The J (St. Louis Community Center) is excited to welcome Rebekah Scallet as the New Jewish Theatre’s new artistic director. Scallet is excited to begin her New Jewish Theatre (NJT) career by producing the world-premiere of The Bee Play this September. Scallet replaces previous artistic director Edward Coffield.

Scallet brings years of theater experience to NJT through her previous work as the Producing Artistic Director at the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, a professional equity summer theatre festival part of the University of Central Arkansas. During that time, she produced 32 plays and musicals and directed eight productions. She also oversaw the creation of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s all-virtual “Revisiting Shakespeare,” an online festival celebrating and investigating Shakespeare and his work’s role and relevance today.

“I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at the New Jewish Theatre and the J. I believe theater is a vital tool in growing and strengthening communities, something the New Jewish Theatre has an incredible track record of doing through their work,” Scallet said.

Scallet moved to St. Louis two years ago and has been working as a freelance director and teacher, most recently with the Sargent Conservatory at Webster University where she directed The Learned Ladies. remembers visiting St. Louis and her grandparents many years ago as a child and remembers seeing her grandmother perform in a Yiddish play at the J.

“The J itself has also meant a lot to my family. Though I only moved to the area a couple of years ago, my family has deep St. Louis roots, and I have fond childhood memories of seeing my grandmother perform on stage here. The building and the theatre itself have changed a lot since then, but this is truly a full-circle moment for me, and I am excited to walk in my grandmother’s footsteps as I create and share stories with this community,” said Scallet.

Rebeka Scallet. Photo by Caroline Holt.

During her time at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, she was responsible for more than doubling theatre’s audience size, expanding their performance season, founding the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s Artistic Collective and establishing a hugely successful educational touring program. Her production of Twelfth Night for the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre won her the Arkansas Art Council’s Individual Artist Award.

Additionally, Scallet worked as the Producing Artistic Director at the University of Central Arkansas, where she also taught two to four courses per year and directed the theatre program every other year for the Department of Film, Theatre and Creative Writing. She also spent 10 years in Chicago working as a director, dramaturg, artistic administrator and teaching artist.

Scallet received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts and English and American Literature from Brandeis University in 2000. In 2009, she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Illinois State University.

Rebekah is involved in many community-led Jewish organizations. In St. Louis, she served on the L’Chaim Gala Planning Committee, which is the Women’s Philanthropy Division of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and is a member of the National Council for Jewish Women St. Louis. In Arkansas, she was involved with the Jewish Federation of Arkansas where she served as a Board of Trustee from 2012-2018 and served as Chair of the Events Division, including overseeing the 2019 Jewish Food and Cultural Festival.

EDWARD COFFIELD HEADED TO OHIO

From the former artistic director on Aug. 2, posted on the New Jewish Theatre Facebook page:

“Today is my last day as Artistic Director of the New Jewish Theatre. I have accepted an offer to join the faculty and staff at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, as Production Manager and to lead their Stage Management Program.

I’ve been so lucky to have worked with NJT for 20 years. I directed my first production, Crossing Delaney, in 2002, and became artistic director in 2018. I have watched the theatre grow and survive the pandemic when other theatres simply disappeared. The truth is not one individual can ever define the theatre’s success or resilience.

Eddie Coffield

I am honored to have served the theatre well and to be a part of its story. I have lived in St. Louis for 34 years, and I have made friends and colleagues that have meant a great deal to me along the way. I had the chance to create a lot of theatre in this community. I am thankful for the friends and colleagues that have been a part of my journey that has changed me for the better.

I leave behind an incredible theatre and a great theatre community. I hope you will all continue to support NJT – Please take care of NJT for me – it’s important to our community!

-Eddie Coffield


ABOUT THE J:

The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

For more information, visit jccstl.org

Montage of New Jewish Theatre Productions

By Lynn Venhaus

Playwright Ken Ludwig uses the written word like music in a symphony as his love letter to his parents, and actors Ryan Lawson-Maeske and Molly Burris make the heart-tugging “Dear Jack, Dear Louise” sing.

Now playing from June 9 to June 26 at the New Jewish Theatre, this dramatic comedy is an unexpected pleasure from its look back at an era of “The Greatest Generation” to its intimate love story that reinforces the power of human connection, no matter how many miles between.

With the help of the expressive performers who make the written words leap off the stationery, director Sharon Hunter has moved the pair around just enough in the confined space to keep focus on the two lonely souls forging a deep, long-lasting bond through war-time correspondence.

The challenge for Lawson-Maeske and Burris is to engage without making reading letters static, and they showcase their substantial skills for creating sincere portraits of two different personalities reaching out.

Lawson-Maeske, a two-time St. Louis Theater Circle awards nominee, for “Tribes” in 2018 and “Photograph 51” in 2020, is endearing as reserved U.S. Army Captain Jack Ludwig, stationed at a military hospital in Oregon, who writes a formal letter to Louise Rabiner, an aspiring dancer and actress in New York City, because his father suggested it. The dads know each other.

Ryan Lawson-Maeske. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

From her first response, it’s clear that Louise is a live wire, with a flair for the dramatic, and is without a filter in her missives. Webster Conservatory graduate Molly Burris seamlessly projects the Brooklyn-born chorus girl’s curiosity, grit, and sunny nature.

The outgoing Louise coaxes the more introverted doctor to share more about himself, and gradually he opens up. Thus begins a long-distance friendship that eventually turns into love over the course of several years, — 1942-1945, to be exact.

As the war escalates, so do Jack’s duties and thus, his presence in increasingly dangerous situations, as he is sent to the European front before they’ve had a chance to meet. His optimism has dissipated as he treats injured soldiers, and while Louise’s spunkiness keeps his spirits up through her caring, cheerful words, this is a love story set against the front lines of war.

As young people in their 20s, the two find common ground as pen pals, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. One of the warmest, most humorous exchanges is Louise’s adventures meeting Jack’s parents, his sister Betty, and his mother’s many sisters in his hometown of Coatesville, Pa.

Louise’s accounts of her audition successes and disappointments are vivid, and Jack’s frustration at not being granted a leave so they can finally meet to fulfill their plans for dinner and a show – and dancing – is palpable. Those plans keep being delayed, even by virtue of the story that we know has a happy ending, building suspense and tension as time passes (or runs out).

Before personal ads, email, texts and dating apps, people often met through acquaintances. Letters were the most common way to communicate across the miles – and have been explored eloquently in many pop culture hallmarks, like Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, the James Stewart-Margaret Sullavan romantic comedy “The Shop Around the Corner” (remade into “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in 1998) and the true-story based “84 Charing Cross Road” starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft in 1987.

Quaint by today’s standards, “Dear Jack, Dear Louise” is a sentimental journey that evokes warm memories of family members who developed similar relationships. My parents first met at a local teen hangout, then wrote letters when my dad was on a naval ship in the Pacific Ocean during the Korean War and married upon his return.

Jack and Louise are relatable, therefore we maintain interest – but that’s largely in part because sparks fly between Lawson-Maeske and Burris as they are in their rooms, no small feat. You can feel the anticipation of receiving a letter, the exhilaration after the mail arrives, and how worried Louise is when she doesn’t hear from Jack while he’s treating the wounded at other locations.

Dunsi Dai’s scenic design creates a character-driven tableau through their living quarters – conveying that he’s fastidious and she’s flamboyant. He effectively contrasts Jack’s austere military barracks with Louise’s colorful, cramped boarding house room. Vintage posters of plays and movies further enhance the old-timey ‘40s feel. To move our eyes upward, Dai has hung some of their outfits.

Molly Burris. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

The technical elements are topnotch, with Amanda Were’ sound design setting the mood with retro Big Band music and creating harrowing war action through battlefield action. Daniel LaRose’s lighting design is warm and welcoming, and Michele Friedman Siler’s period costume design successfully captures the character’s personal style.

The play’s lyrical qualities are no coincidence. Ludwig, who studied music at Harvard with Leonard Bernstein, has written the smash-hit farce “Lend Me a Tenor,” nine-time Tony Award winner in 1989 and its revival in 2010, as well as the book for the Gershwin musical “Crazy for You” in 1992 and the hilarious comedy “Moon Over Buffalo” in 1995. All are set in showbiz in another decade, so he is comfortable in the World War II setting. Ludwig is a two-time Olivier Award winner, by the way.

By drawing from hundreds of letters between his mother and father, Ludwig has found the poetry in basic connection, which is timeless and also couldn’t be timelier. The well-constructed play premiered in December 2019 – you know, the Before Times – right before the world turned upside-down. If ever a contemporary work of art tapped into ordinary people having simple yet profound daily experiences to remind us of what connects us all, it is this show.

“Dear Jack, Dear Louise” delivers a joyous show, with just two people reading letters to create an honest, heartfelt moment. Expect that tears will come – get that tissue ready.

New Jewish Theatre presents Ken Ludwig’s “Dear Jack, Dear Louise,” from June 9 through June 26, with performances on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., at the Wool Studio Theatre at the JCCA’s Performing Arts Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. For more information, call the box office at 314-442-3283 or visit newjewishtheatre.org

The J’s New Jewish Theatre will continue its 24th season in June with the romantic comedy, Dear Jack, Dear Louise from June 9 – 26, 2022. The show follows the tremendous success of the season’s last show, Laughter on the 23rd floor.

“I am so pleased to present the regional premier of Ken Ludwig’s sweet and earnest love story,” said artistic director Eddie Coffield.

Molly Burris

The production will be directed by Sharon Hunter, artistic director of Moonstone Theatre Company and is making her NJT directorial debut.

The show will feature a talented two-person cast, NJT veteran Ryan Lawson Maeske as Jack and Molly Burris, who will be making her NJT debut, as Louise.

The creative team is comprised of Dunsi Dai on scenery, David LaRose on lighting, Amanda Were on sound and Michele Siler on costumes.

Ryan Lawson-Maeske

“I am thrilled to be making my NJT directing debut, “said Sharon Hunter. “I am honored to help tell the real-life story of two people who fall in love while corresponding during WWII. My family worked for the USO for over 15 years and both my mother and grandmother corresponded with loved ones serving in the military during WWII and Vietnam. This play is very close to my heart,” she said.

Dear Jack, Dear Louise is inspired by the playwright’s parents romance as pen pals during World War II.

The play chronicles the romance that spans the duration of World War II between a young military doctor, stationed in Medford, Oregon, and other places, and a budding young actress whose career hopes have taken her all the way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Given the distance between them, the only way they can conduct, let alone evolve, their relationship is through letters, exchanged at times at breakneck pace and at other times with frustrating, worrisome slowness.

The show will premiere at The J’s Wool Studio Theatre at 2 Millstone Campus Drive in St. Louis. Individual tickets for the show are $47-$54. Season tickets and flex passes, which feature a five-ticket package customized to the ticket holder’s preference are available through the Box Office, by phone 314-442-3283 or online at newjewishtheatre.org. Masks must always be worn properly covering the nose and mouth during all New Jewish Theatre productions.

By Lynn Venhaus

After not being on a stage since November 2019, Chauncy Thomas has made quite a comeback this summer – starring in two productions at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Bloomington, Ill., and as the Gentleman Caller Jim in “The Glass Menagerie” and the one-act “You Lied to Me About Centralia,” which was part of this year’s Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, all outdoors.

As he leaves to return to home in New York City, he will have left St. Louis better than when he arrived, to paraphrase his favorite quote.

Chauncy, a native of Peoria, Ill., landed in St. Louis when he attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning B.A. degrees in both drama and psychology.

He built a versatile and respected career in regional professional theatre before taking off for New York City nearly eight years ago, earning two St. Louis Theater Circle Award nominations for “Intimate Apparel” at New Jewish Theatre in 2017 and “Topdog/Underdog” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio in 2013.

Chauncy Thomas as Lymon and Carli Officer as Maretha in “The Piano Lesson” at The Black Rep in 2013

His resume includes “Clybourne Park” at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, “The Piano Lesson” at the Black Repertory Theatre, the La Bute New Play Festival at the St. Louis Actors’ Studio and multiple productions at the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.

Since 2014, he has returned here for productions, including “Dot” at the Black Rep and “The Winter’s Tale” at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.

“St. Louis is still a place I call home. I still feel incredibly connected to the people there, and especially the theatre community,” he said.

During the pandemic in 2020, he decided to leave New York City for Iowa to stay with his brother and his family in mid-March.

“My twelve-year-old nephew let me use his bedroom, so it was two months of sleeping under Spider-man sheets. In mid-May I trekked to Peoria to stay with my mother. My silver lining of the pandemic is getting to spend so much time with her,” he said.

“I lost all but one of my side jobs, so math tutoring was paying the bills. I got little theatre gigs here and there: zoom readings, workshops, etc. But I truly missed being on stage,” he said. “Most of my actor friends in New York either had to move or were significantly concerned with their finances, so I was still counting my blessings.”

He has worked on many Shakespeare productions and enjoys the challenge.

“I’ve been doing a decent amount of Shakespeare for a decade but last year, I think I figured out how I should approach the work. For the first eight years, I was trying to meet some standard of what I thought Shakespeare was. I’ve since learned I need to bring as much of myself and my racial identity to the work as I can. It’s what makes me unique. I love performing Shakespeare because it’s brilliant, but it also presents the challenge of making a 400-year-old stories relevant to a modern audience,” he said.

With Jacqueline Thompson in “Intimate Apparel” at New Jewish Theatre in 2017.

He has traveled to other theaters in the county, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in Massachusetts.

From his base in New York City, his credits include “Romeo and Juliet” at Lincoln Center Education, “Hamlet” at RIPT Theater Company, “A Raisin in the Sun” at Bay Street Theater, “Our Town” and the television show “Madam Secretary,” in which he played a secret service agent.  

Last year, he wrote a one-act for the theatre season for the Performing Arts Department at Washington University, which was part of the live events cancelled due to the pandemic, but was performed as part of “Homecoming Voices,” four plays by alumni, in March.

His play “The Nicest White People that America Has Ever Produced,” featured a Black writer and a white director discussing race, power and artistic integrity in the film industry — a theoretical discourse that prompted real questions about friendship and ethics.

Doing Shakespeare and Williams in the same summer “has been a challenge,” but he is grateful to be working.

“It’s been crazy, but before that, it was nothing, a famine, so I’m trying to enjoy this feast,” he said. “I thought how in the world am I going to get all of this done, but after I had my mornings free, I worked on the line memorization and text analysis,” he said.

As for playing Jim in two different productions, he described it as “fascinating.”

Williams’ memory play of his family and their life in St. Louis features Jim as Tom’s friend from work who is invited to dinner at the Wingfield home to meet Tom’s sister Laura.

The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, “The Moon and Beyond,” ran from Aug. 19 to 29, with its signature play, the one-act and multiple presentations by scholars and a tribute with the cast.

Playwright John Guare wrote a one-act, “You Lied to Me About Centralia,” which imagined what happened after dinner when Jim rushes off to pick up his fiancé at the Wabash train station. The 20-minute play premiered off-Broadway in 2015, and is based on Williams’ short story, “Portrait of a Girl in Glass.”

For the St. Louis Theater Crawl in 2017, the Tennessee Williams Festival performed the one-act with Julia Crump, who returns this year as Jim’s shallow and judgmental girlfriend Betty, and Pete Winfrey, who now lives in New York City, as Jim.

For the radio play version last November, when the TWF pivoted with “Something Spoken,” a series of Williams’ one-acts on radio, Thomas worked opposite Crump for the first time. They were directed by Rayme Cornell, who also directed this year’s live production, presented as a matinee on Aug. 21 and 22.

Thomas described the play as “sweet” and his character thusly.

“I felt there were several directions it could have gone, and I love where Rayme guided us. I know this isn’t technically Tennessee Williams, but it’s certainly Williams adjacent. Many of my favorite plays are American classics, and I’m rarely able to get cast in those kinds of shows, so this was a real treat. Jim is a man with big dreams, and I love to play characters with strong wants and needs; they make the most compelling characters,” he said.

With Elizabeth Teeter in “The Glass Menagerie” this summer. Photo by ProPhotoSTL.

Crump said acting with Thomas is “a master class,” because he makes “bold choices, good choices.” She described him as a “generous and talented actor.”

Elizabeth Teeter. who played Laura in “The Glass Menagerie,” said she agreed with Crump completely. She participated in an interview along with Thomas, Crump and director Brian Hohlfeld regarding TWF St. Louis on the PopLifeSTL.com Presents…podcast on Aug. 14.

“I do look at these as two separate characters,” Thomas said. “Obviously, John Guare took some liberties, and so many things are open to interpretation.”

Chauncy said the perspective of the one-act was fascinating. “I’m either bending the truth, or avoiding the truth,” he said.

As for being part of this ensemble, he described the cast as “absolutely amazing.”

“The other three actors started rehearsal on August 2, while I started on August 9, and we were in tech on the 12th, so I had to figure out what was going on at a faster rate than ever before. On my first day of rehearsal, we didn’t even do a reading of the whole play. We started with Act 2, and after listening to the other actors for the six pages before my entrance, I immediately understood what story we were telling, the tone, the pace, and where I fit into the narrative. These three actors are so vibrant, in-the-moment, and honest, that they do much of the work for me. I don’t have to ‘act’ with them; I can simply exist,” he said.

Besides Teeter as Laura, Brenda Currin plays Amanda and Bradley James Tejeda plays Tom.

Working where Tennessee Williams lived as a boy has been a special experience as well.

“In terms of performing, rehearsing, and living — not the same unit, but the same building — in the apartment where Williams lived, it’s incredibly surreal,” he said.

“To quote Jim, ‘I’m usually pretty good at expressing things, but–this is something I don’t know how to say!’ When Carrie Houk (TWF Artistic Director) called me to offer me the role and explain the production, I was in such disbelief that I didn’t tell anyone about the production for weeks. It seemed unfathomable,” he said.

“All I can say is this production feels magical. I took my first acting class as a sophomore at Washington University, and, that year, Henry Schvey, chair of the theatre department, was directing ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ I was a member of the backstage crew, which was my first experience with a mainstage production, and in many ways my introduction to theatre. And now, 17 years later, I’m performing in the play, at Williams’ home, and the opening night gift my director Brian Hohlfeld gave me is Henry Schvey’s new book about Tennessee Williams. How is this my life?” he said.

Chauncy Thomas, right, in ISF’s “The Winter’s Tale” this summer. Photo by Pete Guither.

For his second year at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, he played Camillo and four small roles in “The Winter’s Tale” and Angelo in “Measure for Measure.”

Afterwards, the festival inducted him into the 2021 Actor Honor Roll.

“Chauncy Thomas is a wonderful addition to our Illinois Shakespeare Festival Actor Honor Roll, He creates rich, nuanced characters that are accessible yet complex. Chauncy is a skilled professional who also is the consummate company member: supportive, positive, and kind. It is a pleasure to welcome him to the honor roll,” said ISF Artistic Director John C. Stark.

In 2017, to celebrate the ISF 40th anniversary, they unveiled “40 Years/40 Actors,” a media display, to recognize “the passion, skill, and talent of select festival performers from the past four decades,” and continues with the annual Actor Honor Roll.

“I’m truly touched and honored by this recognition. This theatre means so much to me! I’ve met some of the loveliest people I could ever hope to meet, it’s the closest professional theatre to my childhood home (it’s an amazing blessing to have my mother in the audience five times in one season,” Thomas said.

“It’s been instrumental in my development as a classical actor, and it’s also been the setting or overlapped with some of the biggest emotional highs and lows of my life. When at its best, a theatre is a family, and I’m thrilled to be the newest member,” he said.

‘Take Ten’ Questions and Answers:

 1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

“Originally, I was so fascinated about how theatre was an exploration of myself. I’m now intrigued by the power of storytelling, the interpersonal connections I make with other artists, and the exploration of the human spirit.”

Chauncy and Reginald Pierre in “Topdog/Underdog” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio in 2013. Photo by Patrick Huber

2. How would your friends describe you?

“I took some direct quotes: ‘Funny, witty, smart, creative, thoughtful, organized and an amazing friend.’

“Weird.”

“They wouldn’t.”

“Strangely intellectual and precious for a man with this many muscles.”

“Very very very intentional.”

“A chill control freak with unlikely interests.”

“Loyal, brilliant, hilarious, thoughtful, deeply introspective, principled, all around awesome.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?

“I spend as much time with my friends as I possibly can.”

4.What is your current obsession?

“I’m so late, but the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’”

5.What would people be surprised to find out about you?

“I’m ludicrously goofy.”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?

“In my early teenage years, I was very depressed and often had suicidal thoughts. No one could tell, because from the outside I seemed as if I was thriving. I was gay, in the closet and had plenty of friends, but no close ones. I was in a particularly bad place one day when I was 14 and called one of my acquaintances to ask if we could hang out. Twenty years later, I was best man at his wedding. I’m a person who struggles with feeling I may be a burden to someone, so the act of reaching out to the person who is now my oldest childhood friend was the first time I realized I was allowed to ask for emotional help when I needed it.”

7. Who do you admire most?

“My mom. She’s elegant, hilarious, benevolent, poised, and tough as nails.”

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list?

“Acting in a play I’ve written.”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

“City Museum.”

10. What’s next?

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that, yet. But the next play on my schedule is in St. Louis in 2022.”

Chauncy Thomas

More Information on Chauncy Thomas:

Age: 36

Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois

Current location: New York City

Family: 2 full brothers, 2 half-brothers, and 2 step-siblings

Education: BAs in Psychology and Drama from Washington University

Day job: Currently a math tutor. In a non-Covid-19 world add catering waiter, chess tutor, and I occasionally portrayed historical leaders for executive leadership trainings for Fortune 500 companies.

First job: House painter

First role: A guard in my high school’s production of “Cinderella.” First professional role was Father Ant in “The Ant and the Grasshopper” for Imaginary Theatre Company.

Favorite roles/plays: Booth in “Topdog/Underdog,” Walter Lee Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun”

Dream role/play: Belize in “Angels in America”.

Awards/Honors/Achievements: One Kevin Kline Award nomination and two St Louis Theater Circle Award nominations

Favorite quote/words to live by: “Leave everyone better than you find them.”

Chauncy Thomas in “Alabama Story”

A song that makes you happy: “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite

To listen to the PopLifeSTL.com Presents…Podcast about the Tennessee Williams Festival, visit: https://soundcloud.com/lynn-zipfel-venhaus/poplifestlcom-presents-august-14th-2021?fbclid=IwAR3lA4F4DCuAk67je9tNrFsb36G1fhaS6RFcZmOkWI0Lx6zQnvPyrCUg0jk

For more information on the Tennessee Williams Festival, visit https://www.twstl.org/

As a secret service agent in “Madam Secretary”. Photo provided.
In “Percentage America” by Carter Lewis at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo by Patrick Huber.
“Clybourne Park” at St. Louis Repertory Theatre. Jerry Naunheim Photo.

Edward Coffield, Artistic Director of the New Jewish Theatre, has announced two exciting, live and in-person performances to take place in the Fall and Winter of 2021.

The first show will be Ari Axelrod’s Jewish Broadway, featuring Broadway star Ari Axelrod.  Two performances are planned, Saturday evening, October 16 and Sunday afternoon, October 17.

The second show, Cabaret at the J:  A Little Song, A little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants! starring Eric Williams and Sharon Hunter are scheduled, on Saturday evening, December 18 and Sunday afternoon, December 19.

Tickets for all performances, which will be held at the Staenberg Family Complex in Creve Coeur, go on sale August 15 at newjewishtheatre.org

Coffield says, “We are so excited to return to live performances!  These amazing shows featuring top line talent are the perfect way to kick it off. 

We also look forward NJT’s return to the Wool Studio Theater beginning January 2022 when we will launch a full season of shows.”

ABOUT THE J:
The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

By Lynn Venhaus
As an ever-busy presence in the St. Louis theater community, Ellie Schwetye has created a diverse body of work — acting, directing, producing and sound design for a myriad of companies. While she has been recognized for her individual achievements with multiple St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, she thrives on collaboration.

But her name associated with a project means that there will be a high bar for quality and a sharp attention to detail, from selecting a soundtrack to a Jane Austen homage, “First Impressions,” for SATE; to guiding Will Bonfiglio to a third Circle Award for Best Actor in a Comedy in “Fully Committed” at the New Jewish Theatre; to bringing haughty Mrs. White to life in SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” play; and portraying Emily Post, one of the hostesses in ERA’s “Trash MacBeth.”

She is the co-producer of SATE and has directed and/or worked with Equally Represented Arts (ERA), YoungLiars, West End Players Guild, New Jewish Theatre, Prison Performing Arts, The Tennesee Williams Festival St. Louis, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Black Rep, R-S Theatrics, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Midnight Company, Stray Dog Theatre, Mustard Seed Theatre and others.

Joe Hanrahan in “Here Lies Henry”

Like many other artists, Ellie was eager to return to live theater when it was safe to do so — either on stage or behind the scenes. And now, it’s happening — she’s directing the one-man show “Here Lies Henry” starring frequent collaborator Joe Hanrahan, whose Midnight Company is producing.

It runs Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. June 10 – 27, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. June 27, at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s black box theatre.

Most COVID restrictions have now lifted, so with larger capacity audiences allowed, tickets are now available at the door. Midnight was deemed MissouriArtSafe by the Missouri Arts Council, received permission from the City of St. Louis for the production, and followed strict safety protocols. 

Written by Daniel MacIvor, Henry is a man on a mission to tell you something you don’t already know. It is an idyllic — sort of — miserable — sort of — storybook — sort of — nightmarish — sort of — remarkable — sort of — regular show.

Ellie said she was immediately drawn to the material.

“Initially, what I liked about “Here Lies Henry” was the opportunity to collaborate with Joe Hanrahan again. I’ve joked that Joe could hand me the phone book and I’d direct it, if it meant working with him,” she said.. 

“But, of course, the material of the play itself is a draw. The character of Henry is so quirky, he’s such an innocent — but trying desperately not to appear so. It’s a lovely, weird, off-beat meditation on love, life, and death. There’s a Virginia Woolf-like stream-of-consciousness quality to the text, as well as moments that have me thinking about David Lynch and Andrew Wyeth,” she said.

Ellie and Joe have collaborated multiple times.

Rachel Tibbetts and Ellie Schwetye in “Cuddles,” directed by Joe Hanrahan

“Working with Joe is always a treat. ‘Henry’ is, I think, the sixth project on which we have worked together. Joe finds and writes amazing scripts – all of which are real studies in personality,” she said.

” As both an actor-producer and a director Joe is very laid back. He comes into every project with really clear ideas, and a great sense of play and collaboration. We experiment and laugh a lot during rehearsals. Joe has a great affinity for incorporating rock and pop music into his shows, as I do. I appreciate that he lets me sound design the shows I direct, which he knows I love doing.”

Since the pandemic forced live theater to shut down in March 2020, she said she kept her theater itch scratched with some outdoor theater, video projects and “a few, now ubiquitous, Zoom plays.”

How does it feel to be ‘back in the saddle’ again?

“It’s fantastic! This is my first in-person indoor production since March 2020. It’s pretty cool to be doing this play. Directing a one-man show was the best choice to ease back into the process. The first rehearsal was both terrifying and exhilarating,” she said.

Now she is returning to produce and sound design the play “Top Girls” with SATE — Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble,

“It’s a play we had programmed and cast since before the pandemic. Both my producing partner, Rachel Tibbetts, who is directing the play, and I really love the story, the script, and non-linear storytelling of Caryl Churchill’s text and are thrilled we finally get to bring it back to St. Louis,” she said.

And while filling up her plate after such an absence is tempting, she has reflected upon the next steps after the quarantine break.

“As for easing back into commitments, I think the pandemic taught me that being busy isn’t a virtue. I love the many facets of my work in the theatre, but I don’t need to do eleven projects a year anymore. Having said that, I am quite excited for some projects this fall including “Top Girls” with SATE, directing “The Miracle Worker” at Clayton High School, and another project with Midnight later in December,” she said.

Ellie as Emily Post in ERA’s “Trash MacBeth” with Rachel Tibbetts

Schwetye, 39, was born and raised in St. Louis.

During the down time, she explored activities that she had an interest in, but hadn’t given herself the time to dive in — and the opportunity was much appreciated.

“Unsurprisingly, much of it has been outdoors, since that’s been the safest way to socialize. I’ve been gardening a bit. The brilliant Nicole Angeli has been my hiking guru, and it’s been lovely to explore gorgeous conservation areas in eastern Missouri and central Illinois. Last summer, I supported my sister as her ground crew while she paddled the Missouri river — 340 miles! — from Kansas City to St. Charles. Now that was the ultimate stage management gig. Being on the river for four days and the fact that our team was representing the Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper organization opened my eyes to how precious and critical the Missouri river system is to our region,” she said. 

“I’ve also gotten to spend a lot of time at my family’s property in Labadie, Mo., which we affectionately and unoriginally call the Farm. We completed building a house that was inspired by a one-room schoolhouse that once sat on the property. I’ve been working with my dad for the past year on much of the finish carpentry in the house, including framing and hanging doors and cutting and installing window trim and baseboards from hemlock,” she said.

“The Comeback Special” as part of the LaBute New Play Festival at St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Q &A WITH ELLIE SCHWETYE

1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

“I’ve always been drawn to storytelling. Theatrical storytelling is a kind of magic. I’m also a bit of a show-off, so performing was a great outlet for that energy. As I developed though, I learned that I love directing and producing so much more. I find the process of bringing artists together in collaboration so much more rewarding than a curtain call.”

2. How would your friends describe you?

“Classic Aries: attention-seeking, passionate, optimistic, ambitious, independent, competitive, a bit selfish, impatient and impulsive.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?

“Recently. it’s been out at the Farm with my nieces and nephews, hiking with buddies, and reading my dad’s first edition “Foxfire” books.”

4. What is your current obsession?

“My meadow is my current obsession. It’s one little corner of the Farm. I’m keeping a path cleared through it to better observe the variety of grasses and native plants growing there. I have been trying to learn a lot more about our native species. Since I’m out at the Farm almost every week, it’s been amazing watching the changes from season to season.”

5. What would people be surprised to find out about you?

“I used to be a pretty fast runner. I won a state track meet in the 800m event.”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?

“My college theatre experience was a defining time. I went to a women’s college, which is certainly where my feminist theatre aesthetic was solidified. Knowing that my mentors were a fashion designer who got her start on London’s Carnaby Street in the 60s, a former Breck girl-turned radical feminist bass player, and an East German dramaturg with the Berliner Ensemble probably makes a lot of sense for the theatre I like to make and watch now.”

“A Lovely Sunday in Creve Coeur” as part of an ensemble at The Tennessee Williams Festival in 2019

7. Who do you admire most?

“This is the hardest question of the ten! So many people. My parents, certainly – especially my mom; my sisters. I’ve been learning more about my grandparents and ancestors, and there are a lot of hard-working, gritty folks in my family tree to admire.”

“Artistically, I admire the folks I have the privilege of collaborating with – and there are so many amazing and inspiring artists in this group! I admire my teachers, like Kelley Weber, who encouraged me to be a theatre artist. And I admire the producers who took a chance on me, like Edie Avioli and Scott Sears, and Ron Himes and Linda Kennedy.”

“And I always admire the real women from history whose stories I often get to tell – like Henriatta Leavit, Annie Jump Cannon, Williamina Fleming, Rosalind Franklin, Sr. Jacque-Marie, or Helen Keller. Theatricalized stories of real women will always be the most fascinating to me.”

8. What is at the top of your bucket list?

I keep a Google doc of plays I’d love to direct or scripts I’d love to develop. Rachel Hanks and I started musing a while back about a play based on the Stevens Sisters (Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell). Writing something original is certainly on the bucket-list. And as a some-time performer, I’m ready for the challenge of a one-woman show.

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

“Discovering and exploring unexpected nature and conservation areas in the region.”

10. What’s next?

“I’m looking forward to the YoungLiars Summer Training Festival in July, then “Top Girls” with SATE in September. I’ll be directing “The Miracle Worker” at Clayton High School in the fall, then in December I’ll be performing opposite Joe Hanrahan in his new trio of short plays “Tinsel Town” about artists in LA, directed by Rachel Tibbetts. It completes a trifecta of work the three of us have collaborated on, which has included “Cuddles” and “Little Thing, Big Thing.”

Ellie with John Wolbers in “First Impressions”

More on Ellie:

Family: my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, 5 nieces and nephews, and cousins (who are like sisters).
Education: The St. Louis answer: Clayton High School; the real answer: Mount Holyoke College.
Day job: Production Manager with my family’s business serving the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry.
First job: My first post-college job was as a professional Intern at the Black Rep. 
First role: Abigail Adams in the 5th grade musical “Dear Abby” (I still remember my big number!)
Favorite roles/plays: My Ozark adaptation of “As You Like It”, Rachel’s and my adaptation, “First Impressions” based on “Pride and Prejudice” (and getting to play Elizabeth Bennet in it!), ERA’s “The Residents of Craigslist”. I’m also really proud of co-founding and producing SATE’s Aphra Behn Festival, celebrating women writers and directors.
Dream role/play: There are two weirdo comedies I’d love to produce, direct, or perform in: “All Our Happy Days are Stupid” by Shiela Heti and “Freshwater” by Virginia Woolf, which she wrote for her sister Vanessa’s birthday party.
Awards/Honors/Achievements: St. Louis Theater Circle Awards for Production, Sound Design, Directing, Script Adaptation, and Performance in an Ensemble; PopLifeSTL’s 2019 Artist of the Year 🙂
Favorite quote/words to live by: “have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves”
A song that makes you happy: “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn

“Silent Sky,” which Ellie directed, at West End Players Guild in 2018
“Oedipus Apparatus” at West End Players Guild in 2017

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a multitude of obstacles to overcome for organizations of all types, and theater groups are no exception. Sharon Hunter, Artistic Director-Producer of Moonstone Theatre Company, aims to help address some of the virus-related challenges that the St. Louis theatre community faces by forming the St. Louis Theatre Community Task Force.

“As I was thinking about how to proceed with my own company in the wake of the pandemic, I started thinking it would be helpful  to get a lot of the theaters to sit down via Zoom and discuss concerns, ideas and solutions for moving forward as we navigate the future of theatre in St. Louis,” Hunter explains.

Sharon Hunter

The Task Force will address concerns including conducting safe auditions, rehearsals and performances, finding new ways to seat audiences, maintaining the visibility of the St. Louis theatre community, new ways to offer theatre experiences and recommendations for the use of personal protective equipment.

Hunter said the Task Force, which is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area, welcomes local theatre groups of all sizes. In addition to these organizations, representatives from the St. Louis County Department of Health and the Center For Disease Control have also been invited to the first online meeting to address questions and concerns.

Theatre companies invited to participate include R-S Theatrics, The Q Collective, The Midnight Company, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, Upstream Theater, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, COCA, Shakespeare Festival STL, Black Rep, Stray Dog Theatre, Stages St. Louis, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Cherokee Street Theatre, The Cabaret Project of St. Louis, Max & Louie Productions, Black Mirror Theatre, Young Liars, West End Players Guild, Tennessee Williams Festival St Louis, New Line Theatre, ERA Theatre Company, STL Fringe Festival, St Louis Shakespeare, Metro Theatre Company, That Uppity Theatre Company and the Tesseract Theatre Company.

The initial meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Theatre groups interested in interested in participating should contact Hunter at [email protected] to get access to the Zoom link. For more info, check their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/STLTheatre/.

By Lynn Venhaus

As a regional surge in COVID-19 cases grips the area, more local arts and entertainment events have either been cancelled or postponed in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The month-long “Hamilton” national tour stop at the Fox is now postponed, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis has cancelled its festival season and people are now moving dates from spring to either later in the year or 2021.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization’s recommendations on social distancing and against large group gatherings, St. Louis city and county, St. Charles County and Illinois put a public health emergency plan in place. They have shutdown gatherings of 10 or more, encouraged social distancing and ordered everyone to Stay-at-Home. Announced dates: St. Louis quarantine is through April 22; Illinois is through April April 30; Missouri is through April 24; and the nation is recommended until April 30.

Here is a round-up of the latest on community theater, regional professional theater, national touring shows, certain events and venues. If alternate programming has been put into place, it’s mentioned. As everyone knows by now, things change daily, so check with websites to see the latest. I’ll update as groups provide new information.

PROFESSIONAL VENUES

Kranzberg Arts Foundation
All Kranzberg Arts Foundation venue operations have been temporarily shut down. This includes theatres, galleries, clubs, restaurants, cafes, and libraries. These closures will remain in place until at least May 11.

This includes the Kranzberg Arts Center, The Marcelle Theatre, The .Zack Theatre, The Big Top, The Grandel Theatre, The Dark Room, Sophie’s Artist Lounge and the High-Low building.

Fox Theatre
Performances at the Fabulous Fox have been postponed through April 30 and tours have been cancelled through June 7.

On April 10, the Fox announced that “Hamilton” has been postponed but no date has been set yet. It was scheduled to play at The Fox May 5 – June 7.

“The Fox is in discussion with the HAMILTON producers to reschedule the engagement and hopes to announce that information soon. said spokesman Megan Ketcherside.

Ticket holders should keep their tickets until new dates are announced. More information will be available once new dates are secured.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre hopes to bring the show to St. Louis in 2020, but as with all things related to COVID-19 and the social distancing necessary to keep guests and associates safe, theatre management will follow the lead of government and health officials in this matter> Ketcherside said.

The other shows that have been postponed: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” originally scheduled for March 17-29; Teen Talent Competition originally scheduled for April 4; “Cats,” originally scheduled for April 7-19; Celtic Woman has been rescheduled for April 20, 2021; and Chaka Khan, originally scheduled for April 24.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will now be Dec. 22 – 27. “Cats” can’t be rescheduled for 2019-2020 but Fox is working on a future date.

Plans to reschedule other postponed shows are currently underway.  Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets – they will be honored on the new dates.

Decisions about other future shows will be made as we follow the evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus and the City of St. Louis’ determination of the length of this prohibition, public relations manager Megan Ketcherside said.

Operational hours are subject to change based on the COVID-19 situation. For now, the Fox Box Office is temporarily closed. The MetroTix 314-534-1111 phone hours are now from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Visit the website, www.fabulousfox.com/coronavirus

Family Arena

As of March 25, the Family Arena and The Family Arena Box Office is closed to the public until such time as the limit on public gatherings is lifted in St. Charles County.

Tickets are still available for purchase at Ticketmaster.com.

Manager Tom O’Keefe said if you purchased tickets at the box office for an upcoming rescheduled event that you would like a refund for, please hold on to your tickets until they re-open and they will refund your tickets at that time.

They have partnered with Ticketmaster to address all fan questions regarding the cancellation and rescheduling of live events. Visit the Ticketmaster Help Center for guidance and check back regularly for additional information and status updates, www.familyarena.com.

Stifel Theatre

The Stifel Theatre and Enterprise Center Box Offices will not open until further notice. For guests who purchased tickets to an upcoming show through the box office that has been cancelled, please hold on to your tickets until we re-open and are able to assist with your questions.

These events at Stifel Theatre have been postponed. Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets, as all tickets will be honored on the rescheduled dates.

Here are rescheduled dates:

Gabriel Iglesias, from March 13 to Oct. 15 and from March 15 to Oct. 14; Franco Escamilla, from March 14 to Nov. 13; Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers from March 18 to Oct. 14; Nathaniel Rateliff from March 19 to Nov. 14; Ron White from March 20 to Sept. 11; Bert Kreischer from April 5 to July 30; Iliza: The Forever Tour from April 23 to Sept. 24; and Trolls LIVE! From May 15-17 to Oct. 2-4.

The following events have been cancelled and refunds will be available at original point of purchase:

“Sesame Street Live,” March 27-29; TD Jakes, April 10; The Color Purple, April 11; Variety Children’s Charity featuring Steely Dan, April 23; The Spongebob Musical, May 2-3; and Mother’s Day Soul Jam, May 8.

Decisions about other future shows will be made as they continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation. Visit www.stifeltheatre.com

Chaifetz Arena

The arena is closed until further notice and in an abundance of caution, the venue will be thoroughly cleaned while closed.

They are currently working to reschedule all impacted events and will provide updates as quickly as possible. We ask all current ticket-holders to retain their tickets for these events until such time when a new date is determined as your current ticket will be valid for the new date. “Please be patient and hang tight as we work through this unprecedented time,” a spokesman said.

Additionally, they have partnered with Ticketmaster to address all fan questions regarding the cancellation and rescheduling of live events. Visit the Ticketmaster Help Center by clicking here for guidance and check back regularly for additional information and status updates as they become available.

Impacted Events: Festival Of Laughs from March 20 to Sept. 26; Sturgill Simpson from March 21 to TBD; Gateway Blues Festival from March 28 to TBD; AEW Dynamite from April 8 to Oct. 7; NF from April 11 to Aug. 15; Legends of Hip Hop, from April 17 to Nov. 7; The Millennium Tour, from April 24 to Aug. 8; Three 6 Mafia, from May 23 to Oct. 2; and Lauren Daigle, from May 29 to TBD.

The Playhouse at Westport

All March/April events were cancelled, including “Flanagan’s Wake,” which had been extended to mid-April.

John Denver Tribute May 7-10 and Rockin’ Chair June 5-6 remain scheduled.

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

REGIONAL PROFESSIONAL THEATER

Metro Theatre Company

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

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

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

EVERYONE is encourage to participate–kids, adults, teachers, students, artists, people who don’t yet identify as artists! You read or watch the prompt and then respond immediately in the art form of your choice. We work with amazing collaborators to shape your responses in to a new work and have actors record it. We make a video of our brand new, collaborative work!

New prompts each week, so you can keep generating material while we work on new scripts. We want to hear from you.

The Muny

The Muny administrative offices and box office are closed through late April. Ticketing services for the 2020 season are available online at any time.Ticketing related questions can be sent to [email protected]

“We are closely monitoring all developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to follow the guidance of health and government officials with the goal of keeping our staff and community as safe and healthy as possible,” the Muny statement reads on their website. 

“With the start of our 2020 season still months away, we remain optimistic that the season will proceed as planned and hope the restrictions on gatherings are lifted in early May, as scheduled. If that changes, we will adjust accordingly. Meanwhile, we continue communicating with health officials on all levels to stay fully informed and responsive to this unprecedented situation,” the statement reads.

Given the Stay at Home order for St. Louis City and County, and for the health and safety of our team, The Muny Offices are currently closed and some ticketing dates have changed. However, we’re still busy getting ready for the 2020 summer season, and we can’t wait to meet you at The Muny this summer!

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

Muny Season Tickets will be mailed in early May

Season Ticket Exchanges: May 26 – 29

Single Ticket on Sale: June 1

To purchase new season tickets, or pay a current balance on existing season tickets, please visit:  muny.org/buy-tickets

To purchase season tickets with a gift card you currently have in-hand, please email The Muny Box Office at [email protected] and a Muny Ticketing agent will contact you  to process your request. If you wish to purchase a gift card, it will not be mailed until the restrictions on gatherings have been lifted. 

Also, if you are looking for a way to stay entertained during these “quiet days,” we encourage you to enjoy a specially curated set of video clips from our previous productions on our social media channels. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

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

The Repertory Theatre had to cancel the run of “The Cake,” which began in the Studio Theatre on March 14, but was forced to be shutdown March 16, and to postpone our Mainstage world premiere of “Dreaming Zenzile” from March 21, with the goal of mounting it this summer.

“The Cake”

An online stream of “The Cake” has been made available to all Studio Theatre patrons who previously purchased tickets at no additional cost.

There are a limited number of streaming tickets available for purchase for those who are interested in viewing the final performance of the Steve Woolf Studio Series this season. That is available through April 24.

Additionally, The Rep is collaborating with a national group of theatres to commission a series of short plays specifically developed to spark joy and connection among people who are sheltering in place. These initiatives are designed to keep the art alive and vital, even in a time of isolating quarantines.

“Keep an eye out for more entertaining content and educational resources from The Rep and our local and national partners by following us on social media,” spokesman Jeremy Goldmeier said.

On March 27, The Rep announced that they have honored the entire contracts of the guest artists who devoted their talents to “Dreaming Zenzile” and “The Cake,” despite their runs being delayed or cut short.

“In these uncertain times, The Rep felt it was imperative that these artists, whose livelihoods depend on their contracts, not bear the additional burden of lost wages in this pandemic,” a statement said.

“As you know, The Rep has an extraordinarily talented and dedicated staff that works year-round to support the productions, education, and community initiatives to serve the greater St. Louis region. We have continued to pay the full salaries of our full-time, year-round administrative staff, with no furloughs or other lapses in pay. We have moved our administrative and box office teams to work remotely to serve you during this period,” a statement said.

Play at Home

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has teamed with Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company to present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned short plays from some of the American theatre’s most exciting and prominent playwrights.

These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at playathome.org.

In the wake of widespread event cancellations following the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the participating theatres conceived Play at Home as a way to support artists, connect people to theatre, and to ignite imagination and joy in these uncertain times.

Each organization commissioned multiple playwrights – most of whom had plays canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak – to create new works that were big, joyful and not bound by the constraints of what might be “possible” on a traditional stage.

The Rep’s commissioned playwrights feature:

Regina Taylor (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021 production of Oo-Bla-Dee)

Karen Zacarias (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021 production of Native Gardens)

Steph Del Rosso (playwright of The Rep’s 2020-2021 world premiere of The Gradient)

Guadalís Del Carmen (who appeared at The Rep as an actor in 2020’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles)

Tre’von Griffith (a St. Louis performer and playwright, co-founder of TLT Productions)

These plays are meant to be read at home among family and friends, and we highly encourage readers to share photos or videos of their home performances on social media using the hashtag #playathome.

Max and Louie Productions

Estelle Siteman of Max & Louie Productions said they optimistically look forward to bringing the second play of our 2020 season,”Looking for Normal” by Jane Anderson to the Marcelle. “This beautiful ,moving play full of wit and wisdom opens July 16 through the 26.2020,” she said.

Moonstone Theatre Company
Sharon Hunter said Moonstone Theatre Company has postponed their July opening of “The House of Blue Leaves” to July of 2021 at the Wool Studio Theatre at the J. They will announce our season shortly. which will now begin in November 2020 with a Neil Simon comedy.

Joe Hanrahan of The Midnight Company

The Midnight Company
Midnight Artistic Director Joe Hanrahan has moved his one-man play from May 28 – June 13 to a June 4 – 20 run. This is the premiere of the full version of “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond,” which will be at The Chapel, 4238 Alexander Drive, 63105. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.

 It was performed in a shortened version at the 2018 St. Louis Fringe Festival, and audiences responded enthusiastically and critics raved.  Snoops Theatre Thoughts said “A delightful show that’s part personal memoir, part history lesson, part nostalgia, and all fascinating.  A difficult show to describe but what it is is excellent.”  Limelight said “Hanrahan jumps from omniscient narrator to 15-year old movie fanatic to baseball and theatre historian, the audience hanging on every word.  The Cardinals are the talk of the town again.  This show should be the talk of the town, too!” 
Hanrahan said, “There’s never been a play we’ve done that’s received such enthusiastic, visceral reaction, due, surely, to the St. Louis history of the show.  At the Fringe, productions are limited to one-hour playing time, and this new version will allow us to incorporate new material that should make the show ever more entertaining and informative.”
“Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond,” concerns  a teen-age boy in 1964. JFK’s assassination still casts a pall on the nation.  The Beatles’ emergence in February of ’64 starts to lighten the mood of the nation. The Cardinals continue the good times in St. Louis with a mad dash toward the pennant. And when a new movie hero hits the screens that summer, a bunch of boys on a baseball field have their first theatre experience when one of their gang offers a 30-minute one-man show of “From Russia with Love.”  Throughout, the playwright draws links between what’s happened and happening –  from JFK to James Bond, from segregation in St. Louis to segregation in baseball’s Southern Leagues and Florida stadiums where The Beatles were supposed to play, from WWII to British film production crews and JFK hit squads, from the first cave man who stood up by the fire to the theatre musings of Peter Brook…all of it swirling in front of the eyes of a young boy, and the memory of that time.
Shane Signorino will direct the show as he did at The Fringe (Shane just received a Theatre Critics Circle nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Midnight’s POPCORN FALLS), Kevin Bowman will serve as Production Designer, Michael B. Perkins will design video support (as he did for Midnight productions of A MODEL FOR MATISSE, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, and LITTLE THING BIG THING), and Elizabeth Henning will be Stage Manager.

There will also be a concurrent exhibit in The Chapel lobby of memorabilia from 1950’s/60’s baseball and James Bond films, presented by George Venegoni.



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



New Line Theatre


New Line managed to get two weekends of performances of “Head Over Heels” before the local government mandates of crowd size forced it to close early in mid-March.

Its June production of “Urinetown” has been cancelled.

Stray Dog Theatre

“Annie,” which was to open April 9, has been postponed, with dates to be announced.

“We will honor all tickets already purchased to any of the new performance dates once they are announced. To purchase tickets to any other future productions, please call our box office directly at (314) 865-1995.

“We are currently planning to hold the remainder of the 2019-2020 season as scheduled. Any changes or additional information will be shared as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us,” said Artistic Director Gary F. Bell.

“We would like to thank everyone for the hard work they’ve already put into the production and we would like to thank you for your patience as we work to bring you the quality story telling you, our family, deserve. Annie is that bit of light we all need right now, ‘the sun will come out tomorrow’ and we will overcome anything,” Bell said.

“We know we are not the only organization dealing with these difficult decisions and we stand with them, ready to come back stronger. Your continued support of all arts organizations is always appreciated but never more than in times like these. We look forward to seeing you soon,” he said. “Please stay safe and be kind to one another.”

Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero” is set to run June 4 – June 20

“However, due to the extreme strain currently being faced by many organizations we have made the decision to halt online sales of upcoming productions. We will resume online sales once matters have settled and the timeline of events moving forward becomes more defined,” Bell said.

“You may continue to purchase tickets for upcoming shows by calling our Box Office at (314) 856-1995 or emailing us at [email protected] Thank you for your patience and your continued support as we manage these unfortunate events.”

For more information, visit www.straydogtheatre.org

St Louis Actors’ Studio

Neil LaBute’s Ten X Ten Series 2nd Week free Video is now availalbe! Check our Twitter account for the link (http://twitter.com/STLAS1)LaBute’s Ten X Ten Series is offered as free content weekly via @STLAS1. It is a collection of original monologues initially written for AUDIENCE CHANNEL#LaBute10x10

This is in response to the cancellation of LaBute’s new play, “Comfort,” which STLAS was to stage this spring.

New Jewish Theatre

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

Initially, New Jewish rescheduled “We Are the Levinsons” from March 19 to May, but now they have pushed it back, along with their Sondheim musical revue, “Putting It Together.”  They would like to reschedule later this summer.

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

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

Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has canceled its season. On April 7, Andrew Jorgensen, general director of Opera Theatre, announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival season that was to open May 23 and run through June 28 with this repertory: the world premiere of Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman’s Awakenings, Bizet’s gripping opera Carmen, Strauss’ effervescent comedy Die Fledermaus, and the long-awaited company premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah

Unfortunately, due to the size of seasonal staff required to produce each opera season, it is not possible for us to assemble the same casts, creative teams, and backstage artisans at any other point in the next several months. Even if we could postpone our season by a month, we simply don’t know when it will be safe for groups to gather again. 

At this time, there is no active plan in place to move any of the 2020 productions into the 2021 Festival Season. However, they are still evaluating various options and scenarios — stay tuned for more!

For a complete list of all affected programs and public events, including information on whether an event is canceled or postponed, visit the website and scroll down for a complete list:

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

This page will be updated frequently in the weeks ahead as new information becomes available regarding the status of events, including possible rescheduling or digital streaming.

“As always, our highest priority is the health of the entire OTSL family — patrons, staff, and artists,” the statement reads.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The 2020 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado About Nothing” has been moved to Aug. 12 – Sept. 6. Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely said it was in order to provide the best possible chance of safely gathering artists and audiences for its 20th anniversary season. It is to be directed by Bruce Longworth.

“For the past 20 years in St. Louis, the opening of Shakespeare in the Park has helped to mark the unofficial start of summer,” Ridgely said. “This year it’s clear that the only way to care for our actors, crew, volunteers and community is to give as much time as possible for social distancing measures to take effect and hope to be one of the ways we all bring our summer 2020 to a much happier close.”

The previously announced creative team of Matt Pace & Brien Seyle (Original Music), Josh Smith (Scenic Design), Dorothy Englis (Costume Design), John Wylie (Lighting Design) and Kathy Ruvuna (Sound Design) remains the same.

In response to the widespread cancellation of live events, the Festival has already shifted to generating a full schedule of new and original content for the online and social media platforms under the umbrella of “ShakespeareTV.”

These include the previously aired “watch party” of its canceled regional tour of Cymbeline, a live reading of “Venus and Adonis” (which Shakespeare wrote during a plague-induced theater closure) and a five-night reading of Albert Camus’ postwar masterpiece “The Plague.” Together they’ve already been viewed 10,000 times.

Now through May 29 on ShakespeareTV, which can be accessed on their Facebook page:

THE ZOOM PLAYS: a weekly series of 20- to 30-minute original plays written especially to be performed live over the videoconferencing app Zoom. Created and performed by local playwrights, directors and actors.

GREEN SHOW MONDAYS: an eclectic variety program featuring music, comedy and performance from Festival favorites.

SHAKESPEARE AND CHILL: a special selection of Shakespeare-inspired movies featuring live commentary from artists and scholars, co-curated by Cinema St. Louis.

Other one-night only events to be announced.

May 29 – June 21 is SHAKE20

A 20th anniversary reboot of the beloved engagement program SHAKE38 featuring community responses to 20 of Shakespeare’s plays streaming on Facebook and Instagram Tuesdays through Sundays 8 p.m. during the Festival’s originally scheduled run, May 29-June 21.

Like the original, SHAKE20 will be a region-wide collaboration involving artists and organizations including SHAKE38 alumni: Slightly Askew Theater, Prison Performing Arts: The Alumni Group, RS-Theatrics, Poor Monsters and Theater Nuevo. More details about the program and how to apply will be shared soon.

 “In the meantime, we hope that you and yours stay well. We have planned an incredible season of free Shakespeare, and we cannot wait to share it with you. It’s an interesting time to be in the business of live theatre and touring productions, but the Festival is committed to paying our artists and staff throughout this crisis,” Ridgely said.

So, if you have ever considered becoming a member, know that we are always grateful for your support—but especially so at this time,” he said.

“During this crisis, we feel more connected to Shakespeare and his contemporaries than ever before. Biographer Jonathan Bate wrote, ‘The Plague was the single most powerful force shaping [Shakespeare’s] life and those of his contemporaries.’ During times of quarantine, Shakespeare wrote some of his most important sonnets and plays,” Ridgely said.

“We can’t claim to have his genius, but we will take inspiration from his dedication and from artists around the world that are stepping up to create, facilitate, and share stories in new and exciting ways. Stay tuned for updates on new and existing Festival programs,” he said.

For more information, visit the website sfstl.com and on social media. Visit https://www.facebook.com/shakesfestSTL

Stages St. Louis

While Stages St. Louis continues to follow guidance from the CDC as well as mandates from both local and national government, for the time being, they have made no adjustments to the schedule for our upcoming 2020 Season.

However, here are some changes regarding tickets, activities and outreach:

Single tickets for the 2020 Season will now go on sale beginning Monday, April 27.

All in-person activities with the Stages Performing Arts Academy will be canceled until the start of our Summer Semester on Monday, June 1.

The Stages administrative, production, and academy offices will remain closed until Thursday, April 23.

In the meantime, the Box Office is still open for questions or subscription ticket sales online at www.StagesStLouis.org or by phone at (314) 821-2407.

The Stages Performing Arts Academy will continue to offer digital and streaming content in order to continue performing arts education for students at home and can answer any and all questions by phone at (636) 449-5775. 

Shows are: “A Chorus Line,” May 29 – June 28; Disney’s Alice in Wonderland,” June 16 – June 28, “La Cage Aux Folles,” July 17 – Aug. 16; and “Always…Patsy Cline,” Sept. 4 – Oct. 4.

Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Executive Artistic Director Carrie Houk said after careful deliberation, they find it necessary to push the 5th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis to summer due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Our first commitment is to keeping the company and community safe. The dates were May 10-17.

The Tesseract Theatre Company
Plans are underway to present the 2020 Festival of New Plays June 11 – 28 at the .Zack Theatre. The four plays are “Last Night” by Rachel Lynett, “All That Remains” by J.M. Chambers, “Feast” by Megan Gogerty and “The Length of a Pop Song” by Taylor Gruenloh.

For more information, contact: [email protected] or visit the website, www.tesseracttheatre.com

That Uppity Theatre Company
Joan Lipkin said they we had hoped to do a new devised piece Crossing Borders/Chasing Freedom May 2-3, “but of course that is on hold. We are still planning to do Dance the Vote Sept 26 at the Missouri History Museum,” she said.

Upstream Theater
In keeping with the evolving response to the current public health crisis, Upstream Theater is postponing our premiere of IPHIGENIA IN SPLOTT until next season. The play is now scheduled to run from October 9-25.If you have purchased single tickets or a season passport we will be happy to honor your ticket at that time.

West End Players Guild

Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday” set to open April 17 and run through April 26 has been cancelled. It was the final production of the group’s 109th season.

“As our country copes with the growing threat of the Coronavirus, one of the most important steps we must take to protect ourselves and each other is the kind of “social distancing” that is impossible at a theatrical production. Our Board of Directors believes it is highly unlikely that the need for social distancing will be any less in April than it is today, and decided that the best course of action for our company and our patrons was to act now to cancel the show,” a statement reads.

Patrons who have purchased advance tickets through Brown Paper Tickets will be issued automatic refunds. WEPG will reach out to season ticket holders in the near future with refund options.

WEPG will begin its 110th season in September.

Alfresco Productions
Auditions for “Hairspray Jr.” will be by video for the Granite City community theater production. The show is to run July 24-26 and deadline for video submissions is April 19. The age limit is from 6th grade to 18 years old. For more information, visit: https://www.alfrescoproductions.org/auditions

Alton Little Theatre

All productions and concert events through May 1 have been cancelled. Ticket holders for “Holy Laughter” and Todd Oliver and “Broadway Salutes America” may be refunded or transferred. Call 618-462-3205 for options.

“Brigadoon” has been moved from May to June, with plans for a June 5 opening, with eight performances through June 14. Season ticket holders can follow the same schedule but can call the office at 618-462-3205 anytime in May.

“Shrek” auditions have been rescheduled for Saturday, May 10, at 10 a.m. and Sunday, May 3, at 2 p.m. Director Kevin Frakes will be casting at least 30 characters. The show will run July 31-Aug. 9 for eight performances.

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

They hope to premiere “Broadway Bound” July 9 -14

Curtain’s Up Theater Company
The group based in Edwardsville has postponed its production of “1776” for a future date in 2020, to be determined, and cancelled March 28 auditions. The musical was to be performed June 26-28 at The Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. To keep informed of updates, visit www.curtainsuptheater.com

Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Kirkwood Theatre Guild cancelled its remaining two shows: “On Golden Pond” and “Shrek: The Musical,” which were set to run in April and May.

Hawthorne Players
The run of “Picnic,” set for March 27, 28 and April 3-5, was cancelled.
Auditions for “A Chorus Line,” which were scheduled March 29 have been put on hold. More information will be forthcoming. Please follow or check out website www.HawthornePlayers.com for any further announcements.

Looking Glass Playhouse
LGP began the March 12-22 run of “It’s Only a Play” but was forced to cancel it after state and local mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have cancelled the rest of the season, including “Rock of Ages” in May and have moved it to the opening slot in the fall.

“We are reaching out to the publishers to reschedule and are hopeful that we will be able to still perform the show in September,” he said.

They hope to announce the full season soon and for patrons who renew their season tickets for next year, they will receive a 10 percent discount.

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

Monroe Actors Stage Company
The current production of “Watch Over the Rhine,” which was to run April 17-19 and 24-26, has been postponed.

Due to the current health crisis in our area, all MASC rehearsals and activities at the Capitol Theater have been postponed effective Monday, March 16. 

“The MASC Board will be discussing the plan of action moving forward regarding Watch on the Rhine, the current show in production, and the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, as we monitor the progression of this crisis. Specific information regarding these two shows will be sent out accordingly. The health and safety of our membership and patrons is our highest priority,” a statement read.

O’Fallon Theatre Works

The group cancelled “Man from Earth” in March.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” is planned for July, and auditions were recently handled by video.

Over Due Theatre Company

The group in Olivette has postponed “My Fair Lady.” It was to run April 24-26 and May 1-3.
For the time being, they are still planning on holding auditions for “Bye Bye Birdie” May 9 and 10. The show is set for July 24-26 and July 31, Aug. 1 and 2.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
They have postponed our May production of “Rehearsal for Murder.”

“We are hopeful and fully intend to mount this production at a later date,” a statement read.

AWARDS EVENTS

St. Louis Theater Circle
Often referred to as “Theater Prom,” the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards were to take place on March 30 at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, but the event has been cancelled. Local theater critics will still honor outstanding regional professional theater, however.

Instead, HEC will provide a streamcast of the awards on Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page. So, instead of fancy outfits and schmoozing, the event will be downscaled reading of the nominations and awards.

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

The event’s hashtag is #TCA20

The theater critic members of the St. Louis Theater Circle have recorded the nominations, and their voice-overs will run over photos of the nominees. Then HEC announcer Rod will announce the winner. There are 34 categories to give awards in, which cover dramas, comedies and musicals. A special award is being given to Ken and Nancy Kranzberg for their tremendous support and commitment to the arts.

Visit the Theater Circle’s Facebook page for more information.

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

Arts For Life

In community theater, the Arts For Life board of directors presents two awards events each year, the Best Performance Awards honor musical theater and youth productions, and the Theatre Mask Awards honor straight plays.

The fifth annual Theatre Mask Awards, which honors both dramas and comedies, was to take place at a brunch on Saturday, April 4, at The Atrium Center at Christian Hospital. However, it has been rescheduled for July 18.

The 21st annual Best Performance Awards is scheduled for Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m. at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at Chaminade. However, the AFL board of directors will decide shortly on whether the event will be moved. Stay tuned.

For more information and to see lists of nominations, visit www.artsforlife.org.

You can get tickets to both events for the special price of $40. Visit www.artsforlife.org for more information and to see a complete list of nominees.

Emcees are Donna Northcott, a theater professor at Lindenwood University – St. Charles, for the TMAs, and local singer-actress Karen Fulks for the BPAs.

AFL President Mary McCreight has suspended all public activities of the AFL organization, effective until at least May 1. This includes all judging activities of the Theatre Recognition Guild.

“As our world, our nation and our region face a major health threat, it falls upon us as a community to adopt measures that will both foster the protection of those who work and ‘play’ in Metro St. Louis community theatre and ultimately allow AFL to continue our charitable mission of service and recognition once the threat passes,” she said.

 (Full disclosure: I am a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle and I am on the Board of Directors of Arts For Life).

ST LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS

In partnership with The Fabulous Fox, The Muny and The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation, the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards announced today the shift from in-person celebrations to virtual for their 2019-2020 season. 

The new date for this year’s medallion ceremony, also known as the nomination ceremony, will be April 28, 2020 with the awards ceremony slated for May 24, 2020. Both streamed live online at no charge, these virtual celebrations will honor each of the 42 participating schools in the 2019-2020 season, including the schools who were unable to produce their productions due to the unprecedented circumstances associated with COVID-19. Exact times and streaming information will be released at a later date. 

ARTS CENTERS AND CONCERT HALLS

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts

All events and performances scheduled through June 1 have been cancelled at “The Hett,” which is located on the campus of McKendree University.

 “TAO Drum” has been rescheduled from March 24 for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14; and “Ishmael Beah” has been rescheduled from April 15 for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, 2021.

The ReMINDers has been cancelled for April 6.

They are offering patrons the possibility of applying their tickets to a future event at the Hett, donating the ticket value to the University or contacting them for a full refund, less any original mailing fees. Please contact the box office during operating hours to discuss ticket disposition at 618-537-6863. The box office is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Hettenhausen Center for the Arts is located at 701 College Road in Lebanon. For more information, please contact [email protected].

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

All performances through April 12 are postponed or canceled. For information regarding tickets and schedules, visit slso.org.

The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries

All Sheldon-presented concerts and other events through May 10 have been postponed or canceled. Plans to reschedule are underway, and ticket buyer should retain their current tickets – they will be honored for the new dates. Additional information will be provided to ticket buyers as events are rescheduled. Affected concerts include: Ian Walsh and Kevin Buckley, “Keepin’ It Reel,” March 17-18; Honoring Our Own, Miz Renee Smith, March 17; David Halen, violin, April 1; Brothers Lazaroff, April 4. Scheduling changes for events presented by non-Sheldon promoters will be handled on a case by case basis. All updates can be found at TheSheldon.org or at MetroTix.com.

The Sheldon is located at 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis.

Fair Saint Louis

Fair Saint Louis and America’s Birthday Parade events have been canceled this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fair Saint Louis was set to run July 2-4 at the Gateway Arch with concerts, air show, and fireworks each night.

“While we are saddened to cancel two of our region’s most popular and free Fourth of July celebrations, the safety of our community is of utmost importance to us,” said David Estes, Chairman, Fair Saint Louis. “Fair Saint Louis and America’s Birthday Parade embody the prideful spirit of our city, and over the past few weeks, we’ve seen that spirit shine so brightly within our community as we face this unthinkable challenge together.”

This year would have marked the 40th Fair Saint Louis and 138th America’s Birthday Parade.

“We look forward to returning to downtown St. Louis and celebrating with our community in the future when the time is right,” said David Plufka, Chairman, America’s Birthday Parade.

            COVID-19 Pandemic Results in Production Streamcast by HEC Media

New Jewish Theatre led the way with six awards at the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Max & Louie Productions’ performance of Indecent garnered five awards, followed by four awards to The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis for its production of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Circle’s gala event for this year’s award ceremony, originally scheduled for March 30, 2020 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, was canceled. Instead, HEC Media produced a version of the ceremonies that was streamcast on HEC Media’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hectv/live/) as well as telecast on Spectrum channel 989 and AT&T U-verse channel 99. Here is the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tCo0AFHbChE

Awards were given in 31 categories covering comedies, dramas and musicals as well as two categories for opera. In addition, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg received a special award for their philanthropic contributions to the arts and theater in the St. Louis area, including many developments in Grand Center. The awards honored outstanding achievement in locally produced professional theater for the calendar year 2019.

A total of 21 productions and 14 companies were recognized by the awards, including eight individuals who have received honors in previous years. Will Bonfiglio, honored as Outstanding Actor in a Comedy for his performance in New Jewish Theatre’s production of Fully Committed, received an award for the third time in the last four years.

The 2020 presentation featured nominees from two companies, Black Mirror Theatre and The Q Collective, which were represented for the first time in consideration of St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.  Each company received an award for outstanding achievement.

In all, 25 local companies received nominations in 33 categories for comedy, drama, musical and opera, as well as 125 individuals up for awards. Honorees who have previously received St. Louis Theater Circle Awards include Will Bonfiglio, J. Samuel Davis, Kari Ely, Michael Hamilton, Patrick Huber, Sean M. Savoie, Margery and Peter Spack, and Maggie Wininger.

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

Nominations for the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards were divided into categories for musicals, dramas, comedies and operas.  More than 120 local professional theatrical productions were staged in the St. Louis area in 2019.

Honorees of the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are:

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Kelley Weber, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Patrick Blindauer, Love’s Labors Lost, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy (tie)

Katie Kleiger, Pride and Prejudice, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Maggie Wininger, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy

Will Bonfiglio, Fully Committed, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Director of a Comedy

Kari Ely, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Production of a Comedy

Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre

Indecent

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama

Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

Carly Uding, Translations, Black Mirror Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama

J. Samuel Davis, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Actress in a Drama

Donna Weinsting, Salt, Root and Roe, Upstream Theater

Outstanding Actor in a Drama

Gary Wayne Barker, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Director of a Drama

Joanne Gordon, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Production of a Drama

Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Set Design in a Play

Margery and Peter Spack, Brighton Beach Memoirs, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play

Felia Davenport, District Merchants, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play

Patrick Huber, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Sound Design

Phillip Evans, Indecent, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical

Mary Engelbreit and Paige Hathaway, Matilda, The Muny

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical

Sarah Porter, La Cage aux Folles, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical

Sean M. Savoie, Man of La Mancha, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Musical Director

Charles Creath, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, The Black Rep

Outstanding Choreographer

Dexandro Montalvo, Such Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,

Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

Matilda, The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical

Taylor Louderman, Kinky Boots, The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical

Tielere Cheatem, La Cage aux Folles, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Kendra Kassebaum, Guys and Dolls, The Muny

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Luke Steingruby, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Q Collective

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Michael Hamilton, Man of La Mancha, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Such Sweet Thunder, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,

Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media

Outstanding New Play

Nonsense and Beauty, by Scott C. Sickles, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

La Boheme

Outstanding Achievement in Opera (tie)

Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Roland Wood, Rigoletto, Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Production of an Opera

La Boheme, Union Avenue Opera

Special Award

Ken and Nancy Kranzberg

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

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

                                                            ###

The eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are taking place in cyberspace on Tuesday, April 7, rather than at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University. That March 30 event was cancelled because of the current public health crisis. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected the St. Louis region, with government quarantine orders in both St. Louis city and county through April 22.

The awards honoring excellence in professional regional theater for the 2019 season are being made available by the Higher Education Channel at 7 p.m. on their platforms. Their link is:  Higher Education Channel TV (HEC-TV)  


The streamcast will be able to be seen on HEC Media’s Facebook page, channel 989 on Spectrum (Charter) and channel 99 on AT&T U-verse.

HEC Announcer Rod Milam will state the winner after the Circle members voice-over the nominations in 33 categories. It is expected to take a half-hour.

The Muny, now in its second century of performances at its outdoor amphitheater in Forest Park, leads the way with a total of 25 nominations, followed by 24 for The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) and 21 for New Jewish Theatre.  Stages St. Louis follows with 13 nominations, West End Players Guild with 10 and Stray Dog Theatre with a total of eight nominees.

In all, 25 local professional companies received nominations for 51 different shows.  Lighting designer Sean M. Savoie leads all nominees with three different nominations out of a total of 125 nominated artists, including six who received two nominations apiece. The awards honor outstanding achievement in locally produced professional theater for the calendar year 2019.

More than 120 locally produced professional theatrical productions were presented in the St. Louis area last year.

Here are the nominations in dramas, comedies, musicals and opera. :https://www.poplifestl.com/brighton-beach-memoirs-kinky-boots-and-man-of-la-mancha-lead-8th-annual-st-louis-theater-circle-awards/

Ken and Nancy Kranzberg will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their long-standing commitment to the arts and theater in St. Louis, including Grand Center.

The official hashtag for the event, to be used on Twitter and Facebook, is: #TCA20

The St. Louis Theater Circle would like to thank the folks at HEC Media, including Dennis Riggs, Boyd Pickup, Rod Milam, Paul Langdon, Christina Chastain and their colleagues, for stepping up and making this streamcast production possible after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of our eighth annual gala.

The St. Louis Theater Circle includes Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Tanya Seale, Broadway World; Judith Newmark, Judy’s Second Act: Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Tina Farmer, KDHX; Gerry Kowarsky, “Two on the Aisle” HEC; Bob Wilcox “Two on the Aisle” HEC: Ann Lemons Pollack, St Louis Eats; Steve Allen, Stage Door STL; Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX; Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; and Lynn Venhaus, PopLifeSTL.com. Eleanor Mullin is the administrator.

For more information, visit the Circle’s Facebook page.

Archives: Lynn Venhaus’ annual awards, “The Lotties,” for 2019 :https://www.poplifestl.com/the-lotties-lynns-love-of-theater-awards-for-2019/