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 Lynn Venhaus Managing Editor As June winds down, several shows end their runs, so this is the final weekend for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis repertoire, Stages St. Louis’ opening show “The Boy from Oz” and their theater for young audiences 101 Dalmatians” and Circus Flora.

The Q Collective, Max and Louie Productions, SIUE, O’Fallon Theatre Works and Ozark Actors Theatre offer their second weekend of a summer shows. So, it’s the last chance.

This weekend is also the seventh annual Grand Center
Theatre Crawl, with 24 theater companies presenting short works Friday night
and Saturday afternoon and evening.

It’s also the opening of only two regional shows, “The
Revolutionists,” with its all-female cast, presented by Insight Theatre Company
at The Marcelle, and a youth production of “The Addams Family” by Gateway
Center for the Performing Arts.

The Muny offers “1776” for only the fourth time since 1972,
and not since 1999, perfect for the week leading up to Independence Day.

Then, theater, like many Americans, will be taking a
holiday break. Until then, Go See a Play!

Here’s the line-up:

“101 Dalmatians” Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences June 18 – 30 Robert Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Condensed from the Disney animated film,
“101 Dalmatians” is about the evil Cruella DeVil and her two klutzy henchmen as
they trey to steal a litter of the cutest puppies ever to hit jolly old London
Town. But not to worry – thus fur-raising adventure ends happily with plenty of
puppy power to spare!

Director/Choreographer: Peggy Taphorn
Starring: Tyler Jent, Eric Michael Parker, Larissa White, Drew Humphrey, Dena
DiGiacinto, Laura Ernst, Ryan Cooper, Joshua Roach

“1776” The Muny June 27 – July 3, 8:15 p.m. Forest Park stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: With the American Revolution underway, a nation’s independence is ready to be claimed. The three-time Tony Award-winning “1776 “sets ablaze the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence and illuminates the personalities, passions and compromises that created a nation. Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by James Moore and choreography by Enrique Brown Starring: Robert Petkoff (John Adams), Adam Heller (Benjamin Franklin) Keith Hines (Thomas Jefferson), Jenny Powers (Abigail Adams) and Ali Ewoldt (Martha Jefferson).

Additional members of the Continental Congress include
George Abud (James Wilson), Ryan Andes (Richard Henry Lee), Reed Armstrong (Dr.
Lyman Hall), Patrick Blindauer (Samuel Chase), Harry Bouvy (Andrew McNair),
Dean Christopher (Joseph Hewes), Bobby Conte Thornton (Edward Rutledge), Ben
Davis (John Dickinson), J.D. Daw (Robert Livingston), Gary Glasgow (Charles
Thomson), Philip Hoffman (Caesar Rodney), Michael Thomas Holmes (George Read),
Joneal Joplin (Stephen Hopkins), Brian Keane (Col. Thomas McKean), Benjamin
Love (A Leather Apron), Larry Mabrey (Lewis Morris), Ben Nordstrom (Dr. Josiah
Bartlett), Rich Pisarkiewicz (Painter), Alex Prakken (Courier), Michael James
Reed (John Hancock), Greg Roderick (Roger Sherman) and Jerry Vogel (Rev. John
Witherspoon).

“The Addams Family” Gateway Center for the Performing Arts June 28-30 Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Emerson Theatre, Harris-Stowe University www.gcpastl.org

Rachel Tibbetts

 “As You Like It” Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville June 21 – 30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Metcalf Theatre 618-650-2774 www.siue.edu

What It’s About: The theatrical and enchanting Shakespeare
that you have come to expect from SIUE Summer Theater continues; this beloved
romantic comedy moves from the magical Forest of Arden to the mysterious 1920’s
Ozark forests, complete with original, Old-Time Tunes. Our hero Rosalind,
finding herself on the run from the evils of the city with her best friend
Celia and her philosophical fool Touchstone, disguises herself as a young man
and begins a journey of self-discovery. Falling in love and learning who you
are by “acting the part” are the heart of this classic tale of
romance and reconciliation.
Director: Ellie Schwetye

“The Boy from Oz” May 31 – June 30 Stages St. Louis Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwoodwww.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Dazzling and hilarious as the legendary
Peter Allen himself, THE BOY FROM OZ follows the Australian singer-songwriter
from his humble beginnings performing in backcountry pubs to his international
stardom beside such Hollywood icons as Judy Garland and her daughter Liza
Minnelli.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: David Elder as Peter Allen, Sarah Ellis as Liza Minnelli, Zach
Trimmer as Greg Connell, Corinne Melancon as Marion Woolnough, Michele Ragusa
as Judy Garland, Brad Frenette as George Woolnough, Steve Isom as Dick
Woolnough, Erik Keiser as Chris Bell, Nic Thompson as Mark Herron, Ben Iken and
Simon Desilets as Young Peter, Lydia Ruth Dawson, Bryn Purvis and Madison
Tinder as Trio, Frankie Thams as Trick, Nathanial Burich as Dealer and Ashley
Chasteen as Alice. Ensemble includes Kari Ely and Caleb Dicke.

“The Caper on Aisle 6” Circus Flora June 7 – June 30 Big Top Tent in Grand Center (air-conditioned)www.circusflora.org What It’s About: A trip to the grocery store is a place of intrigue and excitement when an ancient and powerful substance, long thought to be gone from the Earth, is found in the unlikeliest of places: aisle six of the local grocery store. What secrets does aisle six hold, and what adventures will it set in motion?“The Coronation of Poppea” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 9 – 28 Loretto-Hilton Center, 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644

What It’s About: The fight for the throne is never
dignified. Poppea will stop at nothing to become Empress, no matter who she has
to blackmail, betray, or kill. And Emperor Nero, who is infatuated with Poppea,
is not thinking with his head. Separately, they’re bad enough. Together, they
will turn Rome upside down. Sexy, bloodthirsty, and unapologetic, this opera is
the best kind of political thriller.
Of Note: The opera runs 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission and is
performed in English with English supertitles.

 “Fire Shut Up My Bones” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 15 – June 29 Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.experienceopera.com 314-961-0644

What It’s About: When Charles discovers that his cousin has
returned to his Louisiana hometown, he races home from college to confront his
past. Memories and shadows surround Charles as he strives to move beyond a
cycle of violence and forge a brave new path.

Of Note: Writers are Terence Blanchard, composer of OTSL’s
sold-out hit “Champion,” teams up with screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”)
for a haunting, powerful, and tender coming-of age story inspired by a memoir
celebrated as “stunning” (Essence), “riveting” (Chicago Tribune),
and “exquisite” (The New York Times).
The opera runs approximately two hours and 25 minutes with one intermission and
is performed in English with English supertitles.

“Grand Center Theater Crawl” St. Louis Public Radio June 28 and 29 Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. Grand Center Arts District www.stlouispublicradio.org What It’s About: The seventh annual Theatre Crawl offers free access to performances in and around Grand Center by 24 local theatre companies during a two-day pop-up experience. It’s a chance to get to know the groups shaping St. Louis’ arts scene. Performances are 15 minutes long, starting every hour and half hour. Audience members will rotate through 19 different venues and each session will include family-friendly performances.

There’s sure to be something for everyone with a mix of
musical numbers, select scene performances and improv. Transportation between
venues is provided by Paraquad. A program also grants participants access to food
specials at certain restaurants located around Grand Center.

Of Note: In 2018, the Theatre Crawl drew a variety of
people representing 112 zip codes and 13 states.

Featured theatre companies Equally Represented Arts,
Insight Theatre Company, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, Prison Performing
Arts, R-S Theatrics, The Midnight Company, and West End Players Guild.

Sarah Gene Dowling and Luke Steingruby

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
The Q Collective
June 20-22 and 27-29; June 30 encore presentation at 8 p.m.
8 p.m. evenings Thursday – Saturday, with additional 10:30 p.m. performance
Saturdays
The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in The Grove
www.eventbrite.com

What It’s About: 
John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s groundbreaking, Obie-winning
Off-Broadway musical has the internationally ignored song stylist Hedwig
Schmidt, herself, tells us her wild life story, as a fourth-wall smashing East
German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched
sex-change operation. This outrageous and unexpectedly powerful story is
dazzlingly performed by Hedwig (née Hansel) in the form of a rock gig/stand-up
comedy backed by the hard-rocking band The Angry Inch. It’s a rocking ride,
funny, touching, and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them
an inch when they deserved a mile.

Director:  Jordan
Woods with assistance by Camille Fensterman, music direction by Holly Barber

Starring: Luke Steingruby, Sarah Gene Dowling

Of Note: Thursday through Saturday 8 p.m. shows are sold out.

“Indecent” Max and Louie Productions June 20-23, June 27-30 Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Centerwww.maxandlouie.com

What It’s About: Winner of numerous awards including an acclaimed Tony-winning run on Broadway, “Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, is the true story of a groundbreaking scandalous play and the courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it.  Director: Joanne Gordon Starring: Paul Cereghino – Actor, Zoe Farmingdale – Actor, John Flack – Actor, Katie Karel – Actor, TJ Lancaster – Lemml, the Stage Manager, Judi Mann – Actor, Tim Schall – Actor; ;Musicians Alyssa Avery, Kris Pineda, Jack Thieling

Of Note: Special student discount for tickets. Students can show up at the box office with a Student ID and get $20 tickets June 27-30. $1 facility fee. Cash/check/credit/debit.

“The Marriage of Figaro” May 25 – June 29 Opera Theatre of St. Louis Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Road on Webster University campuswww.opera-stl.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Mozart’s comedy masterpiece is about complicated life at court and how love should always prevail. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. The opera runs three hours and ten minutes with one intermission and is sung in English with English supertitles.

“Mary Poppins” Ozark Actors Theatre June 13 – June 30 Thursday at 7:30, Friday at 2 and 7:30, Saturday at 7:30, and Sunday at 2 p.m. 701 N. Cedar St., Rolla, MO 65401 https://www.ozarkactorstheatre.org/mary-poppins

What It’s About: She’s practically perfect in every way!
Join the world’s most famous nanny as she raises up the Banks children in this
musical adaptation of the classic film. Featuring such musical favorites as
Chim Chim Cheree, Let’s Go Fly a Kite, Feed the Birds, Spoonful of Sugar, and
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, this show is sure to delight the whole
family.
Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with music direction by Titus Kautz and
choreography by Illeana Kirven
Starring: Mary Poppins – Pauline Parkhurst; Bert – Quinn Cason; Mr. Banks –
Brett Ambler; Mrs. Banks – Mary Baron; Jane Banks – Jersy Stinson;Michael Banks
– Charlie Mathis; Admiral Boom/etc – John Contini; and Robertson Ay/Neleus –
Colin Stansky.

Ensemble – Jamey Pellegrini, Craig Phillips, Susan Holmes,
Carrie Klofach, Illeana Kirven, Amanda Ambler, Hannah Geisz, Jackson Buhr,
Nathan Haltiwanger, Christian Boyd, Anna Benoit, Brianna Justine

Of Note: They just completed massive renovations to the beautiful theater, including new floors, walls, bathrooms, stage, concession stand and seats, thanks to a grant. This is the opening show in the new space. “The Miracle Worker” O’Fallon Theatre Works June 21-23 and 28-30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon Municipal Centre, 100 Main St., O’Fallon, Mo. 636-474-2732

What It’s About: The story of teacher Annie Sullivan’s
affect on Helen Keller, blind and deaf after a fever as a baby, which has left
her unable to communicate, frustrated and angry. Sullivan is able to get
through to her pupil and they form a bond.

“The Revolutionists” Insight Theatre Company June 27 – July 14 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. The Marcelle Theatre in Grand Centerwww.insighttheatrecompany.com 314-556-1293 What It’s About: Written by Lauren Gunderson, four beautiful, badass women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back the extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world. It’s a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection…that ends in a song and a scaffold.

Director: Trish Brown
Starring: Sam Auch, Kimmie Kidd, Laurie McConnell, Jenni Ryan

“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Verdi’s powerful “Rigoletto” is a tale of innocence lost, wrenchingly poignant and all too human, presented in English with English supertitles. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.“The Selfish Giant” Christ Memorial Productions June 28 – 30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm www.CMPShows.org 314-631-0304

What It’s About: This narrated retelling of the endearing
story will feature physical arts including mime, dance, gymnastics and other
circus arts, and it is set to powerful orchestration by composer Dan Goeller.

By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorShow me Summertime! It’s here, the official start of summer, and there are 20 plays, musicals and operas, plus one circus, to enjoy this weekend. (Is this a record?)Outdoors, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis closes out its park run of “Love’s Labors Lost,” this weekend, while “Kinky Boots” at the Muny is the second show of the second century, ending Tuesday.It’s the last chance to see “Be More Chill” at New Line — OK, the run is sold-out, but there are still student tickets and a waiting list that they manage to get in most of the time.

Others ending their run include the A.R. Gurney comedy “Sylvia” at Stray Dog Theatre, and Act Inc. in St. Charles, with their double header, “Travels with My Aunt” and “Leaving Iowa.”The Opera Theatre of St. Louis is in repertory with their four summer offerings. The midwest premiere of “The Boy from Oz” continues at Stages St. Louis.New offerings include Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at SIUE, “101 Dalmatians” for young audiences at Stages St. Louis, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” by the Q Collective and “Indecent” by Max and Louie Productions.

In Community Theatre, Looking Glass Playhouse’s Youth Show is “Singin’ in the Rain” and O’Fallon Theatre Works presents “The Miracle Worker.”

Whatever your preference, go see a play and kick off a summer of fun.

“101 Dalmatians” Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences June 18 – 30 Robert Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Condensed from the Disney animated film, “101
Dalmatians” is about the evil Cruella DeVil and her two klutzy henchmen as they
trey to steal a litter of the cutest puppies ever to hit jolly old London Town.
But not to worry – thus fur-raising adventure ends happily with plenty of puppy
power to spare!

Director/Choreographer: Peggy Taphorn
Starring: Tyler Jent, Eric Michael Parker, Larissa White, Drew Humphrey, Dena
DiGiacinto, Laura Ernst, Ryan Cooper, Joshua Roach

“An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri” Gitana Productions June 20-23 Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand www.gitana-inc.org.

What It’s About: This provocative original play is inspired
by the amazing stories of such remarkable individuals as Friedrich Munch, Judge
Arnold Krekel and August Boernstein; German immigrants and leading
abolitionists in the State of Missouri. Through the lens of history, we will
bring to life the elements of what it means to strive for social justice for
“others” when advocating within and outside of one’s own cultural
group. While many Germans who came to the Midwest were staunch defenders of a
“color-blind” democracy some immigrants set aside their values in
order to survive and be accepted during the period before and after the Civil
War. As is the case with most Americans there are often contradictions in our
beliefs often colliding and challenging us to clarify what is most important.
The German story is an important American story…where the ideal of Democracy brings
together unlikely and diverse champions.

“As You Like It” Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville June 21 – 30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Metcalf Theatre 618-650-2774 www.siue.edu

What It’s About: The theatrical and enchanting Shakespeare that you have come to expect from SIUE Summer Theater continues. This beloved romantic comedy moves from the magical Forest of Arden to the mysterious 1930’s Ozark forests,  complete with original Old-Time Tunes. Our hero Rosalind, finding herself on the run from the evils of the city with her best friend Celia and her philosophical fool Touchstone, disguises herself as a young man and begins a journey of self-discovery. Falling in love and learning who you are by “acting the part” are the heart of this classic tale of romance and reconciliation.

Songwriters Summer Baer, Lisa Hinrichs, Lizzie Weber and Christopher Sears are featuring lots of Old Time music and original tunes inspired by the genre. Guitars, ukuleles, a cello and a fiddle, a couple of banjos, a cajon drum, rounded out with tambourine and washboard, will be performing the music.

Director: Ellie Schwetye Cast:

Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“Be More Chill” May 30-June 22 Thursday – Sunday, 8 p.m. New Line Theatre The Marcelle Theatre, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive www.newlinetheatre.org 314-534-1111 What It’s About: “The Breakfast Club” meets “Little Shop of Horrors” in the new sci-fi rock musical, “Be More Chill,” with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, based on the bestselling novel by New Vizzini. It’s a look at life in the digital age, exploring teen depression, bullying and other current issues through the comic lens of sci-fi films of the 50s, horror flicks of the 80s and the teen movies of the 90s.

Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez
Starring: Jayde Mitchell (Jeremy), Dominic Dowdy-Windsor (Squip), Kevin Corpuz
(Michael), Zachary Allen Farmer (Jeremy’s Dad), Melissa Felps (Brooke), Evan
Fornachon (Rich), Isabel Cecilia Garcia (Jenna), Grace Langford (Christine),
Ian McCreary (Jake), and Laura Renfro (Chloe).

Of Note: “Be More Chill” made its world premiere at the Two
River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2015, it’s now being produced across
the country, and it just opened on Broadway in March. Received a Tony Award
nomination for music and lyrics.

“The Boy from Oz” May 31 – June 30 Stages St. Louis Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwoodwww.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Dazzling and hilarious as the legendary
Peter Allen himself, THE BOY FROM OZ follows the Australian singer-songwriter
from his humble beginnings performing in backcountry pubs to his international
stardom beside such Hollywood icons as Judy Garland and her daughter Liza
Minnelli.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: David Elder as Peter Allen, Sarah Ellis as Liza Minnelli, Zach
Trimmer as Greg Connell, Corinne Melancon as Marion Woolnough, Michele Ragusa
as Judy Garland, Brad Frenette as George Woolnough, Steve Isom as Dick
Woolnough, Erik Keiser as Chris Bell, Nic Thompson as Mark Herron, Ben Iken and
Simon Desilets as Young Peter, Lydia Ruth Dawson, Bryn Purvis and Madison
Tinder as Trio, Frankie Thams as Trick, Nathanial Burich as Dealer and Ashley
Chasteen as Alice. Ensemble includes Kari Ely and Caleb Dicke.

“The Caper on Aisle 6” Circus Flora June 7 – June 30 Big Top Tent in Grand Center (air-conditioned)www.circusflora.org What It’s About: A trip to the grocery store is a place of intrigue and excitement when an ancient and powerful substance, long thought to be gone from the Earth, is found in the unlikeliest of places: aisle six of the local grocery store. What secrets does aisle six hold, and what adventures will it set in motion?

Photo by Eric Woolsey“The Coronation of Poppea” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 9 – 28 Loretto-Hilton Center, 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644

What It’s About: The fight for the throne is never
dignified. Poppea will stop at nothing to become Empress, no matter who she has
to blackmail, betray, or kill. And Emperor Nero, who is infatuated with Poppea,
is not thinking with his head. Separately, they’re bad enough. Together, they
will turn Rome upside down. Sexy, bloodthirsty, and unapologetic, this opera is
the best kind of political thriller.
Of Note: The opera runs 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission and is
performed in English with English supertitles.

Jeremy Denis and Davóne Tines, with Michael Redding,  “Fire Shut Up My Bones” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 15 – June 29 Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.experienceopera.com 314-961-0644

What It’s About: When Charles discovers that his cousin has
returned to his Louisiana hometown, he races home from college to confront his
past. Memories and shadows surround Charles as he strives to move beyond a
cycle of violence and forge a brave new path.

Of Note: Writers are Terence Blanchard, composer of OTSL’s sold-out hit “Champion,” teams up with screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”) for a haunting, powerful, and tender coming-of age story inspired by a memoir celebrated as “stunning” (Essence), “riveting” (Chicago Tribune), and “exquisite” (The New York Times). The opera runs approximately two hours and 25 minutes with one intermission and is performed in English with English supertitles.

Luke Steingruby as Hedwig“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”The Q CollectiveJune 20-22 and 27-298 p.m. evenings Thursday – Saturday, with additional 10:30 p.m. performance SaturdaysThe Monocle, 4510 Manchester in The Grovewww.eventbrite.com

What It’s About: John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s groundbreaking, Obie-winning Off-Broadway musical has the internationally ignored song stylist Hedwig Schmidt, herself, tells us her wild life story, as a fourth-wall smashing East German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation. This outrageous and unexpectedly powerful story is dazzlingly performed by Hedwig (née Hansel) in the form of a rock gig/stand-up comedy backed by the hard-rocking band The Angry Inch. It’s a rocking ride, funny, touching, and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them an inch when they deserved a mile.Director: Jordan Woods with assistance by Camille Fensterman, music direction by Holly Barber

Starring: Luke Steingruby as Hedwig, Sarah Gene Dowling as Yitzhak

“Indecent”Max and Louie ProductionsJune 20-23, June 27-30Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Centerwww.maxandlouie.com

What It’s About: Winner of numerous awards including an acclaimed Tony-winning run on Broadway, “Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, is the true story of a groundbreaking scandalous play and the courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. Director: Joanne GordonStarring: Paul Cereghino – Actor, Zoe Farmingdale – Actor, John Flack – Actor, Katie Karel – Actor, TJ Lancaster – Lemml, the Stage Manager, Judi Mann – Actor, Tim Schall – Actor; ;Musicians Alyssa Avery, Kris Pineda, Jack Thieling

Photo by Phillip Hamer“Kinky Boots”The MunyJune 17-25, evenings at 8:15 p.m.www.muny.orgWhat It’s About: The owner of a failing shoe factory teams up with a drag queen to fill a niche market — high-heeled thigh-high boots for drag queens.Director: DB Bonds, recreating Jerry Mitchell’s direction, and choreographer Rusty Mowery recreating his choreography, with music direction by Ryan Fielding GarrettStarring: J. Harrison Ghee, Graham Scott Fleming, Taylor Louderman, Paul Whitty,

Leaving Iowa. Photo by John Lamb“Leaving Iowa” Act Inc. June 14-16, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., June 21-22, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Cener for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles www.actincstl.com

What’s It All About: Remember the family road trip? Sure
do! Mom, Dad and the kids all packed up in the car with maps and snacks. Road
games, billboards, gift shops and the ultimate rest stops and Motel 6. Giggles
and battles, smiles and tears. Those were the days! Columnist Don Browning decides
to bury his Dad’s ashes at the old family farm. When he discovers that the
homestead is now the site of a supermarket he embarks upon a journey of
reconciliation and discovery in his quest for the perfect resting place for Dad
in the middle of the USA. If you are interested in the perfect “staycation”
look no further. “Leaving Iowa” is a delightful postcard that will leave you
with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Director:
Starring:

 “Love’s Labors Lost” May 31 – June 23 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org

What It’s About” Belonging to Shakespeare’s “lyrical”
period, which also included Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the
play tells the story of the Princess of France and her ladies who arrive on a
diplomatic mission to Navarre only to be met by a young king and his lords who
have taken a vow not to see women. Affairs of state give way to affairs of the
heart as Shakespeare reveals with great humor and compassion the way our
culture sometimes doesn’t fully prepare us for the realities of love and
intimacy. A feast of language and theatrical virtuosity, Love’s Labors Lost
shimmers with all the passion and promise of a first kiss.

Director: Tom Ridgely
Starring: Philip Hernandez as Don Adriano de Armado, Bradley James Tejeda (Duc
de Biron), Kea Trevett (Princess of France), Sky Smith (King of Navarre),
Patrick Blindauer (Costard), Katy Keating (Nathaniel), Michael James Reed
(Forester/Marcadé), Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), Carine
Montbertrand (Holofernes), Randolph (Moth), Laura Sohn (Rosaline), Molly Meyer
(Jaquenetta), Sam Jones (Longueville), Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria), Kiah
McKirnan (Catherine), and Riz Moe (DuMaine).

“The Marriage of Figaro” May 25 – June 29 Opera Theatre of St. Louis Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Road on Webster University campuswww.opera-stl.org 314-961-0644

What It’s About: Mozart’s comedy masterpiece is about complicated life at court and how love should always prevail. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. The opera runs three hours and ten minutes with one intermission and is sung in English with English supertitles. “The Miracle Worker” O’Fallon Theatre Works June 21-23 and 28-30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon Municipal Centre, 100 Main St., O’Fallon, Mo. 636-474-2732

What It’s About: The story of teacher Annie Sullivan’s
affect on Helen Keller, blind and deaf after a fever as a baby, which has left
her unable to communicate, frustrated and angry. Sullivan is able to get
through to her pupil and they form a bond.

“The Mueller Report: Read, Sing, Resist” Saturday, June 22, from 2 to 5 p.m. That Uppity Theatre Company Projects + Gallery 4733 McPherson in the Central West End Free event What It’s About: A diverse array of artists, activists, elected officials and community people will come together to participate in a free event to read excerpts and summaries of the Mueller Report and offer related commentary through song. The event will also include voter registration in partnership with St. Louis Voter Registration Group, refreshments, a selfie station and the debut performance by the St Louis chapter of Sing Out, Louise, a New York social activist group founded in 2017 that writes parodies with political commentary of iconic songs.

“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Verdi’s powerful “Rigoletto” is a tale of innocence lost, wrenchingly poignant and all too human, presented in English with English supertitles. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.

“Singin’ in the Rain” Looking Glass Playhouse June 20-23 Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m 301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon, Ill. www.lookingglassplayhouse.com

What It’s About: The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay in Singin’ in the Rain. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make Singin’ in the Rain the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.

“Sylvia” June 6 – 22 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Stray Dog Theatre Tower Grove Abbey 2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995

What It’s About: Greg brings home a dog he found in Central Park – or that has found him – bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her collar. She offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. To his wife Kate, however, Sylvia becomes a rival for affection. This touching comedy celebrates our love of man’s best friend.

Director: Gary F. BellStarring: Susie Lawrence, Kay Love, Tim Naegelin, Melissa Harlow

Photo by John Lamb

“Travels with My Aunt” Act Inc. June 22 and June 23, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles.www.actincstl.com

What It’s About: Retired bank manager, Henry Pulling’s life
is so quiet that he muses, “I found myself agreeably excited by my
mother’s funeral.” From that inauspicious beginning Henry finds his life
turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of his eccentric, Aunt Augusta. A cross between
“Auntie Mame” and Mata Hari, she spirits him around the globe
encountering all sorts of intoxicating characters and exhilarating adventures
along the way.

By CB AdamsContributing Writer

In a cultural marketplace that is embracing new operatic
works such as “The Central Park Five” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is another
production of Verdi’s venerable chestnut Rigoletto really necessary – or
even relevant?  Opera Theatre of Saint
Louis’ current production of Rigoletto provides a chorus of emphatic
yeses.

Although it can be asserted that the opera canon in general
and Rigoletto in particular is testosteroney (to borrow a line from
“Friends”), misogynistic and seemingly anachronistic in the current #MeToo
cultural climate, OTSL’s production brings to the fore the question, “Who is
the true victim of the machinations of the men in this play?”

The answer in this interpretation is clear: Rigoletto’s own daughter, Gilda. She has lived her short life cloistered in a tight ring of chastity, raised by an overly protective father (or hostage-taker, depending on your point of view), whose nickname is Transgression. She falls in first-love with the duplicitous Duke (dubbed Retribution), whom she meets at her seemingly only contact with the real world – Mass at the local church (another male-dominated institution). The poor girl. Given such options and opposing forces, it’s no wonder she believes self-destruction is the only way to escape this milieu of trickle-down masculinity.

Even before the orchestra tunes up, OTSL’s latest take on Rigoletto
begins to pull the audience members out of their comfort zone. Sitting on a
trunk, center stage in low light, is Rigoletto’s puppet, staring blankly like a
demented Charlie McCarthy dummy, a chubby-cheeked Chucky. He seems to be
saying, “Let the horror begin.”

This conceit by itself would not be enough to carry the
opera. The cast, under the stage direction of Bruno Ravella, who is making his
main season debut, is fully up to the challenge of Verdi’s memorable score and
this production’s challenging, polarizing balance. Roland Wood immerses himself
in the role of Rigoletto, the Duke’s own dummy, as a man resentfully balanced
(or unbalanced, depending on your point of view) between being a
father/manipulator and being manipulated as the Duke’s court jester. Wood effectively
leads the audience to ponder: “Should I blame you or pity you?”

As the Duke, Joshua Wheeker, is a selfish puppeteer
extraordinaire. He does not overplay the indulgent, king-baby aspects of the
role and instead offers a straightforward “what the Duke wants, the Duke gets”
attitude – and to hell with who pays consequences. His short-sighted need for
instant gratification enables the storylines of Rigoletto and Gilda to unravel.
In terms of relevance, this should be familiar to anyone who follows the
current news cycles.

Navigating (or trapped, depending on your point of view) between
a fiercely overprotective father and a hedonistic lover is the wonderful and
wonderfully cast So Young Park, a former Gerdine Young Artist. With seeming
effortlessness, Park wends through her a role that demands she be naïve without
being girlishly gushy (ala Liesl’s “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” in Sound of
Music). Young accomplishes this as well as meshes her performances
seamlessly with Wood, especially in Act II.  

Among the supporting cast, Christian Zaremba, making his
Opera Theatre main season debut, plays Sparafucile, the assassin, with reserve
and respect – admirable considering how easy it would have been to overplay the
part with squinty sliminess. Zaremba’s straightforward, transactional portrayal
facilitates the opera rather than calls too much attention to the role. Also of
note is the horn-dog horde – the male chorus that moves about the opera en
masse, providing light humor, encouragement to the Duke’s predilections (as
only good sycophants can) and locker-room banter.

OTSL’s Rigoletto is set in Paris, where Victor Hugo
set his play, which is the source for this opera. The Francophile-inspired set
design, under the aegis of Alex Eales, is understated, streamlined and
efficiently conveys the essence of each scene. The opening scene keys off a
recognizable Folies Bergere atmosphere and the inn where Sparafucile and his
sister conspire to murder the Duke is distinctly saloon-like in a Wild West
sort of way. On the surface this may seem incongruent, but the sets well within
the opera’s polarizing elements. They provide “just enough” background for the
story.

Like the set design, costume design, by Mark Bouman, does
not break new ground, but neither does it break the flow of the entire opera.
Both serve well the story being told. In Act I’s party scene, the dresses of
the dancing ladies have a pleasing Manet, demimondaines quality. Sparafucile
sports a Driza-Bone-inspired duster that makes him instantly recognizable
regardless of the scene. And Gilda wears dresses – girlish without being girly
– that befit a young lady with a conservative father. Even Gilda’s final
costume, when she is posing as man, is Chaplinesque in a way that makes sense
within this production.

Rigoletto may be one of Verdi’s workhorse operas, but
like all great art, it is open to wide interpretation. Just as Paul Simon
observed that “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts,” every
generation since the premiere in 1851 has produced a Rigoletto befitting
its times. OTSL’s is exceptionally no exception. #GoSeeRigoletto.

“Rigoletto” plays at the Loretto-Hilton Center through June 30. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.experienceopera.org

By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorAnother Opening, Another Show! Summertime kicks off with annual traditions inside and outdoors — Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ “Love’s Labors Lost” opens for its month-long free admission run in Forest Park while Opera Theatre St. Louis has two shows in repertory – Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” Major musicals make their St. Louis debut this week – the still-running-on-Broadway “Be More Chill” at New Line Theatre and the Peter Allen biopic “The Boy from Oz” kicks off Stages St. Louis’s season.Joe Hanrahan’s Midnight Company presents the St. Louis premiere of the one-man-show “Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust.”It’s the last chance to see the comedy “I Now Pronounce” at New Jewish Theatre and the musical “Nina Simone: Four Women” at The Black Rep.

Start your summer by going to see a play!

Cast of ‘Be More Chill” — Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“Be More Chill” May 30-June 22 Thursday – Sunday, 8 p.m. New Line Theatre The Marcelle Theatre, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive www.newlinetheatre.org 314-534-1111 What It’s About: “The Breakfast Club” meets “Little Shop of Horrors” in the new sci-fi rock musical, “Be More Chill,” with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, based on the bestselling novel by New Vizzini. It’s a look at life in the digital age, exploring teen depression, bullying and other current issues through the comic lens of sci-fi films of the 50s, horror flicks of the 80s and the teen movies of the 90s.

Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez
Starring: Jayde Mitchell (Jeremy), Dominic Dowdy-Windsor (Squip), Kevin Corpuz
(Michael), Zachary Allen Farmer (Jeremy’s Dad), Melissa Felps (Brooke), Evan
Fornachon (Rich), Isabel Cecilia Garcia (Jenna), Grace Langford (Christine),
Ian McCreary (Jake), and Laura Renfro (Chloe).

Of Note: “Be More Chill” made its world premiere at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2015, had a successful off-Broadway run, it’s now being produced across the country, and it just opened on Broadway in March. It has a Tony nomination for Best Original Score (Joe Iconis, music and lyrics).

David Elder in Stages St. Louis debut“The Boy from Oz” May 31 – June 30 Stages St. Louis Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwoodwww.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Dazzling and hilarious as the legendary
Peter Allen himself, THE BOY FROM OZ follows the Australian singer-songwriter
from his humble beginnings performing in backcountry pubs to his international
stardom beside such Hollywood icons as Judy Garland and her daughter Liza
Minnelli.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: David Elder as Peter Allen, Sarah Ellis as Liza Minnelli, Zach
Trimmer as Greg Connell, Corinne Melancon as Marion Woolnough, Michele Ragusa
as Judy Garland, Brad Frenette as George Woolnough, Steve Isom as Dick
Woolnough, Erik Keiser as Chris Bell, Nic Thompson as Mark Herron, Ben Iken and
Simon Desilets as Young Peter, Lydia Ruth Dawson, Bryn Purvis and Madison
Tinder as Trio, Frankie Thams as Trick, Nathanial Burich as Dealer and Ashley
Chasteen as Alice. Ensemble includes Kari Ely and Caleb Dicke.
Of Note: Thrilling news from Stages St. Louis comes in the form of two
celebratory evenings focused around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in
conjunction with performances of “The Boy From Oz.” The 8 pm performances on
Saturday, June 1 and Friday, June 7 will offer special $30 tickets to
diversity, equity, and inclusion groups at corporations and organizations
throughout the St. Louis region. The tickets will include a special post show champagne
and dessert reception featuring lively conversation with members of the cast.

Joe Hanrahan in “Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust”“Charlie Johnson Reads All of Proust” May 30 – June 15 The Midnight Company Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Kranzberg Center, 501 N. Grandwww.midnightcompany.com What It’s About: An older man taking a break from Christmas shopping with his family at a Starbucks. Hungry for dinner, he tides himself over with the purchase of a small package of soft, spongy cookies. When he dips one in his coffee, his snooty daughter-in-law asks him if he’s having his “Madeleine moment,” and then proceeds to lecture him about Marcel Proust and “Remembrance of Things Past” – the classic multi-volume novel inspired by the narrator dipping a madeleine cake into tea, with the taste bringing back memories of his boyhood, and leading to a retelling of his time in 19th/20th century aristocratic France. Charlie decides he’s going to read that book (not realizing it is seven books) and be able to talk about it with his daughter-in-law next Christmas. And along the way, he discovers the epic that is his own life.

Director: Sarah Holt

Starring: Joe Hanrahan

“The Dixie Swim Club” May 31 – June 19 Monroe Actors Stage Company Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Historic Capitol Theatre in Waterloowww.masctheatre.org 618-939-7469 What It’s About: Five Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every August to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other’s lives. The play focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of thirty-three years.Director: Tim PaeltzStarring: Stacey Tunnicliff as Sheree Hollinger, Dawn Williamson as Lexi Richards, Terrie Thies as Dinah Grayson, Christine Miller as Vernadette Sims and Kelly Shaw as Jeri Neal McFeeley.

Will Bonfiglio is the Best Man in “I Now Pronounce.” Jon Gitchoff photo.“I Now Pronounce” May – June 2 New Jewish Theatre Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theatre Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeurwww.newjewishtheatre.org

What It’s About: Most weddings have something that doesn’t
go quite right – maybe several things go awry. Often these mishaps are the
things that make the most endearing memories of the occasion, but Tasha
Gordon-Solomon’s “I Now Pronounce” imagines a wedding that culminates in an
awkwardly timed fatality, and a reception that spins into a strange and
hilarious evening that leaves the bride and groom questioning just what it is
they’re celebrating. The flower girls are running amuck; the bridal party
members are more preoccupied with their own flailing relationships. But there’s
no stopping the festivities! Comedies end in marriage.

Director: Edward Coffield

Starring: Graham Emmons, Will Bonfiglio, Ryan
Lawson-Maeske, Jessica Kadish, Craig Neuman, Delaney Piggins, Frankie Ferrari

“Love’s Labors Lost” May 31 – June 23 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org

What It’s About” Belonging to Shakespeare’s “lyrical”
period, which also included Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the
play tells the story of the Princess of France and her ladies who arrive on a
diplomatic mission to Navarre only to be met by a young king and his lords who
have taken a vow not to see women. Affairs of state give way to affairs of the
heart as Shakespeare reveals with great humor and compassion the way our
culture sometimes doesn’t fully prepare us for the realities of love and
intimacy. A feast of language and theatrical virtuosity, Love’s Labors Lost
shimmers with all the passion and promise of a first kiss.

Director: Tom Ridgely
Starring: Philip Hernandez as Don Adriano de Armado, Bradley James Tejeda (Duc
de Biron), Kea Trevett (Princess of France), Sky Smith (King of Navarre), Patrick
Blindauer (Costard), Katy Keating (Nathaniel), Michael James Reed
(Forester/Marcadé), Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), Carine
Montbertrand (Holofernes), Randolph (Moth), Laura Sohn (Rosaline), Molly Meyer
(Jaquenetta), Sam Jones (Longueville), Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria), Kiah
McKirnan (Catherine), and Riz Moe (DuMaine).

“The Marriage of Figaro” May 25 – June 29 Opera Theatre of St. Louis Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Road on Webster University campuswww.opera-stl.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Mozart’s comedy masterpiece is about complicated life at court and how love should always prevail. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. The opera runs three hours and ten minutes with one intermission and is sung in English with English supertitles.

Nina Simone: Four Women. Photo by Philip Hamer“Nina Simone: Four Women” The Black Rep May 15 – June 2 Edison Theatre on Washington University campus www.theblackrep.org

What It’s About: Nina Simone’s velvet voice was unafraid to
sing lyrics that cut right to the truth. Her music and her life were a personal
exploration branded in the kiln of the civil rights movement; so, in the
aftermath of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the tragic
loss of the four little girls her powerful anthems, “Mississippi Goddam,” “Sinnerman”
and “Old Jim Crow,” fueled the Civil Rights movement and changed her public
persona from songstress to activist. From the iconic “I Put a Spell on You” to “Four
Women,” Simone’s lyrics weave a story of four women alienated from themselves
and one another due to the color of their skin.

Director: Ron HimesStarring: Leah Stewart as Simone, Denise Thimes as Sarah (aka Auntie), Alex Jay as Sephronia and Camile “Cee” Sharp as Sweet Thing

“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644What It’s About: Verdi’s powerful “Rigoletto” is a tale of innocence lost, wrenchingly poignant and all too human, presented in English with English supertitles. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.

Cover Photo: Vivienne Claire Luthin, Kea Trevett, Laura Sohn and Kiah McKirnan in “Love’s Labors Lost” — Photo by Philip Hamer.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announces the repertory and full casting for the 2019 Festival Season. The 44 th season will feature the company’s 28 th world premiere with Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, based on the best-selling memoir by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. New productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea will be presented. The season will also include the fifth annual Center Stage concert, conducted by Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord, showcasing the talents of OTSL’s Gaddes Festival Artists and Gerdine Young Artists.

Opera Theatre’s 2019 Festival Season begins on Saturday, May 25 and continues through Sunday, June 30. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online, in person at the Loretto-Hilton Box Office, or by calling (314) 961-0644. Full cast and creative teams for the 2019 Festival Season continues on the following pages.

THE 2019 REPERTORY *Debut artist ○Former Young Artist ♦Richard Gaddes Festival Artist +Gerdine Young Artist

The Marriage of Figaro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1786)

Translation: Andrew Porter Conductor: Christopher Allen Stage Director: Mark Lamos Eight Performances: May 25, 31, June 6, 8 (m), 12, 16, 19 (m), 29 Count Almaviva: Theo Hoffman○ Countess Almaviva: Susannah Biller Figaro: Aubrey Allicock○ Susanna: Monica Dewey○ Cherubino: Samantha Gossard○ Dr. Bartolo: Nathan Stark Marcellina: MaryAnn McCormick○ Don Basilio: John McVeigh○ Antonio: Philip Lopez○♦ Barbarina: Elena Villalón*+ Don Curzio: Calvet Young*+ Set Designer: Paul Steinberg Costume Designer: Constance Hoffman Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind Wig & Makeup Designer: Tom Watson Choreographer: Séan Curran Chorus Master: Cary John Franklin

Life at court is about to get complicated. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. One of Mozart’s most beloved masterpieces, The Marriage of Figaro reminds us all that love will always prevail, and forgiveness is always within reach. Made possible with a leadership gift from Lelia & David Farr and with production underwriting from Mabel L. Purkerson, M.D.

Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi (1851) Translation: James Fenton Conductor: Roberto Kalb Stage Director: Bruno Ravella Seven Performances: June 1, 5, 14, 20, 22 (m), 26 (m), 30 Duke: Joshua Wheeker○ Rigoletto: Roland Wood Gilda: So Young Park○ Monterone: Nicholas Newton* Sparafucile: Christian Zaremba* Maddalena: Lindsay Ammann○ Set Designer: Alex Eales Costume Designer: Mark Bouman Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind Wig & Makeup Designer: Tom Watson Choreographer: Séan Curran Chorus Master: Cary John Franklin There is no purer love than that of a father for his daughter — and no more impossible task than protecting her from the world. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.

Set to some of Verdi’s most powerful music, this tale of innocence lost is wrenchingly poignant and all too human. Rigoletto is made possible with leadership gifts from Phyllis Brissenden and Sally S. Levy Family.

The Coronation of Poppea Claudio Monteverdi (1624)

Translation: Tim Albery & Laurence Cummings Conductor: Nicholas Kok* Stage Director: Tim Albery* Six Performances: June 9, 13, 15 (m), 22, 26, 28 Poppea: Emily Fons Nerone: Brenton Ryan Ottone: Tom Scott-Cowell* Ottavia: Sarah Mesko* Seneca: David Pittsinger Arnalta: Patricia Schuman Drusilla: Devon Guthrie Virtù: Jennifer Aylmer Theorbo: Daniel Swenberg, Andrew Maginley Viola da Gamba & Lirone: Joshua Keller Baroque Harp: Christa Patton Set/Costume Designer: Hannah Clark* Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind Wig & Makeup Designer: Tom Watson Choreographer: Séan Curran Chorus Master: Cary John Franklin The fight for the throne is never dignified. Poppea will stop at nothing to become Empress, no matter who she has to blackmail, betray, or kill. And Emperor Nerone, who is infatuated with Poppea, is not thinking with his head. Separately, they’re bad enough. Together, they will turn Rome upside down. Sexy, bloodthirsty, and unapologetic, this opera is the best kind of political thriller. Fire Shut Up in My Bones World Premiere Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons (2018) Co-Comissioned with Jazz St. Louis Conductor: William Long Stage Director: James Robinson Six Performances: June 15, 19, 21, 23, 27, 29 (m) Destiny/Loneliness/Greta: Julia Bullock* Mother: Karen Slack* Charles Blow: Davóne Tines* Spinner: Chaz’men Williams-Ali○ Ruby: Rehanna Thelwell+ Verna: Katerina Burton+ Bertha: Tesia Kwarteng+ Foreman/Pastor: Leroy Y. Davis+ Set Designer: Allen Moyer Costume Designer: James Schutte Video Projection Designer: Greg Emetaz Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind Wig & Makeup Designer: Tom Watson Choreographer: Séan Curran Chorus Master: Cary John Franklin

One moment can change everything. When Charles discovers that his cousin has returned to his Louisiana hometown, he races home from college to confront his past. Memories and shadows surround Charles as he strives to move beyond a cycle of violence and forge a brave new path. Terence Blanchard, composer of OTSL’s hit Champion, teams up with screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) for a haunting, powerful, and tender coming-of-age story inspired by a memoir celebrated as “stunning” (Essence), “riveting” (Chicago Tribune), and “exquisite” (The New York Times). Casting of several additional roles in Fire Shut Up in My Bones will be finalized by April 2019. Made possible in part by the Fred M. Saigh Endowment at Opera Theatre and by the Sally S. Levy Family Fund for New Works, which provides support for contemporary opera and related community engagement activities. Leadership support comes from the Whitaker Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Centene Charitable Foundation, Noémi & Michael Neidorff, and the Berges Family Foundation. This production is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. Major production support

All main season productions at Opera Theatre are accompanied by members of the St. Louis
Symphony Orchestra and are performed in English, with projected supertitles. Concerts and
special events, such as Center Stage, feature music sung in its original language. Performances
are presented in the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the
Performing Arts on the campus of Webster University. Productions are performed in rotating
repertory, making it easy for audiences to enjoy all four productions of the festival in a single
weekend.
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About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is a spring festival featuring casts of the opera world’s most
exciting singers accompanied by the acclaimed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Each season,
OTSL presents four inventive new productions in English during the months of May and June. In
addition to presenting innovative interpretation of classics, OTSL is also committed to
premiering new and relevant operas by prominent composers; since its inaugural season in 1976,
27 operas have premiered at Opera Theatre.
Opera Theatre’s competitive young artist programs foster the next generation of emerging
American singers; these programs have been a springboard for an exceptional number of
extraordinary artists in launching international careers.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and
Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with
audience building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation. Opera Theatre gratefully
acknowledges Webster University for its sustaining partnership

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announced preliminary results of the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Thanks to a vibrant audience and donor base, the company celebrated another successful year, exceeding revenue goals and once again reporting strong growth of the endowment. A comprehensive audit will be completed and published in February of 2019.
OTSL reported a total of $6.4 million in contributed operating support for FY18, achieving 107% of goal for the year. Corporate sponsorship increased by 20% over 2017; OTSL continued to receive competitive grants from major national funders, including The Wallace Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other organizations.
1,083 households contributed in 2018 to operating support, the highest number in company history. Opera Theatre has achieved consistent growth in donor households and contributed revenue over the last three years thanks to a generous challenge gift of $300,000 from Alison and John Ferring during this same time period. The Ferrings challenged OTSL to raise $300,000 in new and increased support from 2016-2018; in total, Opera Theatre achieved 283% of this goal with $848,022 from 1,400 gifts ranging from $1 to $25,000.

“La Traviata”Opera Theatre hosted its most successful gala to date in 2018, grossing more than $1.4 million with the leadership of event co-chairs Marsha & Bill Rusnack and Cathy & Jim Berges.  These contributions were motivated by a challenge gift from the Berges Family Foundation and Noémi & Michael Neidorff, who created the $250,000 Berges-Neidorff Challenge to match all new and increased 2018 gala gifts. Fundraising from the gala helped establish the Next Generation Fund, which celebrates Timothy O’Leary’s tenure as general director and will sustain OTSL’s role as an artistic innovator.
These successes, together with Opera Theatre’s invested endowment portfolio totaling more than $35 million as of September 30, 2018, help secure OTSL’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility. With an annual budget of $10.95 million, ticket sales and contributions well outweigh spending.
FY18 also marked another successful box office year with 104% of ticket revenue achieved for a total growth of 6.3% in ticket sales since FY17. Opera Theatre also maintained its national and international reach, with opera-goers from 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 17 countries during the 2018 season; OPERA America’s Opera Conference was also held in St. Louis from June 20-23, welcoming over 700 international opera professionals during the final week of the season. Of ticket buyers, 26% were new to Opera Theatre in 2018. Thanks in large part to innovative programming, community engagement, and OTSL’s Young Friends program, 53% of new ticket buyers were Millennial and Gen X, and over 21% were from racially diverse backgrounds.
World premiere-commissioned opera “An American Soldier” at OTSL.Opera Theatre once again received local, national, and international acclaim for the 2018 season, with journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times of London, and Europe’s Opera Magazine traveling to St. Louis to cover the festival. Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News stated, “There’s no opera company quite like Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,” and The New York Times lauded the world-premiere performance of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s two-act opera An American Soldier, praising its “arresting music…subtle colorings, and pummeling intensity.”
“I have such gratitude for the work of my predecessor Timothy O’Leary, Chairman Noémi Neidorff, and the rest of the Opera Theatre board for their extraordinary efforts to build this company. I feel fortunate to join OTSL amid continued financial strength and community support, and I look forward to more great things for Opera Theatre and its work in St. Louis,” said General Director Andrew Jorgensen.
Susan Graham in “Regina”“Opera Theatre’s 2018 season clearly reflected what we’re all about. Opera superstar Susan Graham, who began her illustrious career at OTSL, returned in a riveting performance of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, and shared her rise to fame with several of our young artists,” said Noémi Neidorff, Chairman of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Board. “Our production of An American Soldier was yet another powerful example of the numerous world premieres we commission as we continue to attract opera fans and critics from all parts of the globe.”
Opera Theatre continued to promote artistic excellence with another year of highly competitive auditions for the young artist programs. Out of 1,062 applications, 31 young artists were chosen for the 2019 season. With an acceptance rate of 3%, the program remains one of the most competitive in the US. In addition, many former young artists continue to develop successful international careers, winning top prizes at the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals, the Richard Tucker Foundation, and Placido Domingo’s Operalia.
“Orfeo and Euridice”Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2019 Festival Season features the world premiere of composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Kasi Lemmons’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, based on the memoir of New York Times columnist Charles Blow. It also will feature classics from the operatic canon, including Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, as well as OTSL’s annual Center Stage Concert, led by Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord. The season opens on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online, in person at the Loretto-Hilton Box Office, or by calling (314) 961-0644.