By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
When composer and music director Colin Healy first heard the story of wealthy
brothel madam and philanthropist Eliza Haycraft, he was intrigued. On Aug. 16,
“Madam,” the musical about this infamous St. Louisan that he wrote the book,
music and lyrics for, had its world premiere at the Bluff City Theatre in
Hannibal.

Bluff City Theater commissioned the musical, where Healy has been the music director for the theater since 2017, and a branch of the Haycraft family is involved with BCT. Healy is artistic director of his own companies, Fly North Music and Fly North Theatricals.

“After one of the shows, they told me Eliza’s story. I was
fascinated ever since,” he said. “I said ‘Wow, that’s a musical.’ About a year
later, Joe Anderson, the artistic director, called me up and said in so many
words ‘Let’s make it a musical.’”

Rosemary Watts and Larissa White

Bluff City Theatre’s executive director wrote in his recent
blog: “Madam the musical is a totally new play we commissioned to end our 2019
season dedicated to the theme of The American Experience,” he said. “We follow
the story of a group of women who, for a variety of reasons found themselves
without the means to support themselves and turned to the only profession open
to women like them — prostitution. Madam Eliza Haycraft rose from obscurity to
become the richest woman in Missouri, much-loved by the general public, and a
major philanthropist with a special emphasis on Civil War widows and orphans. Yet,
despite the fact that her houses were well-frequented by the rich and powerful
men who ran the city, she was shut out of polite society.”   

“Madam introduces other characters who are historically
based on some of the remarkable women who defied the norm to claim their place
in the country at a time when they had few legitimate rights. One, an escaped
slave, disguised herself as a man to fight in the Union Army.  One is sister to Victoria Woodhull, candidate
for president in 1872,” he continued. “In addition to being a lesson in America
history, Healy’s musical is bright and lyrical. The cast is amazing. And you
can be among the first to see what is sure to be a hit.”

Healy’s score features St. Louis style jazz and blues, “Madam” is directed by Sydnie Grosberg -Ronga. The musical stars Rosemary Watts as Madam, Brett Ambler as The Benefactor, and Eileen Engel, Kimmie Kidd, Cameron Pille, Gracie Sartin and Larissa White as the ladies she protected.

There are only nine performances in Hannibal. Five are left
– Wednesday through Saturday. For tickets or more information, visit
www.eventshannibal.com or call 573-719-3226. The show is sponsored by Harold
and Kathleen Haycraft.

The first-run weekend is over, and seeing it happen has been
something special.

“Realizing work on stage is quite literally turning something practically two-dimensional — many many sheets of paper — into something truly three-dimensional,” Healy said. “In any other aspect of life, suddenly perceiving a whole new dimension would be beyond life-altering. Well, that’s what realizing a work of theatre is and it hasn’t gotten old yet.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. Sydnie
Grosberg-Ronga, in addition to being an effective and incredible director, has
been an even better mentor, dramaturg, and sometimes-therapist,” he said. “Rosemary,
Lari, Cameron, Kimmie, Gracie, and Eileen have all been amazing to work with—
and as a millennial and member of the meme generation, I’d be remiss if I
didn’t say I’ve been a little starstruck getting to work with the Kazoo Kid — love
ya, Brett!”

Healy considers the musical a work in progress, but the
fact that Bluff City Theater encourages new and emerging work is music to his ears.

“What Joe Anderson is doing in Hannibal is remarkable. Bluff City Theatre is producing new and emerging work every year and filling houses with it. Go support them. They’re doing it right up there,” he said. The journey has been an interesting one, but it won’t end when the show does on Aug. 24. Plans are for his company, Fly North Theatricals, to perform “Madam” in St. Louis in 2020, from Jan. 10 to Feb. 2 at the .Zack Theater, 3224 Locust St.

Brett Ambler, Larissa White

And that is not the only plan, either.

“I’d love for it to someday reach a wider audience — whatever
that means. There are already plans for ‘Madam’ in the near future, so stay
tuned,” he said.

Not much is known about the real Eliza Haycraft, but this
much we do know. Haycraft, born in 1820, arrived in St. Louis from Callaway
County when she was 20, cast out by her parents. She had been seduced by a
lover. Destitute, she sold herself as a courtesan to support herself. When
prostitution was legal, for only a brief time, in St. Louis, she became owner
and manager of a brothel, doing well even though she couldn’t read or write. She
bought commercial and residential property and rented it back out. She was known
for helping the city’s poor, offering them help and financial aid.

In the last year of her life, the richest and most powerful men in St. Louis were hellbent on taking it all away from her, he said. She died in 1871, at age 51, leaving an estate valued at over a quarter million dollars. More than 5,000 people attended her funeral, and she was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Healy’s musical focuses on a dying Haycraft as the owner of
five brothels and the richest woman in St. Louis. She hates men. She once
empowered her employees by giving them the right to refuse service to anyone. She
had three simple rules: Respect, Consent and Pay Up Front. Then, the passage of
The Social Evils Act of 1870 made her business legitimate, but it also took
away her right to say “no.”

While based loosely on real events, the musical tells the fictionalized
story of her search for an heir to her sex empire while also taking a romp
through first-wave feminism and sexism in America at the time of
Reconstruction. It is told through the lens of Eliza’s courtesans.

“St. Louis had passed the Social Evils Ordinance, which
under the guise of legalizing prostitution actually served to deny the women
affected by it of many of the rights they had previously enjoyed. Eliza
Haycraft was a remarkable woman — a pragmatic feminist who mistrusted men,
especially those who used their positions of power to control the rights of
women, the poor and the marginalized. But she knew how to operate in a
male-dominated world. As she neared death, Eliza sought to purchase a burial
plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery, then the largest and most prestigious in the
city. The trustees of the cemetery, all clients of hers, attempted to block the
purchase until Haycraft countered by suggesting that she would take her case
directly to their wives.  They relented,”
Bluff City Theater blog said.

The poster design

Healy said he likes the show’s message.

“The show at its core is about the vulnerability of aging
and the power of ‘no’ — so for now, I just hope people like it and take away
something from it,” he said.
Bluff City Theater raved: “Audience attendance is already at a record for any
show we’ve produced here at Bluff City Theater…Don’t take our word for it — talk
to anyone who has seen the show so far. ‘Madam’ is one of the most exciting new
musicals to come along this decade.”

Healy has written five original musicals, including “The
Gringo,” which was the local headline act at the St. Louis Fringe Festival last
summer, and was the best-selling show in its history. Like “Madam,” it was
based on a real story.

Riley Dunn in “The Gringo”

He began writing “The Gringo” in 2013 after the wrongful
death of Miami teen Israel Hernandez at the hands of police. Healy had attended
high school with Hernandez, although they were not acquainted. He became
intrigued as details emerged in the fallout surrounding his death, especially
by the stark differences between their lives.

Healy moved to St. Louis during the Ferguson riots in
summer 2014. “The Gringo” then went in a different direction, instead of
confronting privilege but about fighting for your home.

“The Gringo” tells the story of art bringing together a
community facing injustice and rapid gentrification. On the morning of the
biggest art festival in Miami, a beloved local street artist is wrongfully
gunned down by police. Through the lens of a successful painter, her wannabe
lover, a drug dealer, his mule, and the white boy from out of town bearing
witness to it all, “The Gringo” is about what it means to fight for your home
in spite of it all.
Through its workshop and staged reading, a funding campaign raised enough to
record a full-length and fully orchestrated album.

“The Gringo”For the premiere of ‘The Gringo,” he also directed and was the music director. He always seems to be juggling multiple projects at once. For instance, he was contracted as the music director for “Into the Woods” this July at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA). He currently directs the Adagio Music Company at COCA and serves as the resident music director at East Central College in Union, Mo. where he has done five mainstream shows, plus his original musical “Forgottonia” last year.

Colin Healy

While living in his native South Florida, he composed
“Anthem,” which was presented in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 and 2011, and “Translation,”
which was part of the Florida Theatre Conference in 2015.

After graduating from South Broward High School in
Hollywood, Fla., he became the music director for the theater department.

Beginning at age 15, he was a touring singer/songwriter and
his work as a recording artist in the South Florida-based rock band, The
Republik, was recognized by Billboard and College Music Journal. He recorded
three full-length studio albums as a performer – Last Chance Planet, 2006; The
Unexpected Answer, 2010; and We Are the Wild Things, 2012, with the last one
recorded at the legendary Stratosphere Studios in New York and produced by
Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls. They received radio play nationwide.

In 2017, he established Fly North Music as a St.
Louis-based creative company that serves as the production house for his compositions.
He now has three components: Fly North Music, Fly North Studios, and Fly North
Theatricals.

In early 2018, his private vocal studio had grown,
therefore Fly North Studios was born.

Then, after “The Gringo” was successful, he and his friend Bradley Rohlf decided to establish a new theater company, Fly North Theatricals this year.

They plan to promote education through performance by utilizing both their students and a local community of actors to create new, local, accessible, high-quality works of musical theatre, Healy said. “Neat, huh?”

His five original musicals have seen production at the
educational, community, and professional levels.

“Assassins” announcementFly North Theatricals is planning to present “Assassins”
next summer, July 4 – July 26, at the .Zack Theatre, 3224 Locust St., St. Louis,
with auditions set for Sept.16 and 17.

Fly North Theatricals said it will be a new take on Sondheim and Weidman’s classic where our nations’ most notorious assassins gather on stage to violently pursue a twisted American Dream.

“While many characters represent historical figures, our
vision for this cast requires performers that visually represent our local
community, not necessarily the real people being portrayed,” the audition
notice states.

Their website states: “A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, “Assassins” is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.”

For more information, visit www.flynorthmusic.comOur Questions with Colin Healy

Colin Healy on drums1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts? “I’ve never really done much else. I’ve played music since I was 5 and went to performing arts schools my whole life — not really a great background to go into medicine or finance.”

2. How would your friends describe you? “I don’t know. I annoy myself a lot but at least they don’t have to around me all the time. So, there’s that.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time? “I don’t understand the premise of this question.”

4. What is your current obsession? “I’m answering these questions from rehearsals for my new musical, ‘Madam!’ — so I guess that.”

5. What would people be surprised to find out about you? “People are always surprised to hear that I played baseball for 10 years, which I guess is playfully insulting? Like, why are you surprised?! Do I not strike you as the model of athleticism?! (OK, I get it.)”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life? “My father passed away last month (July) so… that. That will certainly be informing a lot of my writing and teaching in the future (not that he didn’t when he was alive).”

7. Who do you admire most? “Angela Brandow and Bradley Rohlf and Stephen Sondheim and William Finn.”

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list? “Probably a bucket.”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis? “Eating all the food, drinking all the beer, and riding my bike (because you have to burn the calories somehow).”

10. What’s next? Shameless plug: My new theatre company, Fly North Theatricals, kicks off its inaugural season this January at the .ZACK. Stay tuned to our social media (@flynorththeatricals) for more information.

More about Colin Healy

Colin Healy, circa 2015

Age: 29
Birthplace: Hollywood, Fla.
Current location: St. Louis
Education: Studied acting and music education, with a focus in voice, at
Florida International University.
Day job: I’m a full-time music director, composer, and voice teacher.
First job: Waiter
First role: Pharaoh in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
Favorite roles/plays: “Man 1 in “Songs for a New World”
Dream role/play: George in “Sunday in the Park with George”
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Uhhh — I don’t know! I got a dog. He’s pretty
cool. Getting featured on the cover of RFT for “The Gringo” last year was
pretty neat. I make a pretty mean egg sandwich.
Favorite quote/words to live by: “Fail better.”
A song that makes you happy: Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”

By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorFor something really different, check out the St. Louis Fringe Festival, which is taking over Grand Center the next four days. Check out what’s happening with a list of shows here.More collaborations are on stage through the ‘Lou and up the river. SATE and ERA have joined forces, along with Prison Performing Arts and Saint Louis University, for a fresh take on “Antigone.”Union Avenue Opera is premiering “Glory Denied,” and author Tom Cipullo will be here opening night for a talk-balk.In Hannibal, Bluff City Theatre will open the world premiere of Colin Healy’s musical, “Madam!” (Fly North Theatricals will stage it here in January at the .Zack.)

Shows continuing include “A Man of No Importance,” “Grease” and “Guys and Dolls.”

It may be the dog days of August, but you can cool off at a local theater — GO SEE A PLAY.

The seven “Antigones” Photo by Joey Rumpell“Antigone: Requiem per Patriarchus” SATE and ERA Aug. 14 – 31 (Wednesday – Saturday) at 8 p.m. The Chapel 6238 Alexander Drive, St Louis Tickets: Brown Paper or box office www.slightlyoff.org

What It’s About: For the third production of its Season of
Ritual, SATE is collaborating with ERA to co-produce Antigone: requiem per
Patriarchus; a fresh perspective on the Sophocles classic workshopped in a
collaboration between Saint Louis University Theatre and Prison Performing
Arts. Antigone explores themes of fidelity, citizenship, civil disobedience,
and the struggles and consequences the characters within the world of the play
encounter as a result of their choices

Director: Lucy Cashion

Starring: Alicen Moser, Ellie Schwetye, Laura Hulsey,
Miranda Jagels Félix, Natasha Toro, Taleesha Caturah and Victoria Thomas, with
Marcy Ann Wiegert providing live percussion accompaniment.

In 2017, Prison Performing Arts began a collaboration with
St. Louis University Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Lucy Cashion,
Assistant Professor of Theatre and ERA Artistic Director, and PPA Director of
Youth Programs and SATE Artistic Director Rachel Tibbetts, taught weekly
poetry, playwriting, and development workshops with PPA participants at Women’s
Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, Mo.

The group studied, explored, and wrote about the Ancient
Greek Princess Antigone. Antigone’s story of fighting civic law to obey divine
law became famous in the Classical Greek tragedy “Antigone,” which premiered in
Athens in 441 B.C. Since then, scholars, poets, and playwrights have written
their own translations, adaptations, and critiques of the Antigone story, each
from a different point of view. The continuation of this tradition resulted in
a new version of “Antigone,” which was performed in October 2017 by SLU theatre
majors in St. Louis and then with a performance by PPA participants at WERDCC
in March 2018. The collaboration now continues with this ERA/SATE co-production
in St. Louis.

 photography by Joey
Rumpell
Please call (314) 827-5760, email [email protected]

Public relations photo shot on August 6, 2019 for the upcoming Union Avenue Opera production of Glory Denied.

“Glory Denied” Union Avenue Opera Aug. 16-17 and Aug. 23-24 at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881 www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: America’s longest-held prisoner of war dreams of coming home. But home is a place he will not recognize. Follow the gut-wrenching saga of Col. Jim Thompson as he transitions from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the tree-lined streets of suburban America. This true story explores the unimaginable bravery asked of soldiers and the nature of home itself. It is a story of a nation divided and a country that changed significantly in the decade of his imprisonment. Of Note: The opera is sung in English with projected English text.

Each night following the performance, UAO will host an
intimate talk-back session with members of the artistic team and cast,
including special guest, Tom Cipullo, the composer and director Dean Anthony following
the opening night performance (Aug. 16).

Photo by ProPhotoSTL “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 Johanos, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

Photo by John Lamb“Guys and Dolls” Stray Dog Theatre Aug. 8 – 24 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with additional performances at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995

What It’s About: “Guys & Dolls” takes us from the heart
of Depression-era Times Square, to the cafés of Havana, and into the sewers of
New York City to give us what some have called the perfect musical comedy. This
timeless tale follows ruthless gamblers, sexy nightclub performers, and the
hot-tempered law enforcers who keep them all in line.

Director: Gary F. Bell

Starring: Jayde Mitchell, Kevin O’Brien, Sarah Rae Womack, Angela Bubash, Mike Wells

“Madam!” Bluff City Theatre Aug. 15 – 24 Bluff City Theater, 212 Broadway, Hannibal, Mo www.eventshannibal.com

What It’s About: Eliza Haycraft is dying and hates men. She
is owner of five brothels and the richest woman in the city of St. Louis who
once empowered her employees by giving them the right to refuse service to
anyone, but while the passage of The Social Evils Act of 1870 made her business
legitimate, it also took away her right to say “no.”

“Madam!” is a new musical based loosely on real events that
tells the story of her search for an heir to her sex empire while also taking a
romp through first-wave feminism and sexism in America during Reconstruction
told through the lens of Eliza’s courtesans. The music, lyrics and book are by
Colin Healy.

Director: Sydnie Grosberg-Ronga

Starring: Eileen Engel, Kimmie Kidd, Larissa White, Rosemary Watts,

 “A Man of No Importance” R-S Theatrics Aug. 9 – 25 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. The Marcelle 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive in Grand Center www.r-stheatrics.com

What It’s About: The show has music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics
by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, based on the 1994 Albert Finney
film, of the same title. It tells the story of an amateur theatre group in
Dublin and their leader, who is determined to stage a version of “Salome” at
his church, despite the objections of church authorities.
Director: Christina Rios
Starring: Mark Kelley, Kellen Green, Kent Coffel, Stephanie Merritt, Marshall
Jennings, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Jodi Stockton, Dustin Allison, Michael B.
Perkins, Lindy Elliott, Nancy Nigh, Kay Love and Curtis Moeller

St. Louis Fringe Festival Aug. 13 – 18 Venues in Grand Centerwww.stlouisfringe.com Grid Schedule PDF: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/03b713_0374464860b54fb7bb2daff290494e83.pdf “Adios Aliens” By LightsUp Productions Kranzberg Black Box Theatre Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

What It’s About: “Adios Aliens” is a work of fiction based
on non-fiction. While the names and characters are fictitious creations of the
author, the play is inspired by the real events pertaining to anti-immigrant
legislation and court judgment that occurred across small town America in the
years 2006-2007. They had real consequences for real people. Over the past 12
years the anti-immigrant sentiment has gained momentum, raising the threats
against the immigrant population.
“Adventures on the Horizon”
presented by Aspire Youth Performing Arts
.ZACK Theatre
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

​What It’s About: This performance will
showcase the dramatic and musical talents of youth in a scripted play, and in
musical /dance numbers.

Headline Act:
“Check In” by because why not? Theatre company
.Zack Theatre, 3224 S. Locust
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.
What It’s About: Allie and Danielle have been together 4 years, living a happy,
All America life with their son and Allie’s mother. But Allie’s a Dreamer, and
in the current political climate, her monthly government “Check In”
may be far less simple and safe than her family has come to expect. A new play
by Shannon Geier.

“Crawling with Monsters
presented by Latino Theater Initiatives
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

What It’s About: This is a multimedia stage documentary
that reveals what life is like inside the war-torn communities along the
US-Mexico border.

“Creatively Seeking”
presented by Sunday Jones, Mo, and Becky
The Olive Tree in the Grove
Aug. 15 at 8 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2 p.m.
What It’s About: “Creatively Seeking” is an investigation of how varied artists
access work and expression through examining their inner truths. Spend an hour
onstage with a painter, life coach, aerialist and photographer and participate
in creation. Firmly based in the concept that “we are the art”, these women
walk the walk and talk the talk to bring out the humanity in artistic
connection.
Debut Cabaret Favorites
presented by Debut Theatre Company
Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at noon
Aug. 18 at noon

What It’s About: This all-kid company is coming back to the
fringe and will feature the talents of St Louis’ brightest up and coming stars
in a musical theatre cabaret.

“Hark!”
Hark!
An Improvised Musical Fairy Tale
303 Pop Up @ The .ZACK
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. 8/16/2019 @ 7:30pm

What It’s About: We get the audience’s favorite fairytale
or fable and improvise one, or two “Fragmented Fables” with our
musical accompaniment.
“I k(NO)w”
presented by Showgirl Awakening
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 15 at 7: 30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.
What It’s About: How do we know when we can’t “no”? Knocked flat
repeatedly by ulcerative colitis, veteran showgirl Kellita comes to know
herself through burlesque, and “NO’s” herself into autoimmune recovery. She
leaves her clothes on and lays her heart bare in this warm telling of her
unsettling partnership with her own powerful, eloquent, recalcitrant body.
Finding unexpected revelations in an airplane potty, a New Orleans nightclub,
and in a spacious room at SF General – sipping coconut water – Kellita begs the
question of her audience: in what ways do we force ourselves to digest the
indigestible?  And what happens when we
stop? With two decades of international burlesque performance under her shimmy
belt, this is Kellita’s first full-length autobiographical-storytelling show.
“I K(noW” focuses on mental, emotional and physical health in a way that’s not
just a storytelling device but also an interactive learning platform.

* “I K(no)W” is not a burlesque show *

What genre is it?

Think intimate-chat-with-a-friend meets TED Talk meets
secure attachment and autoimmume recovery lab.

What they’re saying about “I K(no)W” in San
Francisco: “There are shows that are engaging or entertaining. There are
shows that you talk about right after you see them but don’t ever think about
again. And then there are shows that start you thinking of everyone you can
send to see the show. Kellita engaged my heart, soul, gut and brain.  I K(no)W is a soul baring show.”
“InHERitance: the stories we carry”
presented by Byrd’s World – Heather “Byrd” Roberts
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.8/16/2019 @ 9:00pm

What It’s About: inHERitance is a response to the
historical, environmental, and familial influences along with a demonstration
in the quest for freedom.

“Lady Warrior”
presented by Good People Theater Company
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

What It’s About: Lady Warrior is a one-woman show about a
woman on a journey she creates with her own step system to find her voice and
identity.
Matthew Marcum Hymns & Oscillations
National Headline Act
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

“The closest thing to a breakout star that the American
performance sect has seen in decades.”  
-The New York Journal
“The Medicine Show”
presented by Ken Haller
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: In this 60-minute show of stories and
songs, cabaret singer and pediatrician looks at what captivated him about
medicine and the realization that being a doctor is not the same thing as being
a healer.
“My Infinite Sadness”
presented by Darrious Varner
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug 18 at 1:30 p.m.

What It’s About: When left alone in one’s own mind, who is
it that you are really talking to? Step into the subconscious of a person
suffering with Depression. See the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the
aches and pains that are living with mental illness. Playwright Darrious Varner
introduces you to a whole new view of Depression with My Infinite Sadness.
“Nora’s Numbers”
presented by Two Are We
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.
What It’s About: This one-woman show tells the tale of Nora Petrowski, a recent
widow hobbled by a bunion. Ever the cheapskate, she keeps her husband’s ashes
in an old coffee pot. With her meager budget running out and in jeopardy of
losing her home, Nora starts raising money the only way she knows how—by
running an illegal BINGO den in her living room.  Written and directed by Analicia Kocher and
2015 St. Louis Fringe Meister, Panagiotis Papavlasopoulos.

“Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason”
presented by Poetic Storyteller Oba William King
303 Pop Up @ The .Zack
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. Adults Only
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

What It’s About: Interactive Storytelling. The fusion of
Spoken Word, Theatre, Poetry and the Traditional Art Form. It’s Storytelling
Time!

“Screaming at Optimum Pitch”
First Run Theatre
By Peg Flach
Directed by David Houghton
Cast: Kaitlyn Chotrow, Melanie Klug, Gwynneth Rausch, Nicole Gonnerman, Joshua
Teoli.
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: Optimum pitch. A tool that speech-language
pathologists use to determine a person’s natural voice is to speak as if in
polite agreement, “mm hmm.” Three generations tell their story.
“Secrets of the Bower House”
Chapter 1
.Zack Theatre
Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

What It’s About: “Secrets of Bower House” is a
collaborative production inspired by the concept of “home.” The work
challenges traditional forms of performance and invites you on an immersive
adventure through time, memory, fantasy, and absurdity.

And join us on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. for a free
InterPlay workshop before our show. InterPlay is an active, creative way to
unlock the wisdom of the body. Located at Artica’s outdoor installation space
across from .ZACK Theatre, 3225 Locust.
“Revival: A Southern Gothic Gospel Cabaret”
presented by The Q Collective
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

What It’s About: REVIVAL: A SOUTHERN GOTHIC GOSPEL CABARET
is a storytelling adventure that blends candid storytelling with dynamic music.
Revival is the theatrical unpacking of writer Bobby Britton Jr’s Texas
upbringing, experience with the Southern Evangelical Church, and his time in
conversion therapy. Revival began in late 2017, after Bobby’s first show,
“Closed for Repairs,” returned from the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Since that time, Revival has featured the talents of many of Bobby’s friends
and classmates from the Theatre Education Masters Program at Emerson College.
Revival does not seek to preach or convert. Our only goal is to be honest.
“When Women Were Birds: An Integration of Female Voice and Gravity Defying
Movement”
Inspired by a novel authored by Terry Tempest Williams
presented by St Louis Aerial Artistry
.Zack Theatre
Aug. 15 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at noon

“A Wild and Weird Sky in the Lou”
presented by SKY
303 Pop Up @ The .ZACK
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
What It’s About: Sky will be presenting three nights of some of her most
ambitiously weird and honest pieces to date at 2019’s St. Lou Fringe Festival,
located in the Grand Center Arts District. There will be her scarf, roses, some
water spillage, projections, and a chance to hear Sky talk about her work. It
will be an intimate, inclusive environment open to questions and lively
discussions about the challenges of creating art. Also, don’t forget to support
all your local artists and check out the impressive line-up of local talent at
this year’s one and only St Lou Fringe Festival!
“Politely Angry: An Hour of Socially Conscious Comedy”
presented by Krish Mohan
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: Krish Mohan uses his quirky attitude and
charming personality to address some of our toughest issues using his unique
brand of comedy.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
When Shannon Geier plunged into playwrighting about 10 years ago, she unlocked
a passion for characters and dialogue, which has opened a new world, looking at
life with different questions.
Four years ago, she formed because why not? Theatre company and has presented original
material at St. Louis Fringe Festival, Shake 38 through Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis and as stand-alone productions.
“We want people leaving the shows and talking about what they just saw. Maybe
we didn’t change anyone’s minds, but at least they can hopefully have those
conversations and for a moment, see things in a way they maybe didn’t see them
before,” she said.

Currently, her second production of “Fat” is in its second
weekend, playing at 8 p.m. June 6 – 9, June 13-16 at the Satori, an event venue
at 3003 Locust St.
Sparked by her own issues with weight and body image, Shannon Geier wrote “Fat”
in 2008, put it in a drawer and then resurrected it. She was aided by Tesseract
Theatre Company’s New Play Development.

The play, featuring 12 characters, centers on Amy Prestly, who has a lot going for her: a career, a happy marriage, a beautiful child, and wonderful friends. She is also a woman of larger size, a fact affecting not just Amy, but her relationships with everyone surrounding her.

Directed by Elaine Laws, “Fat” explores the struggles that come with obesity and body image ideals, taking a realistic look at the societal messages communicated with regards to size and the challenges of balancing personal health with positive body image in a world where “thin” equals “better,” Geier said.

The cast includes Amy: Laura Deveney, Joel: Dan Stockton, Tara: Bethany Miscannon, Vanessa: Ashley Netzhammer, Kelly: Robyn Couch Harders, Diana: Stephanie Rhein, Marlene: Basmin, Thin Girl: Blessed Knew, Jessa: Abby Brisbane/Laurel Button, Dave: Rob Wood, Heather: Jaclyn Nischbach and Chris: Jodi Stockton.

Current production of “Fat”“We had many people say they missed it the first time and
were we doing it again? And it’s like the piece shifts and evolves with a new
cast, a new director and a new space. I made a few revisions, but overall, it’s
still a play about the unanswerable questions. It’s a play with 12 characters,
none of whom is wrong. Everyone has their own beliefs they hold tight to and
that someone sitting in the audience agrees with, but in the end, there are no
“solutions.”  Just like in life,” she
said.

Since the first production of “Fat,” Shannon has gained 100
pounds, but said those two events are not related.
“I have witnessed, because a part of me had forgotten, how people look at you
and talk to you when you’re of a larger size. 
How uncomfortable they are and how they view you as a tragic figure
because you aren’t ‘normal’ or ‘okay’ or ‘healthy,’ when in fact you may be all
those things and be of a larger size,” she said.

One thing is for certain. She will continue to write shows
that deal with issues that are not typically seen on stage.

“And that often don’t have a pat and easy answer. We’ve
dealt with ethical non-monogamy in “Paradigm,” looking at Shakespeare from a
feminist perspective in “Shakespeare’s Women or The Bard’s Broads,” domestic
violence in “Em,” the sexual exploitation of children in “‘Til the Cold
Winter’s Through” (written with River Dowdy).

For more information about tickets, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fat-tickets-61911418720?aff=ebdssbdestsearch&fbclid=IwAR35KlehlxtySQtlFDMc5hCqCsckDqsD7_6HcD70qAFcjpeBOFyUltP8ilU

During this summer’s Grand Center Theatre Crawl June 28-29, Geier’s because why not? theatre company is teaming up with St. Louis Fringe to present an original one-act, “Checking In,” on Friday and Saturday evening between 7 and 10 p.m.

She wrote it about a couple, Allie and Danielle, who have been together four years, living a happy All-American life with their son and Allie’s mother. But Allie’s a Dreamer, and in the current political climate, her monthly government “Check In” may be far less simple and safe than her family has come to expect. “Check In” explores the effects of immigration on one family and what happens when what you thought was solid ground, begins shifting like quick sand.

The performances are in the Grand Center Arts Academy Cafeteria South.

The play will also be part of the St. Louis Fringe Festival, Aug. 13-18. For more information or a schedule, visit www.stlouisfringe.com

Here are Shannon’s answers to our “Take Ten” Questions:

1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts? 
“I felt like it chose me!  I had a play I
wrote in a drawer and I took it out and submitted it to Tesseract Theatre
Company when I was in my early 40’s. 
That was like the top of the roller coaster and I’ve been in an amazing
creative free fall ever since.”

2. How would your friends describe you?    Funny and BUSY

3. How do you like to spend your spare time? 
“Um…what is that?  Reading plays and
recaps of TV shows I don’t have time to watch is my favorite.”

4. What is your current obsession? 
“Remaining calm and letting go.”

5. What would people be surprised to find out about you?
“That I steal mixed fruit jelly from restaurants.”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?
“Meeting Stephen Sondheim for 60 seconds (Oh and that giving birth thing too!)”

7. Who do you admire most?
“Everyone chasing a passion.”

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list?
“Go to Alaska (hopefully next year!)”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?
“Go to see small, intimate, local theatre created with human talent, duct tape
and prayer! “

10. What’s next? 
“Check In” an original work, dealing with immigration, will be presented as one
of the local headlining acts at the St. Lou Fringe Festival (Aug. 13-18).

MORE ABOUT:

Name: Shannon Geier
Age: (optional) 49
Birthplace: Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Current location: St. Charles Mo.
Education: AA from Jefferson Community College, 1992; 2016  Graduate of The Improv Shop in St. Louis
Day job: Coordinator – Risk Management
First job: Answered phones at a Greek restaurant in Randallstown Maryland
Favorite play: “Angels in America”
Dream Play: I dream of producing a play written by a middle-aged woman who just
decided to go for it one day!  Awards/Honors/Achievements:
2018 – Spirit of Fringe Award; 2016 – Fringe Merit Award for Excellence in
Writing
I have won various honors through Toastmasters and have achieved the status of
Competent Communicator and I am a graduate of The Improv Shop in St. Louis. 
Favorite quote/words to live by: “Do not look for sanctuary in anyone except
yourself.” (Attributed to Buddha by the internet, but impossible to confirm.)
A song that makes you happy: “Running on Sunshine” by Jesus Jones

 
More than one dozen St. Louis-area theatre companies will unite to showcase the very best in local performance art at Making a Scene: A St. Louis Theatre Expo, presented by PNC Arts Alive, hosted Saturday, Sept. 29 at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
The free event will run from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts (130 Edgar Road, on the campus of Webster University), and feature talks, demonstrations, pop-up performances, backstage tours, children’s craft activities and more. With numerous events happening throughout the building at any given time, visitors can create their own schedule as they explore the art of theatre. (See a schedule of events on the Expo’s online event page).
Featured speakers include local artistic directors, such as Michael Isaacson of The Muny, Steven Woolf of The Rep and Christina Rios of R-S Theatrics, as well as St. Louis-based actors and behind-the-scenes talents who make magic happen onstage.
Companies that will be on-hand to highlight their seasons include The Rep, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, STAGES St. Louis, Stray Dog Theatre, St. Lou Fringe Festival, New Jewish Theatre and Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble.
This is the second St. Louis Theatre Expo, following the inaugural edition in September 2016.
Support comes from PNC Foundation through the PNC Arts Alive initiative. A $20,000 grant will allow The Rep to hire videographers to film several of the Expo’s sessions, and then post those videos online as an educational resource for area students. Learn more about that grant here.

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

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

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

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

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing EditorA STAR WAS BORN: It was as if scripted in a movie. You’ve heard of that classic moment in the 1933 movie “42nd Street” when an understudy takes over for an injured diva. Well, it really happened right here in St. Louis one summer 46 years ago at The Muny.
On Aug. 14, 1972, MGM musical star Ann Miller was playing Reno Sweeney to Michael Callan’s Billy Crockett in “Anything Goes.” The classic Cole Porter romantic romp was underway when right after the song “Friendship” during a scenery change, Miller was conked on the head by a steel boom. Callan had followed her off-stage, then found her on the floor, dazed and bruised.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” A call went out from the stage and 15 doctors responded. The show was cancelled and Miller taken to Deaconess Hospital with a mild brain concussion and loss of equilibrium. She spent 23 days there.With Miller out but not wanting to cancel the week, Muny brass sought a replacement. They plucked Pat St. James, a senior at Webster University, from the ensemble. She rose to the occasion.
St. James, whose parents were local broadcast celebrities Clif and Nance St. James, was praised for her soaring performance. She later thrived in a musical theater career.
But in 1999, she switched gears, earning a degree in theology and ordained an Episcopal priest. She was married to David Roberts, and they lived in Atlanta with their two children, Oliver and Julia. At age 61, after a four-year battle with cancer, she died on Dec. 5, 2010.
Her moment in the sun became a Muny legend.
“Anything Goes” may have been Miller’s first appearance at The Muny but it wouldn’t be her last. She would be persuaded to return in the next decade, for ‘Sugar Babies” with Mickey Rooney in 1984.
Miller starred in “Kiss Me Kate,” “Easter Parade,” “On the Town,” “Stage Door,” “Room Service” and “Mulholland Drive” (?!?).Side Note: I actually saw Pat St. James as Reno Sweeney that week at The Muny. Everyone was abuzz.
(“Anything Goes” photo from Muny archives, from left, Pat Paulsen, Pat St. James, Michael Callan.)
***HELLO, USA!: Congratulations to Madison Johnson of St. Louis, who has been cast in the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” that begins in late September. She is part of the ensemble and understudy for Minnie Fay.This tour of the Broadway revival, which won four Tony Awards in 2017, will feature Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi and Lewis J. Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder. Stadlen, a three-time Tony nominee, has been in several Muny shows, including “The Producers,” “Damn Yankees,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Madison has been part of the Muny ensemble the past six years, recently playing Lucille Ballard in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” She was Kristine in “A Chorus Line” last summer and Frenchie in 2014’s “Grease.” She started at age 7 as a Muny Kid. A graduate of Whitfield School and Elon College, she moved to New York City in 2016.
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SIX DEGREES OF ST. LOUIS: John David Washington is starring in “BlackkKlansman” as undercover cop Ron Stallworth, who wrote the book that Spike Lee has adapted into this acclaimed film.

He was signed by the St. Louis Rams in 2007 after he was not drafted in the NFL Draft. Later cut from the Rams, he was a running back for the Hamburg Sea Devils, a German team playing in the NFL Europe League. Fun fact: Eldest son of two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
Photo: Adam Driver and John David Washington
***GO SEE A PLAY! POLL: The St. Louis Fringe Festival’s local headlining act is an original musical written and composed by Colin Healy called “The Gringo.” The world premiere will be performed four times from Thursday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug. 19, at the .Zack, 3224 Locust.
It’s about how art can bring a community together. Set in Miami, a local street artist is wrongfully gunned down by police. As told through the lens of a successful painter, this community faces injustice and rapid gentrification. They learn what it means to fight for your home.
The cast includes Gheremi Clay, Kevin Corpuz, Robert Crenshaw, Evann De-Bose, Riley Dunn, William Humphrey, Omega Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Alicia Revé Like, Brittany Losh, Samantha Madison, Gabby McNabb, Carly Niehaus, Janine Norman and David Zimmerman.
Healy directs, with Bradley Rohlf assistant director; Christopher Page-Sanders choreographer and Carly Uding costume design.Tieliere Cheatem contributed the artwork. On opening night, they will give this portrait away that has been signed by the cast and the crew. Tickets available at Metrotix.com

For a chance to win two tickets to one performance, enter our poll drawing!Poll Question: What Is Your Favorite Show About Art? “Art”
“Is He Dead?”“Red”“Sunday in the Park with George”“Sight Unseen”
Submit your selection to [email protected] by noon on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Please include your phone number. You will be notified that afternoon if you won, and you can select what performance so that tickets can be arranged. The show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Thanks for participating.
Winner of our two tickets to “Meet Me in St. Louis” was Chuck Brinkley. Thank you, Muny!
“Meet Me in St. Louis” received the most votes as the favorite local movie shot in or made about St. Louis.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Oscar winner Shelley Winters, whose career spanned five decades, was born Shirley Schrift on Aug. 18, 1920, in St. Louis to Jewish immigrant parents. Her father, a tailor, moved the family to Brooklyn when she was a child. She died at age 86 in 2006.
Once nicknamed “The Blonde Bombshell,” she later became known for forceful dramatic roles.For what movie performances did she win her two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress?Answer: “The Diary of Anne Frank” in 1959, as a shrill Mrs. Van Daan, and “A Patch of Blue” in 1965, in which she played a slatternly mother cruel to her blind daughter.
Her breakthrough role on stage was as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!” five years into the run, and she was noticed in “A Double Life” starring Oscar winner Ronald Coleman in 1947.But after a dissatisfying number of movie roles, she finally got the role of her lifetime in “A Place in the Sun” with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor.
Some of her other big movies were “A Night of the Hunter” in 1955 and “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972. Earlier, she had returned to studying at the Actors Studio and became a big advocate of the Lee Strasberg method.
A lifelong progressive Democrat and outspoken on feminist issues, she became quite a raconteur on talk shows during the 1970s and ‘80s. Her two tell-all autobiographies created quite a stir, as she had some high-profile leading-men dalliances.
Fun fact: She roomed with Marilyn Monroe when they were just starting out in Hollywood.
Happy Birthday, Shelley! (She would have been 98 Monday).Photo at right: Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters.
***ICYMI: A movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning “In the Heights” is planned for summer release 2020. Jon M. Chu, who helmed the new romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” will direct.Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” will be made into a movie, and production is to start in November. Stars signed so far are Tony winners James Corden and Ian McKellen, along with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Grammy winner Taylor Swift.
***WORD/DOWN MEMORY LANE: “Would you shut your phones off for Christ sakes?” – Stanley Tucci, during the Aug. 14, 2002, performance of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. An audience member’s cell phone kept ringing. Calls for a ban on cell phones at NYC’s theatres grew louder, and a law was put into effect in 2003.
***Have any tidbits for this people column? Contact Managing Editor Lynn Venhaus – [email protected]
.All photos from archives or submitted. Featured image is of St. Louis native Shelley Winters.