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 EditorAnother Opening, Another Show! Summertime kicks off with annual traditions inside and outdoors — Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ “Love’s Labors Lost” opens for its month-long free admission run in Forest Park while Opera Theatre St. Louis has two shows in repertory – Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” Major musicals make their St. Louis debut this week – the still-running-on-Broadway “Be More Chill” at New Line Theatre and the Peter Allen biopic “The Boy from Oz” kicks off Stages St. Louis’s season.Joe Hanrahan’s Midnight Company presents the St. Louis premiere of the one-man-show “Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust.”It’s the last chance to see the comedy “I Now Pronounce” at New Jewish Theatre and the musical “Nina Simone: Four Women” at The Black Rep.

Start your summer by going to see a play!

Cast of ‘Be More Chill” — 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, had a successful off-Broadway run, it’s now being produced across the country, and it just opened on Broadway in March. It has a Tony nomination for Best Original Score (Joe Iconis, music and lyrics).

David Elder in Stages St. Louis debut“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.
Of Note: Thrilling news from Stages St. Louis comes in the form of two
celebratory evenings focused around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in
conjunction with performances of “The Boy From Oz.” The 8 pm performances on
Saturday, June 1 and Friday, June 7 will offer special $30 tickets to
diversity, equity, and inclusion groups at corporations and organizations
throughout the St. Louis region. The tickets will include a special post show champagne
and dessert reception featuring lively conversation with members of the cast.

Joe Hanrahan in “Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust”“Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust” May 30 – June 15 The Midnight Company Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Kranzberg Center, 501 N. Grandwww.midnightcompany.com What It’s About: An older man taking a break from Christmas shopping with his family at a Starbucks. Hungry for dinner, he tides himself over with the purchase of a small package of soft, spongy cookies. When he dips one in his coffee, his snooty daughter-in-law asks him if he’s having his “Madeleine moment,” and then proceeds to lecture him about Marcel Proust and “Remembrance of Things Past” – the classic multi-volume novel inspired by the narrator dipping a madeleine cake into tea, with the taste bringing back memories of his boyhood, and leading to a retelling of his time in 19th/20th century aristocratic France. Charlie decides he’s going to read that book (not realizing it is seven books) and be able to talk about it with his daughter-in-law next Christmas. And along the way, he discovers the epic that is his own life.

Director: Sarah Holt

Starring: Joe Hanrahan

“The Dixie Swim Club” May 31 – June 19 Monroe Actors Stage Company Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Historic Capitol Theatre in Waterloowww.masctheatre.org 618-939-7469 What It’s About: Five Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every August to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other’s lives. The play focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of thirty-three years.Director: Tim PaeltzStarring: Stacey Tunnicliff as Sheree Hollinger, Dawn Williamson as Lexi Richards, Terrie Thies as Dinah Grayson, Christine Miller as Vernadette Sims and Kelly Shaw as Jeri Neal McFeeley.

Will Bonfiglio is the Best Man in “I Now Pronounce.” Jon Gitchoff photo.“I Now Pronounce” May – June 2 New Jewish Theatre Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theatre Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeurwww.newjewishtheatre.org

What It’s About: Most weddings have something that doesn’t
go quite right – maybe several things go awry. Often these mishaps are the
things that make the most endearing memories of the occasion, but Tasha
Gordon-Solomon’s “I Now Pronounce” imagines a wedding that culminates in an
awkwardly timed fatality, and a reception that spins into a strange and
hilarious evening that leaves the bride and groom questioning just what it is
they’re celebrating. The flower girls are running amuck; the bridal party
members are more preoccupied with their own flailing relationships. But there’s
no stopping the festivities! Comedies end in marriage.

Director: Edward Coffield

Starring: Graham Emmons, Will Bonfiglio, Ryan
Lawson-Maeske, Jessica Kadish, Craig Neuman, Delaney Piggins, Frankie Ferrari

“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.

Nina Simone: Four Women. Photo by Philip Hamer“Nina Simone: Four Women” The Black Rep May 15 – June 2 Edison Theatre on Washington University campus www.theblackrep.org

What It’s About: Nina Simone’s velvet voice was unafraid to
sing lyrics that cut right to the truth. Her music and her life were a personal
exploration branded in the kiln of the civil rights movement; so, in the
aftermath of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the tragic
loss of the four little girls her powerful anthems, “Mississippi Goddam,” “Sinnerman”
and “Old Jim Crow,” fueled the Civil Rights movement and changed her public
persona from songstress to activist. From the iconic “I Put a Spell on You” to “Four
Women,” Simone’s lyrics weave a story of four women alienated from themselves
and one another due to the color of their skin.

Director: Ron HimesStarring: Leah Stewart as Simone, Denise Thimes as Sarah (aka Auntie), Alex Jay as Sephronia and Camile “Cee” Sharp as Sweet Thing

“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644What 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.

Cover Photo: Vivienne Claire Luthin, Kea Trevett, Laura Sohn and Kiah McKirnan in “Love’s Labors Lost” — Photo by Philip Hamer.

New Urban-Rural Settings for Shakespeare in the Streets

Rehearsals Begin for ‘Love’s Labors Lost’ – Opens May 31 in Forest Park

The nationally-recognized Shakespeare in the Streets program will highlight the stories of not just one community, but two – Normandy, Missouri and Brussels, Illinois — for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ first urban-rural exchange Sept. 12-14. The performances will be inspired by the Bard’s play, “As You Like It.”

Audiences will choose whether to start in Normandy or Brussels — 45 minutes from one another — where Act One will begin at the same time in both locations. Act Two will take place on busses that transport the audience members to the banks of the Mississippi River. The final act will occur on the water between Missouri and Illinois where the actors will unite to share not only the same space but also the same story. Partners include Beyond Housing, the Normandy Schools Collaborative and Brussels High School. Event locations, casting and creative information will be released in July. 

In October, the Festival will unveil Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s 1957 12-part suite titled, “Such Sweet Thunder,” an extraordinary but long-forgotten piece of work inspired by different Shakespearean characters. In 1960, French choreographer Maurice Béjart used it as the score for an avant-garde ballet. The work will be revived in partnership with Jazz St. Louis to reconstruct the score, Big Muddy Dance Company to create new choreography, and the Festival, which will weave the pieces together with Shakespearean scenes and sonnets. A fourth partner, Nine Network, will host the resulting three free performances Oct. 3-5 in its Public Media Commons. Additional details will be released in late summer.

‘Love’s Labors Lost’ – May 31 through June 23

The Bard’s comedic take on love and courtship will resonate throughout Shakespeare Glen when the Princess of France (Kea Trevett) and her ladies arrive in the King of Navarre’s (Sky Smith) royal forest during Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ production of “Love’s Labors Lost,” May 31 through June 23, in Forest Park. Performances are nightly, excluding Tuesdays, and begin at 8 p.m. Preview performances are scheduled May 29-30. 

Highlights of this lyrical comedic production include original music composed by St. Louis-based Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra, a diverse cast under the direction of the festival’s Executive Producer Tom Ridgely, and a forested set that blurs that line between stage and park. 

“Love’s Labors Lost” features Shakespeare’s largest cast of comic characters, including four sets of lovers, and is the only one of his plays set in a park. The story revolves around the princess and her ladies who arrive on a diplomatic mission to Navarre, only to be met by the 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. 

“I think Love’s Labors Lost asks the question of what happens when the ideas of love that young people absorb from their culture have totally unprepared them for what it’s like to actually be in a relationship with another human being,” Ridgely said. “The Bard’s advice to young lovers, I think, is how grand gestures don’t always pan out. Nor do disguises. He’s asking them to be curious, to get to know the actual person.” 

         The nightly Green Show will begin at 6:30 p.m. and feature local musicians, family art activities and roving performers. Free backstage tours will begin at 6:30 p.m. in front of the main stage. A 20-minute mini-play of “Love’s Labors Lost” will be performed Friday through Sunday by the Festival’s advanced teen ensemble, the Shakespeare Squadron. 

         Open lawn seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Premium seating, priced at $10 and $20, can be reserved online beginning Wed., May 1, at www.sfstl.com until noon the day of the show, or purchased after 5:30 p.m. in the Glen. Festival souvenir picnic blankets, comfortable for two and pre-set in the blanket seating area, are also available for $40. 

         Picnic fare, including sandwiches, snacks, beer, wine, soda, and water are available for purchase, provided by the Saint Louis Zoo. Audiences will be able to purchase Schlafly’s signature craft beer, available exclusively at the production in Forest Park. Cash, debit, and credit cards are accepted in Shakespeare Glen. 

         Four performances – June 4, 6, 13 and 20 – will be American Sign Language interpreted, thanks to support from Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Mind’s Eye Radio will also audio describe a performance for the visually impaired. 

         For a full cast and creative team list, please visit www.sfstl.com.  

About Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare and works inspired by his legacy of storytelling. Since 2001, the festival has grown from producing a single production of Shakespeare in the Park to a year-round season of impactful theater in exciting and accessible venues throughout the St. Louis community. The festival’s artistic and education programs reached over 50,000 patrons and students during the 2018 season and have reached over one million since 2001. In 2019, the Festival was recognized as a “What’s Right with the Region” finalist by Focus St. Louis. Leadership support for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2019 season is provided by the Whitaker Foundation. The festival is also funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis. For more information, please visit www.sfstl.com, or call 314-531-9800. Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/shakesfestSTL Twitter: @shakesfestSTL Instagram: ShakesfestSTL Snapchat: shakesfestSTL

Veteran performer Philip Hernández, the only actor in Broadway history to play both Valjean and Javert in “Les Misérables,” will headline the 2019 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of “Love’s Labors Lost,” May 31 through June 23, at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. Preview performances are scheduled May 29-30. Performances are held nightly, excluding Mondays, and begin at 8 p.m. 

Philip Hernandez

Hernández will portray Don Adriano de Armado, the lovelorn soldier considered to be one of Shakespeare’s finest comic creations. The actor made his Broadway debut in the Original Cast of the Tony Award-winning “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” directed by Harold Prince, and created the role of Reverend Gonzalez opposite Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades in the Original Broadway Cast of Paul Simon’s “The Capeman.” TV credits include roles on “Nurse Jackie,” “Mysteries of Laura,” “Law and Order” and “Ugly Betty,” among others. 

Joining Hernández in the Festival production are Bradley James Tejeda (Duc de Biron), a native of San Antonio, Texas, and a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, as well as New Yorkers Kea Trevett (Princess of France) and Sky Smith (King of Navarre), both emerging stars within the Shakespeare theater circle. Trevett has appeared on stages nationally with the Classic Stage Company and the Roundabout, as well as internationally in “Antigone” (Africa Tour). Her TV and film credits include “Fosse/Verdon” (FX), “Milkwater” and “The Kindergarten Teacher.” Smith’s most recent credits include “Twelfth Night” (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) and “Love’s Labours Lost”* (The Acting Co.). 

Kea Trevett

Festival veterans include Patrick Blindauer (Costard), who appeared in 2018’s “Romeo & Juliet”; Katy Keating (Nathaniel), most recently seen with the Festival in “Into the Breeches!” and “Blow, Winds”; and Michael James Reed (Forester/Marcadé), marking his seventh park appearance. 

Other area performers making their Festival debut include Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), returning to St. Louis after appearing regionally at the Repertory Theater; Carine Montbertrand (Holofernes), most recently of Titan Theatre at Queens Theatre; Naima Randolph (Moth), an alumni of the Festival’s Shakespeare Squadron and Camp Shakespeare programs; Laura Sohn (Rosaline), a graduate of Rutgers University; Molly Meyer (Jaquenetta); and Sam Jones (Longueville). Also joining the cast are Webster University Conservatory graduates Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria) and Kiah McKirnan (Catherine), and current student Riz Moe (DuMaine). 

Tom Ridgely, executive producer of the Festival, will direct the production, his first since taking the helm of the organization last spring. This marks the company’s 19th season of free, outdoor, professional theater in the park. 

Creative team members include Jason Simms (Set Design) of New York; Melissa Trn (Costumes), a former St. Louisan currently living in Los Angeles; and John Wylie (Lighting) and Rusty Wandall (Sound). This marks Wylie’s sixth season with the Festival, and Wandall’s eighth.

*A note on the title, “Love’s Labors Lost”:

Spelling and punctuation in early modern English weren’t nearly as regularized as they are today. Shakespeare famously never even spelled his own name the same way twice. Similarly, the first quarto of this play is titled “Loues labors lost”; the first folio has it as “Loues Labour’s Lost”; and, the second folio, “Loues Labours Lost.” Given the lack of certainty about what exactly Shakespeare intended, there are various schools of thought on how best to render those three words in modern English. Since the British “u” in “labour” was optional even in Shakespeare’s day, the Festival has opted for the more familiar American spelling. In addition, since the title contains an allusion to the Labors of Hercules, which are referred to often, along with the work of Cupid (aka Love), the Festival opted for the plural over the contraction — hence, “Love’s Labors Lost.”

About Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare and works inspired by his legacy of storytelling. Since 2001, the festival has grown from producing a single production of Shakespeare in the Park to a year-round season of impactful theater in exciting and accessible venues throughout the St. Louis community. The festival’s artistic and education programs reached over 50,000 patrons and students during the 2018 season and have reached over one million since 2001. Leadership support for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2019 season is provided by the Whitaker Foundation. The festival is also funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis. For more information, please visit www.sfstl.com, or call 314-531-9800.

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Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Announces ‘

Tom Ridgely to direct the production set for May 31 – June 23 in Forest Park

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis announced today that “Love’s Labors Lost” will be the 2019 season main stage production at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. A comedic masterpiece by William Shakespeare, the production is scheduled May 31 through June 23; preview nights are set for May 29-30.

Tom Ridgely, executive producer of the Festival, will direct the production, his first since taking the helm of the organization last spring. 

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. 

Interesting point of note: “Love’s Labors Lost” features the single longest word in all of Shakespeare’s plays – honorificabilitudinitatibus. 

“’Love’s Labors Lost’is one of Shakespeare’s most dazzling and delightful comedies – and a brilliant study of the ways culture shapes courtship,” Ridgely said.  “The Bard’s insights into the different ways men and women love and want to be loved have never felt so contemporary, and the climactic final scene is one of the most moving and masterful in the canon. It’s also the perfect play for Forest Park, with its lovers and clowns cavorting all over the sumptuous royal park of the King of Navarre, and I can’t wait to share it with our audiences.”

 Formerly the artistic director and co-founder of Waterwell in New York, Ridgely was responsible for developing and producing more than a dozen world premieres and adaptations of classics. Under his leadership, Waterwell was nominated for three IT awards, a Drama Desk, a New York Magazine Culture Award and a Village Voice “Best of NYC.” He also adapted and directed Waterwell’s dual-language (English/Farsi) “Hamlet,” which was designed and performed by a company of predominantly Middle Eastern and South Asian artists. Ben Brantley of the New York Times described the production as “conceptually bracing…a magnetic reminder of where Hamlet came from and what he has lost.” 

Ridgely will be joined by creative team members Jason Simms (Set Design) of New York; Melissa Trn (Costumes), a former St. Louisan currently living in Los Angeles; and John Wylie (Lighting) and Rusty Wandall (Sound). This marks Wylie’s sixth season with the Festival, and Wandall’s eighth.

The cast for “Love’s Labors Lost” will be announced in April. 

About Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare and works inspired by his legacy of storytelling. Since 2001, the festival has grown from producing a single production of Shakespeare in the Park to a year-round season of impactful theater in exciting and accessible venues throughout the St. Louis community. The festival’s artistic and education programs reached over 50,000 patrons and students during the 2018 season and have reached over one million since 2001. Leadership support for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2019 season is provided by the Whitaker Foundation. The festival is also funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis. For more information, please visit www.sfstl.com, or call 314-531-9800.

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