After a record-breaking online summer season, The Muny announced today Muny Holiday Magic. A special four-day holiday video series, Muny Holiday Magic will feature performances from Muny family across the country, including The Muny Kids and Teens. Each free pre-recorded performance will air daily at 12:00 p.m. CST Dec. 21 – 25 via The Muny’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The Muny Holiday Magic schedule is:

Dec. 21 – Members of The Muny Kids and Teens performing “Underneath the Tree.”
Dec. 22 – Members of The Muny Kids and Teens performing “The Chanukah Song (We Are Lights).”
Dec. 23 – A medley of “The 12 Days of Quarantine” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” featuring Broadway and The Muny’s Jason Gotay, Mamie Parris, Nasia Thomas, St. Louis favorites and more than 30 Muny family from coast to coast.

“The 12 Days of Quarantine” features original lyrics written by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen and stars Muny 2020 Summer Variety Hour Live! favorites Maya Bowles, Stephen Buntrock and Erin Dilly with their family, Beth Crandall, Chloe O. Davis, Colby Dezelick, Emma Gassett, Jason Gotay, Matt Kunkel, James T. Lane, Raymond J. Lee, Mamie Parris, Tony Scandora, Trevor Michael Schmidt, Jack Sippel, Blakely Slaybaugh, Gabi Stapula and Nasia Thomas, with music direction by Michael Horsley, orchestrations and arrangements by Andrew Graham, video editing by Matthew Young and many more surprises.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” The Muny’s take on the Meet Me In St. Louis classic, stars St. Louis favorites Leah Berry, Patrick Blindauer, Duane Martin Foster, Zoe Vonder Haar, Julie Hanson, Kennedy Holmes, Kamal Lado, Ben Nordstrom, Rich Pisarkiewicz and April Strelinger, with music direction and arrangements by Michael Horsley, video editing by Matthew Young, sound design by Bill Buzan and video captured by Switch.

Dec. 24 – Broadway, West End and Muny star Ken Page reading the timeless holiday classic The Night Before Christmas. “The voice” of not only The Muny, but also Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ken has been a Muny staple in over 40 productions.

On Dec. 25, a compilation of the four shows will air as a complete package. Each holiday video will be available until midnight Dec. 31, 2020.
The Muny Box Office. Photo by Julia Merkle

To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 350,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season. Celebrating 102 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.

For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org

            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.

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By Connie Bollinger
Contributing Writer
Full disclosure: I ordinarily don’t enjoy audience interactive productions However, “Flanagan’s Wake,” playing now through March 21 at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, proved to be a delightful exception.

Part improv, part scripted, part interactive,”Flanagan’s Wake” tells the story of an Irishman’s funeral and the family and friends who come together in an Irish pub to toast him on his way to paradise.  

Already a long-running smash hit in Chicago, Emery Entertainment has moved the interactive play to St. Louis, where the locals memorialize his passing with plenty o’ pints, zany sing-a-longs and witty tales.

There’s a priest, of course, dear Father Damon Fitzgerald, played by Alan Knoll, whose penchant for sacrilege and gambling is well presented. Knoll tells a thumping good story about the deceased and about an unknown Apostle named Kevin.

Alan Knoll as Father Fitzgerald. Photo by John Flack

Mother Flanagan is there, an ancient, salacious, Gaelic speaking old blister, played to perfection by Bill Burke. Mayor Martin O’Doul (Lynn Berg) hosts the gathering, as it’s his Pub after all.

Brett Ambler is Brian Ballybunion, a fun-loving handsome young man with big dreams. Dustin Petrillo plays Mikey, Teresa Doggett is Kathleen Mooney, the Irish Pagan, and Jennifer Theby-Quinn is Fiona Finn, Flanagan’s long-time fiance.

Music Director Charlie Mueller commands the pub piano, accompanying some of the most surprising songs we’ve ever heard, and three patient bartenders (Janelle Pierce, Sean Seifert, and Matt Billings) round out the cast, along with Patrick Blindauer playing the accordion.

The assembled audience are the cousins and friends come to participate in Flanagan’s send-off.

A romp of this magnitude requires a talented director and an equally skilled stage manager. Luckily, Director Lee Anne Mathews and Stage Manager Emily Clinger are up to the challenge, keeping the action moving along at a break-neck pace but never giving us the feeling of being rushed. 

The cast of “Flanagan’s Wake” are Improv wizards. Brett Ambler creates a wonderfully funny song out of thin air right before our eyes. Theresa Doggett’s Pagan Kathleen tells a  tale of a visit from the “Little People”  that is both surprising and, I’m sure, mostly improvised.

The Mayor, Lynn Berg, also spins a yarn about Flanagan that incorporates audience suggestions and never misses a beat; but for me, the favorite is Jennifer Theby-Quinn’s Fiona, the long suffering, hard drinking, short-tempered fiance whose Banshee;like wails of grief will literally make your ears ring. Fiona throws herself on Flanagan’s casket at every opportunity, causing brother Mikey (Dustin Petrillo) to have to wrestle her off kicking and screaming. 


Some of you may remember Ms Theby-Quinn in Westport’s production of “Avenue Q,” where she played Kate Monster and Lucy the Lounge Singer. Indeed, much of the cast of “Flanagan’s Wake” have St. Louis connections.

Teresa Doggett (Kathleen) recently appeared in “Pride and Prejudice” at the Rep and is also the resident Costume Designer for the Union Avenue Opera.

Jennifer Theby-Quinn as Fiona Finn. Photo by Jack Flack

Bill Burke (Ma) comes to the Playhouse from St. Louis’ own Stray Dog Theater where he recently played in “The Tempest” and “Macbeth.”  Patrick Blindauer has appeared in movie and television productions as well as several productions at the Muny.  Brett Ambler played Brian in “Avenue Q” last year at Westport, and  Dustin Petrillo’s St. Louis credits include Myriad Productions’ “Heathers the Musical” where he played JD.

“Flanagan’s Wake” is irreverent, loud, sarcastic, and delightful — just like family.  

The Playhouse @Westport presents “Flanagan’s Wake” Jan. 24 through March 21. Performances run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with a special Tuesday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day performance. Tickets are available at www.metrotix.com or at the box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more should call 314-616-4455 for special rates. The Playhouse is located at 635 Westport. Visit www.playhouseatwestport.com for more information.

Theresa Doggett and Dustin Petrillo dance. Photo by John Flack.


By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Rain, heat, humidity and bugs. Acting on outdoor stages brings its own set of
problems, which Patrick Blindauer knows first-hand. He performed in three shows
this summer, kicking off the season with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis as
Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost,” then moving on to the Muny in “1776” and
“Footloose.”

“I’ve never been as aware of the weather as I am when
working outdoors. If I see it’s going to be hot, I have to make sure to start
hydrating an hour or so beforehand. I’m also a big proponent of sunscreen and
bug-spray,” he said.
An above-average rainfall has wreaked havoc on performance schedules, and recently,
an extreme heat wave has made performing outdoors a challenge. In “Footloose,”
he is rocking a permed mullet as Coach Roger Dunbar. Although when the weather
broke, Monday’s crowd was the highest of the season – a beautiful night at the
Muny.

“Footloose” is the third time he is working in a show with his wife, Rebecca Young.

“First was “My Fair Lady” at Stages St. Louis and then there was “Annie” at the Muny last year (She played Warbucks’ maid Mrs. Pugh, he was Bundles – picking up the laundry at the orphanage). This year we’re actually playing husband and wife (Eleanor Dunbar, who is on the Bomont school board),” he said.

Young is a veteran of regional and national stages. She toured in “The Producers” and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, appeared in “Carnival!” at the Kennedy Center and at Stages St. Louis in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “On the Town,” in addition to the “My Fair Lady,” where she met Patrick. They have been married for eight years and have one daughter, Magnolia, aka Maggie, who is 3 years old.

Blindauer graduated from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University and moved to New York City in 1998. He can be seen in the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind” – he had one line — and was on seven episodes of “Strangers with Candy,” a Comedy Central series that ran for three seasons. Never mind working with Russell Crowe. What was working with Amy Sedaris like?

“She’s awesome. So sweet off-camera, but such a cut-up on
the set. She would have an idea for a moment and do a couple of different takes
so they could pick later. I’m so glad she’s having continued success,” he said.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner presented by Upstream Theater at Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis, MO on April 9, 2015.

He returned to St. Louis in 2011 and became known for an eclectic body of work. He is versatile enough to join Jerry Vogel in the intense drama “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” at Upstream Theater and to cavort as the accordion-playing Cheshire Cat in the musical “Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure” at Metro Theatre Company last holiday season.

Besides this year’s Shakespeare Festival, he has worked
with the group in last year’s “Romeo and Juliet,” as part of the prologue and
played Peter and the Apothecary. He was in the Festival’s “Shake in the Streets”
original “Twelfth Night” take “The World Begun,” performed in north St. Louis in
September 2015.

He thinks the festival is one of the city’s best summer
traditions.

“It’s incredible. Where else can you have a picnic and
watch free Shakespeare under the stars with thousands of other people?” he
said.

Patrick Blindauer as Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost”His performance as Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost”received rave reviews from theater critics. A comic character, he is a country bumpkin who is arrested for not adhering to the king’s proclamation that all men of the court avoid the company of women for three years.

He enjoyed portraying Costard and the opportunity to work with executive producer Tom Ridgely, who directed for the first time after moving here last year.

“Costard is such a fun role. He’s a clown who also figures into the plot, and I was given lots of freedom to play around, which I appreciated,” he said. “Tom speaks the speech very well, and I thought that he fostered a collaborative, congenial atmosphere in the rehearsal hall. I’d love the chance to work with him again.” Another fun role was the iconic Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” for the Variety Theatre in 2017. He will return in this year’s “Mary Poppins,” set for the Touhill Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. The Variety Children’s Charity sponsors an annual musical that includes children with physical and developmental disabilities working with professional actors.

The Variety Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz” in 2017“Variety is an amazing organization, one that truly
transforms lives, and their yearly musical is a thing of beauty. ‘Oz’ was a ton
of fun and working with those kids and Lara (Teeter) was a real treat. I can’t
say anything about ‘Mary Poppins’ quite yet, I’m afraid,” he said.

Returning to the Muny the past few seasons has been a pleasure, he said.

His first role at the Muny was in “42nd Street” in 2016 – well, actually three, as Mac, Thug and Doctor. He performed several parts in last season’s “Annie” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”

He was cast as Samuel Chase, a representative of Maryland
in the Continental Congress, in “1776,” which was a special experience for him.

“I was actually born on the 4th of July, and I’m named
after Patrick Henry, so anything patriotic definitely catches my attention.
I’ve been a big fan of the movie for many years, and this is my second
production, having previously played Lee,” he said.

Patrick as Samuel Chase is second from left. Photo by Phillip HamerThe Muny’s closing performance of “1776” was on July 3, but because of a rain delay, the actors actually signed the Declaration of Independence on stage on July 4 – very cool because it was not only our real Independence Day, but Patrick’s birthday too.

He was looking forward to working with two-time Tony winner Christian Borle as director of “Footloose,” making his Muny debut. (This interview was done before the show rehearsals had begun).

“Oh my God, I can hardly believe it. I will have to refrain
from pinching myself constantly,” he said.

He has ventured out of St. Louis, too, portraying Horton in “Seussical” this spring at the Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Mo., part of their theater for young audience program.

“The World Begun” Shake in the Streets with Marlene Coveyou

Being a working actor in St. Louis means side gigs, too.
His day job is quite impressive, however, and has gained him national
recognition.

He is a professional crossword puzzle constructor, publishing more than 60 in the New York Times, including a week-long contest similar to his Puzzlefests.

He has had work published in USA Today, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Crosswords with Friends and the GAMES magazine.

He is one of the 10 constructors featured in Will Shortz’s
Favorite Puzzlemakers. He cohosts the crossword tournament Lollapuzzoola, which
takes place in NYC every year on a Saturday in August. He also writes for the
American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

A proud word nerd growing up, he began his lifelong love of puzzles from the time his mom bought him Mr. Light and his dad shared his Games magazines, he said. The theater bug bit hard in junior high school.

But he didn’t take up solving crosswords until the summer
of 2004.

“I quit smoking cigarettes and wanted something else to do
with my free hand, so I took up solving. After about a year, I tried to make
and sell one, which was much harder than I’d imagined,” he said. “My first
puzzle was published by the New York Times on July 21, 2005 (a Thursday).”

He is considered a clever puzzle writer by the industry and fans.

“I just try to make fun puzzles, puzzles that push the
envelope and revolve around a theme or gimmick that I would find exciting to
discover as a solver. I like to break the crossword rules and surprise solvers
or give them a real aha moment,” he said.

You can find more about his work at his website,
www.patrickspuzzles.com

The Rime of the Ancient MarinerQUESTIONS WITH PATRICK BLINDAUER 1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

 “My first production
was ‘Oliver!’ when I was 12, and it was truly a family affair: I played the
Artful Dodger, my dad played Fagin, my sister was an orphan, and my mom helped
with costumes. I loved the sense of community and the feeling of working
together toward a common goal — I still do.’

2. How would your friends describe you?

“Probably as someone who likes to make people smile,
whether that means telling a joke or a story, being silly, or giving them my
latest crossword to try.”

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

“As the father of a three-nager, my spare time lately is
taken up by playing make believe, going to the park or library, and reading
books. I also enjoy letterboxing, which involves following clues and going on
hikes to find hand-carved rubber stamps.”

4. What is your current obsession?

 “When I’m not in
rehearsal or performing, I’m constructing crossword puzzles for newspapers,
various clients, or my website: patrickspuzzles.com.”

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

“I was a professional magician when I was a teenager, and I
still love to do tricks with coins or a deck of cards.

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

 “Being present at
the birth of my daughter was the most incredible thing. She has made my life
richer and fuller than I ever thought possible.”

7. Who do you admire most?

“My wife, Rebecca–she is so funny and caring and
thoughtful. I’m very lucky to have found her, and she makes me a better person
every day.”

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

“Going into outer space is a dream of mine–astronauts need
theatre, too, right?”

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

“Visiting the Magic House or the City Museum with my wife
and kiddo.”

10. What’s next?

“My wife and I will both be in “Footloose,” where
we will be playing husband and wife.

And “Mary Poppins” at Variety.

MORE ABOUT PATRICK:

“Wonderland: Alice’s Adventures in Rock and Roll”Name: Patrick Blindauer Age: 42 Birthplace: Louisiana Current location: Ballwin, Mo. Family: daughter Magnolia Education: BFA from Webster University Day job: Crossword constructor and Dad First job: Fry Guy at Red Lobster First role: Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” Favorite roles/plays: Horton in “Seussical,” Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” Dream role/play: King George in “Hamilton,” Nostradamus in “Something Rotten!” Awards/Honors/Achievements: One of Will Shortz’s 10 favorite puzzlemakers Favorite quote/words to live by: “All the world’s a stage…” A song that makes you happy: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams

By Andrea BraunContributing WriterLove’s Labor’s Lost is a “play” in the strictest sense of the word, and it’s fun to watch the characters pontificate, read their letters aloud (even if a couple of them go awry), flirt, and stretch language to illogical limits and syllogistic absurdity.

It’s well known in theatre circles that this early work in the Shakespeare canon isn’t often performed and conventional wisdom has it that it’s simply dated. Its puns and jokes are too much of their own time for contemporary audiences to “get” them. It also could be static considering how much standing and speaking there is if the stage business isn’t choreographed to avoid it.

I’m certainly pleased that director Tom Ridgely didn’t think in those limited terms. Our new artistic director of the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has given us a comic jewel. I’m not familiar enough with the text to cite specific edits and emendations that may have been made, but I think some are there. It’s particularly hard to tell because Ridgely has paced this piece at 11 out of 10, and yet it’s wonderfully easy to follow.

The basic story is simple enough. Four young noblemen decide to take an oath to forgo romance for three years to allow time for study and contemplation, and the edict is issued that Navarre shall be singular in its observation of these rules. In a trice, four young women show up. Oops! What now?

The situation is that straightforward, but complicated by politics in that the men are the friends and companions of the  King of Navarre (Sky Smith) and the Princess of France (Kea Trevett) representing her ailing father, the King, and her attendants and have come to discuss the disposition of the Aquitaine.

Flirting ensues, complete with the young men playing
dancing Muscovites (you won’t believe it until you see it) and the Princess and
her entourage exchanging jewelry to confuse the men about their identities.
There are actually two plays-within-the-play, plus funny moments from the
scholar Holofernes (Carine Montberband) and the curate Nathaniel (Katy Keating)
whose routine reminds me of a Socratic version of “Who’s On First.”

Early in the action, we meet consummate clown Costard
(Patrick Blindauer)  as he’s being
berated by the King for illicit relations with the wench Jacquinetta (Molly
Meyer). Costard shows his own facility with language when he tries to get out
of being punished for breaking the new law about congress with a woman, for
which the Spaniard, the haughty and verbose Don Armado (Philip Hernandez), also
in love with Jacquinetta, reports him. And the course is set for merriment
throughout.

The set by Jason Simms is perfect, and contains more
you than you might expect. Melissa Trn’s costumes span the ages from the
vaguely Roman slave look sported by Costard, to  Armado’s bedazzled uniform; the Curate and
Holofernes in Elizabethan dress, the noblewomen in Bennett sisters garb sans
the bonnets, and the men’s mostly timeless attire. With John Wylie’s lights, it
all combines to create a beautiful show. Rusty Wandall incorporates wandering
minstrels in his sound design, so we’re welcomed to the show with “Meet Me in
St. Louis” as we enter, and “Gloria” complete with a Blues flag at curtain call,
and much else throughout. While the actors are mostly excellent, it’s Tom
Ridgely’s show and he’s got a winner.

The Shakespeare Festival runs in Forest Park through June 23 nightly at 8 p.m. except Mondays. Admission is free and festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with a Green Show and a 25-minute version of the play performed Thursday-Sunday nights at 7:15 by the Shakespeare Squadron.

Veteran performer Philip Hernández, the only actor in Broadway history to play both Valjean and Javert in “Les Misérables,” will headline the 2019 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of “Love’s Labors Lost,” May 31 through June 23, at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. Preview performances are scheduled May 29-30. Performances are held nightly, excluding Mondays, and begin at 8 p.m. 

Philip Hernandez

Hernández will portray Don Adriano de Armado, the lovelorn soldier considered to be one of Shakespeare’s finest comic creations. The actor made his Broadway debut in the Original Cast of the Tony Award-winning “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” directed by Harold Prince, and created the role of Reverend Gonzalez opposite Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades in the Original Broadway Cast of Paul Simon’s “The Capeman.” TV credits include roles on “Nurse Jackie,” “Mysteries of Laura,” “Law and Order” and “Ugly Betty,” among others. 

Joining Hernández in the Festival production are Bradley James Tejeda (Duc de Biron), a native of San Antonio, Texas, and a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, as well as New Yorkers Kea Trevett (Princess of France) and Sky Smith (King of Navarre), both emerging stars within the Shakespeare theater circle. Trevett has appeared on stages nationally with the Classic Stage Company and the Roundabout, as well as internationally in “Antigone” (Africa Tour). Her TV and film credits include “Fosse/Verdon” (FX), “Milkwater” and “The Kindergarten Teacher.” Smith’s most recent credits include “Twelfth Night” (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) and “Love’s Labours Lost”* (The Acting Co.). 

Kea Trevett

Festival veterans include Patrick Blindauer (Costard), who appeared in 2018’s “Romeo & Juliet”; Katy Keating (Nathaniel), most recently seen with the Festival in “Into the Breeches!” and “Blow, Winds”; and Michael James Reed (Forester/Marcadé), marking his seventh park appearance. 

Other area performers making their Festival debut include Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), returning to St. Louis after appearing regionally at the Repertory Theater; Carine Montbertrand (Holofernes), most recently of Titan Theatre at Queens Theatre; Naima Randolph (Moth), an alumni of the Festival’s Shakespeare Squadron and Camp Shakespeare programs; Laura Sohn (Rosaline), a graduate of Rutgers University; Molly Meyer (Jaquenetta); and Sam Jones (Longueville). Also joining the cast are Webster University Conservatory graduates Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria) and Kiah McKirnan (Catherine), and current student Riz Moe (DuMaine). 

Tom Ridgely, executive producer of the Festival, will direct the production, his first since taking the helm of the organization last spring. This marks the company’s 19th season of free, outdoor, professional theater in the park. 

Creative team members include Jason Simms (Set Design) of New York; Melissa Trn (Costumes), a former St. Louisan currently living in Los Angeles; and John Wylie (Lighting) and Rusty Wandall (Sound). This marks Wylie’s sixth season with the Festival, and Wandall’s eighth.

*A note on the title, “Love’s Labors Lost”:

Spelling and punctuation in early modern English weren’t nearly as regularized as they are today. Shakespeare famously never even spelled his own name the same way twice. Similarly, the first quarto of this play is titled “Loues labors lost”; the first folio has it as “Loues Labour’s Lost”; and, the second folio, “Loues Labours Lost.” Given the lack of certainty about what exactly Shakespeare intended, there are various schools of thought on how best to render those three words in modern English. Since the British “u” in “labour” was optional even in Shakespeare’s day, the Festival has opted for the more familiar American spelling. In addition, since the title contains an allusion to the Labors of Hercules, which are referred to often, along with the work of Cupid (aka Love), the Festival opted for the plural over the contraction — hence, “Love’s Labors Lost.”

About Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare and works inspired by his legacy of storytelling. Since 2001, the festival has grown from producing a single production of Shakespeare in the Park to a year-round season of impactful theater in exciting and accessible venues throughout the St. Louis community. The festival’s artistic and education programs reached over 50,000 patrons and students during the 2018 season and have reached over one million since 2001. Leadership support for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2019 season is provided by the Whitaker Foundation. The festival is also funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis. For more information, please visit www.sfstl.com, or call 314-531-9800.

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