Local actor-singer lands national tour, Tony-nominated local playwright ready for another Broadway go-round, managing editor Lynn Venhaus back on Broadway (the street) and reflects on Neil Simon, local fest in lieu of Lou Fest and more!
SOMETHING WONDERFUL: St. Louis’s own Mark Saunders has landed a plum role in a national tour of the Tony-nominated musical “Something Rotten!” He is playing Brother Jeremiah, the father of Portia, a Puritan girl who falls in love with the single Bottom brother, Nigel.
The new Work Light Productions’ non-Equity tour will launch Sept. 19 at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia, and he’ll be on the road until next June. The tour includes a one-day stop in March at the Stifel Theatre (formerly the Peabody).
This hilarious musical comedy tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock-star William Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing, and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical.
“Something Rotten!” premiered on Broadway in 2015 and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, with Christian Borle winning for Best Featured Actor as Shakespeare.
So, how did this exciting opportunity happen? Mark, a St. Louis native and graduate of Bishop DuBourg High School, said he responded to an audition notice and asked for advice from a friend who had worked on the producing side of the original Broadway production.

“After chatting with him, and a lot of amazing people helping me out, I was able to get my materials (headshot, resume, website, etc.) to the casting agency and they called me in for an audition,” he said.
It was on his birthday, a Monday. He was called back that Thursday and found out the next day he was cast.
“It was even crazier because the day that I found out and flew home, I had to perform a piece by Rachmaninov in Russian with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. So, I landed around 3-ish and had to get my life together and be at Powell Hall for a concert at 7 p.m. It was a crazy nine days from the day that I got the initial email to the day that I found out that I booked the show,” he said.
Currently, he is rehearsing in NYC. During the past few weeks, he has been getting fittings done, and taking care of other logistics.
When he had a shoe fitting for a custom pair of boots at LaDuca, he described it as “an insanely happy moment.”
“You hear about all these kinds of moments, but when it’s actually you, it’s crazy!” he said. “I’m super excited that we’re going to play the Stifel Theatre in St. Louis on March 13, 2019! I can’t wait to share this amazing cast and show with my family and friends.”
Born and raised in Dogtown, Mark has worked different day jobs while pursuing performing opportunities. Recently, he was in Union Avenue Opera’s “Lost in the Stars” and can be seen in a Missouri Lottery commercial for The Voice VIP Promotion. He has been a paid singer with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus for the past five years.
In addition to Mark, the cast features Matthew Baker as Shakespeare, Matthew Janisse as Nick Bottom, Greg Kalafatas as Nostradamus, Emily Kristen Morris as Bea, Jennifer Elizabeth Smith as Portia, and Richard Spitaletta as Nigel Bottom.
For more info or tickets, visit www.rottenbroadway.com
Bravo and Break a Leg!
***IN LIEU FESTIVAL: Sunday will still be a Fun Day, thanks to the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, who has come to the rescue of local bands without a venue now that the Lou Fest has been cancelled.
“The Sound of St. Louis Showcase,” a free musical festival will take place on two stages — at The Grandel Theatre and the Dark Room (in the Grandel) — from 2 to 10 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Grand Center Arts District.
In addition to the Kranzbergs, other sponsors include Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, Gaslight, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, Express Scripts, and Red Bull are presenting this showcase of “some of the best talent in our vibrant music scene. Help us uplift and celebrate ‘The Sound of St. Louis.’ More local vendors may become involved.
The local line-up includes Ben Reece’s Unity Quartet, Bob DeBoo, The Burney Sisters, Dracla, Grace Basement, Jesse Gannon, Kasimu-tet, Kevin Bowers, Nova, The Knuckles, Mo Egeston, Owen Ragland, Ptah Williams Trio, The River Kittens, Scrub & Ace Ha and Tonina.
***
GO SEE A PLAY POLL: Oh, what a beautiful day! You can win two free tickets to “Oklahoma!” at Stages St. Louis for either this Friday or Saturday.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration will open at Stages St. Louis Sept. 7 and will run through Oct. 7. When it debuted on Broadway 75 years ago, it changed the face of the American musical, and ran for more than five years.
Were you in a school production, in community theater or professional regional theater? It seems many people were. Who is your favorite among the iconic characters?
Such history! Those unforgettable classic songs “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “I Cain’t Say No” and “Kansas City,” not to mention the title number, always stay with you.
You can see Stages’ fresh take on this historic musical by entering our Go See a Play Poll. Respond to our poll question on who your favorite iconic character is, along with your name and phone number, and send to: [email protected] by noon Friday, Sept. 7. We will draw a name, and you can choose either Friday or Saturday, Sept. 7 or 8, at 8 p.m. performance – two tickets. We’ll let you know and help arrange your selected evening with the fine folks at Stages St. Louis.
Who is your favorite character from “Oklahoma!”?
Ado Annie Carnes
Aunt Eller
Gertie Cummings
Jud Fry
Ali Hakim
Curly McClain
Will Parker
Laurey Williams
Peter Wochniak photo
***THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Every year, new theater troupes pop up in the metropolitan St. Louis area, but perhaps the biggest growth is with youth groups. The Debut Theatre started this year and all proceeds benefit Pedal the Cause, which funds cancer research. The youth-founded group will present its third Acting Against Cancer event with a performance of “Into the Woods” on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Chesterfield YMCA.
Debut Theatre Company was founded by youth to promote life-long learning and appreciation of the arts toward a more conscious and compassionate community. Its goal is to engage, inspire and entertain.
The mission statement includes: “We hope to make a difference for our artists, our audiences and those who benefit through our charitable cause. This youth centered company celebrates the essential power of the theatre to illuminate our common humanity.”
In the metro-east, St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church music director Stephen Eros and his wife, Jamie Marble Eros, music director at St. Clare School, organized a community theatre troupe to present “Godspell,” with 13 adults and teens in the cast, last month. A 25-member children’s chorus, which rehearsed through a week-long music camp at the church, joined the cast for two public performances.
***SIDE BY SIDE: Tony nominee Chad Beguelin of Centralia, Ill., is gearing up for another Broadway opening. He co-wrote the book with Bob Martin and lyrics for the musical “The Prom,” which begins previews Oct. 23, along with writing partner Matthew Sklar, who composed the music.
Chad Beguelin of Centralia, Ill. on 42nd Street near graphics of shows he’s both a part of on Broadway. Photo provided.He posted this recent picture in front of the Longacre Theatre at 220 W. 42nd Street, the new home of “The Prom,” while “Aladdin” is currently running next door, at the New Amsterdam Theatre. He wrote the book and new lyrics to the 2011 musical “Aladdin,” invited by Alan Menken to do so, and landed his third and fourth Tony nominations in the process. Fun to have two of your shows collide (his other major works include “The Wedding Singer” – Tony nominations for book and lyrics — and “Elf”). The duo’s website is: www.sklarandbeguelin.com
“The Prom” is about a canceled high school dance and four fading Broadway stars who seize the opportunity to fight for justice — and a piece of the spotlight
Beth Leavel and Adam HellerBest wishes to Muny favorite Beth Leavel and her leading man, Adam Heller, on their recent engagement. They played Rose and Herbie in The Muny production of “Gypsy” this summer, and she is preparing to star in The Prom.” They are shown here attending the 2015 premiere of “It Shoulda Been You.”
Those aren’t the only local connections. “The Prom” producers include Jack Lane, Terry Schnuck and Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, all of St. Louis.
Talk about timing! New Line Theatre will produce “Be More Chill” in May, and the musical sensation is moving to Broadway in March.
Attagirls to the MVPs of SATE, who dealt with an audience medical emergency during the final performance of “No Exit” at The Chapel Sept. 1. Kudos to Kristen Strom, stage manager; Bess Moynihan, director; and Ellie Schwetye, producer for the cool and calm efforts.
(And another round of applause for the cast – Rachel Tibbetts, Shane Signorino, Sarah Morris and Katy Keating — for their professionalism).
***,
WORD: “I can’t take his genius anymore.” – Rita Hayworth, on divorcing Orson Welles.
On Sept. 7, 1943, Welles whisked Hayworth away from the set of “Cover Girl” and they were married at the Santa Monica City Hall. She was 25, he was 28. Their marriage would last less than four years; they had one daughter, Rebecca.
***
BROADWAY BOUND:  During a recent trip to NYC to visit my youngest son, I was fortunate to see “Straight White Men” starring Armie Hammer, Josh Charles, Paul Schneider and Stephen Payne, with introduction and some supporting work from Kate Bournstein and Ty Dafoe, at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre. It is a 10-week limited run ending Sept. 9.
Charlie and Lynn Venhaus at Helen Hayes Theatre, Aug. 26.Written by Young Jean Lee, she is the first Asian-American female playwright to be produced on Broadway. She provided laughter and poignancy, striking a chord about family interactions when you are grown-ups.
The Helen Hayes Theatre is the smallest on Broadway, at 597 seats, and recently renovated to become Second Stage’s new home.
It starts out on Christmas Eve with a widowed dad and his three grown sons — two who live out of town. With its Christmas setting, the play about family dynamics and the responsibilities that come with education and privilege lends itself to the intimate atmosphere. It’s 90 minutes, no intermission.
All the actors were good – convincing as a real family – but Paul Schneider is the one I’d for sure single out for awards. I hope it’s considered for multiple Tony Award nominations.
So many people connected with this show were Steppenwolf Theatre veterans and involved in the “This Is Our Youth” revival that both sons and I saw at the Cort Theatre in November 2014, notably director Anna D. Shapiro and scenic designer Todd Rosenthal. They also launched Tracey Letts’ “August: Osage County.”
No wonder this was so tip-top. I can see local theater groups wanting to produce it, and there is plenty of local talent to fill those roles. I suspect I will see it again. This play will likely have a good run with groups across the country.
***
Barbra Streisand sings “Don’t Rain on My Parade”TRIVIA TIME-OUT:  Fifty years ago, the movie adaptation of “Funny Girl” premiered on Sept. 8, 1968, earning Barbra Streisand her first Oscar for her first movie role. However, she had originated the role of Fanny Brice on Broadway.
The Academy Award was the first and only tie for Best Actress. Who did she share the award with?
What was Streisand’s second Oscar for?
In 1964, Streisand lost the Tony Award for her performance in “Funny Girl” to what actress?
Answers:
Katharine Hepburn in “The Lion in Winter”
Best Song: “Evergreen” from “A Star is Born”
Carol Channing for “Hello, Dolly!”
TRIBUTE: He was one of my first theater idols and continued to be a favorite, decades later. I discovered Neil Simon in high school, used “The Star-Spangled Girl” for speech competition (comedy interp) senior year, was in his plays “Fools” (Lenya) and “Plaza Suite” (Karen) in community theatre, and made it a point to see pretty much all his shows.
He influenced me in the way he wrote such distinct characters with specific snippets of dialogue to give you hilarious insights into their personalities. He had such an impact on modern comedy!
On Aug. 26, the day Neil Simon died, at age 91, I happened to be in New York City and was planning a Broadway afternoon. So I went by the Neil Simon Theatre to pay my respects and see any tributes.
The playwright had written over 30 plays and movie scripts, mostly adaptations of his own works, but a few originals (“The Out-of-Towners” and “The Goodbye Girl.”)
We headed to the Neil Simon Theatre on W. 52nd in the twilight — as all the marquees began to light up the night, I knew the sign would be dark as a tribute to the legendary funny man. A small memorial had started.
His influence on comedy writers was significant. I read “The Odd Couple” when I was 15 and had never laughed so hard. That was around the time I saw the 1967 movie “Barefoot in the Park” with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, who had played Paul on Broadway. Then I saw “Promises, Promises” with Jerry Orbach at the Muny in 1970, and I marveled at genius. That man was a quip machine!
I realized that reading/seeing Simon’s plays had given me a yearning to see NYC (along with early Woody Allen movies). It was his town, his people. He taught us Midwesterners all about the Big Apple.
Now it was back to my son Charlie’s apartment in Brooklyn, where once upon a time I envisioned Eugene being scolded by his Mom Blanche as he envisioned himself pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (“Brighton Beach Memoirs” is one of the few Simon works that makes me cry).
Thank you, Mr. Simon, for making us laugh and recognize ourselves along the way.
Lynn Venhaus as Lenya in Monroe Actors Stage Company’s “Fools” in November 2009.What are your favorites? Please add your comments.
“Fools” was the funniest play I ever was in, and it was my final performance in community theater.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
It’s back to school and back to work after vacation as summer winds down. It’s also back to the boards for local theater companies, as we do not have any openings, only shows returning for more performances.
The St. Louis Fringe Festival returns, as voices continue to be unleashed Thursday through Saturday in the Grand Arts Center.
Two showcases for primo voices have final performances this weekend, so you do not want to miss “The Light in the Piazza” and Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars.”
And the drama goes on in Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” and “King Charles III.”
Go, See a Play!

Britteny Henry and James Reiss. Photo by Ron James.“King Charles III”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Aug. 17 – 26
The Ivory Theatre
7620 Michiganwww.stlshakespeare.org
314-361-5664
What It’s About: Mike Bartlett’s controversial 2014 play is “a future history” about what happens after Queen Elizabeth II dies, and the prince ascends to the throne after a lifetime of waiting. But how to rule? Who are these people beneath the crowns, the conscience of Britain’s most famous family and the unwritten rules of our democracy.
Director: Donna Northcutt
Cast: Colin Nichols, Jeremy Goldmeier, Andra Harkins, Britteny Henry, Lexie Baker, Michael Bouchard, Patience Davis, Hannah Pauluhn, Donna Postel, James Reiss, Jeff Lovell and William Pendergast.
Of Note: This is the first production of St. Louis Shakespeare’s 34th season.
Photo by Ron James
Kay Love as Margaret.“The Light in the Piazza”
R-S Theatrics
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Aug. 10 – 26
The Marcelle Theatre
3310 Sam Shepard Drive
www.r-stheatrics.org
What It’s About: Winner of numerous Tony Awards in 2005, this musical tells the story of a young American woman vacationing with her mother in Florence in the 1950s. When the woman falls for a local Italian man, uncomfortable truths come to light about what was past and what may be future.”
Director: Christina Rios, with music direction by Sarah Nelson
Starring: Kay Martin Love as Margaret, Macia Noorman as Clara, Tielere Cheatem as Fabrizio, Stephanie Merritt as Franca, Micheal Lowe as Guiseppe, Kent Coffel as Signor Naccarelli, Jodi Stockton as Signora Naccarelli and Avery Smith as Young Clara.
Ensemble includes Robert Doyle, Lindy Elliott, Anthony Randle, Melissa Felps, Ann Heir, Chris Kernan, Jason Meyers and Louisa Wimmer.
Of Note: St. Louis premiere.
“Lost in the Stars”
Union Avenue Opera
Aug. 17 – 25
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 Union at Enright.www.unionavenueopera.org
314-361-2881
What It’s About: Kurt Weill’s provocative work addresses the weighty moral issues of racism and injustice, more relevant now than ever in St. Louis. For his final Broadway score, Weill took “Cry, the Beloved Country” – a powerful, uncompromising social indictment of apartheid South Africa – and gave it a passionate voice.
Two aging men – a black country parson and a white British planter – are drawn into friendship by a shared grief. The parson’s faith is challenged by his son’s unintentional murder of the planter’s son, while the planter acquires faith through the loss of his son.
Director: Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Cast: Leader – Roderick George, Nita – Evan Adams*, Grace Kumalo – Jeanitta Perkins*, Stephen Kumalo – Kenneth Overton*, James Jarvis – Tim Schall*, Edward Jarvis – Charlie Mathis*, Arthur Jarvis – Stephen Peirick*, John Kumalo – Reginald Pierre*, Alex – Sherrod Murff*, Foreman – Ross Rubright, Mrs. Mkize – Rose Fischer, Hlabeni – Michael Hawkins, Mark Eland – Chuck Lavazzi*, Linda – Melody Wilson, Johannes Pafuri – Abraham Shaw*, Matthew Kumalo – Carl Overly, Jr.*, Absalom Kumalo – Myke Andrews*, Irina – Krysty Sawnn*, Burton – Anthony Heinemann and The Judge – Joel Rogier.
Ensemble – Evan Adams*, Sharifa Black*, Madeleine Buckley*, Erika Cockerham*, Laurel Ellison Dantas, Ebony Easter*, Rose Fischer, David Goldman*, Brittany Graham*, Michael Hawkins, Anthony Heinemann, Merry Keller, Lisa Khaimova*, Gina Malone, Randell McGee, Maika Miller*, Paul Herbert Pitts*, Joel Rogier, Ross Rubright, Mark Saunders, Moses Anthony Weathers* and Benjamin Worley*.
*Union Avenue Opera debut
Photo by John Lamb
“No Exit”
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Aug. 15 – Sept. 1
Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Chapel
6238 Alexander Drive
www.slightlyoff.org
What It’s About: Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential play “No Exit” is about three damned souls are brought to the same room in hell by a mysterious Valet. Expecting medieval torture devises to punish them for eternity, they are surprised by the deceptively simple and relatively ugly room. As they are all introduced, none of them will admit the reason for their damnation. But Inez demands that they all stop lying to themselves and confess to their crimes. The play is an exploration into the human psyche and the invisible wounds we are capable of inflicting upon others, and ourselves.
Director: Bess Moynihan
Cast: Rachel Tibbetts, Shane Signorino, Sarah Morris, Katy Keating
Of Note “No Exit” is the source of Sartre’s famous quotation ‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ or “Hell Is Other People.”
Photo by Joey Rumpell
“Race Cars and Romance”
St. Louis Fringe Festival National Headline Act
Aug. 23 – 25
The Grandel Theatrewww.stlouisfringe.com
What It’s About: A Fringe Family-Friendly Event starring “Something Rotten!’s” Kate Bailey and Ralph Meitzler, and directed by St. Louis native and Broadway star Brandon Bieber.
“Race Cars and Romance” is a fast-paced, hilarious rom-com that tells the story of a young woman mechanic fighting to earn professional respect in the male-dominated world of stock car racing. She is torn between her desires to find love in a traditional relationship and the reality of her agitated, greasy, masculine working conditions. Her fortunes turn for the better after an unexpected meeting with an old foe and down-and-out race car driver leads to a winning relationship on the track but troubled romance off the track. Meanwhile, traditional relationships are redefined when her best friend, the playful Louraine finds her first “respectful” relationship, former shop owner Paw Paw offers dear Grandma Myrtle appreciation that’s long overdue, and other colorful customers find their connections while keeping the oil change business in non-stop laughter.”
St. Louis Fringe Festival
Aug. 23 – 25, Thursday through Saturday
Grand Arts Centerwww.stlouisfringe.com
www.MetroTix.com
What It’s About: Original material – theater, dance, music, comedy, circus arts, performance art, cabaret and burlesque – are accepted for the annual festival. Tech is minimal and shows are often brief.
Fringe builds community by connecting uncensored, unjuried performing arts with accessible and affordable performances for audiences.
Venues: Kranzberg Art Center Black Box and Studio theatres, The Duet Gallery, The Grandel and .Zack.
Here is the line-up Aug. 23-25. For dates and locations, visit www.stlouisfringe.com
“Any Man in America” – Declaration Stage Company
“The Bothered” – Rogue Theatre Company
“Broadway Favorites” – Debut Theater Company
“The Countdown” – Open House Theatre
“The Devil’s Passion” – Bankside Repertory
“Ectopic: A Hypersexual Play” – Tesseract Theatre Company
“Grim Tales, Horific Vignettes” – Spooky Scary Productions
“Intervals” – Mill Hill Productions
#MeToo, Her Voice Must be Heard” – Until You’ve Walked in Her Shoes Inc.
“Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond – The Midnight Company
“Pain” – Tony Marr Jr.
“Perennial Growth” – Whale of the People
“Political Snarkasm” – The Riccardi’s
“Race Cars and Romance” – National Headline Act
“Tall Tale Camp Tale” – On a Wing and a Prayer
“Til the Cold Winter’s Through – because, why not?

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Voices are unleashed at the St. Louis Fringe Festival now underway in the Grand Arts Center.
Voices are soaring in the St. Louis premiere of “The Light in the Piazza” and Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars.”
Voices are having fun in “Mamma Mia!”, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and “The Robber Bridegroom,” which all end their run this weekend.
Voices are questioning in a post-modern twist on Goethe’s “Faust (Go Down with All the Re$t),” Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit,” the regional premiere of “King Charles III” and a comedy about online dating in “Maybe This Time.”
Go, hear these voices, see a play!

 “Faust (Go Down with All the Re$t)”
Equally Represented Arts (ERA Theatre)
Aug. 15-18
Foam
3359 S. Jefferson Ave. 63118www.eratheatre.org
What It’s About: How much is a soul worth? Based on Goethe’s most celebrated work, ERA’S experimental production, “Faust” (go down with all the re$t), is a post-modern, rock-opera-adaptation in which Heaven is the bank and everyone prays to the Almighty Dollar.
“Faust” is a full-length theatrical production created by ERA’s ensemble of theatre artists with text from Goethe’s “Faust,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” and contemporary television game shows. The script was created by the ensemble. The music was created by Kid Scientist.
Join us for this capitali$t tragedy with music, dancing, and drinking!
Directors: Lucy Cashion and Gabe Taylor
Cast: Will Bonfiglio as Mephistopheles, Miranda Jagels Félix as Dineras, Grace Langford: God & Margaret’s Mother, Alicen Moser as Margaret Dustin Sholtes, Gabe Taylor, Joe Taylor as Faust, composer and music director, and Erica Withrow: Dark Pearl the Magnificent.
Of Note: This is the first show of the “Faustival.” For more information, visit www.faustival.org.
“The Great American Trailer Park Musical”
Act Two Theater
Aug. 8 – 19
St. Peters Cultural Arts Center
1 St. Peters Centre Blvd.
St. Peters, MO 63376
https://www.acttwotheatre.com/…/the-great-american-trailer…/
What It’s About: A country-rock and blues musical about agoraphobia, adultery, ‘80s nostalgia, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, a broken electric chair, kleptomania, strippers, flan and disco.
Norbert and his agoraphobic wife Jeannie are living in Armadillo Acres when a hot young stripper Pippi moves in and threatens their marriage. Linoleum, Betty and Pickles also live in the trailer park and act like a Greek chorus.
Director: Brooke Viegut, with music direction by Karla Curry
Starring: Betty – Theresa Peters Nigus; Lin – Laura Deveney; Pickles – Abby Cockerham; Jeannie – Dana Wachtel; Norbert – Jeffrey Pruett; Pippi – Katy Leigh; Duke – Jack Theiling.
Photo by Lori Biehl
“King Charles III”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Aug. 17 – 26
The Ivory Theatre
7620 Michiganwww.stlshakespeare.org
314-361-5664
What It’s About: Mike Bartlett’s controversial 2014 play is “a future history” about what happens after Queen Elizabeth II dies, and the prince ascends to the throne after a lifetime of waiting. But how to rule? Who are these people beneath the crowns, the conscience of Britain’s most famous family and the unwritten rules of our democracy.
Director: Donna Northcutt
Of Note: This is the first production of St. Louis Shakespeare’s 34th season.
Photo by Ron James
“The Light in the Piazza”
R-S Theatrics
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Aug. 10 – 26
The Marcelle Theatre
3310 Sam Shepard Drive
www.r-stheatrics.org
What It’s About: Winner of numerous Tony Awards in 2005, this musical tells the story of a young American woman vacationing with her mother in Florence in the 1950s. When the woman falls for a local Italian man, uncomfortable truths come to light about what was past and what may be future.”
Director: Christina Rios, with music direction by Sarah Nelson
Starring: Kay Martin Love as Margaret, Macia Noorman as Clara, Tielere Cheatem as Fabrizio, Stephanie Merritt as Franca, Micheal Lowe as Guiseppe, Kent Coffel as Signor Naccarelli, Jodi Stockton as Signora Naccarelli and Avery Smith as Young Clara.
Ensemble includes Robert Doyle, Lindy Elliott, Anthony Randle, Melissa Felps, Ann Heir, Chris Kernan, Jason Meyers and Louisa Wimmer.
Of Note: St. Louis premiere.
“Lost in the Stars”
Union Avenue Opera
Aug. 17 – 25
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 Union at Enright.www.unionavenueopera.org
314-361-2881
What It’s About: Kurt Weill’s provocative work addresses the weighty moral issues of racism and injustice, more relevant now than ever in St. Louis. For his final Broadway score, Weill took “Cry, the Beloved Country” – a powerful, uncompromising social indictment of apartheid South Africa – and gave it a passionate voice.
Two aging men – a black country parson and a white British planter – are drawn into friendship by a shared grief. The parson’s faith is challenged by his son’s unintentional murder of the planter’s son, while the planter acquires faith through the loss of his son.
Director: Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Cast: Leader – Roderick George, Nita – Evan Adams*, Grace Kumalo – Jeanitta Perkins*, Stephen Kumalo – Kenneth Overton*, James Jarvis – Tim Schall*, Edward Jarvis – Charlie Mathis*, Arthur Jarvis – Stephen Peirick*, John Kumalo – Reginald Pierre*, Alex – Sherrod Murff*, Foreman – Ross Rubright, Mrs. Mkize – Rose Fischer, Hlabeni – Michael Hawkins, Mark Eland – Chuck Lavazzi*, Linda – Melody Wilson, Johannes Pafuri – Abraham Shaw*, Matthew Kumalo – Carl Overly, Jr.*, Absalom Kumalo – Myke Andrews*, Irina – Krysty Sawnn*, Burton – Anthony Heinemann and The Judge – Joel Rogier.
Ensemble – Evan Adams*, Sharifa Black*, Madeleine Buckley*, Erika Cockerham*, Laurel Ellison Dantas, Ebony Easter*, Rose Fischer, David Goldman*, Brittany Graham*, Michael Hawkins, Anthony Heinemann, Merry Keller, Lisa Khaimova*, Gina Malone, Randell McGee, Maika Miller*, Paul Herbert Pitts*, Joel Rogier, Ross Rubright, Mark Saunders, Moses Anthony Weathers* and Benjamin Worley*.
*Union Avenue Opera debut
Photo by John Lamb
“Maybe This Time”
Madden Productions
Aug. 17-19
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle
www.brownpapertickets.com
What It’s About: The 90-minute play is about four online dates with good, bad, humorous and sad results.  You not only see and hear two people on a blind date, but you also see and hear what their brains are thinking. It shows how miscommunication and misunderstanding can lead to unexpected and unwarranted consequences.
Director: Pamela Reckamp
Cast: Mara Bollini, George Doerr IV, Carrie Priesmeyer, Paul James, Tonya Darabcsek and Todd Micali.
Of Note: Written and produced by Michael Madden.
“Mamma Mia!”
Stages St. Louis
July 20 – Aug. 19
Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Road.
www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: The musical phenomenon uses the music of ABBA to tell the story of a teen’s search for her birth father. Sophie lives on a Greek island paradise with her mother, who runs a taverna. There are three possible dads, whom she invites to her wedding. Humor, heart, and lots o’ song and dance ensue.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Cast: Corinne Melancon, Greg Goodbrod, Dana Winkle, Dan’yelle Williamson, Summerisa Bell Stevens, David Sajewich, David Schmittou and Steve Isom
Of Note: There have been 30 sold-out performances and the advance single ticket sales have been the highest yet.
Photo by Peter Wochniak
““No Exit”
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Aug. 15 – Sept. 1
Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Chapel
6238 Alexander Drive
www.slightlyoff.org
What It’s About: Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential play “No Exit” is about three damned souls are brought to the same room in hell by a mysterious Valet. Expecting medieval torture devises to punish them for eternity, they are surprised by the deceptively simple and relatively ugly room. As they are all introduced, none of them will admit the reason for their damnation. But Inez demands that they all stop lying to themselves and confess to their crimes. The play is an exploration into the human psyche and the invisible wounds we are capable of inflicting upon others, and ourselves.
Director: Bess Moynihan
Cast: Rachel Tibbetts, Shane Signorino, Sarah Morris, Katy Keating
Of Note “No Exit” is the source of Sartre’s famous quotation ‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ or “Hell Is Other People.”
Photo by Joey Rumpell
“The Robber Bridegroom”
Stray Dog Theatre
Aug. 2 – 18
Tower Grove Abbey
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Additional performances at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15
www.straydogtheatre.org
What It’s About: A bawdy, rousing Southern fairy tale is set in Mississippi follows Jamie Lockhart, a rascally robber of the woods, as he courts Rosamund, the sole daughter of the richest planter in the country. Thanks to a case of double-mistaken identity, the entangled relationship begins to unravel. Throw in an evil stepmother, her pea-brained henchman, and a hostile talking headin-a-trunk, and you have a rollicking country romp.
Director: Justin Been, with music direction by Jennifer Buchheit and choreography by Mike Hodges.
Starring: Phil Leveling, Dawn Schmid, Jeffrey Wright, Logan Willmore, Bryce Miller, Kevin O’Brien, Chris Ceradsky, Susie Lauren, Sarah Gene Dowling, Christen Ringhausen, Shannon Lampkin and Rachel Sexson.
Photo by John Lamb
 
St. Lou Fringe Festival
Aug. 15 – 26, Wednesday through Sunday
Grand Arts Centerwww.stlouisfringe.com
www.MetroTix.com
What It’s About: Original material – theater, dance, music, comedy, circus arts, performance art, cabaret and burlesque – are accepted for the annual festival. Tech is minimal and shows are often brief.
Fringe builds community by connecting uncensored, unjuried performing arts with accessible and affordable performances for audiences.
Here is the line-up Aug. 15 – 19. For dates and venues, visit www.stlouisfringe.com
“Any Man in America” – Declaration Stage Company
“Aphrodite’s Refugees” – MonTra Performance
“As We Stumble Along” – Desire Declyne
“Bae” – Prime
“The Bothered” – Rogue Theatre Company
“Broadway Favorites” – Debut Theater Company
“The Countdown” – Open House Theatre
“The Depths” – State of Clayton
“The Devil’s Passion” – Bankside Repertory
“Empathy on Sale” – Krish Mohan
“The Gringo” – Colin Healy/Fly North Music
“Intervals” – MillHill Productions
#MeToo, Her Voice Must be Heard” – Until You’ve Walked in Her Shoes Inc.
“Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond – The Midnight Company
“Pain” – Tony Marr Jr.
“Pollack” A Frequency Parable – Unconventional Empire
“The Vicious Hillbilly or Dating in the Deep South”
“Til the Cold Winter’s Through – because, why not?