features a book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and is based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth.“Step into a dream where glamour is extreme” with the U.S. regional premiere of the international smash-hit-musical Kinky Boots! Winner of six Tony Awards, the Olivier Award and the Grammy, this huge-hearted hit tells the story of a struggling British shoe factory that finds a surprising way to recreate themselves! Featuring 16 Grammy Award-winning original songs penned by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this sparkling, stiletto sensation will “lift you up!”

The seven shows in the 2019 Muny season are: Guys and Dolls (June 10 – 16),Kinky Boots (June 19 – 25), 1776 (June 27 – July 3), Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (July 8 – 16), Footloose (July 18 – 24), Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (July 27 – August 2) and Roald Dahl’s Matilda (August 5 – 11). For more information, visit muny.org.  

Season tickets, single tickets and Muny gift cards for the 101st season are available online and at The Muny Box Office. MetroTix is the only official online point-of-purchase vendor for The Muny. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.

For updates and information regarding The Muny’s Second Century Capital Campaign, please click here.

The Muny announced Tuesday the directors, choreographers and music directors for its 2019 season, which opens on June 10 with Guys and Dolls.
“We head into our second century with the first phase of our new stage, and a renewed sense of passion and commitment to our audiences, artists and community,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “I’m so thrilled to announce these brilliantly talented colleagues who will create this season. They are already hard at work, ready to make this season just as historic and memorable as our 100th.”
GUYS AND DOLLS
June 10 – 16
Book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon
GORDON GREENBERG (Director) co-wrote and directed the Broadway stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn for Roundabout, Universal and PBS Great Performances. Recent work includes Barnum (London), Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe), the acclaimed West End revival of Guys and Dolls, nominated for six Olivier Awards (Savoy Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Chichester, UK and international tour), the Drama Desk Award-winning NYC revivals of Working and Jacques Brel, the stage adaptation of Tangled for Disney, and writing TV musicals for Disney and Nickelodeon. Muny: Meet Me In St. Louis (revised book), Jesus Christ Superstar, Holiday Inn, West Side Story, Pirates! Upcoming: The Secret of My Success (Universal), Mystic Pizza (MGM), Dracula (Maltz). He attended Stanford University and NYU and is a member of SDC, WGA and the Dramatists Guild.

LORIN LATARRO (Choreographer) Broadway: Waitress, Les Liasions Dangereuses, Waiting for Godot. Curious Incident of the Dog… and American Idiot (Associate). Additional choreography: La Traviata (The Met), Chess (Kennedy Center), Twelfth Night (The Delacorte), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street(BAM), Heart of Rock and Roll (Old Globe), Assassins, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Encores!), Between The Lines (KC Rep), Queen of The Night (Drama Desk Award), Kiss Me, Kate (Barrington); The Best Is Yet To Come (59E59, Drama Desk Award). Director: Taste of Things to Come (Chicago). Lorin performed in 12 Broadway shows and danced for Tharp, Momix, Graham. Juilliard graduate. Upcoming: Merrily We Roll Along (Roundabout), SuperHero (Second Stage), Waitress and Home Street Home (West End).
BRAD HAAK (Music Director/Conductor) Muny: A Funny Thing…Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Into the Woods, South Pacific, The King and I and Gypsy. Broadway: An American in Paris, Mary Poppins, Lestat and Il Divo – A Musical Affair. National tours: The Lion King, Miss Saigon. Music supervision and orchestrations:Daddy Long Legs (Off-Broadway, London, Tokyo, Seoul and 19 US productions) and John Caird’s A Knight’s Tale (Tokyo, 2018). International: Sousatzka (Toronto), An American in Paris (Paris), Honk! (Singapore and Philippines); Jane Eyre (Tokyo). Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Sunday in the Park with George and Follies (Jeff Award for music direction), Children of Eden (Kennedy Center). Orchestrations for New York and Boston Pops, National Symphony, L.A. Philharmonic.
KINKY BOOTS
June 19 – 25
Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on the Miramax motion picture of the same name, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth
DB BONDS (Director) is thrilled to be making his directorial debut at The Muny after appearing as Emmett in Legally Blonde in 2011. DB is the associate director of Kinky Boots and Pretty Woman on Broadway. He also served as the associate director of Kinky Boots worldwide with productions in England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Korea. As an actor, he appeared in Broadway and national touring productions of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Legally Blonde and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
RUSTY MOWERY (Choreographer) is thrilled to be back at the magical Muny after serving as choreographer for The Muny productions of Legally Blonde and Hairspray. He is currently the Associate Choreographer of Pretty Woman on Broadway and the Associate Choreographer of Kinky Boots for Broadway, both U.S. national tours, England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Korea and Japan tours. Proud SDC member. As an actor, Rusty appeared on Broadway in Cats, Ragtime, Hairspray, Seussical and Legally Blonde.
RYAN FIELDING GARRETT (Music Director/Conductor) NYC/national tour: Kinky Boots, Jasper in Deadland, The Man in the Ceiling, Hamilton, Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd (NY Philharmonic), Wicked, Big River (Encores!), Finding Neverland, The Three Little Pigs. Regional: Next to Normal (Weston Playhouse), Little Miss Scrooge (Rubicon Theatre), Passing Strange, [title of show], Chess (Playhouse Square), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Lake Tahoe Shakespeare). NYC orchestration credits include Darling, A Night Like This. Graduate of Baldwin Wallace University.
JERRY MITCHELL (Original Broadway Direction and Choreography) Tony Award winner for Best Choreography: La Cage aux Folles (revival) and Kinky Boots (also nominated as Director). Broadway: Pretty Woman (Director/Choreographer) and the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet! (Director). Other recent work includes the pre-Broadway productions of Half Time (Chicago and Paper Mill Playhouse) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End, Olivier nomination for Choreography). In the 35 preceding years, Jerry has been involved with over 50 Broadway, West End and touring productions, including as choreographer of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Full Monty (Tony nomination), The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray (Tony nomination and NBC telecast), Gypsy, Never Gonna Dance (Tony nomination), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination), La Cage aux Folles, Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), Catch Me If You Can and Kinky Boots.
1776
June 27 – July 3
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Based on a concept by Sherman Edwards
ROB RUGGIERO (Director) is thrilled to be returning for The Muny’s 101st season. Last year, he directed Gypsy, as well as past productions of The Music Man, Oklahoma!; Hello, Dolly!; South Pacific and The King and I. He has also directed many award-winning productions at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, including Follies, Sunday in the Park with George and a recent production of Evita. Broadway: High and Looped. Off-Broadway he conceived and directed Make Me a Song (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Rob also recently directed Oliver!, his 11th collaboration with Goodspeed Musicals, with whom he also adapted and directed a new production of Show Boat. He is the Producing Artistic Director for TheaterWorks in Hartford, Connecticut.
JAMES MOORE (Music Director/Conductor) The Muny: Gypsy, The Music Man, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Hello, Dolly!; West Side Story, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Producers. Broadway: Miss Saigon, On the Town, Gigi, Follies, South Pacific, Ragtime, Steel Pier, Company. National tours: The Producers, Kiss Me, Kate; Crazy for You, And the World Goes ‘Round. The Kennedy Center: Camelot starring Brian Stokes Mitchell, My Fair Lady starring Jonathan Pryce, Mame starring Christine Baranski. Concerts: National Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Santa Barbara Symphony. Mr. Moore serves as the music supervisor for the United States touring productions of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. Upcoming: Titanic (Broadway revival). Education: Master and Bachelor degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA
July 8 – 16
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
MARCIA MILGROM DODGE (Director) is a Tony and Drama Desk nominated director & choreographer. The Muny: Meet Me In St. Louis (100th Season!), The Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family. Broadway: Ragtime, High Society. National tours: Ragtime, Curious George,Seussical, Cookin’. New York: Venus Flytrap, Radio Gals, Maltby & Shire’s Closer Than Ever (original production) and William Finn’s Romance in Hard Times. TV/Video: Sesame Street and Elmo‘s Wild West. Upcoming: Deathtrap (Cape Playhouse), Mary Poppins (Drury Lane) and a new Buddy (Cincinnati Playhouse). Between reimagining revivals and directing & choreographing world premieres regionally and abroad, Dodge is also a wife, a mother, a teacher, an SDC Executive Board Member and a published and produced playwright.
JOSH WALDEN (Choreographer) returns to The Muny after choreographing Meet Me In St Louis (2018), The Little Mermaid (2017) and The Buddy Holly Story (2015). He directed/ choreographed A Chorus Line for Maltz Jupiter Theatre and Theatre Memphis, The Rocky Horror Show for University of Buffalo, Legally Blonde for Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and the rock opera Fallen Angel in the New York International Fringe Festival. Josh has also choreographed for Des Moines Metro Opera, Signature Theatre, Sacramento Music Circus, Doonce Productions, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Gateway Playhouse and Morag Productions for Seabourn Cruise Lines. On Broadway, he was the associate director/associate choreographer for the revival of Ragtime. As a performer, Josh was in the Broadway revivals of 42nd Street, La Cage aux Folles, A Chorus Line and Ragtime.
GREG ANTHONY RASSEN (Music Director/Conductor) Drama Desk winner and Tony nominee for Bandstand. Other Broadway credits include: An American in Paris, Bullets Over Broadway, The Little Mermaid, The Book of Mormon, R&H’s Cinderella, A Chorus Line (revival). Arranger/ orchestrator: Jerry Springer: The Opera (New Group); Between the Lines (Kansas City Rep.), The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard). Commissions include: New York Pops, Boston Pops, Philly Pops, Indianapolis Pops; Leslie Odom, Jr., Ashley Brown, Sierra Boggess, Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Darren Criss, Liz Callaway, Julia Murney, André Previn, John Williams. TV: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Live with Kelly & Michael, The View. M.M. degree from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. www.greganthonymusic.com
FOOTLOOSE
July 18 – 24
Music by Tom Snow
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Stage Adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie
Based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford
Additional Music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman
CHRISTIAN BORLE (Director) is a two-time Tony Award winner and has starred in a myriad of roles both on stage and screen. His turn as Shakespeare in Something Rotten! garnered him both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play as Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher. Other Broadway: Footloose, Jesus Christ Superstar, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Amour, Spamalot, Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde, Falsettos and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Film: Blackhat, Bounty Hunter. TV: Masters of Sex, Lifesaver, The Good Wife, Smash and NBC’s TheSound of Music Live! Most recently, Christian made his directorial debut with the off-Broadway production of Popcorn Falls at The Davenport Theatre.
JESSICA HARTMAN (Choreographer) is thrilled to return for The Muny’s 101st after choreographing Annie(2018), All Shook Up (2017), Mamma Mia! (2016); Hairspray (2015/Co-Choreographer) and Seussical (2014/Associate). Broadway: Lysistrata Jones (Associate Choreographer), The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman (Assistant Choreographer). Off-Broadway: Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play! (Choreographer, New Victory Theatre). Other credits include: Memphis (Choreographer, TUTS), Norwegian Creative Studios/Oceania Cruise Lines (Choreographer), Disney Jr. Dance Party (Associate Show Director/ Choreographer, Universal Studios/The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Associate), How to Succeed… (Associate, TUTS), West Side Story (Associate, Signature Theatre), Next to Normal (Choreographer, BaltimoreCenter Stage). Up next: Mamma Mia! at TUTS (Choreographer) and a new musical for The Kennedy Center. Jessica is the Artistic Director of Broadway Theatre Connection.
ANDREW GRAHAM (Music Director/Conductor) New York: The Book of Mormon, Wicked and Avenue Q. Las Vegas: Spamalot, Avenue Q. National tours: Wicked, Avenue Q, Pippin, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Seussical, The Music Man, Footloose. European tours: Hair and Grease. Regional: world premiere of Disney’s Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Play House and Alley Theatre. Muny: Aida, Annie and Footloose. Beauty and the Beast and the world premiere of Disney’s When You Wish at Tuacahn Center for the Arts. He holds degrees from both Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and Trinity College of Music in London.
LERNER & LOEWE’S PAINT YOUR WAGON
July 27 – August 2
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Revised Book by Jon Marans
Produced in Association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures
JOSH RHODES (Director/Choreographer) directed Grand Hotel (NY City Center Encores!), Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville (Old Globe Theatre), Jersey Boys (The Muny), Guys and Dolls (Asolo Rep/Old Globe), Evita(Asolo Rep), Spamalot (5th Avenue Theatre), Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show (Bucks County Playhouse) and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He alsochoreographed the Broadway productions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, It Shoulda Been You, First Date and Bright Star. On London’s West End, he choreographed Carousel at the English National Opera and Sweeney Todd starring Emma Thompson. Other choreography credits include Company starring Neil Patrick Harris and Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (PBS), Young Frankenstein (Muny) and the current U.K. tour ofDoctor Dolittle. Rhodes is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan.
BEN WHITELEY (Music Director/Conductor) Muny: Singin’ in the Rain, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, My Fair Lady, The Addams Family, Spamalot, Pirates!; The Sound of Music (twice), Beauty and the Beast (thrice), Kiss Me, Kate; Oklahoma!; The Music Man, Meet Me In St. Louis, South Pacific. Music director for 1776 at NY City Center Encores! Broadway/national tours: A Christmas Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot, The Full Monty, Cats (conducted final original Broadway performance), Grand Hotel, Falsettos, Big. Carnegie Hall: Sail Away (with Elaine Stritch). Choral direction: Carousel (NY Philharmonic/PBS), My Fair Lady (NY Philharmonic). Encores!: associate music director and chorus master for over 30 productions. Other: St. Louis Symphony, Paper Mill Playhouse, The 5th Avenue Theatre, University of Michigan. Recordings: Allegro, Boardwalk Empire (Grammy Award),Paint Your Wagon.
MATILDA
August 5 – 11
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Based on Matilda by Roald Dahl
JOHN TARTAGLIA (Director) Director: Stephen Schwartz’s The Secret Silk (Princess Cruises, writer/director), Beauty and the Beast (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan and Shrek (Muny), Claudio Quest (NY Musical Festival, Best of the Fest), Shrek the Halls (DreamWorks Theatricals) and many more. Broadway: Avenue Q (Tony nomination), Beauty and the Beast and Shrek. Muny: Aladdin (The Genie), Seussical (The Cat in the Hat), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Hysterium, St. Louis Theater Circle Award). Film/TV: The Happytime Murders (STX Films), Johnny and the Sprites (Disney Jr., Emmy nomination), Sesame Street (PBS Kids), Jim Henson’s Word Party and Julie’s Greenroom (both on Netflix), creator, co-executive producer and star of Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles (PBS Kids, Emmy nomination).
CHRIS BAILEY (Choreographer) Gettin’ The Band Back Together (Broadway), Jerry Springer: The Opera(New Group, 2018 Chita Rivera Award nomination); The New Yorkers and 1776 (NY City Center Encores!), The Entertainer with Kenneth Branagh (West End), Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory), Because of Winn Dixie (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), 2013 Tony Awards (CBS), Muny: Jerome Robbins Broadway(production supervisor), Newsies (St. Louis Theater Circle Award), The Music Man, Into the Woods, My Fair Lady, Tarzan, West Side Story and Thoroughly Modern Millie. 2013-2015 Academy Awards (Assistant Choreographer). Film: Cinderella, Ted 2, A Million Ways to Die in the West and Beyond the Sea. Chris was also the movement director for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Cyrano De Bergerac on Broadway.
MICHAEL HORSLEY (Music Director/Conductor) is The Muny’s music supervisor. 25 Muny seasons include: Jerome Robbins Broadway, Mamma Mia!; The Buddy Holly Story, Grease, Mary Poppins, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 42nd Street, Godspell, White Christmas, Damn Yankees, Sleeping Beauty, Singin’ in the Rain, and many more. National tours: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Cinderella, White Christmas and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Other regional: Into the Woods (Theatrezone), Roman Holiday (Guthrie Theater), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Music Theatre Wichita), Fiddler on the Roof (AMT San Jose), A Chorus Line (Pioneer Theatre Company), The Full Monty(North Carolina Theatre). Voice director: Christmas Concert Series for the Detroit, National and Birmingham Symphony Orchestras. He is the music director for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The 2019 season schedule is: Guys and Dolls (June 10 – 16), Kinky Boots (June 19 – 25), 1776 (June 27 – July 3), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (July 8 – 16), Footloose (July 18 – 24), Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (July 27 – August 2) and Matilda (August 5 – 11).
World Wide Technology (WWT) and The Steward Family Foundation became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They are committed to continuing in this role with their leadership gift as The Muny’s 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor.
Muny gift cards for the 101st season are now available online and at The Muny Box Office. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.
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The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 400,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season. Celebrating 101 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.
For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’s
Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’sMuny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org 

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
The Muny is stepping into its second century with two smash-hit premieres among its seven-show 2019 season.
It will be the first theatre in the U.S. to produce the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical “Kinky Boots.” Pop icon wrote 16 original songs for this adaptation of the movie about a struggling British shoe factory. It won six Tony Awards in 2013, and had 13 nominations.
In addition, the Muny will premiere Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,”which won four Tony Awards in 2013 and seven Olivier Awards in 2012. Based on Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel, Matilda is a smart girl with a vivid imagination.
A revised edition of Lerner and Loewe’s first musical, “Paint Your Wagon,” is being developed specifically for the largest and oldest outdoor theater in the country. During the past two seasons, the Muny was the birthplace of two re-imagined musical classics, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “The Wiz.” This 1951 collaboration, set in the California gold rush, has a revised book by Jon Marans, and will be produced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures. The one and only time the show had been at the Muny before was in 1956.
Two Muny favorites return — “Guys and Dolls” for the eighth time, but it has not been staged since 2004, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which is the 2013 Broadway version making its debut. Previously, the Muny presented the show, which was based on the 1957 TV edition, five times, the last one in 2003.
The Tony-winning musical that tells the behind-the-scenes of The Declaration of Independence, “1776,” will return after 20 years. It was presented in 1972, 1976 and 1999.
“Footloose,” the dance-favorite with the chart-topping hits from the 1984 movie, is back for a second time after its debut in 2010.
The announcement of the 101st season took place Oct. 17 during the annual “Muny Magic” concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

“This is a thrilling, eclectic line-up that I believe will take the Muny audience on another great summer adventure,” Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson said. “It’s a new century, and a new stage, and here we go. Gulp!”
The Centennial Season was historic, drawing more than 400,000 theatregoers over nine weeks this past summer.
“As the first season of our second century, this line-up is both ambitious and nostalgic,” Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan said. “On our brand new stage, the 2019 season promises the thrills and unforgettable Muny magic that have defined our theatre for over a century.”
Show order, performance schedule and audition dates will be announced later this fall. Subscription renewals will be mailed in early December.
New subscriptions will go on sale in March 2019, and single tickets will be available beginning May 2019.
World Wide Technology and The Steward Family Foundation became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They are committed to continuing in this role with their leadership gift as The Muny’s 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor.
“Both WWT and The Steward Family Foundation are committed to The Muny and to making exceptional musical theatre, accessible to everyone,” said David Steward, Chairman and Founder of WWT. “This year’s season promises to be spectacular and will showcase how much the performing arts enrich our community.”
Muny gift cards for the 101st season are now available online and at The Muny Box Office. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.
For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org
For more information about The Missouri History Museum’s Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage exhibit, visit mohistory.org