Or, Theater interrupted by life…or something like that. Awards and reflections on the year.

By Lynn Venhaus
Often times, the wise words of others are in a loop playing in my head.

“I want life to imitate art,” Carrie Fisher wrote in “Postcards from the Edge,” and I often share that same sentiment. Particularly in 2019, which will always be labeled an “annus horribilis” for personal reasons.

Although John Lennon is attributed to have said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” he really just quoted it in one of his songs on “Double Fantasy.” That one I put in regular rotation.

When times were really rough last year, I thought of Courtney Love’s band Hole and their album cover “Live Through This,” which was made after Kurt Cobain died. I kept repeating that phrase over and over.

Now 65, I know all too well the ebbs and flows of life, but last year seemed unusually mired in the deep end. You see, without going into lengthy details, I lost my cherished oldest son in December 2018 and my only surviving brother, who was terminally ill, Labor Day weekend on his 57th birthday; my two sisters and I lost our other brother years ago. Life is filled with loss, and I made it through all the ‘firsts’ with a lot of help from my friends and family. But pain, anguish and sorrow were/are unfathomable and the tsunami of grief is as unpredictable as anything in life.

My brother honored as a Legacy Coach at his alma mater, Belleville West, in January, eight months before his death. You can’t see his walker. He was a coach and junior high science teacher for 35 years.

As Matt went steadily downhill last summer, I decided I would spend more time with him, and I was already cooking his meals. So that meant missing some theater, and I have no regrets on that decision.

We all must prioritize what’s important in our lives. Theater has always brought me great joy and illuminated life in an exhilarating way, and last year, sometimes it was a lifeline.

I am grateful for the opportunities to see so much worthwhile theater, and I appreciate the theater community for being so understanding and patient last year on my circumstances and my crazy work schedule.

The upside to tragedy is the outpouring of kindness and concern from people – it was a comforting blanket I wrapped myself in, and was able to get up and get going because I knew I wasn’t alone, and that there were so many others to lean on and raise me up.

I can’t thank people enough and I am forever grateful – it means so much. Now, back to work. Words matter – I’m a writer, after all. A few years ago, as I was dropping Tim off at Union Station to visit some out-of-town friends after a break-up blindsided him, I mentioned ye olde chestnut about using what you learn at a later time, and he replied: “Like you say, Mom, everything’s copy.” I learned that from Nora Ephron. And it’s true.

Tim

Well maybe some day. Right now, I prefer to immerse myself in other’s words. Seeing how people take fresh pages of a script, how eloquent it can be, how well it can be interpreted – that is the task of the creative souls. And it’s so fun to see what can be crafted on a stage in town, whether it’s a small black box or the immense Muny stage.

Sitting in the dark, sharing a moment – that’s what it’s all about, and we sure shared some  outstanding moments in 2019. The eternal optimist, I am looking forward to another exciting year.

And as we all know, there will be more times we’re knocked down. And being helped up is one of the best things in life. And when you open yourself up — be it in conversation, writing or on stage, you feel human and whole.

How art enriches us is truly inspiring. 2019 was a good year for theater, particularly dramas, which were often inspired. It was important to have somewhere to go and something else to think about, as I continue to marvel at the accomplishments – passionate people behind their visions, strong talent and a desire to do good work, that it is about the work.

I like when people take risks, when they present new ways of doing things, and don’t rely on the same-old casting. My biggest pet peeves are miscasting and lack of character development/prep work/vision. If you are going to invest the time and want people to give up their time and money, then do the work, go above and beyond, and not just slide by. Hire who is right for the part, not just because they are a friend.

OK, off my soapbox.

I have now launched my longtime-coming website, and we should be full speed ahead in 2020, www.PopLifeSTL.com. I haven’t launched its daily and weekly features yet, but reviews and news releases are up. All in due time.

So, my awards this year are based on the 79 regional professional plays I did see, and not the touring shows nor community theater. That would add about 16 more shows. There is no way to see everything.

This is the year I gave up reviewing opera and let another reviewer go in my place. I needed to make some changes, and sadly, that had to be dropped. Maybe another work. I have been in awe of what Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Union Avenue Opera and Winter Opera achieve year after year.

My brother’s memorial service was the weekend of Shakespeare in the Streets, so I had to cancel, and he died the weekend I had RSVP’d for “The 39 Steps.” I saw “The Night of the Iguana” but left the next day to spend Mother’s Day with my youngest son in New York City, so missed “A Lovely Sunday Afternoon for Creve Coeur” and the other programming. I was on my way to the final matinee of “Death Tax” when an accident closed three lanes of I-64. Life…


I also traveled quite a bit this year, some for work, some for play. Tim was working on his MFA in screenwriting at DePaul University at the time of his death. He was home on holiday break. His professors named an award for him at their annual film festival, so I went up to Chicago the first weekend in June to see it happen.

However, I was fortunate to spend Mother’s Day watching Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the sold-out acclaimed Bartlett Sher-Aaron Sorkin production in the Shubert Theatre. You could have heard a pin drop and the standing ovation was immediate, loud and long. Meeting the star afterwards was an unexpected thrill.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” brilliant production at the Shubert. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

The week I was in NYC I also saw the  fabulous and fun “The Prom,” which was produced by local folks and had a book and lyrics by Centralia’s own Chad Beguelin, who I had the good fortune to meet in 2010 and have been writing about his triumphs ever since.

I did something new, too — I revised my late son’s last script, a comedy short that his DePaul professor raved about, A for the trimester. And we had a team shoot it in late September over a weekend, a real challenge and labor of love. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You must do the thing you think that you cannot do.”

Unfortunate, but sadly not considered in voting here: “The Revolutionists” and “Shakespeare in Love” at Insight; “Equivocation,” “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” and “Cricket on a Hearth” at West End Players Guild; “Such Sweet Thunder,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis; “Nina Simone: Four Women” and “Milk Like Sugar,” The Black Rep; Black Mirror Theatre’s “Translations”; ERA’s “Never Let Go”; “Salt, Root and Roe,” Upstream Theatre; “Karmatic” TLT Productions; “The Merchant of Venice” and “The 39 Steps” at St. Louis Shakespeare; “Leaving Iowa” and “Travels with My Aunt” at Act Inc.; “The Hundred Dresses” at Metro Theatre Company; “Disenchanted” at Stray Dog, the parodies of “Jaws” and ‘Gremlins,” and the second leg of the LaBute New Play Festival at St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

Without further ado, I present my annual “LOTTIES,” which is Lynn’s Love of Theatre Awards, for 2019. These are my opinions alone. As in previous years, I usually name 10 my lists, but this year because of missing what I did, it’s either 8 or 9. Eventually, I will post my other ones, since 2014, in archives. And I intend to archive all the Circle Awards/Nominations for reference.

If you are wondering about the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards nominations, they will be announced on KWMU around noon on Friday, Feb. 7, with the press releases embargoed until 1 p.m. You can see the nominations here on PopLifeSTL.com in the afternoon.

I did not want my awards to coincide with the Circle, but it was not to be this year. However, these are my traditional annual awards, reflect my personal take on the year that was.

I am a Circle founding member; we began in 2012. The awards will be presented on Monday, March 30, at the Loretto Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, (the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ home). More information will be forthcoming.

The 2019 LOTTIES* (LYNN’S LOVE OF THEATER AWARDS)

Barrett Foa and Meredith Baxter in “Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika”

PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR: “Angels in America, Parts I and 2.”

Talk about ambitious. But oh, so worthwhile. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ first show under new artistic director Hana Sharif was an absolute stunning visceral and artistic work and raised the bar. Not only did it take risks but its heavyweight cast delivered on its promise.

“Part I: Millennium Approaches” and Part 2: Perestroika” required a commitment of time but the investment was worth it. How interesting, too that a 30 year old play could be so relevant today.

“Brighton Beach Memoirs” became New Jewish Theatre’s biggest hit of all-time

COMPANY OF THE YEAR: New Jewish Theatre.

From start to finish, 2019 was a banner year for NJT under new artistic director Edward Coffield. “District Merchants,” “Time Stands Still,” “I Now Pronounce,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Fully Committed” were extremely well done with outstanding casts and production values.

Ellie in “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Ellie Schwetye.

Ellie in “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur”

One of the most versatile and accomplished women in town, she’s been honored and nominated by the St. Louis Theater Circle year in and year out. But this year might be her finest – and perhaps busiest – on record. She directed “Photograph 51” at West End Players Guild, “A Model for Matisse” for the Midnight Company and “Fully Committed” at New Jewish Theatre. She acted in “Classic Mystery Game” and “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus” at SATE. She did sound for “The Night of the Iguana” at the Tennessee Williams Festival and “The Women of Lockerbie” at SATE. She was involved in SIUE’s Summer Play Festival, with “As You Like It.” Her choices of music for any show are impeccable.
I’m likely missing a few things too.
She’s always excelled at being a collaborator but she deserves an award all it’s own.

The national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen” came to the Fox.

BEST TOURING SHOWS: “Come from Away” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” both at the Fox.

Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ production of “Nonsense and Beauty” as the Loretto-Hilton Center. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

BEST NEW PLAYS:
1. “Nonsense and Beauty,” Scott C. Sickles, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
2. “Canfield Drive,” Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker, The Black Rep
3. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” John Wolbers, Metro Theatre Company
4. “Feeding Beatrice,” Kristen Greenidge, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
5. (tie) “Kim Jong Rosemary,” Carter Lewis, LaBute New Play Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
5. (tie) “A Model for Matisse,” Barbara F. Freed and Joe Hanrahan, The Midnight Company

Caleb Miofsky in “Cry-Baby” at New Line

FIVE TO WATCH:
Summer Baer
Tristan Davis
Caleb Miofsky
Tateonna Thompson
Jordan Wolk

Alicen Moser in “District Merchants”
Alicen Moser in “Antigone”

12 ACTING MVPS
(For their noteworthy range of work in 2019, and not only St. Louis professional in some cases)
Nicole Angeli
Will Bonfiglio
Kevin Corpuz
Eileen Engel
Wendy Greenwood
Stephen Henley
Keating
Ryan Lawson-Maeske
Stephanie Merritt
Alicen Moser
Spencer Sickmann
Jennifer Theby-Quinn

DYNAMIC DUOS

J. Samuel Davis and Gary Wayne Barker in “District Merchants”
Will Bonfiglio and John Wolbers
  1. Gary Wayne Barker and J. Samuel Davis, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Jacob Flekier and Spencer Kruse, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” New Jewish Theatre
  3. Will Bonfiglio and John Wolbers, “Photograph 51”
  4. Eli Mayer and Khailah Johnson, “Footloose,” The Muny
  5. Kevin O’Brien and Sara Rae Womack, “Guys and Dolls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  6.  Ryan Lawson-Maeske and William Roth, “A Life in the Theatre”
  7. Joe Hanrahan and Shane Signorino, “Popcorn Falls,” Midnight Company
  8. Erin Kelley and J. Samuel Davis, “The Agitators,” Upstream Theatre
  9. Jeffrey Heyenga and Robbie Simpson, “Nonsense and Beauty,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  10. Joe Hanrahan and Rachel Hanks, “A Model for Matisse,” Midnight Company

JUVENILE PERFORMANCE AWARDS

Flower girls in “I Now Pronounce” at New Jewish Theatre
  1. Millie Edelman, Abby Goldstein and Lydia Mae Foss as the flower girls, “I Now Pronounce,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Leo Taghert as 10 year old Tommy in “The Who’s Tommy,” Stray Dog Theatre

 SPECIAL TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT: Michael B. Perkins for his exquisite video projection design in “Love, Linda” and “A Model for Matisse.”

Jane Paradise in “Brighton Beach Memoirs”

COMEDY AWARDS
Best Actress in a Comedy

  1. Jane Paradise, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Laura Sohn, “Love’s Labors Lost,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  3. Kea Trevett, “Love’s Labors Lost,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  4. Susie Lawrence, “Sylvia,” Stray Dog Theatre
  5. Keating, “Well,” Mustard Seed Theatre
  6. Sofia Lidia, “The MotherF**cker with the Hat,” R-S Theatrics
  7. Perri Gaffney, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  8. Colleen Backer, “Color Timer,” LaBute New Play Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Frankie Ferrari and Delaney Piggins in ‘I Now Pronounce”

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

  1. Laurie McConnell, “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Melissa Harlow, “Sylvia,” Stray Dog
  3. Frankie Ferrari, “I Now Pronounce,” New Jewish Theatre
  4. Delaney Piggins, “I Now Pronounce,” New Jewish Theatre
  5. Lori Adams, “Well,” Mustard Seed Theatre
  6. Ka-Ling Cheung, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  7. Michelle Hand, “Pride and Prejudice,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  8. Taleesha Caturah, “The MotherF**with the Hat,” R-S Theatrics
  9. Caitlin Mickey, “Wittenberg,” Upstream Theatre
Will Bonfiglio in “Fully COmmitted” at New Jewish

Best Actor in a Comedy

  1. Will Bonfiglio, “Fully Committed,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Isaiah DiLorenzo, “True West,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  3. Jacob Flekier, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” New Jewish Theatre
  4. Steve Isom, “Wittenberg,” Upstream Theatre
  5. Michael Cassidy Flynn, “Classic Mystery Game,” SATE
  6. Adam Flores, “The MotherF**ker with the Hat,” R-S Theatrics
  7. Griffin Osborne, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  8. Alan Knoll, “Wittenberg,” Upstream Theatre
  9. Joe Hanrahan, “Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust,” Midnight Company
Spencer Kruse and Jacob Flekier in “Brighton Beach Memoirs”

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

1. Spencer Kruse, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” New Jewish Theatre
2. Patrick Blindauer, “Love’s Labors Lost,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
3. Shane Signorino, “Popcorn Falls,” Midnight Company
4. Aaron Dodd, “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” R-S Theatrics
5. Jesse Munoz, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, R-S Theatrics
6. Michael McGloin, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
7. Chuck Brinkley, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,’ New Jewish Theatre
8. Michael James Reed, “Pride and Prejudice,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

“The Play That Goes Wrong” at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Best Director of a Comedy

  1. Alan Knoll, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Tom Ridgely, “Love’s Labors Lost,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  3. Melissa Rain Anderson, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  4. Ellie Schwetye, “Fully Committed,” New Jewish Theatre
  5. William Whitaker, “True West,” St. Louis Actors Studio
  6. Meredith McDonough, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  7. Philip Boehm, “Wittenberg,” Upstream Theatre
“It’s a Wonderful Life” at Metro Theatre Company

Best Ensemble in a Comedy

  1. The Play That Goes Wrong, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  2. Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life, Metro Theatre Company
  5. (tie) The MotherF**ker with the Hat, R-S Theatrics

(tie) Well, Mustard Seed Theatre

BEST COMEDY PRODUCTION

“True West” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  1. Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre
  2. Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  3. The Play That Goes Wrong, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  4. True West, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  5. Wittenberg,  Upstream Theatre
    6. Fully Committed, New Jewish Theatre

DRAMA AWARDS

Ben Ritchie and Nicole Angeli in “Photograph 51”

Best Actress in a Drama

  1. Nicole Angeli, “Photograph 51,” West End Players Guild
  2. Wendy Greenwood, “Time Stands Still,” New Jewish Theatre
  3. Jeanne Paulsen, “Alabama Story,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  4. Kristen Adele Calhoun, “Canfield Drive,” The Black Rep
  5. Zoe Farmingdale, “Indecent,” Max and Louie Productions
  6. Julie Layton, “Fifty Words,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Nisi Sturgis in “The Night of the Iguana”

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

1. Nisi Sturgis, “The Night of the Iguana,” Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
2. Eileen Engel, “Time Stands Still,” New Jewish Theatre
3. Rae Davis, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
4. Donna Weinsting, “Nonsense and Beauty,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
5. Rachel Hanks, “A Model for Matisse,” Midnight Company
6. Sophia Brown, “Fefu and Her Friends,” Theatre Nuevo
7. Miranda Jagels-Felix, “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus,” SATE

Jim Butz in “The Night of the Iguana”

Best Actor in a Drama
1. James Andrew Butz, “The Night of the Iguana,” Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
2. Barrett Foa, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
3. Gary Wayne Barker, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
4. Graham Emmons, “The Crucible,” Stray Dog Theatre.
5. Spencer Sickmann, “Farragut North,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
6. Jim Poulos, “Oslo,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

David Ryan Smith and Peter Fre

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

  1. J. Samuel Davis, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
  2. Carl Howell, “Alabama Story,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  3. David Wassilak, “Farragut North,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  4. Karl Hawkins, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
  5. David Ryan Smith, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  6. Ryan Lawson-Maeske, “Photograph 51,” West End Players Guild
  7. John Feltch, “Nonsense and Beauty,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  8. Gerry Love, “The Crucible,” Stray Dog Theatre
  9. Ben Ritchie, “The Crucible,” Stray Dog Theatre
  10. Ben Cherry, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
    (tie) Peter Freschette, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
    (tie) Taylor Gruenloh, “Two Degrees,” Tesseract Theatre
Angels in America

Best Director of a Drama

1. Joanne Gordon, “Indecent,” Max and Louie Productions
2. Anthony Speciale, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
3. Jacqueline Thompson, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre
4. Gary F. Bell, “The Crucible,” Stray Dog Theatre
5. Ellie Schwetye, “Photograph 51,” West End Players Guild
6. Lucy Cashion, “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus,” ERA/SATE
7. Steve Woolf, “Oslo,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
8. Seth Gordon, “Nonsense and Beauty,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Best Ensemble in a Drama Production

“Antigone: Reqiuem for Patriarchus” at SATE
  1. Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  2. District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Photograph 51, West End Players Guild
  4. Indecent, Max and Louie Productions
  5. Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus, ERA and SATE
  6. The Crucible, Stray Dog Theatre
  7. The Women of Lockerbie, SATE
  8. Nonsense and Beauty, The Rep
  9. Time Stands Still, New Jewish
  10. Oslo, The Rep

Best Dramatic Production

The Crucible at Stray Dog Theatre
  1. Angels in America, The Rep
  2. District Merchants, New Jewish
  3. The Crucible, Stray Dog
  4. Photograph 51, West End Players Guild
  5. Indecent, Max and Louie Productions
  6. Nonsense and Beauty, The Rep
  7. The Night of the Iguana, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
  8. Oslo, The Rep
  9. Time Stands Still, New Jewish
  10. Farragut North, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

MUSICAL AWARDS

Casr of Cry-Baby at New Line

Best Musical Director
1. Ryan Fielding Garrett, “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
2. Jennifer Buchheit, “The Who’s Tommy,” Stray Dog Theatre
3. Nicolas Valdez, “Cry-Baby,” New Line Theatre
4. Charles Creath, “Don’t Both Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep
5. Nicolas Valdez, “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
6. Scott Schoonover, “Daddy Long Legs,” Insight Theatre
7. Holly Barber, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” The Q Collective

Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope at The Black Rep

Best Choreographer (and not just in musicals)

1. Kirven Douthit-Boyd, “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep
2. Mike Hodges, “Guys and Dolls,” Stray Dog Theatre
3. Rusty Mowery, “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
4. Ellen Isom, “Indecent,” Max and Louie Productions
5. Tony Gonzalez, “Grease,” Stages St. Louis
6. Heather Beal, “Feeding Beatrice,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Taylor Louderman in “Kinky Boots”
  1. Taylor Louderman, “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
  2. Michelle Ragusa, “The Boy from Oz,” Stages St. Louis
  3. Sarah Gene Dowling, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” The Q Collective
  4. Kendra Lynn Lucas, “Grease,” Stages St. Louis
  5. Khalia Johnson, “Footloose,” The Muny
  6. Eleanor Humphrey, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  7. Laura Michelle Kelley, “Matilda,” The Muny
  8. Grace Langford, “Avenue Q,” The Playhouse at Westport
  9. Jenny Powers, “1776,” The Muny
    10. Tateonna Thompson, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog
    10. Denise Thimes, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep

Best Actress in a Musical

Ebony Easter as Effie in “Dreamgirls” (center)
  1. Ebony Easter, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  2. Jennifer Theby-Quinn, “Daddy Long Legs,” Insight Theatre
  3. Mattea Conforti, “Matilda,” The Muny
  4. Kendra Kassebaum, “Guys and Dolls,” The Muny
  5. Mamie Parris, “Paint Your Wagon,” The Muny
  6. Sarah Rae Womack, “Guys and Dolls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  7. Brittany Bradford, “Guys and Dolls,” The Muny
Zak Farmer in “La Cage Aux Folles” at New line

Best Actor in a Musical
1. Zachary Allen Farmer, “La Cage Aux Folles,” New Line Theatre
2. J. Harrison Ghee, “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
3. David Elder, “The Boy from Oz,” Stages St. Louis
4. Luke Steingruby, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” The Q Collective
5. Caleb Miofsky, “Cry-Baby,” New Line Theatre
6. James Patterson, “Man of La Mancha,” Stages St. Louis
7. Mark Kelley, “A Man of No Importance,” R-S Theatrics

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Kevin Corpuz, right in “Be More Chill” at New Line
  1. Omega Jones, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  2. Kevin Corpuz, “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
  3. Omar Lopez-Cepero, “Paint Your Wagon,” The Muny
  4. Tristan Davis, “The Who’s Tommy,” Stray Dog Theatre
  5. Eli Mayer, “Footloose,” The Muny
  6. Ryan Cooper, “Man of La Mancha,” Stages St. Louis
  7. Ken Page, “Guys and Dolls,” Stages St. Louis
  8. Mike Wells, “Guys and Dolls,” Stray Dog Theatre
  9. Patrick John Moran, “Man of La Mancha,” Stages St. Louis
  10. Zach Stefaniak, “Guys and Dolls,” Stray Dog Theatre
    (tie) Ben Davis, “1776,” The Muny
Avenue Q at the Playhouse at Westport

Best Director of a Musical

1. Mike Dowdy-Windsor and Scott Miller, “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
2. DB Bonds, “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
3. Justin Been, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre
4. Lee Anne Mathews, “Avenue Q,” The Playhouse at Westport
5. Jordan Woods, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” The Q Collective
6. Ron Himes, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep

A Man of No Importance


Best Ensemble in a Musical
1. “Kinky Boots,” The Muny
2
. “Dreamgirls.” Stray Dog Theatre
3. “Avenue Q,” The Playhouse at Westport
4. “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
5. “A Man of No Importance,” R-S Theatrics
6. . Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep
7. “Man of La Mancha,” Stages St. Louis
8. “Cry-Baby,” New Line Theatre

“Kinky Boots” at the Muny

Best Musical Production

1.“Kinky Boots,” The Muny
2. “Dreamgirls.” Stray Dog Theatre
3. “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
4. “Avenue Q,” The Playhouse at Westport
5. “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep

?Dreamgirls”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

1. Sarah Porter, “La Cage Aux Folles,” New Line Theatre
2. Julian King, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre”
3. Mary Engelbreit and Leon Dobkowski, “Matilda,” The Muny
4. Brad Musgrove, “101 Dalmatians,” Stages St. Louis
5. Brad Musgrove, “Grease,” Stages St. Louis
6. Eileen Engel, “The Who’s Tommy,” Stray Dog Theatre
7. Gregg Barnes and Lindsay McWilliams, “Kinky Boots,’ The Muny

“The Who’s Tommy”

Best Lighting Design in a Musical

1. Tyler Duenow, “The Who’s Tommy,” Stray Dog
2. Joe Clapper, “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep
3. Rob Lippert, “Be More Chill,” New Line Theatre
4. John Lasiter, “Paint Your Wagon,” The Muny
5. Tyler Duenow, “Dreamgirls,” Stray Dog Theatre
6. Sean M. Savoie, “The Boy from Oz,” Stages St. Louis

“Matilda” at the Muny

Best Set Design in a Musical

1. Mary Engelbreit and Paige Hathaway, “Matilda,” The Muny
2. James Wolk, “Man of La Mancha,” Stages St. Louis
3. Josh Smith, “The Who’s Tommy,” Stages St. Louis
4. Michael Schweikardt, “Paint Your Wagon,” The Muny
5. Peter and Margery Spack, “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” The Black Rep

Feeding Beatrice

Best Sound Design of a Play

  1. Broken Chord, Angels in America, The Rep
  2. Ellie Schwetye, The Night of the Iguana, Tennessee Williams Festival
  3. David Samba, Feeding Beatrice, The Rep
  4. Kareem Deanes, Fully Committed, New Jewish Theatre
  5. Philip Evans, Indecent, Max and Louie Productions
    6. Justin Been, The Crucible, Stray Dog Productions
“Love’s Labors Lost”

Best Costume Design in a Play

  1. Michele Friedman Siler, Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish
  2. Melissa Trn, Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  3. Felia Davenport, District Merchants, New Jewish
  4. Andrea Robb, A Life in the Theater, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  5. Laura Hanson, Wittenberg, Upstream Theatre

Best Set Design in a Play

The Night of the Iguana
  1. Peter and Margery Spack, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Rep
  2. Dunsi Dai, The Night of the Iguana, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
  3. Peter and Margery Spack, Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish
  4. Kristin Cassidy, “Photograph 51,” West End Players Guild
  5. William Bloodgood, ‘Alabama Story,’ The Rep
  6. David Blake, “District Merchants,” New Jewish
  7. Lawrence E. Moten III, +Feeding Beatrice,” The Rep
    8. Patrick Huber, “True West,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Best Lighting Design in a Play

“Indecent”
  1. Jon Ontiveros, “The Night of the Iguana,” Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
  2. Xavier Pierce, “Angels in America,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  3. Patrick Huber, “Indecent,” Max and Louie Productions
  4. Jason Lynch, “Feeding Beatrice,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  5. Sean Savoie, “District Merchants,” New Jewish Theatre

Photo Credits: Phillip Hamer, Jon Gitchoff, JPatrick Huber, Joey Rumpell, Peter Wochniak and Jerry Naunheim Jr.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Treat Mom to a play or musical this weekend? Or next weekend! Any time is the
right time to Go See a Play! Here’s what is happening now.  And make time for the Tennessee Williams
Festival! Only once a year, and the time is now!

“Biloxi Blues” Clayton Community Theatre May 2-12 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. but no performance May 10 Washington University South Campus Theatre 314-721-9228www.placeseveryone.org

What It’s About: The second in “The Eugene Trilogy,” Neil
Simon’s semi-autobiographical comedy centers on the contest of wills between a
drill sergeant and an intellectual recruit at an Army base in Biloxi, Miss., in
1943. Along the way, he loses his innocence in many ways.

“Death Tax” Mustard Seed Theatre May 9 – 19 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre What It’s About:  by Lucas Hnath “As Maxine nears the end of her life she is certain of three things: Death, Taxes and the Greed of her daughter who wants her to die quickly. A desperate nurse vows to keep her alive, but at what cost? Darkly comic, the play explores morality and forgiveness.” Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

“Dear Mr. Williams” The Tennessee Williams Festival Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday at 3:30 and 8:30 p.m., May 10 and 11 Curtain Call Lounge www.twstl.org What It’s About: The blue devils of sex, alcohol, and mendacity take center stage in this tender and funny coming-of-age story of a young gay artist. With the great American playwright as his compass, writer and performer Batt takes us on a thrilling and very personal journey out of the shadows into a bright light of self-discovery. The tumultuous-and sometimes treacherous-journey from adolescence to adulthood is one we all must take, but Batt’s one-man tour de force proves that it’s oh so much more fascinating and fun with Tennessee Williams as your guide. “Freaky Friday” Curtain’s Up Theater Company May 10-12 Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Dunham Theatre, SIUEwww.curtainsuptheater.com

What It’s About: Based on the Disney movie, “Freaky Friday” is a musical about a mother and daughter changing places to comical effect.  

“A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur” The Tennessee Williams Festival May 11- 19 Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.  www.twfstl.org

What It’s About: Four eccentric and unforgettable women fry
chicken, plan a picnic to Creve Coeur Lake, and cope with loneliness and lost
dreams in an efficiency apartment on Enright Avenue in the Central West End
circa the mid-1930s. Williams gives us more laughs than usual, but no less
poetry or poignancy. Williams believed that growing up in St. Louis was
essential to the shape of his work. A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is one of
his few plays set here, and was the inspiration behind TV’s “The Golden
Girls.

Director: Kari Ely
Starring: Kelly Weber, Ellie Schwetye,  

Madea’s Farewell Play Tour May 10 – 12 Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 and 7:30 p.m. The Fabulous Fox Theatre www.fabulousfox.com What It’s About: Tyler Perry’s 21st stage play Starring: Tyler Perry, Tamela Mann, David Mann and Cassi Davis Patton

“Mamma Mia!” Alton Little Theater May 10-19 Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 2450 N. Henry in Alton 6180462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org What It’s About: Love, mishaps, and music by ABBA will have audiences dancing in the aisles again as they feel transported to the Greek Island of Kalokairi on the eve of a wedding.

“Mamma Mia!” Looking Glass Playhouse May 2 – 12 Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com 618-537-4962

What It’s About: Through ABBA’s hits, a romantic comedy
tell the hilarious story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. This
sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her
wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three
men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. A
mother. A daughter. Three possible dads.

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” Kirkwood Theatre Guild May 3-5, 9-12 Evenings at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Robert G. Reim Theatre Website: https://www.ktg-onstage.org/ 314-821-9956

What It’s About: A screwball comedy set in the Prohibition
era with songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Elegant socialists and boorish
bootleggers clash, when playboy Jimmy Winter meets a female bootlegger, Billie
Bendix, on the weekend of his third or fourth wedding.

“The Night of the Iguana” Tennessee Williams Festival May 9 – 19 The Grandel Theatre What It’s About: based on Williams’ 1948 short story, which was then developed into three acts for Broadway production in 1961. A Tony nominee for Best Play, it was adapted into a 1964 movie, directed by John Huston, that starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. The play focuses on a former minister, barred from his church for defaming God, who works as a tour guide. He is accused of statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl in his tour group. Director: Tim Ocel Starring: James Andrew Butz, Lavonne Byers, Hannah Sturgis, Harry Weber, Spencer Sickmann, Greg Johnson, Victor Mendes, Luis Aguilar.“Over the Tavern” The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves May 3 – 11 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.www.theatreguildwg.org 314-962-0876 What It’s About: In that most idealized period of 20th-century America, the Eisenhower years of the 1950s, the Pazinski family has a lot going on in their cramped Buffalo apartment. The youngest of the bunch, 12-year-old Rudy, is a smart, wise-cracking kid who’s starting to question family values and the Roman Catholic Church. When Rudy goes up against the ruler-wielding Sister Clarissa and announces that instead of being confirmed he’d rather shop around for a more “fun” religion, all hell breaks loose.” Parental discretion is advised.

Director: Warren Frank Starring: Henry Alverson, Jimmy Hall, Andrea Jacobson, Tracy Murphy, Pepi Parshall, Declan Ryan, Patrick Ryan “Salt, Root and Roe” Upstream Theatre April 26 – May 12 Shows at 8 p.m. except Sundays at 7 p.m. but May 12 at 2 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Centerwww.upstreamtheater.org What It’s About: Tim Price’s play is about the nature of change, the comfort of home and the eternal bond of love, set against the mythical backdrop of the Pembrokeshire coast in western Wales. Identical twins Iola and Anest, who are devoted to age other and aging fast. Anest’s daughter, Menna, rushes to her long-abandoned childhood home where her own ideas of love and compromise are tested to the limit. Director: Kenn McLaughlin Cast: Donna Weinsting, Sally Edmundson, Eric Dean White, Amy Loui

Of Note: A U.S. premiere in co-production with Stages
Repertory Theatre of Houston.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Plays with substantial women roles were spotlighted at the seventh annual St.
Louis Theater Circle Awards March 25, with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’
musical production of “Evita” and a homegrown “A Streetcar Named Desire” from
the third annual Tennessee Williams Festival each receiving seven awards.

Both iconic female-lead shows had received the most
nominations, 11 apiece, when the Circle announced them in January. The awards
recognized outstanding work locally produced by regional professional companies
during the calendar year 2018.

Nominees Kari Ely and Michelle Hand in “Into the Breeches!”The comedy “Into the Breeches!”, the first play in Shakespeare
Festival St. Louis’ new program, “In the Works,” won four awards. The world
premiere was in January 2018, with its first St. Louis performances in
September. The comedy from Chicago playwright George Brant is about a
fictitious theater group in 1942, and with the men away at war, the director’s
wife sets out to produce an all-female version of “Henry V.” It had roles for
six women and two men. In addition to awards for ensemble, director Nancy Bell
and best production, Michelle Hand won best actress.

The Circle, which includes veteran area theater critics, annually recognizes outstanding work in comedies, dramas and musicals, and with two opera categories.

Each of the 33 categories featured five nominees, with 23 local companies cited for 54 shows, and 120 artists receiving nods, including 10 with two apiece.

This year, there were three ties: sound design in a play, costume design in a musical and musical ensemble.

Evita won seven awards from the Circle“Evita,” the vibrant Tony Award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical, earned awards for musical direction (Charlie Alterman), choreography (Gustavo Zajac and Mariana Parma), set design (Luke Canterella), lighting (John Lasiter), director (Rob Ruggiero, his third), ensemble and production of a musical.

The landmark “A Streetcar Named Desire,” written in 1947 by the great American playwright Tennessee Williams, who spent his formative years in St. Louis, earned honors for Sophia Brown as Outstanding Actress – for her heart-wrenching portrayal of the emotionally needy and mental fragile faded beauty Blanche Dubois, sound design (original music by Henry Palkes and sound by Amanda Werre), lighting design (Sean M. Savoie), set design (James Wolk), direction (Tim Ocel), ensemble and production of a drama.

The 18 other awards went to separate shows, with both The
Black Rep and The Muny winning three apiece, and The Rep adding two more for earning
the most, nine.

Jeff Cummings and Katy Keating in “Life Sucks.” Photo by ProPhotoSTLIn comedy, Katy Keating won for Supporting Actress as feisty but unrequited lovesick Sonia in New Jewish Theatre’s “Life Sucks,” a ‘sort of’ adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Aaron Posner. She was also part of the award-winning ensemble of “Into the Breeches!”.

Isaiah Di Lorenzo in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” Photo by Ron James.Isaiah Di Lorenzo won Supporting Actor as The Player, the leader of the Tragedians, in St. Louis Shakespeare’s production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” He also was in the award-winning ensemble of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Will Bonfiglio as Mary Dale in “Red Scare on Sunset.” Photo by Justin Been. Will Bonfiglio won his second Outstanding Actor Award, as film star Mary Dale in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Red Scare on Sunset.” He was honored in 2017 for the one-man show, “Buyer & Cellar,” also at Stray Dog.

For costume designs, Lou Bird won for The Rep’s “Born Yesterday” vintage wardrobe in the play category and there was a tie in the musical category between Leon Dobkowski, who won for The Muny’s colorful “The Wiz,” and Darryl Harris for the elegant “Crowns: A Gospel Musical” at The Black Rep.

There was another tie in sound design in a play – besides “Streetcar,” Rusty Wandall won for Lucas Hnath’s contemporary “The Humans” at The Rep.

Laurie McConnell, left, as Birdie Hubbard in “The Little Foxes.” Photo by Patrick HuberIn drama, Laurie McConnell won Supporting Actress as forlorn
Birdie Hubbard in St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s production of Lillian Hellman’s “The
Little Foxes.” She won in 2017 for Supporting Actress in a Musical, for her portrayal
of Joanne in “Company” at Insight Theatre Company.

Eric Dean White as Satan and Chris Ware as Judas. Photo by Ann AuerbachEric Dean White, a previous nominee, won Supporting Actor for playing the slick, smooth, haughty and conniving Satan in “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” at Mustard Seed Theatre.

Ron Himes in “Fences”

Another previous nominee and winner, Ron Himes won Outstanding Actor as bitter garbage collector Troy in August Wilson’s “Fences at The Black Rep last winter. In 2014, The Black Rep won best ensemble and production for “The Whipping Man.”

The Black Rep’s “Torn Asunder” best new playThe Black Rep also won Best New Play for Nikkole Salter’s “Torn
Asunder,” which dramatized true stories of newly emancipated African Americans
trying to overcome the vestiges of slavery so they could reconnect with their
families.

Joy Boland won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the imposing villainess sea witch in Variety Theater’s “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.”

Beth Leavel as Mama Rose in “Gypsy.” Photo by Philip Hamer.For their powerhouse musical performances, Corbin Bleu won Outstanding Actor as the fleet-footed matinee idol Don Lockwood in “Singin’ in the Rain” and Beth Leavel was honored as the controlling stage parent Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” both at The Muny.

Corbin Bleu in “Singin’ in the Rain” at The Muny. Photo by Phil Hamer.Leavel had been nominated three times before (“Hello Dolly!” “Oklahoma!” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” all at the Muny. She is currently performing on Broadway in a St. Louis-produced original musical, “The Prom.”

Stephanie Merritt and Kent Coffel in “The Light in the Piazza” Kent Coffel won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance as well-meaning haberdasher Signor Naccarelli, Fabrizio’s father, in “The Light in the Piazza,” presented by R-S Theatrics in its St. Louis regional premiere.

Anything Goes at New Line Theatre. Photo by Jill Ritter LindbergTying with “Evita” for musical ensemble was New Line Theatre’s vivacious “Anything Goes.”

It was a three-peat for Ruggiero, who won for directing “Evita,” and had previously been honored for The Rep’s productions of “Follies” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”

“Regina” at OTSL was Outstanding Opera ProductionIn the opera categories, Opera Theatre of St. Louis was honored
for both Outstanding Achievement in Opera, which was given to director Patricia
Racette for “La Traviata,” and the Mark Blitzstein adaptation of “The Little Foxes”
— “Regina,” as Outstanding Production of an Opera.
Three special awards were bestowed:  To the
Muny for a century of performances celebrated during its centennial season of
2018; to Kathleen Sitzer, founder and long-time artistic director of the New
Jewish Theatre, for lifetime achievement; and to Steven Woolf, Augustin
artistic director of The Rep for more than 30 years, also for lifetime
achievement.

Sitzer retired after New Jewish Theatre’s 2017-18 season, while Woolf will retire after The Rep’s 2018-19 season this spring. Organized in 2012, the St. Louis Theater Circle includes founding members Steve Allen of stagedoorstl.com, Mark Bretz of the Ladue News, Robert A. Cohn of the St. Louis Jewish Light, Chris Gibson of Broadway World, Gerry Kowarsky of HEC-TV’s “Two on the Aisle,” Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX, Judith Newmark, now of judyacttwo.com, Ann Pollack of stlouiseats.typepad.com, Lynn Venhaus, now of St. Louis Limelight magazine, Bob Wilcox of HEC-TV’s Two on the Aisle, and Calvin Wilson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tina Farmer of KDHX and Michelle Kenyon of snoopstheatrethoughts.com. Eleanor Mullin is the administrator.

Those who helped produce the show at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University included Andrea Torrence and Peggy Holly, who put together the slide show; awards assistance Hannah Daines, stage manager Alycia Martin and assistant stage manager Delaney Dunster, voice-over announcer Colin Nichols and box office assistants Kimberly Sansone and Harry Ginsburg.

Renowned local musician Joe Dreyer was the accompanist and Deborah Sharn performed an opening number.

Special thanks to Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, Price Waterhouse Cooper LLC, who tabulate the Circle ballots, and to the awards certificate calligrapher Susan Zenner.

Contact the Circle by email: [email protected] and like us on Facebook.

Evita at The RepInto the Breeches! at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

“La Traviata” at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Unexpectedly charming and heartfelt, the experimental but relatable “Well”
breaks the fourth wall just enough to easily win over the audience.

In fact, the disarming play purported to be about health
and wellness is more like a fluid, thought-provoking conversation that pulls us
in – and a running internal monologue by the lead character, playwright Lisa
Kron, about family and neighbors, and in sickness and in health.

The keen Katy Keating is endearing as the exasperated Lisa,
whose ailing mother presses all her buttons and she turns into the perpetual
angsty and whiny 13-year-old she once was and has been desperately trying to
shed that old fragile skin ever since.

Lisa tries to convince us that her latest creation –
expanded as a change of pace from her one-woman shows – is “a multi-character
theatrical exploration of issues of health and illness both in the individual
and in the community.”

But really, the complicated mother-daughter relationship is
its foundation, with a side trip into their racially integrated neighborhood in
Lansing, Mich., which was spearheaded by her compassionate, liberal mother.

Mom Ann (Lori Adams) has the usual aches and pains
associated with aging, but she suffers from some sort of undiagnosed ailment
that appears to be like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. She is
convinced allergies keep her homebound and infirmed.

She’s made her recliner the point of operations. She perks
up watching ice skating and giving her daughter pearls of wisdom.

Mom, in her current state, seems like a kind senior citizen
whose days pass without much consequence. But every so often, she has a burst
of energy.

As played by Adams, Ann would have been quite a Mom force in the neighborhood back in the day – and we would have taken an instant shine to her. Here, we wish the frail Mom would get better so she could be productive. But she’s lovable in that earth mother kind of way.

If Lisa would get out of her own way, she’d be more confident and less tied to the past. But it’s fun to see childhood memories spring from her talented castmates. And that’s a whole other tangent. She’s searching for answers that she might never be satisfied with, ever. (If she’d only listen to Mom — and herself.)

Mom tries not to intrude but does indeed pull focus in their wonderfully lived-in middle-class Midwestern-appointed living room, deftly decorated by scenic designer Bess Moynihan and props master Laura Skroska — the rabbit tchotchke! The dainty appliqued afghan!

The pair work beautifully together and convey that longstanding complex mother and daughter relationship so well.

The entire ensemble is first-rate, with Leslie Wobbe, Carl Overly Jr., Robert Thibault and Alicia Reve Like effortlessly transitioning into different characters – severely allergic patients, old neighbors, and even themselves.

But the formidable anchor is Katy, whose sincerity and natural affability carry the show. We root for her and believe in her, despite her wrestling with personal torment. Katy, who is such an intuitive performer, can go through a gamut of emotions in a nano-second.

Director Deanna Jent knows how to extract nuanced work from her players, and she has adroitly staged this show for maximum effect.

We’re engaged by the material, yes, but we’re also captivated by the production elements.

Playwright Kron is an interesting writer, allowing herself
to be transparent in her works. No wonder she won two Tony Awards for the book
and lyrics to the musical “Fun Home.” In 2004, she wrote “Well,” which was
produced off-Broadway. Two years later, it was on Broadway.

Her clever style works well in Mustard Seed Theatre’s Blackbox theater, and the production team’s attention to detail is superb, with Michael Sullivan’s lighting design and Zoe Sullivan’s sound design enhancing the setting. Costumes by Jane Sullivan are appropriate to the story.

Witty and whimsical, serious and playful, “Well” is a
multi-layered discourse that is both fresh and familiar. And it hits close to
home because of its captivating cast.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents “Well” by Lisa Kron Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. March 1 – March 17 in the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre. For more information, visit www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

Katy Keating, Carl Overly Jr. and Alicia Reve Like. Photo by Ann Auerbach.

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorWe Are Family — that’s the running theme of several productions opening or continuing their runs: “August: Osage County” at Kirkwood Theatre Guild, “La Cage Aux Folles” at New Line Theatre, “Farce of Habit” at KTK Productions and “Well” at Mustard Seed Theatre.And also the family that you make — “Company” at Over Due, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, “Avenue Q” at the Playhouse at Westport and “The Glitter Girls” at Webster Groves.The Carole King musical “Beautiful” comes to the Fox for a limited run and “Nonsense and Beauty” opens at The Rep’s Studio Theatre.Whether it’s deep-diving drama or lighthearted comedy, or catchy musicals that you are in the mood for, GO SEE A PLAY!

Photo by Lori Biehl“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”O’Fallon Theatre WorksMarch 1-3 and 8-10Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.O’Fallon City HallTickets: www.ofallon.mo.usTickets are on sale now at the Renaud Spirit Center and at the box office, which opens one hour before each show.What It’s About: Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with a funny book by Rachel Sheinkin and a vibrant musical score by William Finn.

An eclectic group of six adolescents vies for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get juice boxes.

A riotous ride complete with audience participation, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a fast-paced crowd-pleasing comedy.

Director: Melissa Boyer, with music director Wendi Dicken and choreographer Cameron Bopp.Starring: Ann Hier Brown, Mark Killmer, Benni Jillette, James McKinzie, Ben Ketcherside, Josh Towers, Hayden Hays, Mia Porcelli and Stefanie Kluba. 

“August: Osage County”Kirkwood Theatre GuildMarch 8 – 17Roger G. Reim Theatre111 S. Geyer Roadwww.ktg-onstage.org314-821-9956What It’s About: Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best New Play, “August: Osage County” centers around the Weston family, brought together after their patriarch, world-class poet and alcoholic, Beverly Weston, disappears. The matriarch, Violet, depressed and addicted to pills and “truth-telling,” is joined by her three daughters who harbor their own deep secrets. More family arrives, equally well-trained in the Weston family art of cruelty. Bursting with humor, vivacity and intelligence.

“Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport PlazaJan. 25 – March 17www.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.

Sarah Bockel as Carole King.“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”Fox TheatreMarch 12-17Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Matinee March 14 at 1 p.m.What It’s About: The life of composer Carole King.

“Company”Over Due TheatreMarch 1-3, 8-108 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. SundayOlivette Community Center9723 Grandview314-210-2959www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: First produced in 1970, Company was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical. Company takes an unvarnished look at marriage through the eyes of Bobby who, unmarried on his thirty-fifth birthday, finds himself lost in the company of his married friends. With his trademark wit and sophistication, Stephen Sondheim examines the flawed nature of human relationships as Bobby journeys towards the realization that, in spite of all of his friends’ failings, there is no point in “Being Alive” unless he has someone with whom to share it.

“Farce of Habit”KTK ProductionsMarch 8 – 17Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. St. John the Baptist Church 4200 Delorwww.kurtainkall.org314-351-8984 What It’s About: This absurdly funny Southern-fried romp takes us back to the Reel ‘Em Inn fishing lodge where this bizarre family guides you through a new series of preposterous events in “Farce of Habit.” Add to the original characters a gaggle of nuns on retreat, a nationally known relationship guru, a shy retiree and a couple of women who may (or may not be) who they claim to be. Throw in an approaching “storm of the century” and the fact that there is an axe murderer on the loose and you will be laughing your way through the lunacy of another Jones, Hope and Wooten comedy.

“The Glitter Girls”Alton Little TheaterMarch 1- 10Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.2450 North Henry in Alto618.462.6562www.altonlittletheater.org.

What It’s About: A brand new play economically described as “Steel Magnolias” meets “Survivor,” with a big dose of quirky humor thrown in for good measure. A strong ensemble play, which questions the wisdom of sudden wealth and the bonds of friendship.

Of Note: Sunday, March 10 is sold out.

Robert Doyle and Zak Farmer. Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg.“La Cage Aux Folles”New Line TheatreFeb. 28 – March 23Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drivewww.newlinetheatre.com

Tickets: MetroTix.com

What It’s About: What happens when the son of a middle-aged gay couple brings home the daughter of an arch-conservative politician — and her parents — for dinner? Musical comedy ensues.

“La Cage Aux Folles” takes place on the French Riviera for a night of love, laughs, illusions and truths, and the triumph of family over bullies and bigots.

Based on the 1973 French play and its 1978 film adaptation, “La Cage Aux Folles” tells the story of a middle-aged show business couple, grappling with aging, fidelity, kids, and holding on to their dignity when the world around them would rather strip it away. At the center is Georges, a St. Tropez nightclub owner, and his husband Albin, who is also the club’s erratic headliner Zaza. When Georges’ son gets engaged to the daughter of a right-wing politician, we see the politics and culture wars of 2019, at their most ridiculous and most fevered, onstage right in front of us.

Director: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music direction by Nicolas Valdez and choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack.Starring: Zachary Allen Farmer (Albin/Zaza), Robert Doyle (Georges), Kevin Corpuz (Jean-Michel), Tielere Cheatem (Jacob), Zora Vredeveld (Anne), Kent Coffel (M. Dindon), Mara Bollini (Mme. Dindon), Lindsey Jones (Jacqueline), Joel Hackbarth (Francis), and as the notorious Cagelles – Jake Blonstein, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor, Evan Fornachon, Tim Kaniecki, Clayton Humburg, and Ian McCreary..

Of Note: In its original 1983 production, the show was a safely old-fashioned musical comedy. But in its 2008 London revival and 2010 Broadway revival, the show was transformed from a lightweight comedy into a more serious story with a lot of laughs.

The original 1983 Broadway production ran four years and 1,761 performances. The show received nine Tony nominations and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book — beating out Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. It’s been revived on Broadway and in London multiple times.

. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.“Nonsense and Beauty”The Repertory Theatre of St. LouisEmerson Studio TheatreMarch 6 – 24www.repstl.org314-What It’s About: In 1930, the writer E.M. Forster met and fell in love with a policeman 23 years his junior. Their relationship, very risky for its time, evolved into a 40-year love triangle that was both turbulent and unique. Based on a true story, Nonsense and Beauty captures the wit and wisdom of one of the last century’s great writers. This world premiere was developed as part of The Rep’s 2018 Ignite! Festival of New Plays.Director: Seth GordonStarring: Jeffrey Hayenga, Robbie Simpson, John Feltch, Lori Vega and Donna Weinsting.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”The Theatre Guild of Webster GrovesMarch 1-3, 7-10Shows at 8 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 517 Theatre Lane, Webster GrovesTickets are available only at the door (cash or check). Sorry, we do not take advanced reservationswww.theatreguildwg.org 314-962-0876

What It’s About: Ken Kesey’s iconic counter-culture novel is set in a psychiatric hospital, where convicted criminal McMurphy winds up. He challenges authority and changes patients’ lives. This is the play adaptation, which was turned into an Oscar-winning film.

Director: Jessica Johns-Kelly.

Starring: Jerry Crump, Matthew Linhardt, Betsy Gasoske, Greg Savel, Tyler Crandall, Hal Morgan, Jason Blackburn, David Eiben, Christian Davis, Sherre Ward, Scott Ewers, Russ Leonard, Donald Kidd, Aaron Mermelstein, Noreen Ann G. Rhodes and Amie Bossi.

Of Note: This show contains content not suitable for children.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is very old historic building with many steps and is not handicapped or wheelchair accessible.

“Twelfth Night”St. Charles Community CollegeMarch 6 – 10Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.SCC Center Stage Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building on the campus at 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottlevillewww.stchas.edu636-922-8050 What It’s About: Stranded on the coast of Illyria, the quick-witted Viola assumes the disguise of a pageboy for Duke Orsino and finds herself at the center of an explosive love triangle in which identity, passion and gender all threaten to come undone. Bursting with vitality and romance, this delightful abbreviated version of “Twelfth Night” gives us one of Shakespeare’s most remarkable heroines matching wits with a host of captivating characters–from the love-struck Olivia to the puritanical Malvolio.

“Two Degrees”Tesseract Theatre CompanyMarch 8 – 17Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtownwww.tesseracttheatre.org

What It’s About: In a new play by Tira Palmquist, , Emma Phelps is a paleoclimatologist, focusing on ice in Greenland. In drilling and studying ice core samples, she sees first hand the symptoms of our changing planet, which makes the need to act all the more crucial and urgent. In addition to her growing sense of urgency for the planet, Emma, as a recent widow, experiences grief that compounds itself with each passing month. Now she’s been asked to come to Washington D.C. to testify in a Senate Committee regarding climate change legislation, and in this intersection of science and politics, of politics and the personal, she finds more than just a little is breaking up under the strain of change.

“Well”Mustard Seed TheatreFontbonne Fine Arts Theatre314-719-8060www.mustardseedtheatre.com

What It’s About: Lisa Kron’s experimental play intends to explore racial and religious integration and cultural concepts of health. She does not want to talk about her Mother, who unexpectedly joins her on stage. What could possibly go wrong?

Director: Deanna Jent

Starring: Lori Adams, Katy Keating, Alicia Reve Like, Carl Overly Jr., Robert Thibault and Leslie Wobbe.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
The March winds are blowing in snow and ice, with productions starting strong,
and there is a mix of classic musicals, hard-hitting dramas and hilarious
comedies on local stages.

It’s the last weekend to catch the absorbing “Oslo” at the
Rep, the tenth anniversary “Rock of Ages” tour comes to The Fox, and “Avenue Q”
is extended at The Playhouse at Westport. New musicals opening include “The 25th
Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Company,” “La Cage Aux Folles.”
Wash U continues with “Angels in America” and SLU presents “The Misanthrope.”

“Well” opens at Mustard Seed Theatre, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, and “The Glitter Girls” at Alton
Little Theatre. The Black Rep’s “Milk Like Sugar” continues at The Black Rep.

Roar back and go see a play!

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” O’Fallon Theatre Works March 1-3 and 8-10 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon City Hall Tickets: www.ofallon.mo.us Tickets are on sale now at the Renaud Spirit Center and at the box office, which opens one hour before each show. What It’s About: Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with a funny book by Rachel Sheinkin and a vibrant musical score by William Finn.

An eclectic group of six adolescents vies for the spelling
championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching
stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of
(potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing,
pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling
mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get juice
boxes.

A riotous ride complete with audience participation, “The
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a fast-paced crowd-pleasing comedy.

Director: Melissa Boyer, with music director Wendi Dicken and choreographer Cameron Bopp. Starring: Ann Hier Brown, Mark Killmer, Benni Jillette, James McKinzie, Ben Ketcherside, Josh Towers, Hayden Hays, Mia Porcelli and Stefanie Kluba.

FRIDAY, FEB. 1, 2019 – This is a promotional photo for “Angels in America” by Washington University’s Performing Arts Department. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./WUSTL Photos “Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches” The Performing Arts Department at Washington University Feb. 22 – March 3 Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Edison Theatre Tickets: 314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu What It’s About: an epic that ranges from earth to heaven; focuses on politics, sex and religion; transports us to Washington, the Kremlin, the South Bronx, Salt Lake City and Antarctica; deals with Jews, Mormons, WASPs, blacks; switches between realism and fantasy, from the tragedy of AIDS to the camp comedy of drag queens to the death or at least the absconding of God.

“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.

“Company” Over Due Theatre March 1-3, 8-10 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: First produced in 1970, Company was
nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six, including Best
Musical. Company takes an unvarnished look at marriage through the eyes of
Bobby who, unmarried on his thirty-fifth birthday, finds himself lost in the
company of his married friends. With his trademark wit and sophistication,
Stephen Sondheim examines the flawed nature of human relationships as Bobby
journeys towards the realization that, in spite of all of his friends’
failings, there is no point in “Being Alive” unless he has someone with whom to
share it.

“The Glitter Girls” Alton Little Theatre March 1- 10 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alto 618.462.6562 www.altonlittletheater.org.

What It’s About: A brand new play economically described as
“Steel Magnolias” meets “Survivor,” with a big dose of quirky humor thrown in
for good measure. A strong ensemble play, which questions the wisdom of sudden
wealth and the bonds of friendship.  

“La Cage Aux Folles” New Line Theatre Feb. 28 – March 23 Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drivewww.newlinetheatre.com

Tickets: MetroTix.com

What It’s About: What happens when the son of a middle-aged
gay couple brings home the daughter of an arch-conservative politician — and
her parents — for dinner? Musical comedy ensues.

“La Cage Aux Folles” takes place on the French Riviera for
a night of love, laughs, illusions and truths, and the triumph of family over
bullies and bigots.

Based on the 1973 French play and its 1978 film adaptation,
“La Cage Aux Folles” tells the story of a middle-aged show business couple,
grappling with aging, fidelity, kids, and holding on to their dignity when the
world around them would rather strip it away. At the center is Georges, a St.
Tropez nightclub owner, and his husband Albin, who is also the club’s erratic
headliner Zaza. When Georges’ son gets engaged to the daughter of a right-wing
politician, we see the politics and culture wars of 2019, at their most
ridiculous and most fevered, onstage right in front of us.

Director: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez and choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae
Womack.
Starring: Zachary Allen Farmer (Albin/Zaza), Robert Doyle (Georges), Kevin
Corpuz (Jean-Michel), Tielere Cheatem (Jacob), Zora Vredeveld (Anne), Kent
Coffel (M. Dindon), Mara Bollini (Mme. Dindon), Lindsey Jones (Jacqueline),
Joel Hackbarth (Francis), and as the notorious Cagelles – Jake Blonstein,
Dominic Dowdy-Windsor, Evan Fornachon, Tim Kaniecki, Clayton Humburg, and Ian
McCreary..

Of Note: In its original 1983 production, the show was a
safely old-fashioned musical comedy. But in its 2008 London revival and 2010
Broadway revival, the show was transformed from a lightweight comedy into a
more serious story with a lot of laughs.

The original 1983 Broadway production ran four years and
1,761 performances. The show received nine Tony nominations and won six,
including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book — beating out Sondheim’s
Sunday in the Park with George. It’s been revived on Broadway and in London
multiple times.

“Milk Like Sugar”

 “The Misanthrope” Saint Louis University TheatreFeb. 28 – March 3Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box501 N. Grand Blvd.Tickets through metrotix.com or 314.534-1111.

What It’s About: This Molière classic looks at the hypocrisy of society and the consequences of total honesty and will be directed by Lucy Cashion.Of Note: The additional Saturday matinee was scheduled due to the limited seating at the venue. A seating policy is in place for this production: unfilled seats will be released 7 minutes prior to the start of the show.Yourcooperation is appreciated.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves March 1-3, 7-10 Shows at 8 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves Tickets are available only at the door (cash or check). Sorry, we do not take advanced reservations www.theatreguildwg.org 314-962-0876

What It’s About: Ken Kesey’s iconic counter-culture novel
is set in a psychiatric hospital, where convicted criminal McMurphy winds up.
He challenges authority and changes patients’ lives. This is the play adaptation,
which was turned into an Oscar-winning film.

Director: Jessica Johns-Kelly.

Starring: Jerry Crump, Matthew Linhardt, Betsy Gasoske,
Greg Savel, Tyler Crandall, Hal Morgan, Jason Blackburn, David Eiben, Christian
Davis, Sherre Ward, Scott Ewers, Russ Leonard, Donald Kidd, Aaron Mermelstein,
Noreen Ann G. Rhodes and Amie Bossi.

Of Note: This show contains content not suitable for
children.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is very old historic
building with many steps and is not handicapped or wheelchair assessable.

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.

“Rock of Ages” The Fox Theatre March 1-3 Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm,. The Fox Theatre is at 527 North Grand in Grand Centerwww.fabulousfox.com What It’s About: Nominated for five Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Rock of Ages” captures the iconic era that was the big bad 1980s Hollywood. Know What Love Is, Feel the Noise, and Take Your Best Shot at one of the Sunset Strip’s last epic venues, a place where the legendary Stacee Jaxx returns to the stage and rock-n-roll dreamers line up to turn their fantasies into reality. Featuring the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister, and Whitesnake among many others, this Tenth Anniversary production features a dynamic new cast revisiting the larger than life characters and exhilarating story that turned the musical into a global phenomenon. This is one for the ages that will have you singing “Here I Go Again.”

“Well” Mustard Seed Theatre Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre 314-719-8060www.mustardseedtheatre.com What It’s About: Lisa Kron’s experimental play intends to explore racial and religious integration and cultural concepts of health. She does not want to talk about her Mother, who unexpectedly joins her on stage. What could possibly go wrong?

ST. LOUIS, January 25, 2019 
— The musical Evita, which opened the 51st season of
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis last September, and the Tennessee Williams
Festival’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire each has garnered 11
nominations to lead the list of contenders for the seventh annual St. Louis
Theater Circle Awards.

Winners in more than 30 different categories covering comedies,
dramas and musicals will be announced at the awards ceremony on Monday, March
25 at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, home of
The Rep.  In addition, nominations also
have been announced for two categories in opera.

Tickets once again will be $15 apiece and can be obtained
through Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com
or at the Loretto-Hilton Center box office on the night of the event.
Llywelyn’s Catering will offer a selection of snack boxes, desserts and drinks
available on a pay-as-you-go basis at the event.

The Rep leads the way with a total of 21 nominations,
followed by 18 for The Muny and Stray Dog Theatre’s 15 nominees.  Some 23 local professional companies received
nominations for 54 different shows.  A
total of 120 artists have been nominated, including 10 who received two
nominations apiece. The awards honor outstanding achievement in locally
produced professional theater for the calendar year 2018.

In addition, three special awards have been announced:  To The Muny for a century of performances
celebrated during its centennial season of 2018; to Kathleen Sitzer, founder
and long-time artistic director of the New Jewish Theatre, for lifetime
achievement; and to Steven Woolf, Augustin artistic director of The Rep for
more than 30 years, also for lifetime achievement.

Sitzer retired following the conclusion of her company’s
2017-18 season, while Woolf will be retiring at the conclusion of The Rep’s
2018-19 season this spring.

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

Nominations for the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are
divided into categories for musicals, dramas, comedies and opera.  Nearly 130 locally produced professional
theatrical productions were presented in the St. Louis area in 2018.

The nominees for the seventh annual St. Louis Theater Circle
Awards are:

Outstanding
Ensemble in a Comedy

Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Stray Dog Theatre

The Realistic Joneses, Rebel and Misfits Productions

Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Kari Ely, Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis

Carmen Garcia, Luchadora!, Mustard Seed Theatre with
Theatre Nuevo

Jennelle Gilreath, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,
Stray Dog Theatre

Katy Keating, Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

Shannon Nara, Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding
Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Gary Wayne Barker, Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare
Festival St. Louis

Isaiah Di Lorenzo, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,
St. Louis Shakespeare

Brad Fraizer, A Christmas Story, Repertory Theatre of
St. Louis

Stephen Henley, Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog
Theatre

Carl Overly Jr., Luchadora!, Mustard Seed Theatre
with Theatre Nuevo

Outstanding
Actress in a Comedy

Sarajane Alverson, Raging Skillet, New Jewish Theatre

Michelle Hand, Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis

Nancy Nigh, Every Brilliant Thing, R-S Theatrics

Ruth Pferdehirt, Born Yesterday, Repertory Theatre of
St. Louis

Heather Sartin, The Great Seduction, West End Players
Guild

Outstanding Actor
in a Comedy

Will Bonfiglio, Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog
Theatre

Alan Knoll, An Act of God, New Jewish Theatre

Luke Steingruby, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,
Stray Dog Theatre

Robert Thibaut, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,
St. Louis Shakespeare

Pete Winfrey, The Importance of Being Earnest,
Insight Theatre Company

Outstanding
Director of a Comedy

Gary F. Bell, Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog Theatre

Nancy Bell, Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis

Edward Coffield, Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

Pamela Hunt, Born Yesterday, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis

Anna Skidis Vargas, Luchadora!, Mustard Seed Theatre
with Theatre Nuevo

Outstanding
Production of a Comedy

Born Yesterday, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

Luchadora!, Mustard Seed Theatre with Theatre Nuevo

Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding
Ensemble in a Drama

As It Is in Heaven, Mustard Seed Theatre

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Mustard Seed Theatre

The Little Foxes, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Macbeth: Come Like Shadows, Rebel and Misfits
Productions

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Festival
St. Louis

Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Drama

Nicole Angeli, Doctor Faustus, or the Modern Prometheus,
SATE

Lana Dvorak, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee
Williams Festival St. Louis

Laurie McConnell, The Little Foxes, St. Louis Actors’
Studio

Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Silent Sky, Insight Theatre
Company

Brandi Threatt, Torn Asunder, The Black Rep

Outstanding
Supporting Actor in a Drama

Chuck Brinkley, The Little Foxes, St. Louis Actors’
Studio

Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Tribes, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Thom Niemann, Admissions, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis

Spencer Sickmann, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee
Williams Festival St. Louis

Eric Dean White, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,
Mustard Seed Theatre

Outstanding
Actress in a Drama

Elizabeth Birkenmeier, Blackbird, St.
Louis Actors’ Studio

Sophia Brown, A Streetcar Named Desire,
Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Kari Ely, The Little Foxes, St. Louis
Actors’ Studio

LaShunda Gardner, Torn Asunder, The
Black Rep

Angela Ingersoll, End of the Rainbow,
Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Actor
in a Drama

Ron Himes, Fences, The Black Rep

Nick Narcisi, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee
Williams Festival St. Louis

John Pierson, Blackbird, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Rob Riordan, New Jerusalem, New Jewish Theatre

David Wassilak, The Dresser, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding
Director of a Drama

Lorna Littleway, Fences, The Black Rep

Bobby Miller, The Dresser, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Tim Ocel, New Jerusalem, New Jewish Theatre

Tim Ocel, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee
Williams Festival St. Louis

Annamaria Pileggi, Blackbird, St. Louis Actors’
Studio

Outstanding
Production of a Drama

Blackbird, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

End of the Rainbow, Max & Louie Productions

Fences, The Black Rep

New Jerusalem, New Jewish Theatre

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Festival
St. Louis

Outstanding Set
Design in a Play

Dunsi
Dai, End of the Rainbow, Max & Louie Productions

Gianni
Downs, The Humans, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Peter
and Margery Spack, Blow, Winds, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Peter
and Margery Spack, Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

James
Wolk, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding
Costume Design in a Play

Lou Bird, Born Yesterday, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Megan Harshaw, The Little Foxes, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Amy Hopkins, Red Scare on Sunset, Stray Dog Theatre

Michele Friedman Siler, Into the Breeches!, Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis

Michele Friedman Siler, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee
Williams Festival

Outstanding
Lighting Design in a Play

Rob
Lippert, Silent Sky, Insight Theatre Company

Jon
Ontiveros, Macbeth: Come Like Shadows, Rebel and Misfit Productions

Peter
E. Sargent, A Christmas Story, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sean
M. Savoie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Festival St.
Louis

Nathan
Schroeder, Silent Sky, West End Players Guild

Outstanding Sound
Design in a Play

James
Blanton, Silent Sky, Insight Theatre Company

Rusty
Wandall, A Christmas Story, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Rusty
Wandall, The Humans, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Amanda
Werre, Life Sucks, New Jewish Theatre

Amanda
Werre, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Set
Design in a Musical

Luke
Cantarella, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Dunsi
Dai, Crowns: A Gospel Musical, The Black Rep

Paul
Tate dePoo III, Singin’ in the Rain, The Muny

Michael
Schweikardt, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Muny

James
Wolk, Mamma Mia!, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding
Costume Design in a Musical

Leon
Dobkowski, The Wiz, The Muny

Colene
Fornachon, Anything Goes, New Line Theatre

Daryl
Harris, Crowns: A Gospel Musical, The Black Rep

Robin
L. McGee, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, The Muny

Alejo
Vietti, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding
Lighting Design in a Musical

Rob
Denton, Jersey Boys, The Muny

Rob
Denton, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Muny

Tyler
Duenow, Jesus Christ Superstar, Stray Dog Theatre

John
Lasiter, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sean
M. Savoie, Mamma Mia!, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding
Musical Director

Charlie Alterman, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis

Rick Bertone, Jersey Boys, The Muny

Jennifer Buchheit, The Robber Bridegroom, Stray Dog
Theatre

Charles Creath, Crowns: A Gospel Musical, The Black
Rep

Nicolas Valdez, Anything Goes, New Line Theatre

Outstanding
Choreographer

Camille A. Brown, The Wiz, The Muny

Tony Gonzalez, Mamma Mia!, Stages St. Louis

Dana Lewis, Oklahoma!, Stages St. Louis

Rommy Sandhu, Singin’ in the Rain, The Muny

Gustavo Zajac and Mariana Parma, Evita, Repertory
Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding
Ensemble in a Musical

Anything Goes, New Line Theatre

Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, The Muny

The Robber Bridegroom, Stray Dog Theatre

The Zombies of Penzance, New Line Theatre

Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Musical

Joy Boland, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Variety
Theatre

E. Faye Butler, The Wiz, The Muny

Julia Knitel, Gypsy, The Muny

Macia Noorman, The Light in the Piazza, R-S Theatrics

Megan Sikora, Singin’ in the Rain, The Muny

Outstanding
Supporting Actor in a Musical

Kent Coffel, The Light in the Piazza, R-S Theatrics

Matthew Curiano, Oklahoma!, Stages St. Louis

Zachary Allen Farmer, The Zombies of Penzance, New
Line Theatre

Nathan Lee Graham, The Wiz, The Muny

Sean MacLaughlin, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis

Outstanding
Actress in a Musical

Michele Aravena, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis

Sarah Ellis, Oklahoma!, Stages St. Louis

Beth Leavel, Gypsy, The Muny

Kay Love, The Light in the Piazza, R-S Theatrics

Sarah Porter, Anything Goes, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Actor
in a Musical

Corbin Bleu, Singin’ in the Rain, The Muny

Tielere Cheatem, The Light in the Piazza, R-S
Theatrics

Phil Leveling, The Robber Bridegroom, Stray Dog
Theatre

Pepe Nufrio, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Blake Price, Oklahoma!, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding
Director of a Musical

Justin Been, The Robber Bridegroom, Stray Dog Theatre

Linda Kennedy, Crowns: A Gospel Musical, The Black
Rep

Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, Anything Goes,
New Line Theatre

Josh Rhodes, Jersey Boys, The Muny

Rob Ruggiero, Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding
Production of a Musical

Anything Goes, New Line Theatre

Crowns:  A Gospel
Musical, The Black Rep

Evita, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Jersey Boys, The Muny

The Light in the Piazza, R-S Theatrics

Outstanding New
Play

Stacie Lents, Run-On Sentence, SATE

Scott Miller, The Zombies of Penzance, New Line
Theatre

Nikkole Salter, Torn Asunder, The Black Rep

John Wolbers, Doctor Faustus, or the Modern Prometheus,
SATE

Vladimir Zelevinsky, The Great Seduction, West End
Players Guild

Outstanding
Achievement in Opera

Susan Graham, Regina, Opera Theatre of
Saint Louis

Kenneth Overton, Lost in the Stars,
Union Avenue Opera

Susanna Phillips, Regina, Opera
Theatre of Saint Louis

Patricia Racette, La Traviata, Opera
Theatre of Saint Louis

Shaun Patrick Tubbs, Lost in the Stars,
Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding
Production of an Opera

An American Soldier, Opera Theatre of
Saint Louis

L’elisir d’amore, Winter Opera Saint
Louis

La Traviata, Opera Theatre of Saint
Louis

Lost in the Stars, Union Avenue Opera

Regina, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

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

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

                                                            ###

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and there are offerings to get you into the Christmas spirit — whether traditional like ‘A Christmas Carol” or “A Christmas Story,” or more humorous parodies, like Magic Smokey Monkey’s take on the stop-motion animation TV classics.
God’s a character in both Stray Dog’s “The Most Outrageous Story Ever Told” and New Jewish Theatre’s “An Act of God.:
Warm family-fare like “Annie” and “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming” are on community theater stages.
Whether you’re feeling like Scrooge (two productions) or ready to deck the halls (Church Basement Ladies, A Christmas Story), go see a play!
(Editor’s Note; Been having lots o’ computer problems, so this is late this week, but the good news is that a new laptop is ready to hook up! YAY. Apologize for delays.)
Alan Knoll in “An Act of God.” Photo by Eric Woolsey“An Act of God”
New Jewish Theater
Nov. 29 – Dec. 16
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Wool Studio Theatre
Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeurwww.newjewishtheatre.org
314-442-3283.
What It’s About: Delivering a new and improved set of Commandments, God’s introduction of the revised laws is positive, insisting on separation of church and state, and encouraging us to believe in ourselves, not some elderly white guy in the sky. He sets the record straight, and he’s not holding back.
Director: Edward Coffield
Starring: Alan Knoll, Cassidy Flynn and Amanda Wales
“All Is Calm”Mustard Seed Theatre
Nov. 15 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Sundays
Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
314-719-8060
What It’s About:  Celebrate the power of peace in this acapella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets.
Director: Deanna Jent
“Annie”
Clinton County Showcase
Dec. 7 – 16
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Avon Theatre
525 N. Second St., Breese, IL
www.ccshowcase.com
What It’s About: The sun will come out tomorrow…With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage that is run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heightswww.playhouseatwestport.com
MetroTix: www.metrotix.com or 314-534-1111
What It’s About: An all-new holiday show is set in 1959, on the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. During holiday preparations, the down-to-earth ladies are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present. Content to do things the way they have always been done, yet pondering new ideas, the reality of everyday life hits home as they plan the Sunday School Christmas Program.
As the children rehearse in the sanctuary, several of the ladies are in the kitchen finishing up the treat bags filled with apples, peanuts and ribbon candy while the others put the final touches on the nativity pieces. As they mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them.
Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!
Directors: Lee Anne Mathews and Emily Clinger, with music direction by Joseph Dreyer
Cast: Rosemary Watts, Lee Anne Mathews,
Of Note: Performances are Sundays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., Saturdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Additionally, tickets will be available at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more can call 314-616-4455 for special rates.
All five installments of the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies” are inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller “Growing Up Lutheran.”
“A Christmas Carol”Dec. 6 – 9
The Fox Theatre
Friday at 7: 30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m.www.fabulousfox.com
Tickets: MetroTix.com
What It’s About: An annual tradition, presenting Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey through time and space, forced to confront his past, present and future through the aid of his spiritual guides.
Of Note: The Nebraska Caravan production has 23 actors playing the characters.
“A Christmas Carol”
Dec. 6 – 9
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Looking Glass Playhouse
301 St. Louis St.
www.lookingglassplayhouse.com
“A Christmas Story”
Jerry Naunheim Jr. PhotoThe Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Nov. 28 – Dec. 23
Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.repstl.org
314-968-4925
What It’s About: “You’ll shoot your eye out”! An adaptation of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story” is about Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Filled with small-town family vignettes and colorful characters,
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Charlie Matthis, as nine-year-old Ralphie, and Ted Deasy, as the grown-up Ralph who narrates the play.
Brad Fraizer is The Old Man, Laurel Casillo is Mother, Spencer Slavik is younger brother Randy, Jo Twiss is Miss Shields. Tanner Gilbertson, Gigi Koster, Ana McAlister, Rhadi Smith and Dan J. Wolfe are featured child performers.
Of Note: The show had an acclaimed run at The Rep in 2009.
“Doomsday Faust”
Equally Represented Arts and
Dec. 5 – 8
Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive Street
What It’s About: A post-modern collage that re-imagines Marlowe’s tragic hero is an ambitious businessman who strikes a deal with the devil to become the most magical and powerful leader on the world stage. This is a re-imagined post-modern collage that says Faustus’ doomsday, as well as our own, is just on the horizon.
“The Holiday Stop-Motion Extravaganza Parody”Nov. 30 – Dec. 8
St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre
Regional Arts Commission  in University City
Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 5 and 6, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3739606
What It’s About: Join Rudolph, Santa, Hermey, Bumble, the Miser Bros and other wonderful misfits as they parody your favorite 1970s childhood holiday shows by Rankin/Bass. If you’ve ever had aspirations of becoming a dentist, this parody is for you! This parody includes: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “The Year Without Santa Claus.”
Director: Suki Peters
Starring: Ben Ritchie, Tyson Blanquart, Amy Kelly, Ron Strawbridge, Payton Gillam, Robert Thibaut, Stan Davis, Joseph Garner, Joseph Cella, Jeremy Branson, Shannon Nara, Cliff Turner and Mike Stephens.
Of Note: Magic Smoking Monkey is partnering with Shriner’s Hospital to help make the holidays merry and bright for children in the St. Louis area. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the box office with you on any night of the performance to be entered in a special drawing to win 4 tickets to a future Magic Smoking Monkey production.
“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”
Stray Dog Theatres’ The Most Outrageous Story Ever ToldStray Dog Theatre
Dec 6 – 22
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Special performance Wednesday, Dec. 19
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Ave.www.straydogtheatre.org
314-865-1995
What It’s About: This outlandish comedy by Paul Rudnick is about the first men on earth, Adam and Steve, and their lesbian friends Jane and Mabel, who decide to start civilization, despite the challenges. The stage manager, who might be God, leads them through the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, a visit with a Pharaoh and the Messiah’s birth.
Director:
Starring: Patrice Foster, Luke Steingruby, Jennelle Gilreath, Stephen Henley, Maria Bartolotta, Angela Bubash, Jeremy Goldmeier, Dawn Schmid.
Of Note: For mature audiences.
Stray Dog Theatre presents The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told Thursdays through Saturdays, December 6 – 22. There will also be a show at 8 pm on Wednesday, December 19. “First men on earth Adam and Steve and their lesbian friends Jane and Mabel decide to start civilization, despite the provocative challenges of procreation. They are led by the stage manager (who may be God) through the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, a visit with a highly rambunctious Pharaoh, and finally, the birth of the Messiah. This outlandish comedy is a perfect alternative holiday treat!” Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.
“Of Human Kindness – An Evening of Short Plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.,
Dec. 6 – 16
Black Mirror Theatre Company
Kranzberg Arts Center
Tickets: MetroTix.com
What It’s About: Discarded lives. Some bound by hate, some by indifference – all human. All true stories, true enough – informed by eye witnesses: the psychiatrist who spoke of his homeless clients’ longing to lead meaningful lives, or the homeless man who told of his need for validation; by the letters from Mom and Dad – advice on growing up Black in America, or of Saint Maria Skobtsova who had the Jewish children hidden in her trash emptied to freedom outside of the city – executed, among so many others, in Ravensbruck; or of Isabella, Sojourner Truth, a Dutch speaker, beaten by her English owners for not obeying orders she couldn’t understand yet she became an ardent, iconic American voice for equal treatment of all.
“Perfect Arrangement”R-S Theatrics
The Marcelle Theatre
Dec. 7 – 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m.
www.r-stheatrics.com
“Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming”
Alton Little Theatre
Dec. 7 – 16
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Alton Little Theatre, 2450 N. Henry in Alton
618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org
What It’s About: The Sanders Family, subject of the “Smoke on the Mountain” musicals, continue to be roles models of inspiration, humor and hope. Songs are a mix of Southern Gospel, hymns, country and bluegrass favorites from the World War II era.
“The Three Sisters”
Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts
Nov. 28 – Dec. 9
Wednesday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Emerson Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center
Webster University campus.www.webster.edu
314-968-7128
What It’s About: Adapted by Sarah Ruhl, the Chekhov play is about three sisters trapped in a provincial Russian town after the death of their father, and lament the passing of better times and long for the excitement of Moscow. One of them has married a local teacher; another has become a teacher herself; the third has settled for a dull job in the local telegraph office. Their principal interest is focused on the officers of the local regiment, of which their father had been commandant, men who bring a sense of sophistication and the world outside to their suppressed existence. In the end the fateful pattern of their lives is made clear –their dreams will be denied but, despite all, there must always be hope, however futile, and the ways of the world are to be accepted, if not understood
“Tribes”St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Nov. 30 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle.
314-458-2978
www.stlas.org
What It’s About: Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. He was raised inside its fiercely idiosyncratic and politically incorrect cocoon. He has adapted brilliantly to his family’s unconventional ways, but they’ve never bothered to return the favor. It’s not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood.
Director: Annamaria Pileggi
Starring: Miles Barbee, who is deaf; Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Bridget Bassa, Elizabeth Townsend, Greg Johnston and Hailey Medrano.
Of Note: This comedy-drama by Nina Raine was staged in London in 2010 and off-Broadway in 2012, winning the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play.
William Roth, founder and artistic director of St. Louis Actors’ Studio, has announced that they will donate $2 of each ticket price to Deaf Inc, St. Louis. Deaf Inc is dedicated to providing effective communication access to the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals in the St. Louis area. For more on this organization, visit www.deafinc.org.
Opening Night and all Sunday and Thursday performances will be sign-interpreted for our deaf patrons. Email [email protected] for details.
For more on Miles Barbee, visit www.milesbarbee.com.
“Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure”Metro Theatre Company
Dec. 2 – Dec. 30
The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center
www.metroplays.org
What It’s About: Part rock concert, part theater, all of your favorite characters as Metro Theater Company presents this new, wild and wondrous take on Lewis Carroll’s beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization. A cast of actors/musicians plays an eclectic mix of everything from soul and rock to punk to ska as Alice chases through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. A fun, hip, and refreshing fusion of music, theatre and poetry, it is the search for one’s authentic self, asking how can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you’re still writing the song? It places Alice in a strange, new world, where she conquers her fears and uses her musical skills to defeat the Jabberwock.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Fa la la la la! Local stages are the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. We have merry, bright and thoughtful holiday productions opening and continuing, so pick from the pile of presents under the tree – “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” “A Christmas Story,” “All is Calm.” “Away in a Basement: Church Basement Ladies Christmas” and a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” parody.
Comedies and dramas are presented by college theater departments: “The Crucible” at Saint Louis University, “Beyond Therapy” at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and “The Three Sisters” at Webster University.
For adult comedies pondering life, “Every Brilliant Thing” wraps up its run, “An Act of God” starts.
You are certain to find something that suits your tastes. Go see a play!
Alan Knoll in “An Act of God.” Photo by Eric Woolsey“An Act of God”
New Jewish Theater
Nov. 29 – Dec. 16
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Wool Studio Theatre
Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeurwww.newjewishtheatre.org
314-442-3283.
What It’s About: Delivering a new and improved set of Commandments, God’s introduction of the revised laws is positive, insisting on separation of church and state, and encouraging us to believe in ourselves, not some elderly white guy in the sky. He sets the record straight, and he’s not holding back.
Director: Edward Coffield
Starring: Alan Knoll
 
“All Is Calm”Ann K Photography“All Is Calm”
Mustard Seed Theatre
Nov. 15 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Sundays
Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
314-719-8060
What It’s About:  Celebrate the power of peace in this acapella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets.
Director: Deanna Jent
 “Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heightswww.playhouseatwestport.com
MetroTix: www.metrotix.com or 314-534-1111
What It’s About: An all-new holiday show is set in 1959, on the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. During holiday preparations, the down-to-earth ladies are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present. Content to do things the way they have always been done, yet pondering new ideas, the reality of everyday life hits home as they plan the Sunday School Christmas Program.
As the children rehearse in the sanctuary, several of the ladies are in the kitchen finishing up the treat bags filled with apples, peanuts and ribbon candy while the others put the final touches on the nativity pieces. As they mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them.
Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!
Directors: Lee Anne Mathews and Emily Clinger, with music direction by Joseph Dreyer
Cast: Rosemary Watts, Lee Anne Mathews,
Of Note: Performances are Sundays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., Saturdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Additionally, tickets will be available at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more can call 314-616-4455 for special rates.
All five installments of the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies” are inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller “Growing Up Lutheran.”
“Beyond Therapy”
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Nov. 28 – Dec. 2
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Dunham Hall Theater
618-650-2774
www.siue.edu
“A Christmas Carol”
Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Lindenwood University
Schediegger Center for the Arts, St. Charleswww.lindenwood.edu
What It’s About: An annual tradition, presenting Charles Dickens” “A Christmas Carol,” timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey through time and space, forced to confront his past, present and future through the aid of his spiritual guides.
“A Christmas Story”
Curtain’s Up Theater
Nov. 29 – Dec. 2
Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City
www.curtainsuptheater.com

 
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Nov. 28 – Dec. 23
Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.repstl.org
314-968-4925
What It’s About: “You’ll shoot your eye out”! An adaptation of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story” is about Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Filled with small-town family vignettes and colorful characters,
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Charlie Matthis, as nine-year-old Ralphie, and Ted Deasy, as the grown-up Ralph who narrates the play.
Brad Fraizer is The Old Man, Laurel Casillo is Mother, Spencer Slavik is younger brother Randy, Jo Twiss is Miss Shields. Tanner Gilbertson, Gigi Koster, Ana McAlister, Rhadi Smith and Dan J. Wolfe are featured child performers.
Of Note: The show had an acclaimed run at The Rep in 2009. “A Christmas Story”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Crucible”
St. Louis University Theatre
Nov. 29 – Dec. 2
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Xavier Hall, 3373 West Pine Mall
314-977-3327www.slu.edu/utheatre
Tickets through Metrotix.com or 314.534-1111 or at the door
What It’s About:  The 1953 Tony Award winner for Best Play is a powerful drama about the Salem witch trials. The story of one Puritan community reveals the destruction caused by mass hysteria and socially sanctioned violence.
Director: Lucy Cashion
“Every Brilliant Thing”R-S Theatrics
Nov. 16 – Dec. 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center black box theatre
www.r-stheatrics.com
What It’s About: When a six-year-old starts a list of every brilliant thing in life to encourage her despondent mother, little does she know that the list will take on a life of its own and thread its way throughout the girl’s life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this one-woman show reminds us to celebrate the beauty in our lives and in those we love.
Starring: Nancy Nigh
Ron james photo“The Holiday Stop-Motion Extravaganza Parody”
Nov. 30 – Dec. 8
St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre
Regional Arts Commission,  in University City
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 – 8 p.m. show; Dec. 2 – 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 5 and 6, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3739606
What It’s About: Join Rudolph, Santa, Hermey, Bumble, the Miser Bros and other wonderful misfits as they parody your favorite 1970s childhood holiday shows by Rankin/Bass. If you’ve ever had aspirations of becoming a dentist, this parody is for you! This parody includes: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “The Year Without Santa Claus.”
Director: Suki Peters
Of Note: Magic Smoking Monkey is partnering with Shriner’s Hospital to help make the holidays merry and bright for children in the St. Louis area.  Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the box office with you on any night of the performance to be entered in a special drawing to win 4 tickets to a future Magic Smoking Monkey production.
 “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Wentzville Christian Church Theatre Group
Nov. 29 – Dec. 1
Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at noon and 6 p.m.
Wentzville Christian Church, 1507 Highway Zwww.wentzvillecc.org
What It’s About: In our American culture It’s a Wonderful Life has become almost as familiar as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The story is a natural for a stage adaptation: the saga of George Bailey, the Everyman from the small town of Bedford Falls, whose dreams of escape and adventure have been quashed by family obligation and civic duty, whose guardian angel has to descent on Christmas Eve to save him from despair and to remind him-by showing him what the world would have been like had he never been born-that his has been, after all, a wonderful life.
“It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play”
Nov. 29 – Dec. 1
The Bankside Repertory Theatre Company                                                                                          The Jacoby Arts Center
627 E. Broadway in Alton
www.banksiderep.com
What It’s about: This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.
Starring: Spencer Sickman, Caitlin Mickey, Mindy Steinman Shaw, Scott Grady, Jack Dearborn, Steve Potter, Lorian Warford, Lorian Warford, Olivia Steele, and Nick Trapp.
“The Three Sisters”
Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts
Nov. 28 – Dec. 9
Wednesday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Emerson Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center
Webster University campus.www.webster.edu
314-968-7128
What It’s About: Adapted by Sarah Ruhl, the Chekhov play is about three sisters trapped in a provincial Russian town after the death of their father, and lament the passing of better times and long for the excitement of Moscow. One of them has married a local teacher; another has become a teacher herself; the third has settled for a dull job in the local telegraph office. Their principal interest is focused on the officers of the local regiment, of which their father had been commandant, men who bring a sense of sophistication and the world outside to their suppressed existence. In the end the fateful pattern of their lives is made clear –their dreams will be denied but, despite all, there must always be hope, however futile, and the ways of the world are to be accepted, if not understood
Actor Miles Barbee, provided photo“Tribes”
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Nov. 30 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle.
314-458-2978www.stlas.org
What It’s About: Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. He was raised inside its fiercely idiosyncratic and politically incorrect cocoon. He has adapted brilliantly to his family’s unconventional ways, but they’ve never bothered to return the favor. It’s not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood.
Director: Annamaria Pileggi
Starring: Miles Barbee, who is deaf; Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Bridget Bassa, Elizabeth Townsend, Greg Johnston and Hailey Medrano.
Of Note: This comedy-drama by Nina Raine was staged in London in 2010 and off-Broadway in 2012, winning the Drama Desk Award for Best New Play.
William Roth, founder and artistic director of St. Louis Actors’ Studio, has announced that they will donate $2 of each ticket price to Deaf Inc, St. Louis. Deaf Inc is dedicated to providing effective communication access to the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals in the St. Louis area. For more on this organization, visit www.deafinc.org.
Opening Night and all Sunday and Thursday performances will be sign-interpreted for our deaf patrons. Email [email protected] for details.
For more on Miles Barbee, visit www.milesbarbee.com.
Shannon Cothran and Alicia Reve Like“Wonderland: Alice’s Rock n Roll Adventure”
Metro Theatre Company
Dec. 2 – Dec. 30
The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center
www.metroplays.org
What It’s About: Part rock concert, part theater, all of your favorite characters as Metro Theater Company presents this new, wild and wondrous take on Lewis Carroll’s beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization. A cast of actors/musicians plays an eclectic mix of everything from soul and rock to punk to ska as Alice chases through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. A fun, hip, and refreshing fusion of music, theatre and poetry, it is the search for one’s authentic self, asking how can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you’re still writing the song? It places Alice in a strange, new world, where she conquers her fears and uses her musical skills to defeat the Jabberwock.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Happy Thanksgiving! Shows are dark Thursday so everyone can celebrate what the holiday means. As we pause to give thanks, seeing such diverse offerings on local stages any time of year is a blessing – such an abundance. This Thanksgiving holiday weekend has only a few shows available, but next week will begin a big theatrical push to wrap up the year.
But, there are shows to get you in the holiday spirit – via music and comedy, no matter what you are in the mood for – and you can enjoy this weekend with your family or friends. “A Christmas Story” starts Wednesday at The Rep.
Go See a Play!
“A Christmas Story”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Nov. 28 – Dec. 23
Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.repstl.org
What It’s About: “You’ll shoot your eye out”! An adaptation of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story” is about Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Filled with small-town family vignettes and colorful characters,
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Charlie Matthis, as nine-year-old Ralphie, and Ted Deasy, as the grown-up Ralph who narrates the play.
Brad Fraizer is The Old Man, Laurel Casillo is Mother, Spencer Slavik is younger brother Randy, Jo Twiss is Miss Shields. Tanner Gilbertson, Gigi Koster, Ana McAlister, Rhadi Smith and Dan J. Wolfe are featured child performers.
Of Note: The show had an acclaimed run at The Rep in 2009.
Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the new musical, music by Alan Menken, lyrrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Canada, starring: Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), James Monroe Iglehart (Genie), Courtney Reed (Jasmine), Brian Gonzales (Babkak), Brandon O’Neill (Kassim), Jonathan Schwartz (Omar), Clifton Davis (Sultan), Don Darryl Rivera (Iago), Merwin Foard (standby Jafar/Sultan), Michael James Scott (standby Genie/Babkak) and Jonathan Freeman (Jafar) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw“Aladdin”
The Fox Theatre
Nov. 7 – 25
527 N. Grand Blvd.www.fabulousfox.com
MetroTix or Fox box office.
What It’s About: A thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.
Ann K Photography“All Is Calm”
Mustard Seed Theatre
Nov. 15 – Dec. 16
Thursdays through Sundays
Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
314-719-8060
What It’s About:  Celebrate the power of peace in this acapella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets.
Director: Deanna Jent
Starring: Kent Coffel, Anthony Heinmann, Christopher Hickey, Greg Lhamon, Gerry Love, Michael Lowe, Sean Michael, Abraham Shaw, Jeff Wright
Of Note: This is the fifth time the musical has been presented.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”
The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6, no performance Thanksgiving Day
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heightswww.playhouseatwestport.com
MetroTix: www.metrotix.com or 314-534-1111
What It’s About: An all-new holiday show is set in 1959, on the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. During holiday preparations, the down-to-earth ladies are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present. Content to do things the way they have always been done, yet pondering new ideas, the reality of everyday life hits home as they plan the Sunday School Christmas Program.
As the children rehearse in the sanctuary, several of the ladies are in the kitchen finishing up the treat bags filled with apples, peanuts and ribbon candy while the others put the final touches on the nativity pieces. As they mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them.
Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!
Directors: Lee Anne Mathews and Emily Clinger, with music direction by Joseph Dreyer
Cast: Rosemary Watts, Lee Anne Mathews,
Of Note: Performances are Sundays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays* and Fridays at 2 p.m., Saturdays** and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Additionally, tickets will be available at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more can call 314-616-4455 for special rates.
All five installments of the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies” are inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller “Growing Up Lutheran.”
“Every Brilliant Thing”
R-S Theatrics
Nov. 16 – Dec. 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center black box theatre
www.r-stheatrics.com
What It’s About: When a six-year-old starts a list of every brilliant thing in life to encourage her despondent mother, little does she know that the list will take on a life of its own and thread its way throughout the girl’s life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this one-woman show reminds us to celebrate the beauty in our lives and in those we love.
Starring: Nancy Nigh