By Lynn Venhaus
The sights and sounds of nights gone by are such a welcome sentimental journey on the exciting new online Muny Mondays.

But the variety show is not all a “Remember When” montage, and that is what sets it apart. With a fresh batch of pixie dust, the Muny’s second episode of its smash hit Summer Variety Hour Live more than met expectations after such a sensational series launch July 20.

Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis

If you were curious as to how they could top the inaugural show, now that we know the formula, one look at the lineup beforehand answered that quickly. Tony nominee Taylor Louderman singing live under the Culver Pavilion! Tony nominee and fan favorite Rob McClure, versatile veteran of six Muny shows, singing “Suddenly Seymour” with his wife Maggie Lakis, who has been in two Muny musicals, from their home in Philadelphia. McClure’s Muny debut was “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2011, so that was fitting. The cast of 2017’s spectacular “The Little Mermaid,” lead by Commodore Primous III as Sebastian, reuniting to sing a buoyant “Under the Sea.” I mean, the deck was stacked.

The best way to describe the ebb and flow of the carefully curated selection of acts is to compare it to a multi-course gourmet dinner especially crafted to include favorite dishes, comfort food, bold choices and unique taste treats, every bite bursting with flavor.

When the “Wow” factors were unveiled — those unforgettable Muny moments that you will always recall with awe, so grateful to have experienced it in person – they blew me away. It isn’t hard to pick five, ten or 20 out of your head if you are a regular. (We probably share some of the same ones – we’ll have to compare notes).

And this supersonic flash came from two performers I saw in ensembles but did not know their names: Nkeki Obi-Melekwe and Chloe O. Davis. I will never forget them now.

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe

Nkeki soared singing “If You Knew My Story” from “Bright Star” during her time, a selection to reinforce color-blind casting. Nkeki, a Michigan graduate, appeared in the Muny’s 2017 “All Shook Up” and went on to play Tina Turner in “Tina the Musical” in London’s West End in April 2019, then move to Broadway in October.

If you are unfamiliar with “Bright Star,” the musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, it came out the same year “Hamilton” did and lost the Tony Award for Best Musical to the landmark show in 2016.

Chloe O. Davis, a dancer who grew up in St. Louis and was in “All Shook Up” and “The Wiz” in recent years, was featured in “My Tribute to Black Broadway and Black Choreography: I Thrive Now Because You Dared Then,” a dance she conceived and choreographed.

As she used Forest Park as her stage, she gave us a history lesson that stirred “all the feels.” She created the styles of famous black choreographers, using audio and visual clips in addition to her dance moves – East St. Louis’ international icon Katherine Dunham, George Faison, Debbie Allen, Hope Clarke, Gregory Hines, Donald Byrd, Bill T. Jones and Camille A. Brown among them.

Chloe O Davis

Moving. Powerful. Elegant. Truly a shining moment.

A delightful song-and-dance interlude was courtesy of three dynamos Maya Bowles, Trevor Michael Schmidt and Gabi Stapula, whose high-spirited “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” from “Sweet Charity” captured our anxiety and their eagerness to get back to the business of entertaining. These chorus gypsies reminded us how ensemble cohesiveness is so important to any big splashy musical.

Gabi also works with the Muny Teens, and their fun-loving mashup of “Bring On the Monsters” from “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” and “Drive It Like You Stole It” from “Sing Street” again showcased how talented some local students are – and their sunny dispositions. I’m a big fan of the 2016 movie “Sing Street,” which is writer-director John Carney’s third film about the transforming power of music (“Once” and “Begin Again”), and its stage adaptation was set to open on Broadway in April after rave reviews off-Broadway.

The power ‘hour’ also featured behind-the-scenes stories about what’s happening at The Muny, including being able to pull off the stunning fireworks at the Centennial Gala, and the amusing game show throwback Munywood Squares. With interesting fun facts, hosted by Gordon Greenberg and featuring nine Muny performers in the Zoom grid,  including E. Faye Butler, J. Harrison Ghee, Ann Harada, Raymond J. Lee, Vicki Lewis, Steve Rosen, Jeffrey Schecter, John Scherer and Christopher Sieber. This week’s good sport contestants were photographer Phillip Hamer and Muny company manager Sue Greenberg. Fun remembering the raccoon who waddled on to the stage in “The Addams Family” in 2014!

Taylor Louderman

On an intermittent rainy night, star Taylor Louderman was accompanied by four socially distanced musicians, to sing live the power ballad “Astonishing” from “Little Women.” Always nice to include a female empowerment song, this one from Louisa May Alcott’s timeless and timely heroine, Jo March. From Bourbon, Mo., 60 miles southwest of St. Louis, Taylor went from Muny Teen to Tony nominee as Regina George in “Mean Girls.” She made her Broadway debut in 2012’s “Bring It On!,” has been in seven Muny shows and won the St. Louis Theater Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for last summer’s “Kinky Boots.” (And this year, finished her bachelor’s degree that she had started at Michigan in 2009 and was married five weeks ago to Brooks Toth).

The archival footage of past summer shows is a fond trip down memory lane, starting with Muny titans Beth Leavel and Ben Davis in 2015’s “Oklahoma!” Leavel, Tony winner for “The Drowsy Chaperone” and nominee for ‘The Prom,” is a frequent St. Louis Theater Circle Award nominee, winning for her Mamma Rose in 2018 “Gypsy.” Davis, seen last year as Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls,” has been nominated multiple times, and once joked during an interview that he is the ‘Susan Lucci’ of the Circle Awards.

Davis was in the now legendary production of “Spamalot” in 2013 as Sir Galahad. Host Mike Isaacson introduced “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which holds the distinction of being the most popular song at funerals, pointing out how weather affected the show. I remember that on opening night June 17, a steady rain was falling after torrential downpours for days preceding it. So, there was little opportunity to rehearse outdoors. The audience for the show opener of the 95th season was so eager to see this Muny premiere that we came in droves with our umbrellas — and were mightily rewarded.

It’s a night I’ll never forget. During the curtain call, actor John O’Hurley, playing King Arthur, stopped the show to introduce Monty Python founder and show creator Eric Idle! Whoops, cheers and thunderous applause! Everyone on their feet. I turned to my companion and said: “We are in the presence of a Python!” Oh, be still my heart. It was pure bliss – he led us in “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” after mentioning this was the largest audience to ever see the musical and he wanted to see if we could get in the Guinness Book of World Records for our sing-a-long.

Oh, what a night! I had the good fortune to interview John O’Hurley later that fall when he was touring as Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” and we had a pleasant conversation about that enchanted evening.

Another splendid memory was shared with the incredible “We’re in the Money” from the extraordinary 2016 production of “42nd Street,” choreographed by Denis Jones, St. Louis Theater Circle Award winner. That curtain call – go see it on YouTube – as the cast cascaded down a staircase will go down as my favorite (next to “A Chorus Line”) in Muny history.

All these elements are what make summer nights special at the Muny, and spotlighting the world-class talent – from the musical theater majors from the best schools in the country to the stars with Broadway credentials — who come together in Forest Park – is one I like to emphasize. Years ago, seasons were headlined by ‘names’ – mostly from TV – and while recognizable, I much prefer having the best talent possible give us their all on that stage. Drama geek that I am, I read all the bios and notice who returns to the Muny, who creates magic on the stage, or is given the part of a lifetime.

And in that spirit, the Summer Variety Hour Live emphasizes how many parts make each show happen.

And it is a warm, familiar embrace at a time we all need a hug.

On July 20, The Muny 2020 Summer Variety Hour Live! drew more than 30,000 viewers from across the U.S. and around the world. This total sets a new, record-breaking first in The Muny’s live-streaming history.

On July 27, we were connected by the calypso beat of newly crowned EGOT winner Alan Menken, the banjo picking of brilliant Steve Martin, the Britpop synthesizer of ‘80s New Wave, the zaniness of silly comic geniuses, homages to Busby Berkeley and Broadway chestnuts, the triumph of a ‘local’ small-town girl with a dream, sweetness, sincerity, showmances and people who think sitting under those stars in St. Louis is like coming home.

These shows (5 total, 3 left) are exclusive, one-time-only streams and will not be available after the Thursday night airing. The July 30 re-airing will include audio description and captions. The link is: youtube.com/themunytv

The Muny’s online 2020 season is sponsored by World Wide Technology. Episode 1 was made possible by US Bank and Episode 2 by Edward Jones. They announce the next lineup every Wednesday.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Rep’s 2020-2021 Season

MAINSTAGE:

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

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

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

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

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

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorAnother opening, another show, and another, and another…We have an abundance of riches in the St. Louis region this weekend — many solid offerings from St. Peters, Mo. to Waterloo, Ill.

Whether it’s established playwrights like Arthur Miller, Sarah Ruhl or Laura Gunderson or emerging writers, we encourage you to take a fresh look at a classic or dive in to something new.

Speaking of playwrights, homegrown Beau Willimon will be in town Thursday night to attend the preview performance of his drama, “Farragut North.”

Willimon, who adapted the British TV series “House of Cards” for the American version on Netflix, is a graduate of John Burroughs High School, where he was a student of director Wayne Salomon.It’s the final week for several shows — “District Merchants” at New Jewish Theatre, “Wittenberg” at Upstream Theatre and “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” at R-S Theatrics. “Fiddler on the Roof” tour ends its St. Louis stop on Sunday.

Openings include “The Crucible” at Stray Dog Theatre, “Farragut North” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio, “Oslo” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” at West End Players Guild.Four shows open in Community Theatre — “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Act Two, ” “First Date” at Clinton County Showcase, “Little Shop of Horrors” at MASC and “Eurydice” at Clayton Community Theatre.

Metro Theatre continues with “The Hundred Dresses,” “Avenue Q” goes through March 3 at The Playhouse at Westport, “Deenie Nast Is Back” is just on Fridays, and SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” has two more weekends.Whatever you are in the mood for, you can find it in the ‘Lou, or by crossing one of the bridges. Wherever you go, GO SEE A PLAY! “Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 3 www.playhouseatwestport.com

What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with
heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a
college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account.
He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s
purpose.

Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie
Mueller

Starring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer
Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger

Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “Black Theatre Workshop” Metcalf Theatre Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. 618-650-2774www.siue.edu

Of Note: In honor for the 20th anniversary celebration of Black
Theater Workshop, SIUE Theater and Dance welcomes the return of alumnus Greg
Fenner who directed this year’s edition of BTW “Black in My Day.”
Fenner has worked in professional theater in both St. Louis and Chicago, and is
the recipient of Best Actor in a Comedy for “Fully Committed” from the St.
Louis Theater Circle.

Photo by Joey Rumpell“Classic Mystery Game” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE) Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m. Jan. 30 – Feb. 16 The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, [email protected] 314-827-5760

What It’s About: SATE opens its Season of Ritual with a parody of the cult classic 1985 movie, “Clue,” written by Katy Keating. She has written about the failure of capitalism in a climate-changing world.

The film was written by Jonathan Lynn, and that was based
on the game, “Cluedo,” which was created by Anthony E. Pratt.

Director: Katy Keating

Starring: Will Bonfiglio. Maggie Conroy, Michael Cassidy
Flynn, Carl Overly Jr., Reginald Pierre, Ellie Schwetye, Rachel Tibbetts, Kristen
Strom, Marcy Wiegert and Bess Moynihan

Of Note: Wednesdays, Feb. 13, are “Pay What You Can”

Photo by Justin Been“The Crucible” Stray Dog Theatre Feb. 7 – 23 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; special 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Feb. 17. Tower Grove Abbey 2336 Tennessee www.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995

What It’s About: Lies. Betrayal. Lust. In 1690s
Salem, a young girl leads a Puritanical purge of witchcraft against a local
farmer and his wife. As fear and excitement grow in the town, the accusations
grow more ferocious and terrifying, until no one is safe, and the truth is
obscured completely. Written by Arthur Miller and winner of the 1953 Tony Award
for Best Play.

Director:
Starring: John Proctor: Graham Emmons, Elizabeth Proctor: Cynthia Pohlson, Abigail
Williams: Alison Linderer, Mercy Lewis: Sienna DeSuza, Rebecca Nurse: Suzanne
Greenwald, John Danforth: Joe Hanrahan, Ezekiel Cheever: Charles Heuvelman, John
Hathorne: Jonathan Hey, Ann Putnam: Laura Kyro, Francis Nurse: Chuck Lavazzi, Susanna
Walcott: Zoe Liu, Giles Corey: Gerry Love, Hopkins : Michael Maskus, Sarah
Good: Liz Mischel, Thomas Putnam: Tom Moore, John Willard: Stephen Peirick, Rev.
Samuel Parris: Ben Ritchie, Betty Parris: Avery Smith, John Hale: Abraham Shaw,
Mary Warren: Chrissie Watkins and Tituba: Kelli Wright.

“Deenie Nast is Back” Ten Directions and the St. Lou Fringe Fridays at 8 p.m. Feb. 1, 8 and 15 Emerald Room at The Monocle www.deenienast.com

What It’s About: One-woman show by Audrey Crabtree features
international performance superstar Deenie Nast, who delivers a no holds
barred, song-filled tribute to her lonely fans. Nast presents a hilarious and
heartbreaking exploration of relationships, loneliness, and true connections.
Nast sings the hits from her past, revealing very personal stories. Songs,
physical comedy and audience interaction are involved.

Photo by Eric Woolsey “District Merchants” New Jewish Theatre Jan. 24 – Feb. 10 Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Wool Studio Theater Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drivewww.newjewishtheatre.org 314-442-3283

What It’s About: Love, litigation, deep passions and
predatory lending are taken to a new level. The play wades fearlessly into the
complexities of life in America. It is set among Black and Jewish populations
in an imagined time and place, simultaneously Shakespearean and post- Civil War
Washington, D.C.

Directed by Jacqueline Thompson

Cast: Gary Wayne Barker, J. Samuel Davis, Courtney Bailey
Parker, Alicen Moser, Erika Flowers, Karl Hawkins, Ron White, Rae Davis

Of Note: In Aaron Posner’s re-imagining, the play becomes
less about the quality of mercy and more about how flexible a supposedly
egalitarian society can be to the varied tribes struggling to find partners in
America. Aaron Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that
make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like
we are. In his “uneasy” comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the
Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today.

Trish Nelke, John Emery, Laura Deveney and Becky Loughridge. Photo by Lori Biehl“Don’t Dress for Dinner” Act Two Theatre Feb. 8 – 17 Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. St. Peters Cultural Arts Centrewww.acttwotheatre.com What It’s About: Bernard and Jacqueline are a not-so-happily married couple, both of whom are having extramarital affairs. As Jacqueline prepares to go out of town to visit her mother, Bernard invites his mistress and Robert, his best friend (and also Jacqueline’s lover, unbeknownst to Bernard), over for the weekend. He’s even hired a Cordon Bleu chef to cater the evening. Jacqueline discovers Robert is coming to town and cancels her trip, causing Bernard to panic. When Robert arrives, Bernard asks him to pretend Suzanne is Robert’s mistress. Robert mistakes the chef, for Bernard’s mistress, producing a highly complicated dinner of hilarious hijinks, secret trysts and slapstick comedy.” Performances take place in the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 1 St Peters Centre Blvd, St. Peters, MO 63376. For more information: act2theater.com.

Director: Paul James Starring: Trish Nelke, John Emery, Laura Deveney, Becky Loughridge, Travis Wiggins, Justin Spurgeon

“Eurydice” Clayton Community Theatre Feb. 7 – 17 Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Washington University South Campus Theatre  6501 Clayton Road Tickets by email at [email protected] 314-721-9228 www.placeseveryone.org. What It’s About: This “weird and wonderful” (New York Times) retelling of the Greek myth about the musician Orpheus and his wife Eurydice ruminates on love, loss, and the power of memory. “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl is one of the few retellings of the classic myth told from the heroine’s perspective. It considers her untimely death and descent to the Underworld, what she finds there, and her difficult decision of whether or not to return to Earth with Orpheus. “Eurydice” was nominated for Drama League and Drama Desk awards in 2008. Director – Jessa Knust

Starring: Eurydice – Mary Tomlinson, Orpheus – Wil Spaeth, Eurydice’s Father – Jeff Lovell, Nasty Interesting Man / Lord of the Underworld – Britteny Henry, Big Stone – Jack Janssen, Little Stone – Amie Bossi, Loud Stone – Ann Egenriether

Photo by John Lamb“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” West End Players Guild Feb. 8 – 17 Showtimes are 2 p.m. Sundays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with Thursday the second week. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End www.westendplayersguild.com

What It’s About: Nan Carter has had it.  She’s had it with her husband Kyle’s
“good ole boy” ways – the coming home drunk, the passing out on the
couch, but not before he gives her a good shot or two.  More importantly, she’s had it with a life
contained within the four walls of their dreary North Georgia cabin.  She knows there’s a more exciting world out
there, and she’s decided to leave Kyle’s world behind and go find her own.

But first, she’s going to have some fun.

With the help of her stripper pal Sweetheart and her best
bud theatre pal Simon, Nan is going to duct tape Kyle to his favorite chair,
put on a little show to teach Kyle the error of his ways and then feed him to a
bear.

Director: Teresa Doggett
Starring: Lexa Wroniak as Nan Carter, Alex Fyles as Kyle Carter, Tara Ernst as
Sweetheart and Ethan Isaac as Simon.

Of Note: The play marks a return for playwright Lauren
Gunderson, recognized last year by American Theatre magazine as America’s
most-produced playwright. Gunderson’s Silent Sky was the big hit of WEPG’s
2018-19 season.

Please note that the Thursday show is on Valentine’s Day.  For this show only, all ladies in attendance will receive a flower and chocolate. Gentlemen will receive a red duct tape bracelet.

Photo by Patrick Huber“Farragut North” St. Louis Actors’ Studio Feb. 8 – 24 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Gaslight Theatre 358 North Boyle Metrotix.com 314-458-2978www.stlas.org

What It’s About: Stephen Bellamy is a wunderkind press secretary who has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a tight presidential primary race, Stephen’s meteoric rise falls prey to the backroom politics of more seasoned operatives. “Farragut North” is a timely story about the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it. Director: Wayne Salomon Starring: Spencer Sickmann, Peter Mayer, David Wassilak, Luis Aguilar, Hollyn Gayle, Shannon Nara and Joshua Parrack. Of Note: Playwright Beau Willimon, who grew up in St. Louis and was a student of the director at John Burroughs School, will be in attendance for a special preview on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m. The West End Grill and Pub will be open before and after the performances for drinks.

Fiddler on the Roof“Fiddler on the Roof” Jan. 29 – Feb. 10 The Fabulous Fox Theatre 529 N. Grand www.fabulousfox.com

What It’s About: Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher and
the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play
Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece
from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon
Harnick.

The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family. “First Date” Clinton County Showcase Feb. 8 – 17 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Avon Theatre, 525 N. Second St., Breese, Ill. www.ccshowcase.com What It’s About: Aaron is a “blind date virgin,” while Casey has been on more than her fair share. When the two are set up by a mutual friend, sparks fly-or do they? The night unfolds over the course of this couple’s hilarious first date, and it’s not without its share of surprises in the form of imaginary visits from Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, Casey’s uptight sister, the pair’s protective parents and even their future son.

“The Hundred Dresses” Metro Theatre Company Feb. 3 – Feb. 25 The Grandel Theatre Metrotix.com www.metroplays.org

What It’s About: Wanda Petronski, the new girl in Room 13,
is a Polish immigrant who lives in a shabby house and doesn’t have any friends.
Every day she wears the same faded blue dress, but tells her new class-mates
that she has a hundred dresses at home. Her classmates tease Wanda about her
hundred dresses until one day she disappears from school. As guilt overtakes
the children, they decide to find out what happened to Wanda and to make
amends. But is it too late? Bullying, friendship and forgiveness are at the
center of this play adapted from the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor
Estes.

Cast: Sophie Murk as Wanda, Alicia Revé Like as Maddie, Hailey Medrano as Peggy, Philip C. Dixon as Mr. Mason, and Jacob Cange as Tommy/Mr. Svenson

Of Note: Eleanor Estes wrote down her childhood memories while recovering from tuberculosis and became a children’s author. Her many published works are widely read; but “The Hundred Dresses” continues to be the most popular, remaining in print since its publication in 1944. It was awarded the Newbery Honor in 1945. Speaking about “The Hundred Dresses” Eleanor Estes said, “I am holding up a mirror, and the scene reflected in the mirror is a true image of childhood, and the mirror, besides reflecting, also speaks and echoes the clear, profound, unpremeditated utterances, thoughts, and imageries of these children. I like to make children laugh or cry, to be moved in some way by my writing.

“Little Shop of Horrors” Monroe Actors Stage Company Feb. 8 – 10, 15 – 17 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Historic Capitol Theatre Waterloo, Ill. 618-939-7469www.masctheatre.org What It’s About: Science fiction mixes with romantic comedy for the musical based on the Roger Corman B-movie, “Little Shop of Horrors,” with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. Seymour Krelbourn works for a florist on skid row and purchases a strange plant that appears during an eclipse, which he names Audrey Two. He has a crush on his co-worker Audrey, who dates a sado-masochistic dentist. The plant is a big hit, and things get weird. Director: Matt Dossett, with music direction by Marcia Braswell Starring: George Doerr IV as Seymour, John Jauss as Mr. Mushnik, Julie Petraborg as Audrey, Seth Acock as Orin, Tim McWhirter as Audrey Two, and Sarah Polizzi, Kara Grossmann and Hannah Lindsey as the street urchin chorus, with Jeff Clinebell, Valleri Dillard, Jennifer Kerner, Reagan Posey, Rachel Mackenzie, Mark Sochowski and Austin Brouk.

Of Note: A sensory-friendly performance is set for Sunday,
Feb. 10.

Jesse Munoz, Adam Flores, Aaron Dodd. Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“The Motherf**ker with The Hat” R-S Theatrics Jan. 25 – Feb. 3 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. .Zack, 3224 Locust www.r-stheatrics.com

What It’s About: How do you know where you’re going…if you
don’t know who has been in your home? The serio-comedy explores how five people
in New York navigate loyalty, trust, and duty through friendship, love and the
challenges of adulthood. And how no one should ever underestimate the
importance of cleaning up their accessories.

Director: Carl Overly Jr.

Starring: Adam Flores, Sofia Lidia, Jesse Munoz, Aaron
Dodd, Taleesha Caturah.

Of Note: Adult themes and language, recommended for mature
audiences.

Photo by Peter Wochniak“Oslo” Feb. 8 – March 3 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 130 Edgar Road, St. Louiswww.repstl.org 314-968-4925 What It’s About: The winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play, this play by J.T. Rogers is set in 1993, when two bitter enemies shocked the world by shaking hands and agreeing to work towards peace. “Oslo” finds the unlikely story behind the historic event. The drama explores the secretive and precarious negotiations that made that moment possible and focuses on the Norwegian couple who brokered talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Director: Steven Woolf Starring: Jim Poulos, Kathleen Wise, Rajesh Bose, Ben Graney, Jerry Vogel, Michael James Reed, Amro Salama, John Rensenhouse, Michelle Hand, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Jeff Cummings, Jim Shankman, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jack Theiling and Tom Wethington. Of Note: “Oslo” is recommended for adult audiences. The show contains strong adult language and weighty discussions about global politics and diplomatic relations.

Photo by ProPhotoSTL“Wittenberg” Upstream Theater Jan. 25 – Feb. 10 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. except Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Center www.upstreamtheater.org

What It’s About: It’s October 1517, and the new fall
semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty
and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class
of 1518) is returning from a summer in Poland spent studying astronomy, where
he has learned of a revolutionary scientific theory that threatens the very
order of the universe, resulting in psychic trauma and a crisis of faith for
him. His teacher and mentor John Faustus has decided at long last to make an
honest woman of his paramour, Helen, a former nun who is now one of the
Continent’s most sought-after courtesans. And Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s
instructor and priest, Martin Luther, is dealing with the spiritual and medical
consequences of his long-simmering outrage at certain abusive practices of the
Church.

Director: Philip Boehm

Starring: Casey Boland, Steve Isom, Alan Knoll and Caitlin
Mickey.

Of Note: St. Louis premiere.