The movie “Hamilton” meets the moment! Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s game-changer remains a vibrant experience five years after opening on Broadway. Its brilliance shines brightest with the original cast, and its synergy is a thing of beauty.
The cultural phenomenon “Hamilton,” the most nominated musical ever on Broadway and winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, had two performances recorded on June 25-26, 2016, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. This is after the musical won 11 Tony Awards, one shy of the record, and while the original cast was still intact. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, is the central figure in this retelling of history and political scheming. It also includes Hamilton’s family and romantic drama, based on Ron Chernow’s biography.
Miranda’s masterpiece is a hopeful reflection on the ‘unfinished symphony’ that is America – he presents a history lesson, inside view on the messy political process and an amalgam of modern and Broadway styles of music in a grand and glorious way.
Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics, also stars in the
title role. He cast black, Latino and Asian-Americans as the characters – “it
is about America then as told by America now.” This ensemble is the gold
standard – particularly Tony Award winners Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, who
resents the ambitious Hamilton’s easy climb; Daveed Diggs as loyal Lafayette in
the first act and cocky Thomas Jefferson in the second; and Renee Elise
Goldsberry as fiery Angelica Schuyler, whose sweet sister Eliza marries
Hamilton; plus nominees Christopher Jackson as an imposing George Washington,
Phillipa Soo as the kind-hearted wife Eliza and Jonathan Groff, who makes the
most of his nine minutes as the snooty and catty King George.
Hamilton’s a fascinating human, and his journey keeps us riveted
through his personal evolution and the birth of our nation. His rivalry with
Burr adds a complexity – their flaws, fears, desires and regrets fuel the
story. Odom has some of the show’s best songs – “Wait for It,” and “Non-Stop,”
and his introduction “Talk Less” is memorable.
Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, pop and traditional
Broadway show tunes, “Hamilton” is a revolutionary moment in theatre,
and you won’t be able to get those songs out of your head: “My Shot,” The Story
of Tonight,” “The Room Where It Happened,” “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Our
Story,” “History Has Its Eyes on You” and “The World Turned Upside Down.” The
Cabinet Battles are comical and thought-provoking at the same time.
The Schuyler Sisters have a sensational introduction – and Peggy
(Jasmine Cephas Jones), and the songs “Helpless,” “Satisfied,” “Burn” have real
depth from a female point of view. “It’s Quiet Uptown” will tug on your
Already, the staged musical has had profound impact on culture, politics and education, and you will see why, as Hamilton the movie transports the audience inside the Broadway show in an intimate way. (I spontaneously broke into applause a few times).
As for the ‘film’ part, we might not be in the room where it happened (Richard Rodgers Theatre) but what it lacks in the palpable energy only live theater produces, it trades for the emotions you connect with in the close-ups.
Declan Quinn’s cinematography and Jonah Moran’s editing gives us
a crisp perspective. And the skill of that team — Thomas Kail’s seamless
direction, Alex Lacamoire’s exquisite orchestrations and conducting, Andy Blankenbuehler’s
fluid and innovative choreography and Manuel’s smart and clever words and music
— are a swirling mix of craft, art and talent.
With use of steady-cam, crane and dolly, the multiple cameras
create a view you would not have seen – even if you been fortunate enough in
the first couple of rows. We also benefit from it being performed before a live
audience – their reactions give ours some vitality. Lafayette’s line:
“Immigrants – we get the job done!” produces the loudest applause.
I saw the musical once two years ago, on its first national tour
at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, and even with its cavernous 4500 seats, was
gobsmacked. It was among the best theatrical experience ever – and lived up to
This view has new opportunities for discovery, to marvel at
Manuel’s attention to detail and his nimble storytelling. The recurring themes
and repetitive nature of the score add texture to the rhythms and harmonies,
and the cast’s enunciation and verbal dexterity is remarkable.
In 2009, Miranda was invited to the White House to share what he
was working on during a night of poetry-inspired entertainment. President
Barack and Michelle Obama were a little taken aback by his concept – a hip-hop
concert album about the founding father who is on the $10 bill. OK. Well, the
rest, as they say, is history.
And Manuel has made history. An Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award
winner, among his theatrical accomplishments — he wrote and starred in the Tony-winning
2008 musical “In the Heights,” was co-composer and lyricist with Tom Kitt and
Amanda Green for “Bring It On!” in 2011 (produced by Mike Isaacson-led Fox
Theatricals) and at Stephen Sondheim’s request, wrote Spanish dialogue and
lyrics for the 2009 Broadway revival of “West Side Story.”
“Hamilton; An American Musical” opened at the Public Theatre on
Jan. 20, 2015 and moved to Broadway that August. Because of the demand for
tickets, he created the “Ham4Ham” lottery ($10 tickets for first couple of rows),
but those who couldn’t get to Broadway or afford the sky-high ticket prices, can
see the next best thing. The unforgettable theatrical experience has been made
accessible for an even wider audience to appreciate.
The lighting design, by Howell Binkley (Tonys for both
“Hamilton” and “Jersey Boys”), is effective on screen. Paul Tazewell’s costumes
and David Korins’ deceptively simple brick-lined set designs of scaffolds,
catwalks and staircases add to the show’s signature style and cohesiveness.
The film was slated for an October 2021 theatrical release, but
the decision was made to stream through Disney Plus ($6.99 a month subscription
or $69 for the year).
What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our nation and
see its impact today, after a grave period of uncertainty, unprecedented
pandemic and level civil unrest not seen in 50 years. It feels more urgent as a
call to action, to keep this great American experiment a righteous one.
The care and skill that went into this production is obvious. “Hamilton” deserves a standing ovation in every living room across this great country of ours. The musical makes America more beautiful this Independence Day weekend.
“Hamilton” is a filmed musical directed by Thomas Kail, starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff. Rated: PG-13 for language and some suggestive material, it runs 2 hours 40 minutes with 1-minute intermission. Lynn’s Grade: A Streaming on Disney Plus beginning July 3.
By Lynn Venhaus Sharp as a tack and a needed gut punch, “Irresistible” is a savage political satire that aims at both major political parties and the media. It is a wake-up call about how money-influenced political campaigns are run these days and how crazy it all is. And if you are cynical, writer-director Jon Stewart explains why.
The story centers on a Democratic political consultant who helps a retired Marine colonel run for mayor in a small Wisconsin town, and soon the national spotlight is on rural Deerlaken, for its ‘authenticity.’
It might not sound entertaining, and the big city slickers coming to small-town America is a well-worn trope, but “Irresistible” is clever and for the most part, amusing. It zips along, contrasting caring, connected life in rural America with the go-go-go sophistication of New York as a media and liberal center, and the cutthroat political scene in Washington D.C.
The performances are first-rate. Former Daily Show correspondent Steve Carell is in his wheelhouse as Gary Zimmer, a driven Democratic strategist who puts all his muscle and know-how into winning elections. His new pet project is more about his redemption and finding someone who can take the next step to the national arena.
Oscar winner Chris
Cooper, the Kansas City-born actor who consistently depicts integrity, is
perfect as Jack Hastings, a widower and retired Marine, who has the right
demeanor for electability and the wisdom to size up what’s happening in this
super-charged environment. No fool, he knows how he is being presented as a
candidate, and, used. Cooper, who majored in acting and agriculture at
University of Missouri-Columbia, embodies the role with a genuine gravitas.
As his grown daughter
Diana, Mackenzie Davis, last seen in “Terminator: Dark Fate,” is another high
mark, conveying her concerns regarding her dad, being protective and wary of
Acting as Gary’s archrival Faith Brewster, Rose Byrne’s GOP political operative
is abrasive and crude, and in that regard, annoying. Of course, that’s the
point, but ick.
The supporting cast
is having fun – including Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne as slick national
pollsters, Will Sasso and Will McLaughlin as the “Two Mikes,” Brent Sexton as
Mayor Braun and Blair Sams as the local baker Ann.
During this election
year in the middle of the pandemic, people may have developed fatigue about the
news and how campaigns are covered, but this is on the mark. It bites and
stings, as evidenced by the talking heads and the insatiable need to make
predictions and blow things out of proportion.
Stewart, who spent 16 years on “The Daily Show,” knows his material and
personalities, and treats the small-town hicks with respect, while depicting
the easy way they are patronized.
While the barbs don’t always land well, and the sarcasm can get tedious, “Irresistible” presents a case for campaign finance reform. And you might just crave some warm, fresh-baked streusel coffeecake. Required viewing is all the way through the credits.
“Irresistible” is a contemporary comedy-drama directed by Jon Stewart, and starring Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Rose Byrne, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne. Run time is: 1 hr. 41 min. and rated R for language including sexual references. Lynn’s Grade: B+. Available on Video on Demand June 26.
A version of this review appeared in the Webster-Kirkwood Times
By Lynn Venhaus In the first of eight books in Eoin Colfer’s successful fantasy series, 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl wants to restore his family’s fortune, so he holds Holly Short (Lara McDonnell), a fairy and captain of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance force (LEPRecon), for ransom to exploit the magical Fairy People. In the second book, he allies with the Fairy People to rescue his father. from the Russian Mafia.
Are you with me? At first, he’s a villain and enemy, but as the series continued, he developed and changed into an anti-hero.
The movie, in adapting the first two novels, has substantially changed the story, but if you haven’t read them, you wouldn’t know. However, you can tell that it is a disjointed, disappointing adaptation that will neither satisfy franchise readers nor introduce a compelling story to new fans.
In short, this Harry Potter wannabe is a mess. Resembling bits
of Marvel, Star Wars and Fantastic Beasts movies, there is no clear vision in
this chaotic mishmash – just a hodgepodge of strange folk that fails to sustain
interest, even with all the CGI bells and whistles at their disposal. I am not
sure even director Kenneth Branagh knew how to give this story some pizzazz.
Miscasting is a real problem here. Ferdia Shaw is a bland as
the lead character who apparently, is a criminal mastermind – but you don’t
sense that at all. Josh Gad, as Mulch Diggums, a giant among the tiny folks,
and Judi Dench, in a gender-bending role as Commander Root, effect gravelly, growling
voices – why? And Gad’s character, in an attempt to make wisecracks and be
flippant, got on my last nerve.
Both Colin Farrell and newcomer Lara McDonnel are the film’s
saving grace, but they can’t do much about the story’s lack of appeal.
Screenwriters Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl do the source material a
disservice. It has been in development since 2016. That is the first red flag. The
rest of the problems indicate this is a big waste of time.
This film was set to open in theaters but is now available on Disney Plus.
“Artemis Fowl” is a fantasy, sci-fi film directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Colin Farrell, Josh Gad and Judi Dench. It is Rated PG for fantasy action/peril and some rude humor and run time is 1 hr. 41 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: D. Available on Disney Plus streaming service as of June 12.
Formula E Championship Racing is the world’s fastest growing motorsport since its inception in 2014. “And We Go Green” is a behind-the-scenes look at the groundbreaking series, showing racing footage interwoven with candid interviews with the elite drivers Jean-Eric Vergne, Nelson Piquet Jr., Sam Bird, Lucas di Grassi and Andre Lotterer as they race for victory across 10 major cities during the 2017-2018 season.
While it might not seem as exciting as Formula One, the film explains its formation and looks at some of the drivers currently on the circuit. We travel to 12 of the world’s greatest cities to witness the racers’ adventurous road.
Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, among others, he is seen
discovering the Aquafuel that runs the cars, along with high-tech and complex
batteries and operations. He is a well-known environmental activist.
Screenwriter Mark Monroe concentrates on the redemption stories,
the drivers whose need for speed has led them on complicated journeys.
Smoking a cigar and perched on a yellow couch, founder Alejandro
Agag tells his equally fascinating story. An aide to the prime minister of
Spain, he became the youngest man elected to Parliament. He resigned when he
married the prime minister’s daughter. A character – and an entrepreneur – he
founded Formula E. Turns out the environment wasn’t his guiding passion, but of
course, he supports going green.
The moody, temperamental Jean-Eric Vergne, nicknamed “Jev,” has
something to prove while he seeks the championship. So does Britain’s Sam Bird,
always a bridesmaid. Then there is a legacy, Nelson Piquet Jr., whose dad was a
frenemy of Senna, Brazil’s greatest sportscar driver. He has his share of
Their rivalry helps fuel this documentary, which is fairly
standard as sports documentaries go. The sport, in its infancy, will only grow in
stature now that Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porche joined as sponsors in the fifth
year. That’s a coda tacked on to the end.
Like “Ford vs. Ferrari,” you don’t need to be a gearhead to enjoy this movie. It may help to understand the intricacies and mindset, but not required.
“And We Go Green” is a Documentary directed by Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville. It is not rated and is Not Rated and is 1 hr. 39 min. long. Lynn’s Grade B. Available on Hulu on June 4.
A version of this review ran in the Webster-Kirkwood Times online.
By Lynn Venhaus Seven minutes. That’s how long officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s windpipe, cutting his air off. Three other officers were right there. They allowed Floyd to die.
What a horrible death. You hear him plead for his life. Can you
imagine Floyd’s terror, who in the video was cooperating with police? No
resisting arrest, as a claim had made. He was handcuffed. Struggling to
breathe. Saying “Please…please.” Watch the freakin’ video. (There is a newly
surfaced video featuring another angle that shows the other three Officers
doing nothing to help Floyd, noticing the camera.)
I am as outraged as anyone that this death occurred — needless,
senseless, unbelievably sad and tragic. Sadly, it is just one more in an
all-too familiar tale.
Why is Chauvin not charged yet? The other three are accessories. They should all face swift criminal charges.
We watched this video in horror. We watched a man murdered in
real time. What if we didn’t have this video?
What if in NYC, Christian Cooper hadn’t videotaped Amy Cooper
calling the cops on him with a bogus story — which I consider a hate crime,
and I hope she is prosecuted as such. We haven’t come very far from “To
Kill a Mockingbird” have we?
How many cases of people without a moral compass harming someone
— showing their true character in flaunting white privilege or racism — that
go on in this country unnoticed because no one hit the record button?
I can only imagine.
It’s hard to watch this much hate. How it consumes and eats at
people, and why? Because they are different? Because you feel superior?
What does “Jews will not replace us” even mean? I
don’t understand this need for dominance or supremacy.
I don’t understand why we’re moving backwards.
I naively believe in the power of communication. Of sitting down
with people and learning about their circumstances, about why we are where we
are, and what can we do to move forward? About how we need to view each other
as people — as real individuals, human beings who share common goals and reach
I understand the anger and frustration in Minneapolis and across
the country tonight (although I don’t understand destroying businesses that are
part of a community). And yes, I don’t know what it’s like to be black in
America. As a US citizen, I don’t like what I’m seeing, and I feel as helpless
as everyone else does. How do we fix these problems?
Chauvin had 18 previous complaints in internal affairs. I can only assume Swain was not one of the good guys. He had gotten away with bad behavior before. The other department police officers, (example of the late ISP trooper Nick Hopkins who made it his mission to help people), who believe in protecting and serving the people without prejudice are now lumped in with the bad guys. Distrust and disrespect are at an all-time high.
We have a mess here.
Why are we moving backwards in race relations?
What can we do? We need to get behind reforms and action — but
how will we do this?
The P&G commercial below won an Emmy a couple years ago. I
showed it to my SIUE media class. We talked about its power, about its ability
to affect change with awareness. But some of the students didn’t feel like
things were going to change.
We shouldn’t doubt that justice will be served — shouldn’t it be
a given, but no…we have seen injustice too many times.
We shouldn’t have people worry that when they go out the door
they might not come home because of systemic bigotry.
This is 2020, not 1860 or 1930 or 1965. This is not something in the past. This is very much here and now. No wonder the pent-up anger and frustration is spilling out.
Is spilling out?
Watching this much hate shouldn’t be normal. Let’s not normalize any of this.
Sightlines is a personal viewpoint column on a variety of topics, not just showbiz. Opinions expressed are mine alone. — Lynn Venhaus
By Lynn Venhaus With humor and heart, “Military Wives” spotlights the unsung heroines during wartime – the spouses who keep it together at home.
While their partners are away serving in Afghanistan, a group of British women on the home front form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement. They were the first of 75 military wives’ choirs across the UK and overseas.
Based on a true story and inspired by a 2011 BBC reality television series, this film tells about a band of misfit women who form a choir. First, it’s for something to do on a military base while their husband have a tour of duty in Afghanistan. But then it takes on bigger meaning.
Directed by Peter Cattaneo, who is responsible for the crowd-pleaser “The Full Monty” two decades ago, it is purely formula. But that’s OK. In movies like this, you must highlight certain people and their conflicts – inner turmoil and out-in-the-open challenges. It’s predictable but in spite of itself, one still enjoys this journey.
The women will bond, laugh, tell intimate stories and flourish through music. This helps ease their stress and fears for their loved ones in combat. While much of it is fun, it is not all light – and that’s understandable.
Leading the cast is Kristin Scott Thomas as a colonel’s uptight wife, so Kate is in charge but she’s not likable – controlled and judgmental. She is also dealing with enormous grief.
A sergeant’s wife, who couldn’t be more different, is supposed to be given more to do, but Lisa and Kate clash. Lisa is played by Sharon Horgan, of Amazon Prime’s hilarious “Catastrophe.” She and Kate must work through several issues before they can work in harmony.
The women are asked to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London for “A Day of Remembrance.” It will be televised. Their stage fright ramps up.
There is nothing easy about their journey, but it’s realistic, as written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard, and their bonds feel authentic.
The music score is interesting, too, particularly with the pop song choices from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
A pleasant diversion, “Military Wives” lovingly tells their poignant stories at a time we are open to hear them.
“Military Wives” is a comedy-drama directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring, Kristen Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan. It is rated PG-13 for some strong language and sexual references. Run time is: 1 hr. 52 min. Lynn’s Grade: B. This movie was released on Hulu.
A version of this review appeared in the Webster-Kirkwood Times.
Teen politics take on a more sinister edge in “Selah and the Spades,” especially when the stakes are high at a prestigious prep school.
Five factions rule an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, Haldwell. Selah Summers (Lovie Simone), 17, is the head cheerleader and golden girl who runs the dominant group, The Spades, supplying drugs and alcohol to the students. In an effort to maintain control when tensions escalate between the cliques, Selah takes on a protégé, photographer Paloma Davis (Celeste O’Connor), who is a sophomore and turns out to be a quick study.
So can Selah hold on to her power, even when she has a falling out with her best friend Maxxie (Jharrel Jerome)? Senior year proves to be intense, frustrating and not definitive at all. And these kids, in a different league, seems to operate as mob families.
First-time writer-director Tayarisha Poe uses a stylized, polished approach to present a heightened reality, and it is rather frightening how ugly everyone is on the inside while being consumed by outward appearances. And if this is the way the modern high school social cliques scene is, be afraid, be very afraid.
No matter what the status is, rich or poor, why do most
high school kids feel they have to be somebody else and not themselves?
Poe has some good points here, but it’s mostly posturing. Most of the action is depicted after-school and underground, rarely any classroom time. The administration just seems to shake its heads at the antics and not have a grasp at all. Most of the kids are snooty mean girls and boys, so who do we root for? The poor, shy kid on scholarship who doesn’t realize her power, but when she does, it’s intoxicating?
That would be newcomer Paloma, and Celeste O’Connor is
indeed a breakout here. As the lead girl, Lovie Simone impresses but Selah is
too cold and calculating to elicit any feel-sorry emotions from the audience,
let alone identify. She is obsessed with maintaining control and spends much of
her energy trying to keep her power.
The power struggles aren’t all that interesting (and the head “Bobby” will get on your last nerve). The amount of drugs casually consumed is rather alarming too. But before I start sounding like a crabby old woman who didn’t hang out with the cool kids at the malt shop, this movie is hard to warm up to, let along relate. Its connection to reality is limited – OK, maybe the depiction of high school is legitimate but doesn’t ring true, or I could be incredibly naïve.
However, you do want something good to happen, especially with Jharrel Jerome as the best friend. Jerome, Emmy winner for his performance in “When They See Us,” a Netflix mini-series on the Central Park Five case, is an outstanding performer, destined for good work. He played Kevin as a teenager in “Moonlight” and is a terrific presence here.
For as much as this movie is about growing up, Selah never really grows and the ending is a muddled mess (and way too dark). This movie premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, so it has sat awhile. Yet, the director was tagged as someone to watch. She does show promise, as does the cast, but it never does rise to that special level people would be expecting and it could have achieved.
And that is very much like high school.
“Selah and the Spades” is a drama written and directed by Tayarisha Poe, starring Lovie Simone, Jharrel Jerome and Celeste O’Connor. It’s rated R for teen drug content and language. Run-time is 1 hr. 37 min. Lynn’s Grade: C+
Greetings! This is a people, places and events column about local and
national showbiz items that will appear regularly. Feel free to message me with
Today we provide some ways to fill your
quarantine days and nights, a list of resources for artists, updates on the
Theatre Proms and more.
MRS. AMERICA: St. Louis anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly was an Alton, Ill. housewife when she gained national attention in conservative politics, fighting the Equal Rights Amendment and founding the Eagle Forum in 1972. She’s the subject of a nine-part miniseries, “Mrs. America,” which starts Wednesday, April 15 on Hulu. The first three episodes: “Phyllis,” “Gloria” and “Shirley” will air then, then each week through May 27, depicting the battles between Schlafly and the leaders of the women’s movement in the 1970s.
The cast includes Cate Blanchett as Schlafly, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug and Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm.
Fun fact: I saw Schlafly debate Betty Friedan on the ERA during college. Phyllis came up to the podium, looking like Betty Crocker, and said: “How many women want to get drafted?” A guy in the audience yelled out: “How many men do?” When Betty came up, in a mumu, she clearly had the crowd on her side. Illinois State University, 1973.
*** THEATER PROMS: Springtime is awards season for the theater community, but this year, the mandatory Shelter-in-Place doesn’t allow gatherings of 10 or more. Therefore, events have been cancelled, rescheduled and rebooted
Often referred to as “Theater Prom,” the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony was to take place on March 30 at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, but the event had to be cancelled. Local theater critics still honored outstanding regional professional theater.
Instead, HEC provided a streamcast of the awards on
Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page. The event was downscaled
reading of the nominations and awards, but hey, it’s #TCA20. You can still see
it! Here is the YouTube link:
The theater critics recorded the nominations, and their voice-overs ran over photos. Then HEC announcer Rod Milam announced the winner. There were 34 categories to give awards in, which cover dramas, comedies and musicals. All in a half hour.
Many thanks to HEC Media, including Dennis Riggs, total pro announcer Rod Milam and ace producer Paul Langdon. Thanks to our theater buddy Andrea Torrence for the work on the graphics – the photos really made the virtual. event “pop.” I applaud your sharp professional skills and your devotion to local theater.
A special award was given to Ken and Nancy Kranzberg for their tremendous support and commitment to the arts. Where would St. Louis arts be without the Kranzbergs?
Congratulations to the winners AND the nominees, and
everyone who gave of their heart and soul to produce live regional professional
theater with such passion and panache in 2019.
It truly was a fantastic year, especially for drama, and
what a crowded field of talent among the 125 artists nominated and 51 shows
from 25 different companies.
It is a privilege to see such a variety of theater during
the year, and as a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle, it has been
a real joy these past eight years.
In due time, we’ll be back in darkened theaters watching
people create magic. We’ll get to hug and laugh again, and marvel at this thing
called art that connects us all.
Even virtually for one evening — that was a welcome respite
from the sad, terrifying and anxious daily news, wasn’t it, in what’s become
the norm in our current global pandemic. People really seemed to enjoy it,
lifted spirits – some casts had Zoom parties.
I look forward to seeing you all again, in the “After
In community theater, the Arts For Life board of directors
presents two awards events each year, the Best Performance Awards honor musical
theater and youth productions, and the Theatre Mask Awards honor straight
The fifth annual Theatre Mask Awards, which honors both dramas and comedies, was to take place at a brunch on Saturday, April 4, at The Atrium Center at Christian Hospital. However, it has been rescheduled for July 18.
The 21st annual Best Performance Awards is scheduled for Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at Chaminade. However, the AFL board of directors will decide shortly on whether the event will be moved. Stay tuned.
For more information and to see lists of nominations, visit
You can get tickets to both events for the special price of $40. Visit www.artsforlife.org for
more information and to see a complete list of nominees.
Emcees are Donna Northcott, a theater professor at Lindenwood University – St. Charles, for the TMAs, and local singer-actress Karen Fulks for the BPAs.
disclosure: I am a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle and I am on
the Board of Directors of Arts For Life).
HELP IS HERE: How can you help all the artists around the region and homebound folks around the region? During this unprecedented time of isolation, Stay-at-Home mandate, social distancing to #flattenthecurve, here are some resource links:
This fund will provide short term monetary relief to
employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants, and shops in the St.
Louis area affected by closures and other circumstances brought about by the
Broadway may be dark, but today you can be a light for the
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS launched the COVID-19
Emergency Assistance Fund to help those onstage, backstage and behind the
scenes during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Through your donation to this
special fund, administered by The Actors Fund, you can ensure entertainment
professionals get the health care, emergency financial assistance and
counseling they need.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: OverDue Theatre Company had to cancel “My Fair Lady” this spring but has put together a Quarantine Concert for Facebook Live on Friday, April 17, at 7 p.m. Special guests include Kaitlyn Mayse, Lauren Molina and Nikki Snelson. Featuring Kimmie Kidd, Eleanor Humphrey and Kay Love, there are 17 performers from the OverDue family who will perform too.
SOME GOOD NEWS: You know him, you love him from “The Office,” the immortal Jim Halpern of the Jim and Pam office romance. Actor John Krasinski has started his own web series, “Some Good News,” and the first episode on March 29 was such a hit, he has produced two more, all dropping on Sunday nights. It’s both inspiring and distracting.
You can follow his page on Facebook for updates and a link
to submit good news.
*** CINEMA STL: Like everyone else, Cinema St. Louis has rescheduled some events. Here are the new dates/information: Classic French Film Festival: Working to move to late July/early August; St. Louis Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival: Moving from May 1 to hopefully this summer; QFest: Moving from mid-May to possibly July; Filmmaking camps: Camps slated for June and July will continue as scheduled for now; I Love Movies Trivia Night: Still scheduled for Friday, June 5, with backup dates of Friday, Aug. 28, or Friday, Sept. 4; St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase: This event is currently scheduled to go on as planned in July – deadline May 31; Golden Anniversaries: Films of 1970: The six-film fest is now slated for the following Saturday-Sundays: Aug. 22-23, Aug. 29-30, and Sept. 5-6 at the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library; SLIFF: Hoping to go as scheduled in November.
*** TEAM LEGEND: About a year ago, singer-guitarist Joanna Serenko won the St. Louis Teen Talent Showcase, sponsored by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation. Now she’s a contestant on “The Voice.”
The poised and talented 2019 Kirkwood High School graduate had
a four-chair judges’ turn for her blind audition during Feb. 24 night’s season
premiere. She sang Amy Winehouse’s R&B rendition of The Beatles’ classic
“All My Loving,” and new judge Nick Jonas fought for her to be on his team.
Here’s her performance link:
The Battle Rounds began March 23, and Joanna was paired
with Roderick Chambers to sing Billie Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over.” Here is
Kelly Clarkson described their duet as “effortless and
beautiful and passionate,” and coach Nick called her a “flawless singer” but
picked Rod as the winner — then John Legend stole Joanna, so she advances to
the Knockout Rounds on Team Legend. EGOT Legend said she had a lot of “style
and grace” in her voice.
Both the Battle and Knockout Rounds were taped earlier, so
they aren’t affected by the virus shutdown. However, the live shows in May
might be, which follows the Knockout Rounds. Go Joanna! (Tune in April 13).
For the first show, a viewing party took place at the Marcus
Des Peres Cinema. Due to the pandemic, that can’t happen now. If it starts up again,
I’ll let you know.
She used to sing in the choir at Kirkwood’s United
Methodist Church and moved here from Cleveland in 2010.
AND THAT’S A WINNER: Sports commentator and hometowner Joe Buck is reaching out to sports fans, asking them to send videos so he can provide a “play-by-play” of what they’re doing while staying at home — perhaps dribbling in place? Just be careful what you send him.
*** HARRY POTTER INTERACTION: Want to escape to fantasy worlds during this global pandemic? “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has launched a new website called Harry Potter at Home – a free magical resource to keep readers of all ages entertained while staying at home. In addition to the existing interactive features on WizardingWorld.com, the site creators have added new activity kits, “nifty magical craft videos,” quizzes, puzzles, and more. You can also listen to the first book on Audible for free or download and read it from a digital library.
*** AND HE SCORES! Congratulations to Tom Calhoun, one of the nice guys in local media and the St. Louis Blues announcer for 33 years, who was recognized with three honors by the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. He was recently inducted, presented with the President’s Choice Award and given a commemorative 1500th-game plaque at the fourth annual Illinois Enshrinement Dinner.
A veteran of KMOX, WIBV and other stations, he is currently an adjunct communications professor at Southwestern Illinois College and general manager of its campus radio station, Blue Storm. He has never missed a Blues game since 1987 — until the global pandemic sidelined the team and the NHL cancelled the season. (Just think: a year ago, on April 10, we won the first of the 16 games we needed to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs).
Cutline: Pictured, left to right, Tom Calhoun, head of the St. Louis National Hockey League Off-Ice Crew Tom Morris and St. Louis Blues inspiration and “super-fan” Laila Anderson. Photo by Bill Greenblatt
APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE:The Black Rep was awarded the August Wilson American Century Cycle Award by Christopher Rawson of the Pittsburgh Gazette on its opening night of “Two Trains Running.”
In 2008, they were the third company in America to complete
the 10-play American Century cycle and are currently two-thirds of the way
through it for the second time. Each of the 10 plays are set in a different
decade of the 20th century.
Rawson, the newspaper’s senior
theater critic and an August Wilson House board member, made the presentation
Jan. 10. The award was established only recently, so presentations are being
made gradually to the 15 qualifying companies.
“August is still alive, first, in the people,
places and stories from what we call August Wilson’s Hill, and second, in the
theaters around the country that bring them to life. This award, presented
jointly by his hometown newspaper and his childhood home, celebrates the
conjunction of these two. It says that we are all connected in August’s work,
through our recognition of its rich humanity and spiritual passion,” he said.
Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero Wilson, sent thanks to The Black Rep “for your ongoing support of his legacy and for continuing to tell the stories for many generations to come. You ‘belong to the band’!” The quotation comes from Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” where “the band” refers to those who struggled to free black Americans from slavery and Jim Crow.
*** IN THE CREDITS: Meadow Nguy of O’Fallon, Ill., makes an appearance in the seventh episode of the new Amazon Series “Hunters” starring Al Pacino. She was seen in “Law and Order: SVU” last November, and has been on “Madam Secretary” and “The Blacklist.” She moved to New York after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in musical theater. She appeared on stages in St. Louis, including the 2012 “Spring Awakening” at Stray Dog Theatre and their world premiere of “Spellbound,” and in the metro-east during her high school years. She won the Illinois Musical Theater Award, her ticket to the Jimmy Awards in 2012.
*** BOOKSHELF: New Line Theatre Artistic Director Scott Miller is also a prolific writer. His latest, “Idiots, Heathers, and Squips,” digs into a new batch of original, interesting musicals produced the first 15 years of the millennium.
He does deep dives into these 11 that represent “the astonishing variety and fearlessness of this new Golden Age: Urinetown, Sweet Smell of Success, Jerry Springer the Opera, Passing Strange, Cry-Baby, Next to Normal, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, American Idiot, Heathers, and Be More Chill.
LISTEN IN: MK Andersen’s“The First Hundred Days.” She is inspired by the idea that if the first hundred days of a presidency are the most pivotal and important, then the first hundred days of X,Y and Z must also be important. New ones are released every Tuesday: https://yourdaybymk.com/podcast-first-hundred-days : MK, who operates a wedding planning business, is a graduate of University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in political science. For the podcast she has talked to a writer at Netflix, a former university president and others. In episode 2, a fascinating talk with former FCC Chairman Newton Minow (1961-1963) is here. Minow, 94, served under President Kennedy. He practices telecommunications law in Chicago and in 2016, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
Fun fact: “Gilligan’s Island” creator Sherwood Schwartz named the tiny ship that took that fateful trip for Minow because he thought he had ruined television. Minow is noted for a speech in which he called American television a “vast wasteland.”
*** REEL TIMES TRIO: Of course I’m going to plug my own, Reel Times Trio podcast, which is Carl “The Intern” Middleman, myself and a rotating guest to discuss the latest movie releases, what’s out on DVD and streaming, what’s new in Hollywood and Broadway, what’s happening locally, good TV and more.
We’re on iTunes and SoundCloud, and have a Facebook page where we post episodes each week. We also are posted here at PopLifeSTL.com During the pandemic, after a brief layoff, we have transitioned to Zoom. Find us here: https://soundcloud.com/lynn-zipfel-venhaus
*** ICYMI: Need something to do? HBO has unlocked the vault on nine popular series that you can watch for free on HBO Now or HBO Go, or if you have cable TV, now through May 31. The shows are: Barry, Big Little Lies, The Wire, The Sopranos, Succession, Veep, Silicon Valley, Six Feet Under, True Blood and Ballers.
Need to know where you can find a movie to watch, whether
it’s streaming or not? Check out www.justwatch.com or
download the app on your phone.
Did you miss Andrea Bocelli’s free streaming concert from Milan on Easter Sunday? Here is the YouTube link to the half-hour concert, featuring the famed opera singer performing “Ave Maria,” “Santa Maria” and “Amazing Grace”: https://youtu.be/huTUOek4LgU
He told NBC News: “I believe in the strength of praying
together. I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that
everyone – whether they are believers or not – truly needs right now. Thanks to
music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in
the world, we will hug this wounded earth’s pulsing heart…”
One of the best ads yet on staying safe for the good of a city, Here’s Doner Advertising Agency’s uplifting message to Detroit: https://youtu.be/JJzlXhXrD7I
*** WORD: “The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what truth and beauty and kindness really are.” — Terence McNally (1938-2020), in his Lifetime Achievement Award speech at last year’s Tony’s.
As a regional surge in COVID-19 cases grips the area, more local arts and entertainment events have either been cancelled or postponed in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The month-long “Hamilton” national tour stop at the Fox is now postponed, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis has cancelled its festival season and people are now moving dates from spring to either later in the year or 2021.
Based on the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization’s recommendations on social distancing and against large group gatherings, St. Louis city and county, St. Charles County and Illinois put a public health emergency plan in place. They have shutdown gatherings of 10 or more, encouraged social distancing and ordered everyone to Stay-at-Home. Announced dates: St. Louis quarantine is through April 22; Illinois is through April April 30; Missouri is through April 24; and the nation is recommended until April 30.
Here is a round-up of the latest on community theater, regional professional theater, national touring shows, certain events and venues. If alternate programming has been put into place, it’s mentioned. As everyone knows by now, things change daily, so check with websites to see the latest. I’ll update as groups provide new information.
Kranzberg Arts Foundation
All Kranzberg Arts Foundation venue operations have been temporarily shut down.
This includes theatres, galleries, clubs, restaurants, cafes, and libraries.
These closures will remain in place until at least May 11.
This includes the Kranzberg Arts Center, The Marcelle
Theatre, The .Zack Theatre, The Big Top, The Grandel Theatre, The Dark Room,
Sophie’s Artist Lounge and the High-Low building.
Fox Theatre Performances at the Fabulous Fox have been postponed through April 30 and tours have been cancelled through June 7.
On April 10, the Fox announced that “Hamilton” has been postponed but no date has been set yet. It was scheduled to play at The Fox May 5 – June 7.
“The Fox is in discussion with the HAMILTON producers to reschedule the engagement and hopes to announce that information soon. said spokesman Megan Ketcherside.
Ticket holders should
keep their tickets until new dates are announced. More information will be
available once new dates are secured.
The Fabulous Fox Theatre hopes to bring the show to St. Louis in 2020, but as with all things related to COVID-19 and the social distancing necessary to keep guests and associates safe, theatre management will follow the lead of government and health officials in this matter> Ketcherside said.
The other shows that have been postponed: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” originally scheduled for March 17-29; Teen Talent Competition originally scheduled for April 4; “Cats,” originally scheduled for April 7-19; Celtic Woman has been rescheduled for April 20, 2021; and Chaka Khan, originally scheduled for April 24.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will now be Dec. 22 – 27. “Cats” can’t be rescheduled for 2019-2020 but Fox is working on a future date.
Plans to reschedule other postponed shows are currently underway. Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets – they will be honored on the new dates.
Decisions about other future shows will be made as we
follow the evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus and the City of St.
Louis’ determination of the length of this prohibition, public relations
manager Megan Ketcherside said.
Operational hours are subject to change based on the
COVID-19 situation. For now, the Fox Box Office is temporarily closed. The MetroTix
314-534-1111 phone hours are now from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Visit the website, www.fabulousfox.com/coronavirus
As of March 25, the Family Arena and The Family Arena Box
Office is closed to the public until such time as the limit on public
gatherings is lifted in St. Charles County.
Tickets are still available for purchase at
Manager Tom O’Keefe said if you purchased tickets at the
box office for an upcoming rescheduled event that you would like a refund for,
please hold on to your tickets until they re-open and they will refund your
tickets at that time.
They have partnered with Ticketmaster to address all fan
questions regarding the cancellation and rescheduling of live events. Visit the
Ticketmaster Help Center for guidance and check back regularly for additional
information and status updates, www.familyarena.com.
The Stifel Theatre and Enterprise Center Box Offices will
not open until further notice. For guests who purchased tickets to an upcoming
show through the box office that has been cancelled, please hold on to your
tickets until we re-open and are able to assist with your questions.
These events at Stifel Theatre have been postponed. Ticket
holders should hold on to their tickets, as all tickets will be honored on the
Here are rescheduled dates:
Gabriel Iglesias, from March 13 to Oct. 15 and from March 15 to Oct. 14; Franco
Escamilla, from March 14 to Nov. 13; Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers from March 18
to Oct. 14; Nathaniel Rateliff from March 19 to Nov. 14; Ron White from March
20 to Sept. 11; Bert Kreischer from April 5 to July 30; Iliza: The Forever Tour
from April 23 to Sept. 24; and Trolls LIVE! From May 15-17 to Oct. 2-4.
The following events have been cancelled and refunds will
be available at original point of purchase:
“Sesame Street Live,” March 27-29; TD Jakes, April 10; The
Color Purple, April 11; Variety Children’s Charity featuring Steely Dan, April
23; The Spongebob Musical, May 2-3; and Mother’s Day Soul Jam, May 8.
Decisions about other future shows will be made as they continue
to monitor this rapidly evolving situation. Visit www.stifeltheatre.com
The arena is closed until further notice and in an abundance of caution, the
venue will be thoroughly cleaned while closed.
They are currently working to reschedule all impacted
events and will provide updates as quickly as possible. We ask all current
ticket-holders to retain their tickets for these events until such time when a
new date is determined as your current ticket will be valid for the new date. “Please
be patient and hang tight as we work through this unprecedented time,” a
Additionally, they have partnered with Ticketmaster to
address all fan questions regarding the cancellation and rescheduling of live
events. Visit the Ticketmaster Help Center by clicking here for guidance and
check back regularly for additional information and status updates as they
Impacted Events: Festival Of Laughs from March 20 to Sept.
26; Sturgill Simpson from March 21 to TBD; Gateway Blues Festival from March 28
to TBD; AEW Dynamite from April 8 to Oct. 7; NF from April 11 to Aug. 15;
Legends of Hip Hop, from April 17 to Nov. 7; The Millennium Tour, from April 24
to Aug. 8; Three 6 Mafia, from May 23 to Oct. 2; and Lauren Daigle, from May 29
The Playhouse at Westport
All March/April events were cancelled, including “Flanagan’s Wake,” which had
been extended to mid-April.
John Denver Tribute May 7-10 and Rockin’ Chair June 5-6 remain
EVERYONE is encourage to participate–kids, adults, teachers, students, artists, people who don’t yet identify as artists! You read or watch the prompt and then respond immediately in the art form of your choice. We work with amazing collaborators to shape your responses in to a new work and have actors record it. We make a video of our brand new, collaborative work!
New prompts each week, so you can keep generating material while we work on new scripts. We want to hear from you.
Muny administrative offices and box office are closed through late April.
Ticketing services for the 2020 season are available online at any time.Ticketing
related questions can be sent to [email protected]
“We are closely monitoring all developments regarding the
COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to follow the guidance of health and
government officials with the goal of keeping our staff and community as safe
and healthy as possible,” the Muny statement reads on their website.
“With the start of our 2020 season still months away, we
remain optimistic that the season will proceed as planned and hope the
restrictions on gatherings are lifted in early May, as scheduled. If that
changes, we will adjust accordingly. Meanwhile, we continue communicating with
health officials on all levels to stay fully informed and responsive to this
unprecedented situation,” the statement reads.
Given the Stay at Home order for St. Louis City and County,
and for the health and safety of our team, The Muny Offices are currently
closed and some ticketing dates have changed. However, we’re still busy getting
ready for the 2020 summer season, and we can’t wait to meet you at The Muny
Ticketing Update as of March 26 – These dates are subject
Muny Season Tickets will be mailed in early May
Season Ticket Exchanges: May 26 – 29
Single Ticket on Sale: June 1
To purchase new season tickets, or pay a current balance on
existing season tickets, please visit:
To purchase season tickets with a gift card you currently
have in-hand, please email The Muny Box Office at [email protected] and a Muny
Ticketing agent will contact you to process
your request. If you wish to purchase a gift card, it will not be mailed until
the restrictions on gatherings have been lifted.
Also, if you are looking for a way to stay entertained
during these “quiet days,” we encourage you to enjoy a specially curated set of
video clips from our previous productions on our social media channels. You can
follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
The Repertory Theatre had to cancel the run of “The Cake,”
which began in the Studio Theatre on March 14, but was forced to be shutdown
March 16, and to postpone our Mainstage world premiere of “Dreaming Zenzile” from
March 21, with the goal of mounting it this summer.
An online stream of “The Cake” has been made available to all
Studio Theatre patrons who previously purchased tickets at no additional cost.
There are a limited number of streaming tickets available
for purchase for those who are interested in viewing the final performance of the
Steve Woolf Studio Series this season. That is available through April 24.
Additionally, The Rep is collaborating with a national
group of theatres to commission a series of short plays specifically developed
to spark joy and connection among people who are sheltering in place. These
initiatives are designed to keep the art alive and vital, even in a time of
“Keep an eye out for more entertaining content and
educational resources from The Rep and our local and national partners by
following us on social media,” spokesman Jeremy Goldmeier said.
On March 27, The Rep announced that they have honored the entire contracts of
the guest artists who devoted their talents to “Dreaming Zenzile” and “The
Cake,” despite their runs being delayed or cut short.
“In these uncertain times, The Rep felt it was imperative
that these artists, whose livelihoods depend on their contracts, not bear the
additional burden of lost wages in this pandemic,” a statement said.
“As you know, The Rep has an extraordinarily talented and
dedicated staff that works year-round to support the productions, education,
and community initiatives to serve the greater St. Louis region. We have
continued to pay the full salaries of our full-time, year-round administrative
staff, with no furloughs or other lapses in pay. We have moved our
administrative and box office teams to work remotely to serve you during this
period,” a statement said.
Play at Home
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has teamed with
Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly
Mammoth Theatre Company to present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned
short plays from some of the American theatre’s most exciting and prominent
These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are
available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at
In the wake of widespread event cancellations following the
spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the participating theatres conceived Play
at Home as a way to support artists, connect people to theatre, and to ignite
imagination and joy in these uncertain times.
Each organization commissioned multiple playwrights – most
of whom had plays canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak – to create new
works that were big, joyful and not bound by the constraints of what might be
“possible” on a traditional stage.
The Rep’s commissioned playwrights feature:
Regina Taylor (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021 production
Karen Zacarias (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021
production of Native Gardens)
Steph Del Rosso (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021 world
premiere of The Gradient)
Guadalís Del Carmen (who appeared at The Rep as an actor in
2020’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles)
Tre’von Griffith (a St. Louis performer and playwright,
co-founder of TLT Productions)
These plays are meant to be read at home among family and friends, and we highly encourage readers to share photos or videos of their home performances on social media using the hashtag #playathome.
Max and Louie Productions
Estelle Siteman of Max & Louie Productions said they optimistically look forward to bringing the second play of our 2020 season,”Looking for Normal” by Jane Anderson to the Marcelle. “This beautiful ,moving play full of wit and wisdom opens July 16 through the 26.2020,” she said.
Moonstone Theatre Company Sharon Hunter said Moonstone Theatre Company has postponed their July opening of “The House of Blue Leaves” to July of 2021 at the Wool Studio Theatre at the J. They will announce our season shortly. which will now begin in November 2020 with a Neil Simon comedy.
The Midnight Company Midnight Artistic Director Joe Hanrahan has moved his one-man play from May 28 – June 13 to a June 4 – 20 run. This is the premiere of the full version of “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond,” which will be at The Chapel, 4238 Alexander Drive, 63105. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.
It was performed in a shortened version at the 2018 St. Louis Fringe Festival, and audiences responded enthusiastically and critics raved. Snoops Theatre Thoughts said “A delightful show that’s part personal memoir, part history lesson, part nostalgia, and all fascinating. A difficult show to describe but what it is is excellent.” Limelight said “Hanrahan jumps from omniscient narrator to 15-year old movie fanatic to baseball and theatre historian, the audience hanging on every word. The Cardinals are the talk of the town again. This show should be the talk of the town, too!” Hanrahan said, “There’s never been a play we’ve done that’s received such enthusiastic, visceral reaction, due, surely, to the St. Louis history of the show. At the Fringe, productions are limited to one-hour playing time, and this new version will allow us to incorporate new material that should make the show ever more entertaining and informative.” “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond,” concerns a teen-age boy in 1964. JFK’s assassination still casts a pall on the nation. The Beatles’ emergence in February of ’64 starts to lighten the mood of the nation. The Cardinals continue the good times in St. Louis with a mad dash toward the pennant. And when a new movie hero hits the screens that summer, a bunch of boys on a baseball field have their first theatre experience when one of their gang offers a 30-minute one-man show of “From Russia with Love.” Throughout, the playwright draws links between what’s happened and happening – from JFK to James Bond, from segregation in St. Louis to segregation in baseball’s Southern Leagues and Florida stadiums where The Beatles were supposed to play, from WWII to British film production crews and JFK hit squads, from the first cave man who stood up by the fire to the theatre musings of Peter Brook…all of it swirling in front of the eyes of a young boy, and the memory of that time. Shane Signorino will direct the show as he did at The Fringe (Shane just received a Theatre Critics Circle nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Midnight’s POPCORN FALLS), Kevin Bowman will serve as Production Designer, Michael B. Perkins will design video support (as he did for Midnight productions of A MODEL FOR MATISSE, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, and LITTLE THING BIG THING), and Elizabeth Henning will be Stage Manager.
There will also be a concurrent exhibit in The Chapel lobby of memorabilia from 1950’s/60’s baseball and James Bond films, presented by George Venegoni.
New Line Theatre
New Line managed to get two weekends of performances of “Head Over Heels” before the local government mandates of crowd size forced it to close early in mid-March.
Its June production of “Urinetown” has been cancelled.
Stray Dog Theatre
“Annie,” which was to open April 9, has been postponed,
with dates to be announced.
“We will honor all tickets already purchased to any of the
new performance dates once they are announced. To purchase tickets to any other
future productions, please call our box office directly at (314) 865-1995.
“We are currently planning to hold the remainder of the
2019-2020 season as scheduled. Any changes or additional information will be
shared as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to
contact us,” said Artistic Director Gary F. Bell.
“We would like to thank everyone for the hard work they’ve
already put into the production and we would like to thank you for your
patience as we work to bring you the quality story telling you, our family,
deserve. Annie is that bit of light we all need right now, ‘the sun will come
out tomorrow’ and we will overcome anything,” Bell said.
“We know we are not the only organization dealing with
these difficult decisions and we stand with them, ready to come back stronger.
Your continued support of all arts organizations is always appreciated but
never more than in times like these. We look forward to seeing you soon,” he
said. “Please stay safe and be kind to one another.”
Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero” is set to run June 4
– June 20
“However, due to the extreme strain currently being faced
by many organizations we have made the decision to halt online sales of
upcoming productions. We will resume online sales once matters have settled and
the timeline of events moving forward becomes more defined,” Bell said.
“You may continue to purchase tickets for upcoming shows by calling our Box
Office at (314) 856-1995 or emailing us at [email protected] Thank
you for your patience and your continued support as we manage these unfortunate
Neil LaBute’s Ten X Ten Series 2nd Week free Video is now availalbe! Check our Twitter account for the link (http://twitter.com/STLAS1)LaBute’s Ten X Ten Series is offered as free content weekly via @STLAS1. It is a collection of original monologues initially written for AUDIENCE CHANNEL#LaBute10x10
This is in response to the cancellation of LaBute’s new play, “Comfort,” which STLAS was to stage this spring.
New Jewish Theatre
Initially, New Jewish rescheduled “We Are the Levinsons”
from March 19 to May, but now they have pushed it back, along with their
Sondheim musical revue, “Putting It Together.” They would like to reschedule later this
All activities at the JCCA have been suspended during the
public health crisis.
For more information, please contact them by email or by
Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has canceled its season. On April 7, Andrew Jorgensen, general director of Opera Theatre, announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival season that was to open May 23 and run through June 28 with this repertory: the world premiere of Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman’s Awakenings, Bizet’s gripping opera Carmen, Strauss’ effervescent comedy Die Fledermaus, and the long-awaited company premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.
Unfortunately, due to the size of seasonal staff required to produce each opera season, it is not possible for us to assemble the same casts, creative teams, and backstage artisans at any other point in the next several months. Even if we could postpone our season by a month, we simply don’t know when it will be safe for groups to gather again.
At this time, there is no active plan in place to move any of the 2020 productions into the 2021 Festival Season. However, they are still evaluating various options and scenarios — stay tuned for more!
For a complete list of all affected programs and public events, including information on whether an event is canceled or postponed, visit the website and scroll down for a complete list:
This page will be updated frequently in the weeks ahead as new information becomes available regarding the status of events, including possible rescheduling or digital streaming.
“As always, our highest priority is the health of the entire OTSL family — patrons, staff, and artists,” the statement reads.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
The 2020 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado
About Nothing” has been moved to Aug. 12 – Sept. 6. Producing Artistic Director
Tom Ridgely said it was in order to provide the best possible chance of safely
gathering artists and audiences for its 20th anniversary season. It
is to be directed by Bruce Longworth.
“For the past 20 years in St. Louis, the opening of
Shakespeare in the Park has helped to mark the unofficial start of summer,” Ridgely
said. “This year it’s clear that the only way to care for our actors, crew,
volunteers and community is to give as much time as possible for social distancing
measures to take effect and hope to be one of the ways we all bring our summer
2020 to a much happier close.”
The previously announced creative team of Matt Pace &
Brien Seyle (Original Music), Josh Smith (Scenic Design), Dorothy Englis
(Costume Design), John Wylie (Lighting Design) and Kathy Ruvuna (Sound Design)
remains the same.
In response to the widespread cancellation of live events,
the Festival has already shifted to generating a full schedule of new and
original content for the online and social media platforms under the umbrella
These include the previously aired “watch party” of its
canceled regional tour of Cymbeline, a live reading of “Venus and Adonis”
(which Shakespeare wrote during a plague-induced theater closure) and a
five-night reading of Albert Camus’ postwar masterpiece “The Plague.” Together
they’ve already been viewed 10,000 times.
Now through May 29 on ShakespeareTV, which can be accessed
on their Facebook page:
THE ZOOM PLAYS: a weekly series of 20- to 30-minute
original plays written especially to be performed live over the
videoconferencing app Zoom. Created and performed by local playwrights,
directors and actors.
GREEN SHOW MONDAYS: an eclectic variety program featuring
music, comedy and performance from Festival favorites.
SHAKESPEARE AND CHILL: a special selection of
Shakespeare-inspired movies featuring live commentary from artists and
scholars, co-curated by Cinema St. Louis.
Other one-night only events to be announced.
May 29 – June 21 is SHAKE20
A 20th anniversary reboot of the beloved engagement program
SHAKE38 featuring community responses to 20 of Shakespeare’s plays streaming on
Facebook and Instagram Tuesdays through Sundays 8 p.m. during the Festival’s
originally scheduled run, May 29-June 21.
Like the original, SHAKE20 will be a region-wide
collaboration involving artists and organizations including SHAKE38 alumni:
Slightly Askew Theater, Prison Performing Arts: The Alumni Group, RS-Theatrics,
Poor Monsters and Theater Nuevo. More details about the program and how to
apply will be shared soon.
“In the meantime, we
hope that you and yours stay well. We have planned an incredible season of free
Shakespeare, and we cannot wait to share it with you. It’s an interesting time
to be in the business of live theatre and touring productions, but the Festival
is committed to paying our artists and staff throughout this crisis,” Ridgely
So, if you have ever considered becoming a member, know
that we are always grateful for your support—but especially so at this time,” he
“During this crisis, we feel more connected to Shakespeare
and his contemporaries than ever before. Biographer Jonathan Bate wrote, ‘The
Plague was the single most powerful force shaping [Shakespeare’s] life and
those of his contemporaries.’ During times of quarantine, Shakespeare wrote
some of his most important sonnets and plays,” Ridgely said.
“We can’t claim to have his genius, but we will take
inspiration from his dedication and from artists around the world that are
stepping up to create, facilitate, and share stories in new and exciting ways.
Stay tuned for updates on new and existing Festival programs,” he said.
For more information, visit the website sfstl.com and on
social media. Visit https://www.facebook.com/shakesfestSTL
Stages St. Louis
While Stages St. Louis continues to follow guidance from the CDC as well as
mandates from both local and national government, for the time being, they have
made no adjustments to the schedule for our upcoming 2020 Season.
However, here are some changes regarding tickets, activities
Single tickets for the 2020 Season will now go on sale
beginning Monday, April 27.
All in-person activities with the Stages Performing Arts
Academy will be canceled until the start of our Summer Semester on Monday, June
The Stages administrative, production, and academy offices
will remain closed until Thursday, April 23.
In the meantime, the Box Office is still open for questions
or subscription ticket sales online at www.StagesStLouis.org or by phone at
The Stages Performing Arts Academy will continue to offer
digital and streaming content in order to continue performing arts education
for students at home and can answer any and all questions by phone at (636)
Shows are: “A Chorus Line,” May 29 – June 28; Disney’s Alice in Wonderland,” June 16 – June 28, “La Cage Aux Folles,” July 17 – Aug. 16; and “Always…Patsy Cline,” Sept. 4 – Oct. 4.
Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Executive Artistic Director Carrie Houk said after careful deliberation, they find it necessary to push the 5th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis to summer due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Our first commitment is to keeping the company and community safe. The dates were May 10-17.
The Tesseract Theatre Company Plans are underway to present the 2020 Festival of New Plays June 11 – 28 at the .Zack Theatre. The four plays are “Last Night” by Rachel Lynett, “All That Remains” by J.M. Chambers, “Feast” by Megan Gogerty and “The Length of a Pop Song” by Taylor Gruenloh.
For more information, contact: [email protected] or visit the website, www.tesseracttheatre.com
That Uppity Theatre Company Joan Lipkin said they we had hoped to do a new devised piece Crossing Borders/Chasing Freedom May 2-3, “but of course that is on hold. We are still planning to do Dance the Vote Sept 26 at the Missouri History Museum,” she said.
Upstream Theater In keeping with the evolving response to the current public health crisis, Upstream Theater is postponing our premiere of IPHIGENIA IN SPLOTT until next season. The play is now scheduled to run from October 9-25.If you have purchased single tickets or a season passport we will be happy to honor your ticket at that time.
West End Players Guild
Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday” set to open April 17 and run through
April 26 has been cancelled. It was the final production of the group’s 109th
“As our country copes with the growing threat of the
Coronavirus, one of the most important steps we must take to protect ourselves
and each other is the kind of “social distancing” that is impossible at a
theatrical production. Our Board of Directors believes it is highly unlikely
that the need for social distancing will be any less in April than it is today,
and decided that the best course of action for our company and our patrons was
to act now to cancel the show,” a statement reads.
Patrons who have purchased advance tickets through Brown
Paper Tickets will be issued automatic refunds. WEPG will reach out to season
ticket holders in the near future with refund options.
WEPG will begin its 110th season in September.
Alfresco Productions Auditions
for “Hairspray Jr.” will be by video for the Granite City community theater
production. The show is to run July 24-26 and deadline for video submissions is
April 19. The age limit is from 6th grade to 18 years old. For more
information, visit: https://www.alfrescoproductions.org/auditions
Alton Little Theatre
All productions and concert events through May 1 have been
cancelled. Ticket holders for “Holy Laughter” and Todd Oliver and
“Broadway Salutes America” may be refunded or transferred. Call
618-462-3205 for options.
“Brigadoon” has been moved from May to June, with plans for
a June 5 opening, with eight performances through June 14. Season ticket
holders can follow the same schedule but can call the office at 618-462-3205 anytime
“Shrek” auditions have been rescheduled for Saturday, May
10, at 10 a.m. and Sunday, May 3, at 2 p.m. Director Kevin Frakes will be casting
at least 30 characters. The show will run July 31-Aug. 9 for eight
Clayton Community Theatre “The
Philadelphia Story” was to run March 12-22 but was cancelled after opening
They hope to premiere “Broadway Bound” July 9 -14
Curtain’s Up Theater Company
The group based in Edwardsville has postponed its production of “1776” for a
future date in 2020, to be determined, and cancelled March 28 auditions. The musical
was to be performed June 26-28 at The Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. To keep
informed of updates, visit www.curtainsuptheater.com
Kirkwood Theatre Guild
Kirkwood Theatre Guild cancelled its remaining two shows: “On Golden Pond” and “Shrek:
The Musical,” which were set to run in April and May.
The run of “Picnic,” set for March 27, 28 and April 3-5, was cancelled.
Auditions for “A Chorus Line,” which were scheduled March 29 have been put on
hold. More information will be forthcoming. Please follow or check out website
www.HawthornePlayers.com for any further announcements.
Looking Glass Playhouse
LGP began the March 12-22 run of “It’s Only a Play” but was forced to cancel it
after state and local mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have cancelled the rest of the season, including “Rock
of Ages” in May and have moved it to the opening slot in the fall.
“We are reaching out to the publishers to reschedule and are hopeful that we
will be able to still perform the show in September,” he said.
They hope to announce the full season soon and for patrons
who renew their season tickets for next year, they will receive a 10 percent
“Currently, we are still planning our summer youth
production “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” and summer fundraiser “The Rocky Horror
Monroe Actors Stage Company
The current production of “Watch Over the Rhine,” which was to run April 17-19
and 24-26, has been postponed.
Due to the current health crisis in our area, all MASC rehearsals and
activities at the Capitol Theater have been postponed effective Monday, March
“The MASC Board will be discussing the plan of action
moving forward regarding Watch on the Rhine, the current show in production,
and the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, as we monitor the progression of
this crisis. Specific information regarding these two shows will be sent out
accordingly. The health and safety of our membership and patrons is our highest
priority,” a statement read.
O’Fallon Theatre Works
The group cancelled “Man from Earth” in March.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” is planned for July, and auditions
were recently handled by video.
Over Due Theatre Company
The group in Olivette has postponed “My Fair Lady.” It was
to run April 24-26 and May 1-3.
For the time being, they are still planning on holding auditions for “Bye Bye
Birdie” May 9 and 10. The show is set for July 24-26 and July 31, Aug. 1 and 2.
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
They have postponed our May production of “Rehearsal for Murder.”
“We are hopeful and fully intend to mount this production
at a later date,” a statement read.
St. Louis Theater Circle
Often referred to as “Theater Prom,” the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle
Awards were to take place on March 30 at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the
campus of Webster University, but the event has been cancelled. Local theater
critics will still honor outstanding regional professional theater, however.
Instead, HEC will provide a streamcast of the awards on
Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page. So, instead of fancy
outfits and schmoozing, the event will be downscaled reading of the nominations
The theater critic members of the St. Louis Theater Circle
have recorded the nominations, and their voice-overs will run over photos of
the nominees. Then HEC announcer Rod will announce the winner. There are 34
categories to give awards in, which cover dramas, comedies and musicals. A
special award is being given to Ken and Nancy Kranzberg for their tremendous
support and commitment to the arts.
Visit the Theater Circle’s Facebook page for more
If you would like to see who was nominated, here is the
Arts For Life
In community theater, the Arts For Life board of directors
presents two awards events each year, the Best Performance Awards honor musical
theater and youth productions, and the Theatre Mask Awards honor straight
The fifth annual Theatre Mask Awards, which honors both
dramas and comedies, was to take place at a brunch on Saturday, April 4, at The
Atrium Center at Christian Hospital. However, it has been rescheduled for July
The 21st annual Best Performance Awards is scheduled for
Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at
Chaminade. However, the AFL board of directors will decide shortly on whether
the event will be moved. Stay tuned.
For more information and to see lists of nominations, visit
You can get tickets to both events for the special price of
$40. Visit www.artsforlife.org for more information and to see a complete list
Emcees are Donna Northcott, a theater professor at
Lindenwood University – St. Charles, for the TMAs, and local singer-actress
Karen Fulks for the BPAs.
AFL President Mary McCreight has suspended all public
activities of the AFL organization, effective until at least May 1. This
includes all judging activities of the Theatre Recognition Guild.
“As our world, our nation and our region face a major
health threat, it falls upon us as a community to adopt measures that will both
foster the protection of those who work and ‘play’ in Metro St. Louis community
theatre and ultimately allow AFL to continue our charitable mission of service
and recognition once the threat passes,” she said.
(Full disclosure: I am a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle and I am on the Board of Directors of Arts For Life).
ST LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS
In partnership with The Fabulous Fox, The Muny and The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation, the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards announced today the shift from in-person celebrations to virtual for their 2019-2020 season.
The new date for this year’s medallion ceremony, also known as the nomination ceremony, will be April 28, 2020 with the awards ceremony slated for May 24, 2020. Both streamed live online at no charge, these virtual celebrations will honor each of the 42 participating schools in the 2019-2020 season, including the schools who were unable to produce their productions due to the unprecedented circumstances associated with COVID-19. Exact times and streaming information will be released at a later date.
ARTS CENTERS AND CONCERT HALLS
The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts
All events and performances scheduled through June 1 have
been cancelled at “The Hett,” which is located on the campus of McKendree
“TAO Drum” has been
rescheduled from March 24 for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14; and “Ishmael Beah”
has been rescheduled from April 15 for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, 2021.
The ReMINDers has been cancelled for April 6.
They are offering patrons the possibility of applying their
tickets to a future event at the Hett, donating the ticket value to the
University or contacting them for a full refund, less any original mailing
fees. Please contact the box office during operating hours to discuss ticket
disposition at 618-537-6863. The box office is open from noon to 4 p.m.
Hettenhausen Center for the Arts is located at 701 College Road in Lebanon. For
more information, please contact [email protected].
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
All performances through April 12 are postponed or
canceled. For information regarding tickets and schedules, visit slso.org.
The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries
All Sheldon-presented concerts and other events through May
10 have been postponed or canceled. Plans to reschedule are underway, and
ticket buyer should retain their current tickets – they will be honored for the
new dates. Additional information will be provided to ticket buyers as events
are rescheduled. Affected concerts include: Ian Walsh and Kevin Buckley,
“Keepin’ It Reel,” March 17-18; Honoring Our Own, Miz Renee Smith, March 17;
David Halen, violin, April 1; Brothers Lazaroff, April 4. Scheduling changes
for events presented by non-Sheldon promoters will be handled on a case by case
basis. All updates can be found at TheSheldon.org or at MetroTix.com.
The Sheldon is located at 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis.
Fair Saint Louis
Fair Saint Louis and America’s
Birthday Parade events have been canceled this year due to concerns about the
Fair Saint Louis was set to run July 2-4 at the Gateway Arch
with concerts, air show, and fireworks each night.
“While we are saddened to cancel two of our region’s most
popular and free Fourth of July celebrations, the safety of our community is of
utmost importance to us,” said David Estes, Chairman, Fair Saint Louis. “Fair
Saint Louis and America’s Birthday Parade embody the prideful spirit of our
city, and over the past few weeks, we’ve seen that spirit shine so brightly
within our community as we face this unthinkable challenge together.”
This year would have marked the 40th Fair Saint Louis and 138th
America’s Birthday Parade.
“We look forward to returning to downtown St. Louis and celebrating
with our community in the future when the time is right,” said David Plufka,
Chairman, America’s Birthday Parade.
The eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are taking place in cyberspace on Tuesday, April 7, rather than at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University. That March 30 event was cancelled because of the current public health crisis. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected the St. Louis region, with government quarantine orders in both St. Louis city and county through April 22.
The awards honoring excellence in professional regional theater for the 2019 season are being made available by the Higher Education Channel at 7 p.m. on their platforms. Their link is: Higher Education Channel TV (HEC-TV)
The streamcast will be able to be seen on HEC Media’s Facebook page, channel 989 on Spectrum (Charter) and channel 99 on AT&T U-verse.
HEC Announcer Rod Milam will state the winner after the Circle members voice-over the nominations in 33 categories. It is expected to take a half-hour.
The Muny, now in its second century of performances at its outdoor amphitheater in Forest Park, leads the way with a total of 25 nominations, followed by 24 for The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) and 21 for New Jewish Theatre. Stages St. Louis follows with 13 nominations, West End Players Guild with 10 and Stray Dog Theatre with a total of eight nominees.
In all, 25 local professional companies received nominations for 51 different shows. Lighting designer Sean M. Savoie leads all nominees with three different nominations out of a total of 125 nominated artists, including six who received two nominations apiece. The awards honor outstanding achievement in locally produced professional theater for the calendar year 2019.
More than 120 locally produced professional theatrical productions were presented in the St. Louis area last year.
Ken and Nancy Kranzberg will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their long-standing commitment to the arts and theater in St. Louis, including Grand Center.
The official hashtag for the event, to be used on Twitter and Facebook, is: #TCA20
The St. Louis Theater Circle would like to thank the folks at HEC Media, including Dennis Riggs, Boyd Pickup, Rod Milam, Paul Langdon, Christina Chastain and their colleagues, for stepping up and making this streamcast production possible after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of our eighth annual gala.
The St. Louis Theater Circle includes Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Tanya Seale, Broadway World; Judith Newmark, Judy’s Second Act: Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Tina Farmer, KDHX; Gerry Kowarsky, “Two on the Aisle” HEC; Bob Wilcox “Two on the Aisle” HEC: Ann Lemons Pollack, St Louis Eats; Steve Allen, Stage Door STL; Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX; Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; and Lynn Venhaus, PopLifeSTL.com. Eleanor Mullin is the administrator.
For more information, visit the Circle’s Facebook page.