By Lynn Venhaus
Christ Memorial Productions’ presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” won eight Best Performance Awards for choreography, music direction, lighting, costumes, acting and Best Featured Dancer while Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of the George and Ira Gershwin 1920s musical-screwball comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” won seven, including Best Large Ensemble Musical Production, Best Director and five acting awards, from Arts For Life Sunday.

It was KTG’s sixth win for musical production since 2000. Both shows had been nominated for 17 awards apiece. “A New Brain,” which was a local community theater premiere for Hawthorne Players, won Best Small Ensemble Production.

Arts For Life is a nonprofit organization that encompasses 140 communities and 8,460 square miles in St. Louis city, county and St. Charles County in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

Founded in 1994 by Lucinda Gyurci as a group dedicated to the healing power of the arts, AFL has honored community theater musicals for performances and achievements since 1999 (BPAs), plays since 2015 (Theatre Mask Awards) and expanded awards in youth musical theater in 2013.

Best Small Ensemble Musical “A New Brain”

But this is the first time AFL did not host a live gala. Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ceremony was re-imagined as a pre-recorded virtual celebration. The 21st annual BPAs took place June 14, which was the original date, but transitioned to a streaming format broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

AFL President Mary McCreight said the coronavirus safety measures in place and restrictions on gatherings in St. Louis County were factors in the decision to cancel the live show but still have some sort of event.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.

Performances from nominees for large ensemble musicals, two small ensemble musicals and five youth productions premiered on AFL’s YouTube channel for 10 days leading up to the awards, and are now available there, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

There were 15 community theaters and 10 youth-only groups who participated last year. More than 60 judges in the Theatre Recognition Guild scored 46 shows — 19 large ensembles, 3 small and 24 youth, featuring 939 roles. For 2019, there were 154 individual nominations from 22 groups, with 36 percent first-time nominees and 65 percent first-time winners.

Goshen Theatre Project, which led all groups with 18 nominations, won five youth awards overall for “Les Miserables School Edition,” including Best Youth Musical Production, Supporting Actress Natalie Cochran as Eponine, costume design (Terry Pattison), lighting design (Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill) and Bennett English as Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean.

Other multiple winners in the youth categories were Riverbend Theatre, which won three for “The Drowsy Chaperone” — director (Kristi Doering), music direction (Michael Frazier/Alison Neace) and lead actor (Jayson Heil as the Man in Chair), and Young People’s Theatre, which won two for “Newsies” – best supporting actor (Will Dery as Les) and set design (Brisby Andrews and Gary Rackers).

Norbert Leo Butz

Thirty-three awards honoring excellence during 2019 were announced by past winners and members of the AFL board of directors, with two special guest presenters — Norbert Leo Butz, two-time Tony Award winner who grew up in St. Louis, and Hana S. Sharif, the Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Butz, who also announced the youth musical production winner, told the audience to believe in themselves, even when it’s hard, and follow their dreams, noting he had supportive parents and “great” teachers.

“Believe in yourself and keep on being grateful. Stick to it,” he said from his home in New Jersey. “(Performing arts) feeds our soul, our minds, our hearts.”

AFL donated to Butz’s charity, The Angel Band Project, which uses music therapy to help victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and advocates for rights of survivors. For more information, visit www.angelbandproject.org

Jennifer Kerner

Four special honors were given out to Jennifer Kerner for her inclusion efforts, Bennett English for Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean in Goshen Theatre Project’s “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Kayla Dressman for Best Featured Dancer as Dream Laurie in  CMP’s “Oklahoma!” and Diane Hanisch, the BPA musical director/conductor for the past 20 years, who won a national Spotlight Award from the American Association of Community Theatres, presented by Quiana Clark-Roland. A Lifetime Achievement Award was not designated this year.

Kerner’s recognition was for her advocacy on inclusion and helping to make the live theater experience accessible to all individuals. Kerner, a local singer and actress, works to help place people with developmental disabilities in jobs. She has guided local theater companies in providing sensory-friendly performances and has worked to create comfortable environments for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing disorders.

McCreight was thrilled about Hanisch’s national award.

Diane Hanisch

“This award is designed to help pay tribute to an individual for long or special service. It recognizes outstanding dedication, service and contribution to your organization. It is for someone who has made a significant impact on the quality of your organization. Diane has done just that with per professionalism and charm. She is a gem! Not only can she calm the nerves of a 12-year-old singing a solo, but others who are singing in front of 700 people for the first time. She arranges and writes the music, gathers her professional band, and conducts the show with aplomb. Diane cares as much about our legacy as anyone involved on the Arts for Life Board. No one is more deserving,” she said.

The annual Youth Scholarships, which are awarded to two students pursuing a degree in the arts, were announced, with Alaina Bozarth, a graduate of Metro East Lutheran High School, and Josiah Haan, a graduate of Fort Zumwalt High School, each given $500. Bozarth plans to major in musical theatre at Belmont University in Louisville, Ky., and Haan plans to major in technical theatre and design at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

Other ensemble nominees include “Hello, Dolly!” from Wentzville Christian Church, “Oklahoma!” from Monroe Actors Stage Company and “The Bridges of Madison County” from Alpha Players of Florissant for Best Large Ensemble and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from O’Fallon TheatreWorks for Best Small Ensemble.

For Best Youth Production, in addition to “Les Miserables,” nominees include “The Drowsy Chaperone” from Riverbend Theatre, “Matilda” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, “Newsies” from Young People’s Theatre and “Spring Awakening” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.

CMP’s Oklahoma!

For the record books, Kimberly Klick won her sixth BPA for choreography for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”. She had previously won for CMP’s “Mary Poppins” and “The King and I,” plus “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Big the Musical” and “Fiddler on the Roof” for other companies. It was her 10th overall, including wins for Best Featured Dancer in “Brigadoon” in 2000, Lead Actress for Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2006 and Jo in “Little Women” in 2008, and Cameo Actress in “Titanic” 2003.

It was three in a row for Jonathan Hartley, who won for lighting design of “Oklahoma!” and had won last year for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at DaySpring Center for the Arts; he won for set design for DSA’s “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017. Stephanie Fox won her third in four years for choreography in Gateway Center for the Performing Arts shows – “Spring Awakening” 2019, “Carrie the Musical” 2017 and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2016. Terry Pattison also won her third for costume design since 2017: “Peter Pan,” “The Lion King Jr.” and “Les Miz,” all for Goshen Theatre Project, and won set design for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in 2018.

Joe Paule Sr. won his third for musical direction, for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”, following CMP’s “The King and I” in 2014 and Hawthorne Players’ “The Producers” in 2010. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award last year. It was the second award for Michael Frazier and Alison Neace for musical direction, this year for Riverbend Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” and for Alton Little Theatre’s “The Spitfire Grill” in 2011.

Other multiple winners included two for Alpha Players of Florissant’s “The Bridges of Madison County” for Lead Actor (Cole Guttmann) and Cameo Actress (Chelsie Johnston) and Take a Bow Showcase for “Annie” – juvenile performer (Leontine Rickert) and duo/group (Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller).

Winners Will Shaw and Kimmie Kidd-Booker in “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

In the acting categories, Mike Huelsmann’s award for Best Featured Actor as Jud Fry was his third, after Lead Actor as Javert in Take Two Productions’ “Les Miz” (2013) and as part of Best Duo/Group in Looking Glass Playhouse’s “Young Frankenstein” 2015. Kimmie Kidd-Booker’s award for Best Featured Actress as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was her second win, after Best Featured Actress in “The Wiz” in 2014. George Doerr IV won his second, as Igor in Alfresco’s “Young Frankenstein,” after winning Best Actor in 2017 for Alfresco’s “The Rocky Horror Show.”

The virtual program included the following production team: directors Mary McCreight and David Wicks Jr., video supervisor Kim Klick, visual designers Colin Dowd and Bethany Hamilton, voice-over announcer Ken Clark and host Karen Fulks.

A list of winners is included here, below.

AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards was originally set for April 4, then moved to July 18, but now will also be a virtual celebration. The 2020 TMAs will honor excellence in community theater productions of dramas and comedies during 2019 in a live interactive viewing event at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18, on the AFL Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The awards show will be recorded beforehand and the content will remain on social media.

On March 16, McCreight suspended all public activities of the AFL organization because of the public health crisis. The extension has been extended until further notice. Both TRG and TMA branch judges and participating groups will receive announcements on future developments. As the region re-opens, social distancing and wearing face coverings continues. At this time, all AFL performance venues remain closed.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

Any company that won can have a representative pick up their trophies on July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Clayton Community Theatre, which is located at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117.

Riverbend Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone

A souvenir program is available to download online: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YlomcYjVNqDNqmPTCrYGSjnAtDwkn9QT/view

A limited number of copies will be available for purchase as well.

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

To see a list of the 2019 nominees and winners, as well as the awards history 1999-2019, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

Follow AFL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2020 Best Performance Award Winners:

Best Musical Production Large Ensemble: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Musical Production Small Ensemble: “A New Brain,” Hawthorne Players

Best Youth Musical Production: “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Director: Dani Mann, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Project

Best Musical Direction: Kathy Eichelberger and Joseph Paule Jr., “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Choreography: Kimberly Klick, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Lead Actor: Cole Guttmann, “The Bridges of Madison County, “Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Lead Actress: Jaclyn Amber, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Featured Actor: Mike Huelsmann, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Featured Actress: Kimmie Kidd-Booker, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Supporting Actor: Caleb Long, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Supporting Actress: Dianne M. Mueller, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Actor in a Comedic Role: George Doerr IV, “Young Frankenstein,” Alfresco Productions

Best Actress in a Comedic Role: Margery Handy, “The Wizard of Oz,” Alton Little Theater

Best Cameo Actor: Jacob Streuter, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Looking Glass Playhouse

Best Cameo Actress: Chelsie Johnston, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Actor in a Non-Singing Role: Will Shaw, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Actress in a Non-Singing Role: Maria Wilken, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Duo/Group: Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller, “Annie,” Take A Bow Showcase

Best Set Design: Matt Dossett, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

Best Lighting Design: Jonathan Hartley, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Costume Design: Krysta Wenski, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Juvenile Performer: Leontine Rickert, “Annie,” Take a Bow Showcase

Best Youth Director: Kristi Doering, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Music Direction: Michael Frazier and Alison Neace, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Choreography: Stephanie Fox, “Spring Awakening,” Gateway Center for the Performing Arts

Best Youth Lead Actor: Jayson Heil, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Lead Actress: Alli McDonald, “Once Upon a Mattress,” St. John’s UCC Performing Arts Camp

Best Youth Supporting Actor: Will Dery, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Supporting Actress: Natalie Cochran, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Costume Design: Terry Pattison, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Set Design: Brisby Andrews and Greg Rackers, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Lighting Design: Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project



By Lynn Venhaus

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.

PROFESSIONAL VENUES

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

Family Arena

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 Ticketmaster.com.

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.

Stifel Theatre

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 rescheduled dates.

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

Chaifetz Arena

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 spokesman said.

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 become available.

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 to TBD.

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 scheduled.

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

REGIONAL PROFESSIONAL THEATER

Metro Theatre Company

They are partnering with Off the Page for this project “Art Apart, Together.” Share your creativity and learn more here: https://www.metroplays.org/art-apart-together

Off the Page is launching a new way to keep making art together, in this time of separation. Please head over to ART APART, TOGETHER to help us make a new work together: https://www.offthepageeducation.org/art-apart-together/

We feel really lucky to be partnering with Alliance TheatreCry Havoc Theater Company, and Metro Theater Company on this project.

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.

The Muny

The 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 this summer!

Ticketing Update as of March 26 – These dates are subject to change. 

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:  muny.org/buy-tickets

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 Cake starring Rigel Harris, Denny Dillon and Dria Brown. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

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.

“The Cake”

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 isolating quarantines.

“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 playwrights.

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 playathome.org.

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 of Oo-Bla-Dee)

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.

Joe Hanrahan of The Midnight Company

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.



Grace Langford and Jaclyn Amber in “Head Over Heels” Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg



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 events.”

For more information, visit www.straydogtheatre.org

St Louis Actors’ Studio

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

Judi Mann, Kelly Weber and Joneal Joplin in “We Are the Levinsons”

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 summer.

All activities at the JCCA have been suspended during the public health crisis.

For more information, please contact them by email or by phone, 314-442-3283.

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:

https://www.opera-stl.org/beyond-the-stage/updates-regarding-covid-19

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 of “ShakespeareTV.”

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 said.

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 said.

“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 and outreach:

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 1.

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 (314) 821-2407.

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) 449-5775. 

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 season.

“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 in May.

“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 performances.

Clayton Community Theatre
“The Philadelphia Story” was to run March 12-22 but was cancelled after opening weekend.

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.

Hawthorne Players
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 discount.

“Currently, we are still planning our summer youth production “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” and summer fundraiser “The Rocky Horror Show.”

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 16. 

“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.

AWARDS EVENTS

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 and awards.

Here is the URL link to the Higher Education Channel TV (HEC-TV):  https://www.facebook.com/hectv/live/

The event’s hashtag is #TCA20

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 information.

If you would like to see who was nominated, here is the PopLifeSTL article: https://www.poplifestl.com/brighton-beach-memoirs-kinky-boots-and-man-of-la-mancha-lead-8th-annual-st-louis-theater-circle-awards/

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 plays.

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 www.artsforlife.org.

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.

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 University.

 “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. Monday-Friday.

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 COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

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.

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorIt’s opening day for our St. Louis Cardinals, but also new plays are offered this weekend, with a selection of plays currently in rotation and those making their final runs this weekend. Ah, the riches of what’s available- comedy, drama, musical, Shakespeare and new to St. Louis shows!

Go, Cards! And GO SEE A PLAY.

Terry Barber, Jennifer Theby-Quinn in “Daddy Long Legs.” Photo by John Lamb“Daddy Long Legs”Insight Theatre CompanyMarch 28 – April 14Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.The Marcelle Theatre in Grand Centerwww.insighttheatrecompany.com314-556-1293

What It’s About: Based on the classic novel, which inspired the 1955 movie starring Fred Astaire, Daddy Long Legs is a beloved tale in the spirit of Jane Austen, The Brontë Sisters and “Downton Abbey. Daddy Long Legs features music and lyrics by Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist, Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre), and Tony-winning librettist/director, John Caird (Les Misérables), and is a “rags-to-riches” tale of newfound love.

Director: Maggie RyanStarring: Jennier Theby Quinn, Terry Barber

“Dreamgirls”Stray Dog TheatreApril 4 -20, Thursday – Saturday 8 p.m.Tower Grove Abbey2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org314-865-1995What It’s About: In the 1960s, the Dreamettes, led by the powerful Effie White, embark on an R&B music career that leads them across the country. Romantic entanglements, Effie’s weight, racism, and the arrival of a fresh new sound in the 1970s are part of this showbiz hit (a fictional nod to The Supremes and Motown).

Director: Justin BeenStarring: Ebony Easter, Eleanor Humphrey, Abraham Shaw, Omega D. Jones, Tateonna Thompson, Don McClendon, Marshall Jennings, Robert Crenshaw, Lawrence J. Haliburton, Tony L. Marr Jr., Chris Moore, Chrissie Watkins, Jazmine Wade, Margery Handy, Chasity Cook, Rahnesha Holmes, Sierra Smith, Laurell Stevenson, Diamon Lester, Kanisha Kellum, Malaika Pedzayl-Ferguson, Ashley Santana

Monroe Actors Stage Company“Is He Dead?”Monroe Actors Stage CompanyApril 5-14Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m. SundayHistoric Capitol Theatre in downtown Waterloo, Ill.www.masctheatre.com618-939-7469

What It’s About:Director: Zona LudlumStarring:Of Note: Special $5 student performance on Thursday, April 11

“A New Brain”Hawthorne PlayersApril 5-6, 12-147:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. April 14Florissant Civic Centerhttp://www.hawthorneplayers.info/ 314-921-5678

What It’s About: By the Tony Award-winning authors of Falsettos, this musical is an energetic, sardonic, often comical story about a composer during a medical emergency. Gordon collapses into his lunch and awakes in the hospital, surrounded by his maritime-enthusiast lover, his mother, a co-worker, the doctor, and the nurses. Reluctantly, he had been composing a song for a children’s television show that features a frog – Mr. Bungee – and the specter of this large green character and the unfinished work haunts him throughout his medical ordeal. What was thought to be a tumor turns out to be something more operable, and Gordon recovers, grateful for a chance to compose the songs he yearns to produce. Director: Stephen Peirick, with music direction by Colin HealyStarring: Danny Brown, Joel Brown, Stephen Henley, Chadly Konner Jourdyn, Chris Kernan, John Kuehn, Laura Kyro, Kay Love, Stephanie Merritt, Bradley Rohlf, Dawn Schmid

Reginald Pierre as Othello and Bridgette Bassa as Desdemona“Othello”St. Louis ShakespeareApril 5 – 13Tower Grove Church4257 MagnoliaFriday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Thursday and Sunday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m.www.stlshakespeare.orgWhat It’s About: In Venice, at the start of Othello, the soldier Iago announces his hatred for his commander, Othello, a Moor. Othello has promoted Cassio, not Iago, to be his lieutenant.Iago crudely informs Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, that Othello and Desdemona have eloped. Before the Venetian Senate, Brabantio accuses Othello of bewitching Desdemona. The Senators wish to send Othello to Cyprus, which is under threat from Turkey. They bring Desdemona before them. She tells of her love for Othello, and the marriage stands. The Senate agrees to let her join Othello in Cyprus.

In Cyprus, Iago continues to plot against Othello and Cassio. He lures Cassio into a drunken fight, for which Cassio loses his new rank; Cassio, at Iago’s urging, then begs Desdemona to intervene. Iago uses this and other ploys—misinterpreted conversations, insinuations, and a lost handkerchief—to convince Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are lovers. Othello goes mad with jealousy and later smothers Desdemona on their marriage bed, only to learn of Iago’s treachery. He then kills himself.

Director: Patrice FosterStarring: Reginald Pierre, Bridgette Bassa, Cynthia Pohlson, Phil Leveling, Jesse Munoz, Brad Kinzel, Will Pendergast, Mike Stephens, Hillary Gokenbach, Victor Mendez, Lisa Hinrichs and Cece Day

Of Note: It takes place in modern Venice and Cyprus. Othello is a powerful exploration of the human condition and the disaster that can arise from our emotions. Trust is eroded and innocence is corrupted in this tragic tale of manipulation and jealousy. Featuring live jazz, this exciting, new take on one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays is not one to miss.

“Photograph 51”West End Players GuildApril 5 – 13Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Thursday April 11 at 8 p.m.Union Avenue Christian Church733 North Union 314-367-0025 www.westendplayersguild.org

What It’s About: Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51” is a moving portrait of Rosalind Franklin, one of the great female scientists of the 20th century, and her fervid drive to map the contours of the DNA molecule. A chorus of physicists relives the chase, revealing the largely-unsung achievements of this trail-blazing, fiercely independent woman – largely-unsung because the men usually credited with cracking the DNA code, James Watson and Francis Crick, did so by “borrowing” Franklin’s most important discovery.

Director: Ellie SchwetyeStarring: Nicole Angeli, Ben Ritchie, John Wolbers, Will Bonfiglio, Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Alex Fyles.

Morris Robinson“The Play That Goes Wrong”The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis March 15 – April 7Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Roadwww.repstl.orgBox Office: 314-968-4925

What It’s About: Calamity, disaster, fiasco: whichever word you’d like to choose, the opening night performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” has gone decidedly wrong. A maelstrom of madcap madness ensues, complete with collapsing scenery, unconscious actors and a stage crew pushed to the brink. Will The Rep survive this train wreck of a play? Come find out!

Director: Melissa Rain Anderson

Cast: Ka-Leung Cheung, Ryan George, Benjamin Curns, Michael Keyloun, Ruth Pferdehirt, Matthew McGloin, John Rapson and Evan Zes.

Of Note: The Rep’s production is the first stand-alone production outside of New York and London. The Broadway run was extended, and now there is a 12-city national tour underway, but this is not a touring show.

Joe Hanrahan and Shane Signorino play 21 different characters in “Popcorn Falls.”“Popcorn Falls”The Midnight CompanyMarch 28 – April 13Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Center black box theatrewww.midnightcompany.comWhat It’s About: Two actors take on 21 characters in a struggling small town. They decided to put on a play!

Director: Sarah WhitneyStarring: Joe Hanrahan, Shane Signorino

Of Note: This one-act by James Hindman is presented without an intermission.

Wendy Greenwood and Ben Nordstrom in “Time Stands Still.” Photo by Eric Woolsey“Time Stands Still”New Jewish TheatreMarch 28 – April 14www.newjewishtheatre.orgBox Office: 314-447-3283

Starring: Wendy Greenwood, Ben Nordstrom, Jerry Vogel, Eileen Engel

What It’s About: In this play, a top photojournalist recovers from a near-fatal roadside bomb blast as her long-term relationship with a reporter undergoes its own test of survival. Donald Margulies, whose widely admired plays, Sight Unseen and Collected Stories uncovered the personal wounds inflicted on the battlefronts of art and fiction writing, now takes as his subject a creative couple who have met, worked and loved amid the all too real, mortal combat of the Middle East.

Jessie Shelton and Jeremy Morris on “Waitress”“Waitress”The Fabulous Fox TheatreMarch 26 – April 7www.fabulousfox.com

What It’s About: The musical tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie
Mueller

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director: Katy Keating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directed by Jacqueline Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director: Carl Overly Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

Director: Philip Boehm

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

Of Note: St. Louis premiere.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Myths, legends, historic figures and human foibles are on the boards for this week as several companies kick off their seasons with new productions as autumn moves in to the ‘Lou. A mad original twist on the famous pirate king opera brings the walking dead onto the musical stage for New Line’s 28th season, a legendary Lillian Hellman drama opens St. Louis Actor’s Studio’s 12th season and a new play on life and death, “This Random World (the myth of serendipity),” begins West End Players’ Guild’s 108th season.
One-woman shows “Chef” is at Upstream and “One Funny Mother” is at The Playhouse at Westport. Tributes to Bobby Darin and Patsy Cline show why they’re timeless at Westport and in Alton respectively.
We have The Midnight Company’s fresh take on the Faust myth and a look inside Lee Harvey Oswald’s family life in “Mama’s Boy” at Tesseract Theatre Company wrapping up their runs.
It’s unfinished business for the Phantom of the Opera in “Love Never Dies,” wrapping up its run at The Fox, another Andrew Lloyd Webber icon “Evita” at The Rep, the classic all-American pioneer spirit in “Oklahoma!” continuing at Stages St. Louis, the fortitude of survivors dealing with a historic flood in “The Flood” at Monroe Actors’ Stage Company and the pluck of New York “Newsies” at the Looking Glass Playhouse.
Go. See. A Play.
 “Always, Patsy Cline”
Alton Little Theater
Sept. 27 – 30
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill.
618-462-6562
www.altonlittletheater.org
What It’s About: The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961 and continued correspondence with Cline until her death. This musical includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Walkin’ After Midnight.”
Music by Steve Loucks and the Bodacious Bobcats.
Starring: Debbie Maneke as Patsy Cline, Lee Cox as Louise Seger
“An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus” and “The Hunchback Variations” (Two One-Acts by Mickle Maher)
Midnight Theatre Company
Sept. 20 – 29
Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Monocle, 4510 Manchester
www.midnightcompany.com
What It’s About: “Apology/Faustus” finds Dr. John Faustus (Hanrahan) in some room, at some time, apologizing to a random group of people (the audience) for not standing up against evil in his lifetime, as personified by Mephistopheles (Wassilak.)
“The Hunchback Variations” presents a series of variations on a panel discussion between The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wassilak) and Ludwig Van Beethoven (Hanrahan) in which the two talk about their attempts to create a mysterious sound — the legendary, elusive sound effect of Anton Chekhov’s, described twice in the original production of “The Cherry Orchard.”
Director:
Starring: Joe Hanrahan, David Wassilak
Of Note: These shows are part of FAUSTival, an artistic collaborations among five St. Louis theatre companies – ERA, Theatre Nuevo, SATE, the Post-Romantics and Midnight – from August through December, each company presenting an adaptation of the Faust myth.  Festival passes and more info at FAUSTival.org.
“Chef”
Upstream Theater
Sept. 28-30, Oct. 5-7, Oct. 12-14
All shows at 8 p.m. except first two Sundays at 7 p.m. and last Sunday at 2 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center (Grand and Olive)
Box Office Hotline: 314-669-6382
Running time: 1 hr., 15 min.
What It’s About: “Chef” is the gripping story of how one woman went from being a haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope.
Director: Marianne de Pury
Starring: Linda Kennedy
Of Note: U.S. premiere of “Chef” by UK/Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz.
Photo by ProPhotStl.com
“Darin: Bobby’s Biggest Hits”Sept. 26 – 30
The Playhouse at Westport
Tickets: MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111
www.playhouseatwestport.com
What It’s About: Back by popular demand, Artists Lounge Live presents a Bobby Darin tribute starring Christopher Kale Jones.
Jones, a PBS retro-rocker (“Under the Streetlamp”) and “Jersey Boys” star who played Frankie Valli on the first national tour, and in L.A. and San Francisco companies, embodies the dazzling versatility of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bobby Darin. Jones tenderly recounts Darin’s story of life lived in the spotlight and lost too soon. Songs featured in the show include “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife” and “Beyond the Sea.”
“Evita”The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 30
www.repstl.org
What It’s About:  The incandescent Eva Perón’s rise from poverty to power electrified the world – and made her an iconic political celebrity. Winner of seven Tony Awards, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s tour-de-force musical revels in the glamour, charisma and controversy that defined the First Lady of Argentina. With its unforgettable anthem “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, “Evita” dazzles with pure passion.
Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by Charlie Alterman and choreography by Gustavo Zajac.
Cast: Michelle Aravena (Eva Perón), Pepe Nufrio (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Perón), Nicolas Dávila (Augstín Magaldi/Ensemble), Shea Gomez (Perón’s Mistress/Ensemble).
Ensemble: Maria Bilbao, Nathaniel Burich, Ben Chavez, Samuel Druhora, Carmen Garcia, Esmeralda Garza, Samantha Gershman, Julie Hanson, Keith Hines, Jose Luaces, Ben Nordstrom, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, April Strelinger and Tim Wessel.
Eric Woolsey Photo
“The Flood”Monroe Actors Stage Company
Sept. 20 – 23, 27 – 30
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre
202 South Main Street, Waterloo, IL 62208
Box Office: 618-939-7469
www.masctheatre.org
What It’s About: As the Mississippi River waters rise, the small town of Meyerville struggles with preparing for the worst. This creative and dramatic musical was written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel after they visited the town of Valmeyer, Ill., following the 1993 floods. They interviewed Monroe County citizens and were intrigued by the citizens’ decision to rebuild to higher ground. Their adaptation of the story is based on the fictional town of Meyerville and members of its village.
Director: Amber Dillard, with Musical Director Marcia Braswell
Of Note: MASC and Show Sponsor George Obernagel observe the 25th Anniversary of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1993 with their production of “The Flood.” The show has been named an official event of the Illinois State Bicentennial.
House opens one half hour before curtain; ticket booth opens one hour before curtain. The theatre is only accessible by a staircase.
“The Little Foxes”St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Sept. 28 – Oct. 14
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle
www.stlas.org
What It’s About: Lillian Hellman’s drama about greed and ambition, set in Alabama in 1900.  Regina Giddens and her
ruthless clan clash as they try to strike the deal of their lives.
Director: John Contini
Starring: Kari Ely, Laurie McConnell, William Roth, Bob Gerchen, Wendy Greenwood, Bridget Bassa, Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Chuck Brinkley, Richard Lewis and Dennis Jethroe II.
Of Note:  Far from a sentimental look at a bygone era, the play has a surprisingly timely resonance with important issues facing our country today.
Photo by Patrick Huber.
“Love Never Dies”
Love Never Dies
The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand
Sept. 18 – 30www.fabulousfox.com
Tickets: www.MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111 or Fox Box Office
What It’s About: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is a sequel to the mega-hit “The Phantom of the Opera,” and takes place 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House. It is 1907 and he has escaped to a new life in New York, running a freak show vaudeville act at Coney Island. His music soars there, but he still yearns for his musical protégé and one true love, Christine Daae. Now a world-class soprano, she arrives in New York for a singing engagement that will hopefully get her now-jerk of a husband, Raoul, out of gambling debt. Lo and behold, the Phantom lures her to sing in his show. She has her young son Gustave, age 10, in tow. Is triumph or tragedy on the horizon?
Director: Simon Phillips
Starring: Bronson Norris Murphy as The Phantom, Meghan Picerno as Christine, Sean Thompson as Raoul, Mary Michael Patterson as Meg, Karen Mason as Madame Giry, and Jake Heston Miller and Christian Harmston alternating as Gustave.
Of Note: The show is the reworked Australia production of 2011, after the inaugural London West End musical opened in 2010 to mostly mixed reviews. It has yet to play Broadway but is now on its first North American tour.
“Mama’s Boy”Tesseract Theatre Company
Sept. 21 – 30
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.
.Zack, 3224 Locust, St. Louiswww.tesseracttheatre.org
Tickets: MetroTix.com
What It’s About: A new play by Rob Urbinati is the riveting story of Lee Harvey Oswald and his complex relationship with his overbearing mother Marguerite. “Mama’s Boy” follows Marguerite’s reckless attempts to reunite her family, from Lee’s return to the U.S. from Russia, through the assassination of Kennedy, to her son’s own murder and her defense of his innocence in the months that follow. A fascinating examination of family dynamics and obsessive maternal devotion played out in the shadow of history.
Director: Bradley Schwartz
Starring: Donna Parrone, Carly Uding, Jeremy Goldmeier, Brandon Atkins
“Newsies”Looking Glass Playhouse
Sept. 20 – 23, 27-30
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Looking Glass Playhouse
Lebanon, Ill.
www.lookingglassplayhouse.com
What It’s About: Disney’s Newsies tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged ‘newsies.’ When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right.
Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, “Newsies” features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots). Featuring the now classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe,” Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message that is perfect for the whole family.
Director: Jason Johnson
Of Note: Looking Glass Playhouse is celebrating its 45th season.
“Oklahoma!”Stages St. Louis
Sept. 7 – Oct. 7
Robert G. Reim Theatre
Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road
www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Romance, conflict, comedy and colorful characters set in 1906 in the Oklahoma territory.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Zoe Vonder Haar as Aunt Eller, JBlake Price as Curly, Sarah Ellis as Laurie, ohn Flack as Andrew Carnes, Leah Berry as Bertie Cummings, David Sajewich as Jud,  aMatthew Curiano as Ali Hakim, Lucy Moon as Ado Annie and Con O’Shea-Creal as Will Parker.
Of Note: “Oh, what a beautiful musical! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless first collaboration was, in many ways, their most innovative. And while OKLAHOMA! completely changed the face of American musical theatre 75 years ago, it remains as fresh and vital today as it was then with its loving celebration of the American spirit. A stunning blend of drama, music, and dance, the exhilarating Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains such classics as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Kansas City,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the pulsating title tune, “Oklahoma!” A gold standard that set the bar for all great musicals that came after it.
Peter Wochniak Photo
“One Funny Mother”
Dena Blizzard, former Miss New JerseyThe Playhouse @ Westport
Oct. 3 – 7
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights
Box Office: 314-616-4455
Tickets: MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111
Running time: 80 min.
What It’s About: Creator of the wildly popular viral videos “Chardonnay Go!” and the “Back to School Rant,” comedian Dena Blizzard returns to St. Louis with her hilarious one-woman show. The off-Broadway hit has been touring the country.
A former Miss New Jersey, and mother of three, Blizzard has created a show about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and marriage. We follow Blizzard on a hilarious journey through her day as she prepares for her long-awaited girl’s night out. Along the way, she laments how her life and marriage have changed since becoming a mother of three; wrestling with the eternal question “have I gone crazy since having these kids?”
Of Note: It was named “Best One-Woman Show” at the 2015 United Solo Festival in New York City. You can sneak a peek of the show at www.onefunnymother.com.
Performances at 8 p.m. Oct. 3, 4, 5 and 6, with another 4 p.m. show Oct. 6 and 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 7.
“This Random World (the myth of serendipity)”The West End Players Guild
Sept. 28 – Oct. 7
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End
314-367-0025
www.westendplayers.org.
What It’s About: Funny. He doesn’t look dead. Or like he’s going to be.  In fact, Tim looks like he’s feeling much better. But don’t try telling that to funeral director Rhonda, who has read his obituary on her iPad and is now trying to explain the facts of life (or rather, death) to Tim.
Now, if that situation sounds a little “random,” that’s because it is. It’s one of many strange but funny encounters in Steven Dietz’s 2016 play “This Random World (the myth of serendipity).”
Director: Renee Sevier-Monsey
Starring: Ted Drury, Kate Weber, Eleanor Humphrey, Jessa Knust, Joel Zummak, Lynn Rathbone and Tinah Twardowski.
Of Note: This is the opening show of West End Players Guild’s 108th season.
“The Zombies of Penzance”
Zak Farmer, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor, Sean Michael Photo by Jill Ritter LindbergNew Line Theatre
Sept. 27 – Oct. 20
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Marcelle Theater
3310 Samuel Shepard Drive in Grand Arts Center
Tickets: 314-534-1111
www.newlinetheatre.com
What It’s About: The world premiere of the rock musical, “The Zombies of Penzance: At Night Come the Flesh Eaters,” is based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Based on the conceit that the original draft, never seen before, was dated December 1878, Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn’t want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance, for obvious reasons.
Co-Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Windsor-Dowdy. Miller has painstakingly reassembled these rediscovered materials into their original form, filling in the gaps with educated guesses based on other G&S shows and drafts. St. Louis composer and orchestrator John Gerdes is reconstructing Sullivan’s music.
Cast: Most of the cast from New Line’s public reading in January will return, with Sean Michael as Frederic, Melissa Felps as Mabel, Zachary Allen Farmer as Major-General Stanley the Zombie Hunter, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as the Zombie King, with Mara Bollini, Kent Coffel, Robert Doyle, Matt Hill, Lindsey Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Kyle Kelesoma, Melanie Kozak, Sarah Porter, Christina Rios, and Kimi Short.
Of Note: New Line Theatre, “the bad boy of musical theatre,” opens its 28th season of adult, alternative musical theatre. New Line has shocked the music world by discovering a controversial, long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896.
One of the team’s best-known works, The Pirates of Penzance, originally debuted in New York in 1879, and was revived to great success in the early 1980s with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, and Rex Smith. What we now know is that there was an earlier, stranger draft of the show, which nobody knew about, with most of the same characters but a somewhat different plot.
In 2013, New Line Theatre artistic director Scott Miller discovered the original manuscripts for “The Zombies of Penzance” in the second sub-basement of the Judson Memorial Church in New York, hidden beneath some moldy band parts from Rockabye Hamlet and Shogun the Musical, and Miller set about reconstructing the bizarre original show as G&S intended. Gilbert’s living dead and their Zombie King now make their long-delayed world premiere.
 
 

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Heroes and villains, and every shade of gray in between are featured on local stages this weekend. And some are in desperate need of love – and a hug!
Nicky Collett Photo by Aaron JostMean Girl Day is fast approaching (Oct. 3), and we have the classic big bad green one – the Wicked Witch of the West, who terrorizes munchkins, the land of Oz and Dorothy – and Toto, too in Christ Memorial Production’s “The Wizard of Oz” with a cast of 100.+
We have a deal with the devil, presented Midnight Company-style, with two one-acts including one that’s part of Faustival, a celebration of that evil liaison between the good doctor and Satan.

Did Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate President Kennedy? Tesseract Theatre Company explores Oswald’s relationship with his mother in “Mama’s Boy.”
More wicked this way comes in Mother Nature, when the great floods of 1993 wreak havoc on a small river town in southern Illinois in the musical tale of hope and survival,“The Flood,” presented by folks who lived through it, the Monroe Actors Stage Company.
Dealing with adversity is the poster boy, Job, the one from the Bible. Only Neil Simon has updated it for modern times in “God’s Favorite.” Laughter ensues in a joint venture between the Alton Little Theater and Curtain’s Up Theater.
The once-frightening Phantom of the Opera returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel, “Love Never Dies,” now playing at the Fox Theatre on its first North American tour, this time he’s in Coney Island.
That’s in New York, New York – and that’s where you’ll find our plucky newsboys saving their jobs and the world in Disney’s “Newsies” at Looking Glass Playhouse.”
More all-American characters appear in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” now playing at Stages St. Louis, showing that the farmers and cowmen can be friends.
Friendship is celebrated, along with family and cultural heritage in “Crowns” a gospel musical at The Black Rep, last chance to see it.
And then there are the icons. South American folk hero Eva Peron is immortalized in Webber’s “Evita,” now playing at The Rep. Crooner Bobby Darin is remembered in “Darin” Bobby’s Biggest Hits” at the Playhouse at Westport.
And Robert Dubac provides gales of laughter pointing out the idiocy of modern society in “The Book of Moron,” now playing at The Playhouse at Westport.
Happy Fall, y’all! And Go See a Play!
“An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus” and “The Hunchback Variations” (Two One-Acts by Mickle Maher)
Midnight Theatre Company
Sept. 20 – 29
Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Monocle, 4510 Manchesterwww.midnightcompany.com
What It’s About: “Apology/Faustus” finds Dr. John Faustus (Hanrahan) in some room, at some time, apologizing to a random group of people (the audience) for not standing up against evil in his lifetime, as personified by Mephistopheles (Wassilak.)
“The Hunchback Variations” presents a series of variations on a panel discussion between The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wassilak) and Ludwig Van Beethoven (Hanrahan) in which the two talk about their attempts to create a mysterious sound —  the legendary, elusive sound effect of Anton Chekhov’s, described twice in the original production of “The Cherry Orchard.”
Starring: Joe Hanrahan, David Wassilak
Of Note: These shows are part of FAUSTival, an artistic collaborations among five St. Louis theatre companies – ERA, Theatre Nuevo, SATE, the Post-Romantics and Midnight – from August through December, each company presenting an adaptation of the Faust myth.  Festival passes and more info at FAUSTival.org.
“The Book of Moron”
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
Sept. 13 – 23
www.westportstl.com
What It’s About:  Robert Dubac’s newest Off-Broadway hit “The Book of Moron” has been described as one of the most hilarious, intelligent and scorching satirical attacks on idiocracy since Mark Twain. Having been brainwashed by a culture that worships the Kardashians over character, delusion over truth, and selfies over self-effacement, Dubac begins his journey with a simple question: Who am I? What do I believe? What’s the point?
Okay, that’s three questions but suffice to say, he has no answers. Just voices. Inner voices who come to life with precision and wit. One by one they pull him into a hysterical alternative universe of critical thought in search of the bigger picture. It’s a head trip on a banana peel.”
“Crowns: The Gospel Musical”The Black Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 23
Edison Theatre at Washington University
Box Office: (314) 534-3807
www.blackrep.org
What It’s About: Crowns refers to hats worn by black women. Hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn.
Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales about everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functions.
Director: Linda Kennedy
Cast: Anita Jackson leads the cast as Mother Shaw, with Maureen Williams as Wanda, Amber Rose as Velma, Leah Stewart as Mabel, Eleanor Humphrey as Jeannette, Myke Andrews as The Man and Tyler White as Yolanda.
Of Note: Director Linda Kennedy says: “The mothers and grandmothers, women of the church, were the glue that held us all together. They helped to raise us and helped make us accountable for our actions. We feared them then but are so grateful to them now. One of the greatest gifts a child can receive is the opportunity to sit and listen to and learn from an elder.” Rounding out the behind the scenes team will be the stage manager, Tracy D. Holliway-Wiggins, set designer, Dunsi Dai, lighting by Joe Clapper, and costumes by Daryl Harris.
“Darin: Bobby’s Biggest Hits”Sept. 26 – 30
The Playhouse at Westport
Tickets: MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111
www.
What It’s About: Back by popular demand, Artists Lounge Live presents a Bobby Darin tribute starring Christopher Kale Jones.
Jones, a PBS retro-rocker (“Under the Streetlamp”) and “Jersey Boys” star who played Frankie Valli on the first national tour, and in L.A. and San Francisco companies, embodies the dazzling versatility of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bobby Darin. Jones tenderly recounts Darin’s story of life lived in the spotlight and lost too soon. Songs featured in the show include “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Beyond the Sea.”
“Evita”The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 30
www.repstl.org
What It’s About:  The incandescent Eva Perón’s rise from poverty to power electrified the world – and made her an iconic political celebrity. Winner of seven Tony Awards, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s tour-de-force musical revels in the glamour, charisma and controversy that defined the First Lady of Argentina. With its unforgettable anthem “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, “Evita” dazzles with pure passion.
Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by Charlie Alterman and choreography by Gustavo Zajac.
Cast: Michelle Aravena (Eva Perón), Pepe Nufrio (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Perón), Nicolas Dávila (Augstín Magaldi/Ensemble), Shea Gomez (Perón’s Mistress/Ensemble).
Ensemble: Maria Bilbao, Nathaniel Burich, Ben Chavez, Samuel Druhora, Carmen Garcia, Esmeralda Garza, Samantha Gershman, Julie Hanson, Keith Hines, Jose Luaces, Ben Nordstrom, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, April Strelinger and Tim Wessel.
Eric Woolsey Photo
“The Flood”Monroe Actors Stage Company
September 20 – 23, 27 – 30
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre
202 South Main Street, Waterloo, IL 62208
Box Office: 618-939-7469
www.masctheatre.org
What It’s About: As the Mississippi River waters rise, the small town of Meyerville struggles with preparing for the worst. This creative and dramatic musical was written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel after they visited the town of Valmeyer, Ill., following the 1993 floods. They interviewed Monroe County citizens and were intrigued by the citizens’ decision to rebuild to higher ground. Their adaptation of the story is based on the fictional town of Meyerville and members of its village.
Director: Amber Dillard, with Musical Director Marcia Braswell
Of Note: MASC and Show Sponsor George Obernagel observe the 25th Anniversary of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1993 with their production of “The Flood.” The show has been named an official event of the Illinois State Bicentennial.
House opens one half hour before curtain; ticket booth opens one hour before curtain. The theatre is only accessible by a staircase.
“God’s Favorite”
Alton Little Theater and Curtain’s Up Theater
Sept. 14 – 23
Box Office 618-462-3205www.altonlittletheater.org
What It’s About: Neil Simon’s very funny show is loosely based on the Biblical Book of Job. A (rare) devout multimillionaire whose faith is tested encounters every malady and yet stands firm while real estate collapses around him. This is often called Simon’s most imaginative play.
Director:
Cast: Joe Benjamin, Howard Bell; Ben Benjamin,  Anthony Tuzzo; Sarah Benjamin, Christy Luster; Rose Benjamin, Carol Hodson; David Benjamin, Brant McCance; Mady, Sarah Chapman-Wiser; Morris, Vince Ojeda; and Sidney Lipton, Aaron Mermelstein.
Of Note: Alton Little Theatre presented this play 20 years ago and this is a return engagement.
“Love Never Dies”

The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand
Sept. 18 – 30www.fabulousfox.com
Tickets: www.MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111 or Fox Box Office
What It’s About: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is a sequel to the mega-hit “The Phantom of the Opera,” and takes place 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House. It is 1907 and he has escaped to a new life in New York, running a freak show vaudeville act at Coney Island. His music soars there, but he still yearns for his musical protégé and one true love, Christine Daae. Now a world-class soprano, she arrives in New York for a singing engagement that will hopefully get her now-jerk of a husband, Raoul, out of gambling debt. Lo and behold, the Phantom lures her to sing in his show. She has her young son Gustave, age 10, in tow. Is triumph or tragedy on the horizon?
Director: Simon Phillips
Starring: Bronson Norris Murphy as The Phantom, Meghan Picerno as Christine, Sean Thompson as Raoul, Mary Michael Patterson as Meg, Karen Mason as Madame Giry, and Jake Heston Miller and Christian Harmston alternating as Gustave.
Of Note: The show is the reworked Australia production of 2011, after the inaugural London West End musical opened in 2010 to mostly mixed reviews. It has yet to play Broadway but is now on its first North American tour.
“Mama’s Boy”Tesseract Theatre Company
Sept. 21 – 30
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.
.Zack, 3224 Locust, St. Louiswww.tesseracttheatre.org
Tickets: MetroTix.com
What It’s About: A new play by Rob Urbinati is the riveting story of Lee Harvey Oswald and his complex relationship with his overbearing mother Marguerite. “Mama’s Boy” follows Marguerite’s reckless attempts to reunite her family, from Lee’s return to the U.S. from Russia, through the assassination of Kennedy, to her son’s own murder and her defense of his innocence in the months that follow. A fascinating examination of family dynamics and obsessive maternal devotion played out in the shadow of history.
Director: Bradley Schwartz
Starring: Carly Uding, Jeremy Goldmeier, Brandon Atkins
Of Note: Playwright Rob Urbinati is in town the first weekend to see the show.
“Newsies”Looking Glass Playhouse
Sept. 20 – 23, 27-30
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Looking Glass Playhouse
Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com
What It’s About: Disney’s Newsies tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged ‘newsies.’ When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right.
Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, “Newsies” features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots). Featuring the now classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe,” Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message that is perfect for the whole family.
Director: Jason Johnson
Of Note: Looking Glass Playhouse is celebrating its 45th season.
“Oklahoma!”Stages St. Louis
Sept. 7 – Oct. 7
Robert G. Reim Theatre
Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road
www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Romance, conflict, comedy and colorful characters set in 1906 in the Oklahoma territory.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Zoe Vonder Haar as Aunt Eller, John Flack as Andrew Carnes, Leah Berry as Bertie Cummings and
Of Note: “Oh, what a beautiful musical! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless first collaboration was, in many ways, their most innovative. And while OKLAHOMA! completely changed the face of American musical theatre 75 years ago, it remains as fresh and vital today as it was then with its loving celebration of the American spirit. A stunning blend of drama, music, and dance, the exhilarating Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains such classics as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Kansas City,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the pulsating title tune, “Oklahoma!” A gold standard that set the bar for all great musicals that came after it.
Peter Wochniak Photo
“The Wizard of Oz”Christ Memorial Productions
Sept. 14 – 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, 5252 S. Lindberghwww.CMPShows.org
314-631-0304
What It’s About: L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox. It is adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and based upon the classic MGM motion picture owned by Turner Entertainment Company.
Dorothy Gale of Kansas journeys to the Land of Oz, where she encounters the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, and is besieged by the Wicked Witch of the West, all with her beloved Toto by her side. Will she make it back home to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry with The Wizard’s help?
Cast: Grace Wilkinson – Dorothy, Jennifer Kerner – Aunt Em / Chorus, Kathryn Nestor Klein – Glinda / Chorus, Michael Klein – Uncle Henry / Winkie / Chorus, Ray Martin – Tinman / Hickory, Nathan Gallop – Scarecrow / Hunk, John Jauss – Lion / Zeke, Nicky Collett – Wicked Witch of the West / Miss Gulch, Keith Poppitz – Wizard / Professor / Chorus
Of Note: The cast has more than 100 members. If you are interested in a special Sensory Friendly performance on Thursday, Sept. 20. please email [email protected] for details.
Photo by Aaron Jost
Feature Image of “Crowns” by Phillip Hamer