Writer-Director Helping Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund

By Lynn Venhaus
Cory Finley first came on my radar with “The Feast,” his original play that was produced by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio in fall 2017. Since then, he has received national acclaim for two films, “Thoroughbreds” and “Bad Education.” He is definitely one to watch.

Now he is giving back to the small theater company that gave him a shot by being one of the artists trying to help STLAS and others in St. Louis through the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund. This was started to help these struggling companies pay their bills until they can safely re-open.

The coronavirus pandemic has threatened extinction for millions of small businesses all over the world, including theater companies, who will continue to be hit hard as they might not receive any funding in 2021, and if they do, it would be a small amount.

“The federal government has offered some help, but small professional theaters are not in line for major funding and the existing funding that relies on tax dollars is vanishing,” said William Roth, STLAS Founder and Artistic Director. “We decided to take matters into our own hands with the creation of the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund and enlisted the help of well-known St. Louisans with careers in the arts.” 

By donating to the Fund, participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win a virtual hangout with Finley or other famous St. Louis artists Sterling K. Brown, Jon Hamm, Sam McMurray, Beau Willimon, or Neil LaBute (longtime friend of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio).

For every $75 donated to www.stlas.org/sustain, the participant’s name is placed into a drawing for 50 chances to win. The more a person donates, the better their chances are for winning. Contest ends Sept. 17 and the winner will be drawn on September 18.  

During the virtual meet-up, the winner will be able to discuss anything of interest with the artist—from acting tips and insights, to fans just wanting to spend a little quality time. Names will be drawn until all artists are spoken for. For official rules and regulations, please visit the FAQ page. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Finley wanted to get involved because he believes in their work and the mission they’re starting.

“I was lucky enough to have STLAS put on a production of my play ‘The Feast.’ I’m a huge fan of the work they’re doing and I’m very concerned about the health of theater in America generally in pandemic conditions. I think it’s a great initiative to help keep vital institutions alive,” Finley said. 

In a short-take review, I described the play this way: “One act, three actors, five genres, so says director John Pierson, who shrewdly realizes an eerie “Twilight Zone”-type mind game by Cory Finley of Clayton, Mo. The twisty-turny original play, only 65 minutes’ long, benefits from an accomplished trio of actors and Patrick Huber’s customary meticulous set and artful lighting design. Pierson’s crisp direction and keen sound design enhance the mysterious off-kilter quality.”

Pierson, a St. Louis actor, director and teacher, has been at John Burroughs School since 1993 and is chairman of the Theatre, Speech and Dance Department.

Finley, 31, a Burroughs graduate, is based in New York City, where he is a member of the Obie-winning Youngblood playwrights group at Ensemble Studio Theater. He received a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for playwrighting, and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund for “The Feast,” which was presented first at The Flea Theater.

Three years ago this month, Finley’s play “The Feast” fit into the vision at The Gaslight Theatre, STLAS’ black-box home.

“STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression. Through the use of ensemble work, STLAS explore the endless facets and various themes of the human condition by producing existing and original collaborative theatre,” Roth said.

Finley received high praise for the film “Thoroughbreds,” which he adapted from his play and also directed. It was accepted for the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017, and nominated for the Audience Award in the Best of Next! competition. It played at the St. Louis International Film Festival that November. Sold to Focus Features for $5 million, the film opened in theaters in March 2018.

Finley wrote the crime-drama-dark comedy about two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut, who rekindled their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Then they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems — no matter what the cost. The cast included Anna Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, and was the last film of Anton Yelchin, who died in a tragic accident at his home in June 2016. The film is dedicated to him.

Anton Yelchin, Cory Finley, Anya Taylor-Joy. Photo by

Indie Wire described the film as “Heathers meets American Psycho.” Rotten Tomatoes had a score of 86% and the critic consensus was: ” Thoroughbreds juggles genres with panache, delivering a well-written and refreshingly unpredictable entry in the teen thriller genre.”

In 2019, Finley scored a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for “Thoroughbreds.” The annual awards, held since 1984, honor independent filmmakers working with small budgets. For more information on the film, visit www.thoroughbredsmovie.com

Last year, Finley directed “Bad Education,” which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and sold to HBO for $20 million. HBO aired it April 25 this year (Currently available in HBOMax catalog) and as of Sept. 8, it is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is also available for rental or purchase on streaming platforms.

“Bad Education” is nominated for two Emmy Awards — Best Television Movie and Hugh Jackman for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. The Emmy Awards are Sunday, Sept. 20.

The film, based on a true story, focuses on the popular superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district as well as his staff, friends and relatives who become the prime suspects as the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history unfolds. Former Roslyn student Mike Makowsky wrote the screenplay based on the New York Magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker.

Finley said he was drawn to the script for several reasons.

“I thought the script had a really unique tone, a complex character at its center, and themes about greed, institutional failure and systemic corruption that spoke to me,” he said.

And working with the cast was a positive experience.

Jackman played Frank Tassone, who was sentenced to 4 to 12 years for the $11.2 million embezzling scheme, and Alison Janney played Pam Gluckin, an assistant superintendent who took part in the scheme.

“I was enormously lucky that my A-list cast all had the work ethic and humility of actors just starting off: particularly Hugh and Alison made my job incredibly easy and were intensely collaborative and open, as well as super-prepared,” Finley said.

He said he is not at liberty to divulge his next project just yet..

How has he been coping with the pandemic in New York?

“My partner is a medical resident who got pulled into the COVID ward right at the height of the pandemic, so I had a very intense view of the worst of it through her. But she’s now back home doing tele-health and things are much more normal,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a job that I can do from home — the writing and prep parts of my job at least — and so I’m far less affected than many New Yorkers have been.”

What has he learned during this time of quarantine?

“It’s a total cliche, but I’ve learned how important a sense of social community is, and how badly we all need it back,” he said.

Cory FInley at Film Independent Spirit Awards. Photo by Kevin Mazur.

Q&A QUESTIONS FOR “TAKE TEN”
1. Why did you choose your profession? 
I always loved creating and managing made-up worlds: first pretend games, then Dungeons and Dragons, then school plays, then  directing film. 

2. How would your friends describe you?
Tall, polite, bad at remembering things, dad jokes, no sense of direction. 

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?
Playing basketball with great enthusiasm and minimal ability. 

4. What is your current obsession? 
Youtube chiropractic adjustment videos. Also, archived Firing Line videos of William F. Buckley debating prominent leftists of the 60s — Noam Chomsky, James Baldwin, Huey Newton. They show at once how far our politics have come and how little our discourse has changed. 

5. Who do you admire most?
In no particular order: Caryl Churchill, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lebron James. 

6. What is your favorite thing to do in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area?
Ted Drewes and the Tivoli Theatre.  

More to Know:
Name: Cory Finley
Age: 31
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO (Clayton, specifically)
Current location: Manhattan
Day job: Many years SAT/ACT tutoring
Favorite movies: Brief EncounterThere Will Be Blood

Will Help Struggling Arts Community in Wake of Global Pandemic

Donate for Chances to Win Virtual Hangouts with Sterling K. Brown, Jon Hamm, Beau Willimon, Sam McMurray, Cory Finley and Neil LaBute

The Coronavirus pandemic has threatened extinction for millions of small businesses all over the world, including many beloved St. Louis theater companies. In fact, local and regional arts commissions announced recently that many struggling organizations will not receive any funding in 2021, and those that do are expected to receive only a small percentage of what they have been granted in the past.

In an effort to help small professional theater companies in St. Louis as well as those across the nation to pay their bills until they can safely reopen, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio announced today the creation of the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund.
“The federal government has offered some help, but small professional theaters are not in line for major funding and the existing funding that relies on tax dollars is vanishing,” said William Roth, Founder and Artistic Director of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio. “We decided to take matters into our own hands with the creation of the Small Professional Theatre Sustainment Fund and enlisted the help of well-known St. Louisans with careers in the arts.” 

By simply donating to the Fund, participants are automatically entered into a drawing to win a virtual hangout with such famous St. Louis artists as Sterling K. Brown, Jon Hamm, Sam McMurray, Beau Willimon, Cory Finley or Neil LaBute (longtime friend of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio).

For every $75 donated to www.stlas.org/sustain, the participant’s name is placed into a drawing for 50 chances to win. The more a person donates, the better their chances are for winning. The winner will be drawn on September 17.  

During the virtual meet-up, the winner will be able to discuss anything of interest with the artist—from acting tips and insights, to fans just wanting to spend a little quality time. Names will be drawn until all artists are spoken for. For official rules and regulations, please visit the FAQ page. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

About the Participating Artists
Actor Jon Hamm is a John Burroughs grad best known for his Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning role on “Mad Men.” He will star in the upcoming film “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters this winter.See Jon Hamm’s video message here:https://vimeo.com/427780482

Sterling K. Brown is a graduate of MICDS and recent Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner for his work on NBC’s smash hit “This is Us.”See Sterling K. Brown’s video message here:
https://vimeo.com/429676164

A graduate of Washington University, character actor Sam McMurray has appeared in “Freaks & Geeks,” “Friends” and “Raising Arizona.”

Director and screenwriter Cory Finley is another John Burroughs alum. STLAS produced his play “The Feast” and he recently directed the film “Bad Education” for HBO.

Playwright, screenwriter and activist Beau Willimon is yet another John Burroughs alum, STLAS produced his play “Farragut North” (of which the movies “Ides of Mach” starring and directed by George Clooney is adapted.) He developed “House of Cards” for American television and was its showrunner. He most recently wrote the screenplay for “Mary Queen of Scots.”

STLAS Associate and Tony Award-nominated playwright and screenwriter Neil LaBute whose films include “In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends & Neighbors,” “Nurse Betty” and “The Shape of Things.” Neil hosts his “LaBute New Theater Festival” at STLAS’ Gaslight Theater in St. Louis each fall in in NYC periodically.

About the St. Louis Actor’s Studio

The St. Louis Actors’ Studio is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded by William Roth in 2006 to bring a fresh vision to theatre in St. Louis. Housed in The Gaslight Theater in historic Gaslight Square, STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression. Through the use of ensemble work, STLAS will explore the endless facets and various themes of the human condition by producing existing and original collaborative theatre. To learn more or to make a donation, visit www.stlas.org/sustain. This program would not be possible without the generous support of Mr. & Mrs. Charles L. Barnes and John Russell. 

By Lynn Venhaus

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

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

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

PROFESSIONAL VENUES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the website, www.fabulousfox.com/coronavirus

Family Arena

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

Tickets are still available for purchase at Ticketmaster.com.

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

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

Stifel Theatre

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

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

Here are rescheduled dates:

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

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

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

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

Chaifetz Arena

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

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

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

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

The Playhouse at Westport

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

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

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

REGIONAL PROFESSIONAL THEATER

Metro Theatre Company

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

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

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

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

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

The Muny

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

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

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

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

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

Muny Season Tickets will be mailed in early May

Season Ticket Exchanges: May 26 – 29

Single Ticket on Sale: June 1

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

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

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

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

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

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

“The Cake”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play at Home

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

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

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

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

The Rep’s commissioned playwrights feature:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max and Louie Productions

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

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

Joe Hanrahan of The Midnight Company

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

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

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



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



New Line Theatre


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

Its June production of “Urinetown” has been cancelled.

Stray Dog Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.straydogtheatre.org

St Louis Actors’ Studio

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

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

New Jewish Theatre

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

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

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

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

Opera Theatre of St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other one-night only events to be announced.

May 29 – June 21 is SHAKE20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stages St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

West End Players Guild

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

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

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

WEPG will begin its 110th season in September.

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

Alton Little Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirkwood Theatre Guild

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O’Fallon Theatre Works

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

Over Due Theatre Company

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

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

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

AWARDS EVENTS

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

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

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

The event’s hashtag is #TCA20

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

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

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

Arts For Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ST LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS

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

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

ARTS CENTERS AND CONCERT HALLS

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts

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

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

The ReMINDers has been cancelled for April 6.

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

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

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

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

The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries

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

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

Fair Saint Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 2020 will mark the beginning of St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s fourteenth season theme “Dramedy.”

As we continue our exploration of  human relationships, we present an offering of plays this season that tell stories of expectant families, existing relations and belief systems that we use to blame our choices and actions. Season 14 will make you think and laugh until you cry.

Our 2020-21 season:
And Baby Makes Seven by Paula Vogel
Directed by Associate Artistic Director, Annamaria Pileggi
September 18 – October 4, 2020 

Anna, Ruth and Peter await the arrival of their newborn child, but first they must rid the crowded apartment of their three imaginary children. 

“AND BABY MAKES SEVEN is a profound and clever comedy.” —Drama-Logue.

“What’s remarkable about BABY—a really lovely play—is the sense of innocence and optimism that rises from potentially dark subject matter.” —Philadelphia City Paper.

“AND BABY MAKES SEVEN is a hilariously inventive play. Playwright Vogel’s writing is witty and precise.” —Daily Californian.

“Filled with outrageous touches, AND BABY MAKES SEVEN offers one of those rare theatergoing opportunities where everything comes together in a string of magical moments. Be prepared to be enchanted seven times over.” —Austin American Statesman.

STRAIGHT WHITE MEN
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Joanna Battles
December 4 – December 20, 2020 

When Ed and his three adult sons come together to celebrate Christmas, they enjoy cheerful trash-talking, pranks, and takeout Chinese. Then they confront a problem that even being a happy family can’t solve: When identity matters, and privilege is problematic, what is the value of being a straight white man?

“The signal surprise of STRAIGHT WHITE MEN, written by the ever-audacious Young Jean Lee, is that the play is not a full-frontal assault on the beings of the title…Ms. Lee’s fascinating play goes far beyond cheap satire, ultimately becoming a compassionate and stimulating exploration of one man’s existential crisis. Believe it or not, Ms. Lee wants us to sympathize with the inexpressible anguish of her protagonist, a middle-aged, upper-middle-class straight white man…[A] mournful and inquisitive play…” —The New York Times.

 “A prime example of dramaturgical normcore—that is, experimental plays dressing up like fourth-wall family dramas—[STRAIGHT WHITE MEN] tickles your soft aesthetic underbelly, before easing in the knife of reality…If Lee wants to dissect the conscience of our society’s most visible and powerful population, what better mode than living-room realism, sadly, our default theatrical setting? …However, if you expect deconstruction-prone Lee to break down this form through surreal flourishes or screwing with the frame, you may be surprised. Most shocking is the absence of shock. She’s too good a writer for the drama not to work on its own terms, and as such, the result is both emotionally satisfying…and unflinching in its critique of white-driven social justice.” —Time Out NY.

 “To cut to the obvious, STRAIGHT WHITE MEN is a loaded title…But the play turns out to have a disarming gentleness to it. Lee has more sympathy for her subject than scorn…STRAIGHT WHITE MEN is a family drama that on the surface looks fairly standard, but the play transcends psychological realism. Lee is wrestling with the meaning of straight white male privilege through characters who are self-conscious beneficiaries of an identity increasingly out of favor in 21st century America yet still, like it or not, in control.” —Los Angeles Times.

Hand To God by Robert Askins
Directed by Associate Artistic Director, John Pierson
February 19- March 7, 2021

After the death of his father, meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry, in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. Jason’s complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door, and—most especially—his mother are thrown into upheaval when Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality all its own. HAND TO GOD explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind us.

“The fearsome critter [Tyrone], who takes possession of a troubled teenager’s left arm in Robert Askins’ darkly delightful play really inspires goose bumps as he unleashes a reign of terror…But he’s also flat-out hilarious, spewing forth acid comedy that will turn those goose bumps into guffaws.” —The New York Times. 

“Furiously funny…Askins’ most impressive talent is his ability to make us laugh while juggling those big themes that make life so terrifying: death, depression, alcoholism, sexual guilt, emotional repression, religious hypocrisy and the eternal battle between your good puppet and your bad puppet.” —Variety. 

“A scabrously funny scenario that steadily darkens into suspense and Grand Guignol horror, this fiery clash of the id, ego and superego is also an audacious commentary on the uses of faith, both to comfort and control us.” —The Hollywood Reporter. 

“I don’t know which I want to do more: Sing Hallelujah—or wash its dirty little mouth out with soap. …Clearly a singular vision is at work here, with playwright Robert Askins venturing successfully into territory—satire—rich with potholes.” —Deadline. 

“HAND TO GOD is so ridiculously raunchy, irreverent and funny it’s bound to leave you sore from laughing. Ah, hurts so good.” —New York Daily News.

The Zoo Story/The Dumb Waiter
by Edward Albee/Harold Pinter 
Directed by Associate Artistic Director, Wayne Salomon
April 16 – May 2, 2021
Classic early one act plays by two giants of the theatre.  Edward Albee and Harold Pinter.

THE ZOO STORY – A man sits peacefully reading in the sunlight in Central Park. There enters a second man. He is a young, unkempt and undisciplined vagrant where the first is neat, ordered, well-to-do and conventional. The vagrant is a soul in torture and rebellion. He longs to communicate so fiercely that he frightens and repels his listener. He is a man drained of all hope who, in his passion for company, seeks to drain his companion. With provocative humor and unrelenting suspense, the young savage slowly, but relentlessly, brings his victim down to his own atavistic level as he relates a story about his visit to the zoo. 

“Edward Albee is a voice unparalleled in American theater.” —NY Times. 

“The dialogue crackles and the tension runs high.” —Associated Press. 

“Darkly comic and thrilling.” —Time Out NY.

THE DUMB WAITER: As the New York World-Telegram & Sun describes: “In the basement of a long-abandoned restaurant, two hired killers nervously await their next assignment. Barred from daylight and living public contact by the nature of their work, they expend their waiting time in bickering. So eerie is the situation that everything becomes comic, or grotesque, or both. Ben re-reading a newspaper and exclaiming in disbelief over the news items, Gus fussing with an offstage stove and offstage plumbing. Ben bludgeoning Gus into silence if he as much as mentions their work. Gus worrying that someone had slept in his bed. So then the ancient dumbwaiter comes to life, the suspense becomes almost unbearable—that expertly has Pinter put the nerves of his characters and audience on edge.”

“a distinguished gift for sheer, old-fashioned theatrical effectiveness, including the use of melodramatic suspense and the hint of sinister forces lying in ambush.” —NY Post

9th Annual LaBute New Theater Festival
July 9 – August 1, 2021
A Celebrated month-long festival of world premiere one-act plays.

ABOUT ST. LOUIS ACTORS’ STUDIO
 St. Louis Actors’ Studio is one of the leading professional theatres in the St. Louis. area, producing a four-show season of plays at our 97-seat Gaslight Theatre. STLAS collaborates with renown director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute to produce the LaBute New Theater Festival each July in St. Louis and each January in New York City. The festival is a one-act play competition for emerging professionals and high-school writers.

St. Louis Theater Circle Awards Ceremony Cancelled, AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards Moved to July

By Lynn Venhaus

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, productions scheduled in March, April and May at New Jewish Theatre, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Tennessee Williams Festival, Upstream Theater, West End Players Guild and the Playhouse at Westport have announced postponements, some with new dates and others to be determined.

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has closed all its venues.

St. Louis Theater Circle has cancelled the March 30 Awards Ceremony and Arts For Life has pushed back its annual Theatre Mask Awards. Metro Theatre Company has announced some changes in scheduling.

Here is the most up-to-date information available, and updates will be happening as we get word.

The companies are following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing, which has recommended limiting gatherings of no more than 50 for the next eight weeks. St. Louis City and St. Louis County have banned such public gatherings.

On Monday, the White House advised the public to avoid groups of more than 10 and urged older people to stay at home for the next 15 days in a set of new guidelines designated to fight a spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Kranzberg Arts Foundation
They announced Tuesday that they have followed the recommendations and guidelines put in place by our government and health officials and have moved to shut down all Kranzberg Arts Foundation venue operations. This includes theatres, galleries, clubs, restaurants, cafes, and libraries. For the time being, our tenant and resident organization offices remain open. These closures will remain in place until at least May 11:

  • The Grandel Theatre
  • The Marcelle
  • The Kranzberg Studio, Black Box, and Gallery
  • .ZACK Theatre
  • High Low
  • Sophie’s Artist Lounge
  • The Dark Room

To ticket holders, MetroTix will be reaching out and instructing guests to respond with “refund” or “donate”.
“While this is a difficult time for everyone, arts organizations and artists will be particularly impacted by COVID-19 and the disruption to their jobs. We’re asking for guests, as they are able to, to consider donating to the organizations instead of asking for a refund,” Executive Director Chris Hansen said.

“We will continue to work with our funding partners and local government agencies to find ways to help support artists and arts organizations through these unprecedented times and to make sure the arts are still felt and present in people’s daily lives,” he said.

“We will stay connected through social media and other digital platforms and will share resources, updates, and next steps as frequently as possible,: Hansen said.

West End Players Guild
West End Players Guild said Monday that Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday,” originally scheduled for April 17 – 26, has been cancelled as the season’s final show but will be rescheduled in September as the first show of the 2020-2021 season.

WEPG said online ticket purchasers will receive an automatic full refund through Brown Paper Tickets.  “Please allow two weeks for the refund to be posted to your credit card.  Season ticket holders will be advised of refund options this week by email,” the statement said. 

Photo by Greg Lazerwitz

New Jewish Theatre
New Jewish Theatre has moved “We Are the Levinsons” to May 6 0 17. The St. Louis premiere had been scheduled to open this Thursday and run from March 19 to April 5. 

A comedy that tugs on your heart, it centers on Rosie, a divorced fiftyish TV writer with an insufferable 21 year-old daughter, who suddenly finds herself responsible for her father’s care. This thoughtful and earnest play delves into some difficult but universal passages of life. We all must give up the insolence of youth and take on the mantle of adulthood. Along the way are opportunities to love and to pursue our dreams. We are the Levinsons teaches us how we should cherish these moments with tenderness and with laughter.

Fox Theatre

At the Fox Theatre, the touring production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which had been set to open Tuesday, March 17 and run through, has been postponed but a new date has not been announced.

“We are working with the producers of the show to reschedule for dates in the near future and I will be sure to keep you updated!” Publicity Manager Megan Ketcherside said.

“We appreciate your support and please know that the health and safety of our guests is always our top priority. We will continue to look to our government and health professionals for guidance as we work through this unprecedented time in our history.,” she said.

As of March 17 announcement, “Cats” scheduled for April 7-19 and Chaka Khan scheduled for April 24 are postpone until a future date can be determined.

The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s 10th annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition Finals are being moved from Saturday, April 4, to a later date, to be determined.

In the spirit of fostering the emerging talent in the St. Louis performing arts community, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation is proud to underwrite and produce an adjudicated competition showcasing the talented teens of the St. Louis region. Students are competing for college scholarships, cash awards, prizes, and public appearance opportunities

The Playhouse @ Westport

All March events are presently cancelled, including Flanagan’s Wake due to the updated information and recommendations implemented to regarding Covid-19. “Flanagan’s Wake” had been extended through April 11, with a special St. Patrick’s Day performance March 17.

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

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

St. Louis Actors’ Studio

The St. Louis Actors’ Studio has postponed its world premiere of Neil LaBute’s “Comfort,” that was to run from April 17 to May 3 at the Gaslight Theatre, but is providing an offer for online content.

“STLAS to offer Neil LaBute’s 10 x 10 series as exclusive streaming content for its current subscribers (new subscribers to the 20/21 season) and ticket holders and will postpone the world premiere of LaBute’s play “Comfort,” said William Roth, founder and artistic director.

“While we wait at home for the virus to settle, Neil and I quickly put our heads together to see how we could entertain our best patrons as we figure out how to navigate these ever-changing waters. Neil has been so very generous to us and he truly appreciates, as I do, our ongoing collaboration as well as the patrons and artists of St. Louis.” Roth said.

Each of the 10-minute films features one actor telling their story directly to the viewer. The first five feature Frederick Weller (In Plain Sight, The Good Wife), St. Louisan Jenna Fischer (The Office), Louisa Krause (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Young Adult), Richard Kind (Luck, Burn Notice, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Judith Light (Other Desert Cities, Assembled Parties).

Weller’s character is a man who relays the story of an encounter he had with a woman sitting next to him on a flight. Fisher portrays a woman telling about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and about her new life partner. Krause’s character is a young woman who discusses the way in which she takes control of her sexual destiny. Kind portrays a man discussing his feelings about his long-time marriage and his views on same-sex marriage as well. Light becomes a woman remembering the ‘man who got away’ while discussing her former marriage and her new boyfriend.

The second five feature Adam Brody (Some Girls), Maggie Grace (Taken; Taken 2), Jason Patric (Your Friends and Neighbors), Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) and Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping). Each film explores the nature of human relationships, specifically themes of love and lust, told by characters at different stages in their lives.

Brody portrays a young man bemoaning his impending hair loss and talking about his ‘ideal’ woman. Grace’s character is a woman talking about a friend who was killed in a car accident while texting her boyfriend. Patric embodies a man recounting the tale of a fight between parents that he was involved in at a little league game. Madigan plays a woman confessing to slowly having lost her will to live and asks a visitor for some spiritual help. Pullman becomes a man considering the ever-changing culture around him and his evolving views on love and life

LaBute explains, “The series was initially written as exclusive content for DIRECTV’s  ‘AUDIENCE CHANNEL’ and has been rarely seen since its initial  airing on television. 10 X 10 is a collection of original monologues— five men, five women—that are performed directly to the camera and in real time, meaning there is no editing or camera trickery. It is all about the material and the actor, bringing each piece to the audience at home as purely and directly as possible.”

The 10 x 10 videos will be released weekly to STLAS patrons via email with password a protected link. They will also be providing in-home entertainment from the Gaslight courtesy of St. Louis Actors’ Studio as it can be generated and as regulations permit.

Details for the new dates for “Comfort” will be announced soon. The new LaBute play is about a mother and son meeting after some time apart to see if their relationship can survive the past and two new book deals.

Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
Executive Artistic Director Carrie Houk said the multiple activities of the fifth annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis would be moved to summer. It had been scheduled for May 7 – 17 in the Grand Center.

“After careful deliberation, we find it necessary to push the 5th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis to summer due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Our first commitment is to keeping the company and community safe.The show WILL go on. We will be announcing new dates shortly,” she said.
.
The multi-award-winning Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis headliner is The Rose Tattoo.  There will be more than a dozen separate elements, scheduled so that attendees may attend every one during the eleven-day run, all held in the Grand Center Arts District and on The Hill. Events include:

  • 3 productions: The Rose TattooThe St. Louis Rooming House Plays, Amor Perdido
  • Academic series, “Tennessee Williams and his Midwest Experiences”
  •  “Williams Playwriting Initiative”
  • A staged reading of Glass
  • screenings of Italian-themed The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Boom
  • Public Discussion Panels
  • La Dolce Vita Pool Party at the Last Hotel
  • Bus Tour of important Williams’ sites
  • “Tennessee Williams Tribute”
  • “TW Jam”

“In the meantime, love deeply, be kind, eat, drink, be merry and smell the roses. Lots and lots of roses!: Houk said.

Upstream Theater

Upstream Theater is postponing “Iphigenia in Splott,” set from April 17 to May 3, until the fall, Oct. 9 – 25.The regional premiere by Welsh playwright Gary Owen stars Jennifer Theby-Quinn and is directed by Patrick Siler. If you have purchased single tickets or a season passport they will honor your ticket at that time.

Stumbling around Cardiff’s gritty Splott neighborhood at 11:30 AM drunk, Effie is the kind of person you’d avoid eye contact with. You think you know her, but you really don’t—because here is someone whose life spirals through a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night, and a hangover worse than death the next day … until one night gives her a chance to be something more. Inspired by the Greek myth about a young woman offered as a human sacrifice, Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott is a blisteringly poetic monologue that drives home the high price people pay for society’s shortcomings …

.Metro Theatre Company
As of March 18, MTC’s artistic and administrative staff will go to a remote work model. Their physical office in Grand Center will be closed.

Their spring gala, After Dark, originally scheduled for May 7 will now be held Sept. 24. Tickets will automatically transfer to the new date. The Golden Ticket raffle will still happen digitally on May 7.
 
 In light of school closures, for the time being MTC’s in-school arts-integrated curriculum work is paused. While we cannot be present in person in schools, our talented education team is developing digital resources to help parents supporting their children’s learning needs while they are home. Look for some of these digital resources via email and on our Facebook page in the weeks ahead, said executive director Joe Gfaller.
 

At this time we anticipate that our summer camps will proceed as planned, starting in June. Middle SchoolGrand Theater Camp is June 1-12; Advanced Middle School Grand Theater Camp is June 15-26; High School Grand Theater Camp is July 6-10; and Creative Arts Camp for Pre-K through 5th Grade is offered July 27-August 1 and August 3-7. 

“Even as you engage in social distancing in the weeks and months ahead, we encourage you to find ways to continue to support those businesses and artists who make St. Louis such a rewarding community in which to live and raise a family. COVID-19 impacts our friends in travel and tourism, restaurants, entertainment, and small business – not to mention scores of working artsts across St. Louis,” Gfaller said.

St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

President Mark Bretz issued this statement on March 13:
“In consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decisions in the last few days by the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, the State of Missouri, Major League Baseball and many others, the upcoming St. Louis Theater Circle Awards presentation has been canceled, effective immediately.

Brown Paper Tickets said that those who already had purchased tickets to the gala, which was scheduled for Monday, March 30, will receive full refunds after contacting Brown Paper Tickets.

“We hope soon to reveal our alternative plan for announcing this year’s award recipients in each of our 34 categories. Thank you for your patience and understanding,” Bretz said.



12th Natya Indian Dance Festival – April 24- 26 – POSTPONED, Date TBD

Wydown Auditorium

Dedicated to Indian Classical dance, music and theatre, this year’s festival will include a special presentation of SAMARPAN-2, the 3.5 hour long story of India’s struggle for freedom from 16th-20th century through dance, music and drama with artists from India.

Arts For Life

AFL President Mary McCreight has suspended all public activities of the Arts For Life organization effective March 16 until at least May 1, 2020. This includes all judging activities of the Theatre Recognition Guild (TRG). The Theatre Mask Awards Ceremony has been rescheduled for July 18. The Best Performance Awards are not yet affected by this suspension as they are scheduled to take place in mid-June.

“We will continue to base our decisions on the best information available in this rapid evolving situation, recognizing the need for timely notifications. All of this uncertainty poses challenges, and we will endeavor to communicate about our plans and share decisions promptly and transparently,” she said.

“It is apparent most shows scheduled before May 1 would likely not be allowed to be open anyway given the restrictions on event/gathering sizes put in place by local authorities this weekend. We ask that all participating groups keep us apprised as to their individual decisions regarding cancellations and/or postponements as soon as possible. We know that the various licensing houses (MTI, Concord and others) are are offering generous low- and no-penalty options for groups to either postpone and/or cancel productions. Please check with your respective licensors,” she said.


Other Companies

As previously reported, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has postponed “Dreaming Zenzile” and hopes to reschedule this summer. “The Cake” in the Studio ran over the weekend, but beginning March 16, the production was suspended.

New Line Theatre closed “Head Over Heels” early because of the St. Louis City and County mandates about crowd size.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim

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

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

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

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

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

OK, off my soapbox.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPANY OF THE YEAR: New Jewish Theatre.

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

Ellie in “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Ellie Schwetye.

Ellie in “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur”

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb Miofsky in “Cry-Baby” at New Line

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

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

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

DYNAMIC DUOS

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

JUVENILE PERFORMANCE AWARDS

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

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

Jane Paradise in “Brighton Beach Memoirs”

COMEDY AWARDS
Best Actress in a Comedy

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

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

Best Actor in a Comedy

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

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

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

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

Best Director of a Comedy

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

Best Ensemble in a Comedy

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

(tie) Well, Mustard Seed Theatre

BEST COMEDY PRODUCTION

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

DRAMA AWARDS

Ben Ritchie and Nicole Angeli in “Photograph 51”

Best Actress in a Drama

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

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

Jim Butz in “The Night of the Iguana”

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

David Ryan Smith and Peter Fre

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

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

Best Director of a Drama

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

Best Ensemble in a Drama Production

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

Best Dramatic Production

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

MUSICAL AWARDS

Casr of Cry-Baby at New Line

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

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

Best Choreographer (and not just in musicals)

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

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

Best Actress in a Musical

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

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

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

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

Best Director of a Musical

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

A Man of No Importance


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

“Kinky Boots” at the Muny

Best Musical Production

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

?Dreamgirls”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

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

“The Who’s Tommy”

Best Lighting Design in a Musical

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

“Matilda” at the Muny

Best Set Design in a Musical

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

Feeding Beatrice

Best Sound Design of a Play

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

Best Costume Design in a Play

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

Best Set Design in a Play

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

Best Lighting Design in a Play

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

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

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
A variety of classics old and new are currently on local stages. Opening this
weekend are “Paint Your Wagon” at The Muny and “La Boheme” at Union Avenue
Opera, with community theater productions of “Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Mamma Mia!”, a college production
of “Catch Me If You Can” and youth productions of “Carrie,” “Frozen Jr.,” “Seussical”
and “Into the Woods.”

An annual tradition, “The Rocky Horror Show,” is performed
twice each evening on Friday and Saturday at the Looking Glass Playhouse in
Lebanon.

Continuing on regional stages are “Grease,” “Jaws the
Parody: Live” and the second leg of the LaBute New Theater Festival.

“Carrie” at Debut TheatreWhatever your plans on this last weekend in July, go see a play!“Carrie” Debut Theatre Company July 26-28 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. The Olive Tree, 1211 S. Newstead Ave., St. Louis https://debuttheatreco.weebly.com/ What It’s About: Based on the Stephen King novel and Brian DePalma movie, Carrie White is bullied in high school and her religious fundamentalist mother doesn’t want her going to the prom. Carrie has telekinesis and all hell will break loose.

Starring: Carrie White-MacLean Blanner, Margaret White-Isabel Cecilia Garcia, Sue Snell-Jessica Watts, Tommy Ross-Charlie Wehde, Chris Hargensen-Gabby Anderson, Billy Nolan-Sam Guillemette, Ms. Gardner-Ally Wukitsch, Norma-Emma Gulovsen, Helen-Gabby DeRennaux, Frieda-Allison Crandall, Claudia-Savannah Lamb, -Thomas Molen, Freddy-Nathan Hakenworth and Stokes-Santino Bono. Also Featuring Ginger Cox-Young Carrie, Children’s Ensemble- Tatum Douglas, Chloe Grieshaber, and Riley Kummer.“Catch Me If You Can” July 24-28 St. Charles Community College FAB Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, Mo 636-922-8050 www.stchas.edu/events

What It’s About: Based on the hit film and the incredible true story, “Catch Me If You Can” is a musical comedy about chasing your dreams without getting caught. Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abignale Jr., runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. When Frank’s lies catch the attention of FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, though, Carl pursues Frank across the country to make him pay for his crimes“Frozen Jr.” Rock Show Productions Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m., Friday, July 26 at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m. The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63103www.rockshowproductions.org What It’s About: Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” based on the Disney animated musical adaptation.

“Beauty School Dropout”“Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, GREASE blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Knitel, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

“Into the Woods” COCA July 26-27 Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m. Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus www.cocastl.org

What It’s About: An epic fairytale about wishes, family and
the choices we make. James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite
storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless, and relevant,
piece.
Director: Jim Butz, with music direction by Colin Healy and choreography by
Christopher Page-Sanders

Of Note: Ages 9 and up.

Great White Shark scares“Jaws The Parody: Live!” St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre July 19 – July 27 Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 and 25, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.  Regional Arts Commission in University Citywww.stlshakespeare.org What It’s About: A spoof of the 1975 movie about the killer shark that terrorized a New England beach community, Amity Island, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 bestseller.

Director: Donna Northcott
Starring: Ryan Glosemeyer as Chief Brody, James Enstall as Matt
Hooper, Rob McLemore as Quint, Shannon Nara as Ellen Brody, Dylan Comer as
Mayor Vaughn and playing multiple roles are CeCe Day, Jack Janssen, Maya Kelch,
Deanna Massie, Bethany Miscannon, and others.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” July 26 – Aug. 4 Over Due Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview Drive, Olivette, MO 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, “Joseph”
is one of the most enduring shows of all time and reimagines the biblical story
of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors.

“La Boheme”“La Boheme” Union Avenue Opera July 26 – Aug. 2 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: Puccini’s opera about a group of poor artists and their search for love and happiness.

Of Note: The opera is sung in Italian with projected
English text.

LaBute New Theater Festival July 19-28 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. The Gaslight Theatre 358 N. Boyle, St. Louiswww.stlas.org 314-458-2978 Box Office: www.ticketmaster.com, 800-982-2787; will also be available at the theater box office one hour prior to performances

What It’s About: New previously unproduced one-act play
submissions of 45 minutes or less are juried and selected. They must not have
more than four characters and be able to

 Six plays were
chosen: One group was performed in the first two weeks of July, the final group
in the second two weeks. “Great Negro Works of Art,” a Midwest Premiere from
Mr. LaBute, will be performed every night for the run of the festival.

Set 2 includes:

 “Great Negro Works
of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson, starring Carly Rosenbaum and
Jaz Tucker

“Predilections” by Richard Curtis, directed by Wendy Renee
Greenwood, starring Kim Furlow and Tielere Cheatem
 “Henrietta” by Joseph Krawczyk,
directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Carly Rosenbaum and Chuck Brinkley

“Sisyphus and Icarus a Love story” by William
Ivor Fowkes, directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Colleen Backer, Shane
Signorino and Tielere Cheatem

“Mamma Mia!” July 26 – Aug. 4 Hard Road Theatre Productions Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s About: ABBA songs on a Greek isle. Three possible
dads, a wedding, and Donna and the Dynamos.

 “Overdone” by David
Hamley and “Screaming at Optimum Pitch” by Peg Flach
First Run Theatre
July 19 – 28
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, 517 Theatre Lane in Webster Groves, Mo. www.firstruntheatre.com.

“Paint Your Wagon” The Muny July 27 – Aug. 2 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: A reimagined version of a 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical set in the California gold rush. It’s a moving tale of ambition, love and home that features such songs as “They Call the Wind Mariah,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” This adaptation has a revised book by Jon Marans. It’sproduced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

Director: Josh Rhodes, also choreographer, with Starring: Bogart (Ben Rumson), Mamie Parris (Cayla Woodling), Omar Lopez-Cepero (Armando), Mark Evans (William), Maya Keleher (Jennifer Rumson), Allan K. Washington (Wesley), Andrew Kober (Jake), Austin Ku (Ming-Li), Raymond J. Lee (Guang-Li), Rodney Hicks (H. Ford) and Michael James Reed (Craig Woodling). A golden ensemble completes this cast, including Akilah Ayanna, Juan Caballer, Matthew Davies, Richard Gatta, Sally Glaze, Michael Milkanin, Trina Mills, Pascal Pastrana, Michael Seltzer and Cooper Stanton. The company will also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.

Russ Reidelberger as Dr. Frank N. Furter“The Rocky Horror Show” Looking Glass Playhouse Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., July 26 and 27 301 W. St. Louis St. in Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com What It’s About: In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.“Seussical the Musical” DaySpring Arts July 26-27 at 7 p.m.; July 28 at 3 p.m. DeSmet High School, 222 N. Ballas Road, St. Louis dayspringarts.org

What It’s About: The musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn
Ahrens brings Dr. Seuss’ beloved characters to life, including Cat in the Hat, Gertrude
McFuzz and Horton the Elephant.

“The Wizard of Oz” Alton Little Theater July 25 – Aug. 4. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org

What It’s About: Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy
needs to find her way home after following the yellow brick road and making her
way to the Emerald City.

St. Louis Actors’ Studio will produce the 7th LaBute New Theater Festival. The Theater Festival will run at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle, home to St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

Professional and high school submissions were accepted October through December 2018. To be considered entries had to have no more than four characters, and be crafted specifically to exploit our intimate performance space (18′ x 18′ stage). Changes in scenery or setting should be achievable in a few seconds and with few major set moves. Our focus is on fundamental dramaturgy: plot, character, theme.

Professional, new, previously unproduced one act play submissions (45 minutes or less) included a letter of inquiry, a synopsis and a 10-page sample from the script.

Four winning plays by high school students will be presented in readings at 11 a.m. on July 20 at the Gaslight Theater. Admission to the reading free.

Six plays were chosen: One group to be performed in the first two weeks of July, the final group in the second two weeks. “Great Negro Works of Art,” a Midwest premiere from Mr. LaBute, will be performed every night for the run of the festival.

“We are thrilled that Neil will be working with us again. Lending his name and talents to foster new works in the theater is just another example of his generosity and commitment to the arts and we could not be more proud to host this ongoing event,” says William Roth, Founder and Producing Director of St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

Festival Creative Team

Neil LaBute – Film Director, Screenwriter and PlaywrightWilliam Roth – Actor, Founder, Artistic Director St. Louis Actors’ StudioJohn Pierson – STLAS Assoc. Artistic Director, Actor, Teacher English and Theatre Departments John Burroughs SchoolNathan Bush – Actor, Professor of Theatre Arts -Oregon State UniversityMichael Hogan – Actor, DirectorWendy Greenwood, Theater Instructor Parkway SchoolsFranki Cambeletta, Founder, Shift FilmsRyan Foizey, Actor, Founder, Theatre LabEdward Scott Ibur –Novelist, Director, St. Louis Literary Award, Associate Director of Dual Enrollment at St. Louis University, Director, Gifted Arts(Writers & Artist Project for Middle School & High School)Julie B. Schoettley – Documentary Film Editor, Script Development EditorElizabeth Helman – Actor, Writer, Director, Professor of Theatre Arts -Oregon State UniversityMaggie Doyle Ervin – English Department, John Burroughs SchoolPatrick Huber – Associate Director, St. Louis Actors’ Studio-Set Design and Lighting, Teacher Theater, Design and Architecture Mary Institute, Country Day Prep SchoolThe following is a list of finalists for the Festival:

July 5-14, Set One:

“Great Negro Works of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson“Color Timer” by Michael Long (Alexandria, VA), Directed by Jenny Smith“Privilege” – by Joe Sutton (West Orange, NJ), Directed by Jenny Smitn“Kim Jong Rosemary” by Carter W. Lewis (Stl, MO) Directed by John PiersonJuly 20-29, Set Two:

“Predilections” by Richard Curtis (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood  “Henrietta” by Joseph Krawczyk (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood“Sisyphus and Icarus a Love Story” by William Ivor Fowkes (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood“Great Negro Works of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John PiersonHigh School Finalists:

Readings Saturday July 20, 2019 11 am FREE ADMISSION

“Razor Burn” by Theodore James Sanders (Houston, TX)“P.B and Gay” by Dylan Hasted (Glendale, CA)“Stressful Snacks” by Posey Bischoff (St. Louis, MO)“We’ll Go Down(In History)” by Ann Zhang (St. Louis, Mo)St. Louis Actors’ Studio (STLAS) strives to bring a fresh vision to theatre in St. Louis. Housed in The Gaslight Theater, a historic Gaslight Square, STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression.

WHEN:              July 5 – 28, 2019

Evening Performances – Thursday – Saturday at 8pm

Sundays at 3pm

WHERE:            The Gaslight Theater

358 N Boyle

St. Louis, MO 63108

TICKETS:           $30-Student Seniors, $35 Adult

Individual tickets are available for purchase through Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or Charge by Phone at 1-800-982-2787. Tickets will also be available at the theater box office one hour prior to performances.

For More Information call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorSpring has sprung, with many to-dos on your list. So, what play are you going to see this weekend/week?

From college theater productions to intimate dramas to touring musicals, you have a variety of offerings. Celebrate art in any season! Go See a Play!“Are U R?” Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville April 24-28 Metcalf Theatrewww.siue.edu 618- 650-2774 What It’s About: Based on the 1920 Czech play, “R.U.R.” by Karel Cepak, this original SIUE adaptation is an irreverent and provocative mash-up of humor and horror, philosophy and presents From Metropolis to The Matrix, from Brave New World to Westworld, humans are obsessed with the possibility of intelligent machines and the all the questions that they inspire – What is the mind? What is consciousness? And what will it look like when smart technology turns against its creators? and science/fiction, pop culture and faith that explores the nature of artificial intelligence and human consciousness.

“From Jimmy, to America: An Ode to James Baldwin” University of Missouri at St. Louis April 27 and 28 Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Touhill Performing Arts Center www.touhill.org

What It’s About: Through the words of James Baldwin, this
production explores race, identity, and America. In collaboration with Nu-World
Contemporary Danse Theatre, actors and dancers explore our racial identity
through the works, words, and musicality of James Baldwin.

“Godspell” University Theatre at Saint Louis University April 25-28 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square MetroTix: 314-534-1111 Tickets available at the door

What It’s About: This is the 2012 retelling of the Stephen Schwartz musical, which is based on the gospel of St. Matthew, that features new arrangements and contemporary references as it takes us on a rousing journey through the parables of Jesus. Director: Stephanie Tennill

‘The Laramie Project’ at St. Charles Community College“The Laramie Project” St. Charles Community College April 24-28 SCC Center Stage Theatre in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, Mo.www.stchas.edu 636-922-8050

What It’s About: This gripping play concerns Americans’
reaction to the hate-crime murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard. In
October of 1998, Shepard was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left to die in
Laramie, Wyoming. Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater went to Laramie and
conducted more than 200 interviews about the event, from which they wrote this
play.

Director: Samantha Stavely

Cast: David Amrhein, Rachel Bohn, Jim Dishian, Jordan
Dennis, Johnny Dishian, Andrew Edmonston, Dane Harris, Jasminn Jones, Jacob
Krznar, Kat Leffler, Amanda May, Travis McIntyre, Angela McNeil, Mia Millican,
Joshua David Neighbors, Mia Politte, Gabby Rivera, Braden Stille, Graham
Woodward and Peggy Woodward.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” April 26-28 R-S Theatrics and Three Blind Pigs Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. William Kerr Foundation 21 O’Fallon Street, North St. Louis www.r-stheatrics.com

What It’s About: One of Shakespeare’s most beloved
comedies, you’ll see lovers’ spats, clueless actors, and a fairy queen.

Of Note: Shake38 may be gone, but Blind Pigs’ partnership
with R-S Theatrics lives on

“Miss Saigon” Fox Theatre April 23-May 5 www.fabulousfox.com

What It’s About: National tour of acclaimed revival, from the creators of “Les Miserables.”  Based on the Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly,” this is the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son. Featuring stunning spectacle and a sensational cast of 42 performing the soaring score, including Broadway hits like “The Heat is On in Saigon,” “The Movie in My Mind,” “Last Night of the World” and “American Dream.”

“Never Let Go: A One-Woman TitanicERA TheatreApril 18-20 at The Monocle, Emerald Room, 8 p.m.April 26-27 at The Improv Shop, 3960 Chouteau, 10 p.m.www.eratheatre.org

What It’s About: Twenty-four years ago, Rose ‘Dawson’ miraculously survived the sinking of the Titanic. But her lover, Jack Dawson, did not, and she is not over it. Despite her grief, she’s pursuing her dream of becoming an Academy Award nominated actress. In this production, Rose pitches the idea of turning her story into a work of theatre, or even a motion picture, to an audience of potential producers and investors. She shifts seamlessly from past and present, often without warning, and artistically, and maybe somewhat insanely, blurs the distinction between reality and imagination. Join us for the maiden voyage of your life and never let go!

Starring: Rachel Tibbetts

Playwrights: Will Bonfiglio and Lucy Cashion

Stage Manager and Dramaturg: Miranda Jagels-Felix

Designers: Morgan Fisher and Bess Moynihan

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

Of Note: A U.S. premiere in co-production with Stages Repertory Theatre of Houston. New at Upstream is “Bohemian Thursday” – all tickets $10 May 2 only.

“Spamalot” Clinton County Showcase April 26-28 & May 3-5 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Avon Theater, 525 N. Second St., Breese, Ill.www.ccshowcase.com What It’s About: Adaptation of classic comedy film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the Tony-Award winning musical retells the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

“Translations” The Black Mirror Theatre April 25 – May 4 Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. .Zack, 3224 Locust www.blackmirrortheatre.com What It’s About: Brien Friel’s “Translations” is an intimate look into a world at odds with itself. It could have been set in one of any number of eras and lands – anywhere in which an alien force imposes its culture on a conquered people through the suppression of all that which gave and gives that culture cohesion, especially its language. One needs to look no farther than America, where indigenous peoples still struggle to maintain and transmit their values, beliefs, their souls thru their native tongues.

Paul James and Rich Loughbridge. Photo by Lori Biehl“Tuesdays with Morrie” April 24-May 5 Act Two Theatre St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre www.act2theatre.com What It’s About:  The autobiographical story of Mitch Albom, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.

Director: Nancy Crouse
Cast: Paul James as Morrie Schwartz, Rich Loughridge as Mitch Albom

William Humphrey, William Roth in “True West.” Photo by Patrick Huber.“True West” April 4 – 28 St. Louis Actors’ Studio Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle 314-458-2978 www.stlas.org

What It’s About: This American classic by Sam Shepard explores
alternatives that might spring from the demented terrain of the California
landscape. Sons of a desert-dwelling alcoholic and a suburban wanderer clash
over a film script. Austin, the achiever, is working on a script he has sold to
producer Sal Kimmer when Lee, a demented petty thief, drops in. He pitches his
own idea for a movie to Kimmer, who then wants Austin to junk his bleak, modern
love story and write Lee’s trashy Western tale.
Director: William Whitaker
Cast: Isaiah Di Lorenzo, William Humphrey, William Roth, Susan Kopp