The Black Rep continues its season of virtual programming with a mainstage production of Home, a moving love story by American playwright and screenwriter Samm-Art Williams, streaming on Vimeo beginning on April 15 and running through April 25. Nominated for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award, the play moved from the Negro Ensemble Company to the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 1980.
Directed by Producing Director Ron Himes, Home tells the story of farm boy Cephus Miles who has inherited the family farm. He is content working the land until the girl he loves leaves for college and marries someone else. After a stint in prison for his opposition to the Vietnam War, he moves to the big city where he enjoys the fast-paced city life. His return to North Carolina, the farm, and the girl, reveals the true meaning of Home.
Produced at the Edison Theatre on the campus of Washington University, the production features members of the Black Rep’s Acting Intern Company with Brian McKinley (Spell #7, Milk Like Sugar) portraying Cephus Miles, Christina Yancy (Spell #7) as Woman One/Pattie Mae Wells, and Tyler White (Spell #7, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope) as Woman Two; with scenic and projection design by Peter and Margery Spack, lighting design by Joe Clapper, costume design by Ellen Minch, and Kasey Dunaski as stage manager.
Home is supported in part by The Nebraska Rep #realchange. Tickets for Home are available at The Black Rep website at theblackrep.org or by calling our Box Office at 314-534-3807. Streaming free on demand, a suggested donation of $25 will directly help support the theatre company and its artists.
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Founded in 1976 by Producing Director Ron Himes, The Black Rep is one of the largest, professional African-American theatre companies in the nation and the largest African-American professional performing arts organization in Missouri. Quality professional dramas, comedies and musicals by primarily African-American and African Diaspora playwrights are produced. Mainstage productions and education programs combine to reach more than 80,000 people annually.
Article originally appeared in Arts For Life’s Feb. 18 newsletter. Article written by Kim Klick and Lynn Venhaus
After working as a professional actor and singer for more than 30 years in Las Vegas, including performing opera at the Venetian Hotel on the Strip, Kimmie decided to move back to her hometown.
To leave her comfort zone and start over at 45 years old was daunting.
“More than a few people thought I must have been crazy!” she said.
But she knew it was time for a change and she did have support.
She was hired to work at Nordstrom Department Stores and found an apartment in Valley Park.
“I thought I’d be satisfied with all of that, but I wasn’t. Frankly, I was quite miserable. I was lonely, broke and terribly homesick! Most of all, I missed performing.”
However, things slowly fell into place. She not only found her way into the St. Louis theatre scene but reconnected with childhood friends, settled down here and married Gregg Booker. They grew up in the same neighborhood, and found each other on Facebook.
She started researching St. Louis theater companies, sending out letters and headshots, hoping to be acknowledged, but no response.
One day in 2012, she came across an audition for an upcoming production of August Wilson’s “Fences” at Hawthorne Players.
“I hadn’t even heard of August Wilson! Can you believe that? Someone like me, who has done theatre her entire life, had not heard of August Wilson?”
She showed up, prepared but “terrified.”
“A little-known fact about me is that I had never done a ‘straight play’ before! I had always done musical theatre. So, to put myself in a position where I had to just ACT, well, it was unchartered territory for me, to say the least!”
She was offered the part of Rose, the long-suffering wife who is married to the lead character, Troy.
“It’s one of the most important, historical, emotional, heartfelt roles to exist in American Theatre. I thought, ‘What the hell did I get myself into?’” she said. She did not need to fret.
“This was one of the best and most fulfilling theater experiences of my career,” she said.
For the record, August Wilson was not only an African American playwright, but also was an amazingly talented award-winning playwright who died too soon at the age of 60, Kidd-Booker explained.
“Fences” is part of Wilson’s celebrated “Pittsburgh Cycle,” sometimes called “The Century Cycle,” in which he wrote 10 plays, each set in a certain decade of the 20th century.
Set in the 1957, it is the sixth play of the cycle, premiered in 1985, and like the others, explores the evolving African American experience and among other themes, examines race relations.
Troy is a Negro Baseball League player who now works as a garbageman – but can’t be a driver (yet). His bitterness is apparent and affects his family – wife Rose and sons Lyons and Cory, and disabled brother Gabriel.
“Fences” won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. “I am honored and privileged to say I performed in an August Wilson play! Being in an August Wilson play was both thrilling and terrifying. The context is historic and genuine and dramatic. His words are thoughtful and compelling and emotional,” she said.
While “Fences” is her only August Wilson play to date, she said she is optimistic that moving forward, there will be more opportunities to educate, perform, explore and share the African American experience with everyone.
“Black History Month is just a drop in the bucket. But it is certainly a start. My hope moving forward is that we can continue to gain an understanding of each other and continue a dialogue and put fears to rest. We have many differences, but we must continue to be reminded that we are more alike than we’d like to think,” Kimmie said.
Before she debuted in “Fences,” after a year here, she was considering returning to Las Vegas.
But once she started rehearsals with the cast and crew, then bonding with everyone, she decided to stay.
“My love for theatre kept me here in St. Louis. As I began to meet other theatre people and make more and more theatre connections, I knew that this is where I belonged. These are my People!” she said.
Kimmie recently became part of the AFL Board of Directors. She has won two Best Performance Awards for Best Featured Actress as Glinda in “The Wiz” at Hawthorne Players in 2014 and as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” at the Kirkwood Theatre Guild in 2019.
She was nominated as Best Actress in a Featured Role as Sister Mary Hubert in “Nunsense” at Hawthorne Players in 2015 and as The Witch in “Into the Woods” at Curtain’s Up Theater in 2018.
Among her roles in regional professional theater, she played Tom Robinson’s wife in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, as Lady Bird in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Spellbound: A Musical Fable”and in the ensemble of “Sweeney Todd,” as “Aunt Missy” in The Black Rep’s “Purlie” and as Evangeline Harcourt in “Anything Goes” at New Line Theatre. In January 2020, she starred as brothel owner and philanthropist Eliza Haycraft in the original musical, “Madam.”
About August Wilson
Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel in Pittsburgh, Penn., on April 27, 1945. His mother, Daisy Wilson, was of African American heritage. His father, Frederick Kittel, was a German immigrant.
As a child, Kittel attended St. Richard’s Parochial School. When his parents divorced, he, his mother and his siblings moved from the poor Bedford Avenue area of Pittsburgh to the mostly white neighborhood of Oakland. After facing the relentless bigotry of his classmates at Central Catholic High School, he transferred to Connelly Vocational High School, and later to Gladstone High School.
When he was 15 years old, Wilson pursued an independent education at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where he would earn his high school diploma.
Following his father’s death in 1965, a 20-year-old Wilson adopted the pen name “August Wilson” — reportedly an homage to his mother — and declared himself a poet. In 1968, Wilson and a friend, Rob Penny, co-founded the Black Horizon Theater.
Wilson remained primarily focused on making it as a poet — largely to no avail — until moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1978.
Wilson wrote his first notable play in 1979,” Jitney,” for which he earned a fellowship at the Minneapolis Playwright Center.
The following year, his new play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was accepted at the Eugene O’Neill Playwright’s Conference. The year 1982 was particularly fruitful for Wilson, as it marked his introduction to Lloyd Richards, who went on to direct Wilson’s first six Broadway plays.
“Joe Turner,” the second part of the cycle, opened on Broadway in 1988.He took home another Pulitzer Prize in 1990, this time for The Piano Lesson, following its Broadway premiere.
Wilson died of liver cancer on Oct. 2, 2005, in Seattle. His new play, “Radio Golf,” had opened in Los Angeles just a few months earlier.
THE BLACK REP PRESENTS Live Stream Marking the 12 Days of Christmas to Kwanzaa Showcasing Dance, Music and Stories for All Audiences
WHAT: The St Louis Black Repertory Company is presenting A Holiday Soiree to celebrate the season and mark the beginning of a new year. The 12 Days of Christmas will feature dance, music, and storytelling performed by a roster of artist-friends of The Black Rep. The virtual celebration will conclude with I Remember Harlem, in a re-release of the Company’s virtual gala featuring international and national artists highlighting the brilliant works of African American artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Langston Hughes.
WHEN: Each day leading up to Christmas a new video will be released at 12pm (cst) on social media platforms. I Remember Harlem will be released on Friday, December 26, the first day of Kwanzaa, and be available through Thursday, December 31, 2020.
WHERE: The 12 Days of Christmas will be posted on social media platforms @stlblackrep – Facebook and Instagram; I Remember Harlem will be available via Vimeo and on the web. For more information, visit theblackrep.org.
WHO: The event has been put together and organized by members of The Intern Company of The Black Rep.
WHY: To create a safe celebration of the season while putting a spotlight on our wide community of artists – both established and emerging, from all over the country.
Founded in 1976 by Producing Director Ron Himes, The Black Rep is one of the largest, professional African-American theatre companies in the nation and the largest African-American professional performing arts organization in Missouri. Quality professional dramas, comedies and musicals by primarily African-American and African diaspora playwrights are produced. Mainstage productions and education programs combine to reach more than 80,000 people annually.
The St Louis Black Repertory Company announces three virtual programs for the month of September. Two virtual readings and a virtual discussion with playwright Melda Beaty and Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Eileen Morris.
Coconut Cake will be presented in conjunction with The Ensemble Theatre in Houston who originally produced a zoom reading of the play on Father’s Day Weekend. The Black Rep will stream this production September 11-13, 2020 at 7pm. Coconut Cake features Producing Director Ron Himes who says,
“What I miss most is the chatter in the lobby and the feeling of anticipation as the lights go down and we sit for a moment anticipating another evening in the theatre. We can never replace that experience but we can maintain our connections with our audiences until it’s safe for us to come together again. We are so happy to introduce the work of Melda Beaty to our audiences in September.”
When Eddie Lee’s wife, Iris, joins him in retirement, the truth about his “ladies man” ways resurface. To avoid her, Eddie retreats to the sanctuary of McDonald’s where coffee refills are free and the rest of his retired friends, with marital problems of their own, wait faithfully for him. When a mystery woman moves in down the street, with her Creole wiles, melt in your mouth coconut cake, and medicine cabinet secrets, Eddie is not the only one who pays her a visit; a visit that threatens to change all their lives forever. Coconut Cake also features, Jason Carmichael, Ted Lange, Alex Morris, and Ed Muth.
The Black Rep will then have a virtual discussion with Eileen Morris, who directed the production of Coconut Cake, and Melda Beaty, the playwright. This will take place on Friday September 18, 2020.
The Black Rep will close the month of September with a virtual production of Front Porch Society by Melda Beaty. America is on the eve of electing its first Black president. Amidst the town’s excitement over Barack Obama, Carrie Honey grieves her son’s tragic death. After 40 years of failed attempts to seek justice, Carrie has grown bitter and is no longer interested in life’s celebrations, but when a scandal in town rocks this historic day, a past secret is revealed that restores her faded faith.
This production will be live-streamed with direction by Ron Himes. This cast will feature Marjorie Johnson, Marsha Cann, Thomasina Clarke, Perri Gaffney, Keith Bolden, Christian Kitchens, and Wendy Gordon. This production will live stream on September 25, 2020 at 7pm. The production will then be available until Sunday September 27, 2020 until 7pm.
Additional programming will be announced at a later date.
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About The St. Louis Black Repertory Company
The St Louis Black Repertory Company was founded in 1976 by Producing Director Ron Himes. The Black Rep is one of the largest, professional African-American theatre companies in the nation and the largest African-American performing arts organization in Missouri. Quality professional dramas, comedies and musicals by primarily African-American and third world playwrights are produced. Mainstage productions and education programs combine to reach more than 80,000 people annually.
The Black Rep announces a shift in the schedule of its 44th season. Bubbling Brown Sugar, which would have opened the 44th season at The Edison Theatre in September, will move into Season 45. Producing Director, Ron Himes explains,“We were looking forward to opening with BUBBLING BROWN SUGAR but we’re not sure what the world post Covid will be. But, we know things will not be business as usual.”
The company’s annual gala scheduled for November 14, 2020 will occur as a virtual event that promises a wonderful evening filled with performances, testimonials, celebrity appearances and award presentations. There will be opportunities for the community to support the work of The Black Rep during this live stream event.
Information regarding the remainder of Season 44 will be forthcoming as we continue to monitor the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC and the county government.
“Due to the impact of Covid 19 on our community and the uncertainty of when it will be safe for our staff to return to work, our artists to the stage, and most importantly when our audiences will feel safe enough to return to the theatre we have decided to postpone the beginning of our regular season”, said Board President, Jonathan Smith.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a multitude of obstacles to overcome for organizations of all types, and theater groups are no exception. Sharon Hunter, Artistic Director-Producer of Moonstone Theatre Company, aims to help address some of the virus-related challenges that the St. Louis theatre community faces by forming the St. Louis Theatre Community Task Force.
“As I was thinking about how to proceed with my own company in the wake of the pandemic, I started thinking it would be helpful to get a lot of the theaters to sit down via Zoom and discuss concerns, ideas and solutions for moving forward as we navigate the future of theatre in St. Louis,” Hunter explains.
The Task Force will address concerns including conducting safe auditions, rehearsals and performances, finding new ways to seat audiences, maintaining the visibility of the St. Louis theatre community, new ways to offer theatre experiences and recommendations for the use of personal protective equipment.
Hunter said the Task Force, which is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area, welcomes local theatre groups of all sizes. In addition to these organizations, representatives from the St. Louis County Department of Health and the Center For Disease Control have also been invited to the first online meeting to address questions and concerns.
Theatre companies invited to participate include R-S Theatrics, The Q Collective, The Midnight Company, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, Upstream Theater, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, COCA, Shakespeare Festival STL, Black Rep, Stray Dog Theatre, Stages St. Louis, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Cherokee Street Theatre, The Cabaret Project of St. Louis, Max & Louie Productions, Black Mirror Theatre, Young Liars, West End Players Guild, Tennessee Williams Festival St Louis, New Line Theatre, ERA Theatre Company, STL Fringe Festival, St Louis Shakespeare, Metro Theatre Company, That Uppity Theatre Company and the Tesseract Theatre Company.
The initial meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Theatre groups interested in interested in participating should contact Hunter at [email protected] to get access to the Zoom link. For more info, check their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/STLTheatre/.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has significantly disrupted communities and businesses around the world. The St. Louis region and The Black Rep is no different in compliance with the Shelter-at-Home order.
We have held the curtain for as long as we could. Our production of Marie and Rosetta originally scheduled for May 6 – 21, 2020 and postponed to June 3-21, 2020 was officially cancelled upon notification of the closure of the Edison Theatre.
Producing Director Ron Himes says, “The artists had been on hold anxiously hoping that we would get in the final production of the season. The awesome creative team had been on hold hoping against the inevitable. That company of artists, along with our staff and interns, are all safe and well but deeply disappointed. So now we begin an extended intermission, as we continue to work from home planning our second act, the return to the stage for Season 44.”
We will be in touch, directly, with season and single ticket holders for Marie and Rosetta performances.
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About The St Louis Black Repertory Company
The St Louis Black Repertory Company was founded in 1976 by Producing Director Ron Himes. The Black Rep is one of the largest, professional African-American theatre companies in the nation and the largest African-American performing arts organization in Missouri. Quality professional dramas, comedies and musicals by primarily African-American and international playwrights are produced. Mainstage productions and our Education & Community Programs combine to reach more than 80,000 people annually.
Greetings! This is a people, places and events column about local and
national showbiz items that will appear regularly. Feel free to message me with
Today we provide some ways to fill your
quarantine days and nights, a list of resources for artists, updates on the
Theatre Proms and more.
MRS. AMERICA: St. Louis anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly was an Alton, Ill. housewife when she gained national attention in conservative politics, fighting the Equal Rights Amendment and founding the Eagle Forum in 1972. She’s the subject of a nine-part miniseries, “Mrs. America,” which starts Wednesday, April 15 on Hulu. The first three episodes: “Phyllis,” “Gloria” and “Shirley” will air then, then each week through May 27, depicting the battles between Schlafly and the leaders of the women’s movement in the 1970s.
The cast includes Cate Blanchett as Schlafly, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug and Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm.
Fun fact: I saw Schlafly debate Betty Friedan on the ERA during college. Phyllis came up to the podium, looking like Betty Crocker, and said: “How many women want to get drafted?” A guy in the audience yelled out: “How many men do?” When Betty came up, in a mumu, she clearly had the crowd on her side. Illinois State University, 1973.
*** THEATER PROMS: Springtime is awards season for the theater community, but this year, the mandatory Shelter-in-Place doesn’t allow gatherings of 10 or more. Therefore, events have been cancelled, rescheduled and rebooted
Often referred to as “Theater Prom,” the eighth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony was to take place on March 30 at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, but the event had to be cancelled. Local theater critics still honored outstanding regional professional theater.
Instead, HEC provided a streamcast of the awards on
Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page. The event was downscaled
reading of the nominations and awards, but hey, it’s #TCA20. You can still see
it! Here is the YouTube link:
The theater critics recorded the nominations, and their voice-overs ran over photos. Then HEC announcer Rod Milam announced the winner. There were 34 categories to give awards in, which cover dramas, comedies and musicals. All in a half hour.
Many thanks to HEC Media, including Dennis Riggs, total pro announcer Rod Milam and ace producer Paul Langdon. Thanks to our theater buddy Andrea Torrence for the work on the graphics – the photos really made the virtual. event “pop.” I applaud your sharp professional skills and your devotion to local theater.
A special award was given to Ken and Nancy Kranzberg for their tremendous support and commitment to the arts. Where would St. Louis arts be without the Kranzbergs?
Congratulations to the winners AND the nominees, and
everyone who gave of their heart and soul to produce live regional professional
theater with such passion and panache in 2019.
It truly was a fantastic year, especially for drama, and
what a crowded field of talent among the 125 artists nominated and 51 shows
from 25 different companies.
It is a privilege to see such a variety of theater during
the year, and as a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle, it has been
a real joy these past eight years.
In due time, we’ll be back in darkened theaters watching
people create magic. We’ll get to hug and laugh again, and marvel at this thing
called art that connects us all.
Even virtually for one evening — that was a welcome respite
from the sad, terrifying and anxious daily news, wasn’t it, in what’s become
the norm in our current global pandemic. People really seemed to enjoy it,
lifted spirits – some casts had Zoom parties.
I look forward to seeing you all again, in the “After
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
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
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.
disclosure: I am a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle and I am on
the Board of Directors of Arts For Life).
HELP IS HERE: How can you help all the artists around the region and homebound folks around the region? During this unprecedented time of isolation, Stay-at-Home mandate, social distancing to #flattenthecurve, here are some resource links:
This fund will provide short term monetary relief to
employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants, and shops in the St.
Louis area affected by closures and other circumstances brought about by the
Broadway may be dark, but today you can be a light for the
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS launched the COVID-19
Emergency Assistance Fund to help those onstage, backstage and behind the
scenes during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Through your donation to this
special fund, administered by The Actors Fund, you can ensure entertainment
professionals get the health care, emergency financial assistance and
counseling they need.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: OverDue Theatre Company had to cancel “My Fair Lady” this spring but has put together a Quarantine Concert for Facebook Live on Friday, April 17, at 7 p.m. Special guests include Kaitlyn Mayse, Lauren Molina and Nikki Snelson. Featuring Kimmie Kidd, Eleanor Humphrey and Kay Love, there are 17 performers from the OverDue family who will perform too.
SOME GOOD NEWS: You know him, you love him from “The Office,” the immortal Jim Halpern of the Jim and Pam office romance. Actor John Krasinski has started his own web series, “Some Good News,” and the first episode on March 29 was such a hit, he has produced two more, all dropping on Sunday nights. It’s both inspiring and distracting.
You can follow his page on Facebook for updates and a link
to submit good news.
*** CINEMA STL: Like everyone else, Cinema St. Louis has rescheduled some events. Here are the new dates/information: Classic French Film Festival: Working to move to late July/early August; St. Louis Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival: Moving from May 1 to hopefully this summer; QFest: Moving from mid-May to possibly July; Filmmaking camps: Camps slated for June and July will continue as scheduled for now; I Love Movies Trivia Night: Still scheduled for Friday, June 5, with backup dates of Friday, Aug. 28, or Friday, Sept. 4; St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase: This event is currently scheduled to go on as planned in July – deadline May 31; Golden Anniversaries: Films of 1970: The six-film fest is now slated for the following Saturday-Sundays: Aug. 22-23, Aug. 29-30, and Sept. 5-6 at the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library; SLIFF: Hoping to go as scheduled in November.
*** TEAM LEGEND: About a year ago, singer-guitarist Joanna Serenko won the St. Louis Teen Talent Showcase, sponsored by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation. Now she’s a contestant on “The Voice.”
The poised and talented 2019 Kirkwood High School graduate had
a four-chair judges’ turn for her blind audition during Feb. 24 night’s season
premiere. She sang Amy Winehouse’s R&B rendition of The Beatles’ classic
“All My Loving,” and new judge Nick Jonas fought for her to be on his team.
Here’s her performance link:
The Battle Rounds began March 23, and Joanna was paired
with Roderick Chambers to sing Billie Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over.” Here is
Kelly Clarkson described their duet as “effortless and
beautiful and passionate,” and coach Nick called her a “flawless singer” but
picked Rod as the winner — then John Legend stole Joanna, so she advances to
the Knockout Rounds on Team Legend. EGOT Legend said she had a lot of “style
and grace” in her voice.
Both the Battle and Knockout Rounds were taped earlier, so
they aren’t affected by the virus shutdown. However, the live shows in May
might be, which follows the Knockout Rounds. Go Joanna! (Tune in April 13).
For the first show, a viewing party took place at the Marcus
Des Peres Cinema. Due to the pandemic, that can’t happen now. If it starts up again,
I’ll let you know.
She used to sing in the choir at Kirkwood’s United
Methodist Church and moved here from Cleveland in 2010.
AND THAT’S A WINNER: Sports commentator and hometowner Joe Buck is reaching out to sports fans, asking them to send videos so he can provide a “play-by-play” of what they’re doing while staying at home — perhaps dribbling in place? Just be careful what you send him.
*** HARRY POTTER INTERACTION: Want to escape to fantasy worlds during this global pandemic? “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has launched a new website called Harry Potter at Home – a free magical resource to keep readers of all ages entertained while staying at home. In addition to the existing interactive features on WizardingWorld.com, the site creators have added new activity kits, “nifty magical craft videos,” quizzes, puzzles, and more. You can also listen to the first book on Audible for free or download and read it from a digital library.
*** AND HE SCORES! Congratulations to Tom Calhoun, one of the nice guys in local media and the St. Louis Blues announcer for 33 years, who was recognized with three honors by the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. He was recently inducted, presented with the President’s Choice Award and given a commemorative 1500th-game plaque at the fourth annual Illinois Enshrinement Dinner.
A veteran of KMOX, WIBV and other stations, he is currently an adjunct communications professor at Southwestern Illinois College and general manager of its campus radio station, Blue Storm. He has never missed a Blues game since 1987 — until the global pandemic sidelined the team and the NHL cancelled the season. (Just think: a year ago, on April 10, we won the first of the 16 games we needed to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs).
Cutline: Pictured, left to right, Tom Calhoun, head of the St. Louis National Hockey League Off-Ice Crew Tom Morris and St. Louis Blues inspiration and “super-fan” Laila Anderson. Photo by Bill Greenblatt
APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE:The Black Rep was awarded the August Wilson American Century Cycle Award by Christopher Rawson of the Pittsburgh Gazette on its opening night of “Two Trains Running.”
In 2008, they were the third company in America to complete
the 10-play American Century cycle and are currently two-thirds of the way
through it for the second time. Each of the 10 plays are set in a different
decade of the 20th century.
Rawson, the newspaper’s senior
theater critic and an August Wilson House board member, made the presentation
Jan. 10. The award was established only recently, so presentations are being
made gradually to the 15 qualifying companies.
“August is still alive, first, in the people,
places and stories from what we call August Wilson’s Hill, and second, in the
theaters around the country that bring them to life. This award, presented
jointly by his hometown newspaper and his childhood home, celebrates the
conjunction of these two. It says that we are all connected in August’s work,
through our recognition of its rich humanity and spiritual passion,” he said.
Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero Wilson, sent thanks to The Black Rep “for your ongoing support of his legacy and for continuing to tell the stories for many generations to come. You ‘belong to the band’!” The quotation comes from Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” where “the band” refers to those who struggled to free black Americans from slavery and Jim Crow.
*** IN THE CREDITS: Meadow Nguy of O’Fallon, Ill., makes an appearance in the seventh episode of the new Amazon Series “Hunters” starring Al Pacino. She was seen in “Law and Order: SVU” last November, and has been on “Madam Secretary” and “The Blacklist.” She moved to New York after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in musical theater. She appeared on stages in St. Louis, including the 2012 “Spring Awakening” at Stray Dog Theatre and their world premiere of “Spellbound,” and in the metro-east during her high school years. She won the Illinois Musical Theater Award, her ticket to the Jimmy Awards in 2012.
*** BOOKSHELF: New Line Theatre Artistic Director Scott Miller is also a prolific writer. His latest, “Idiots, Heathers, and Squips,” digs into a new batch of original, interesting musicals produced the first 15 years of the millennium.
He does deep dives into these 11 that represent “the astonishing variety and fearlessness of this new Golden Age: Urinetown, Sweet Smell of Success, Jerry Springer the Opera, Passing Strange, Cry-Baby, Next to Normal, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, American Idiot, Heathers, and Be More Chill.
LISTEN IN: MK Andersen’s“The First Hundred Days.” She is inspired by the idea that if the first hundred days of a presidency are the most pivotal and important, then the first hundred days of X,Y and Z must also be important. New ones are released every Tuesday: https://yourdaybymk.com/podcast-first-hundred-days : MK, who operates a wedding planning business, is a graduate of University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in political science. For the podcast she has talked to a writer at Netflix, a former university president and others. In episode 2, a fascinating talk with former FCC Chairman Newton Minow (1961-1963) is here. Minow, 94, served under President Kennedy. He practices telecommunications law in Chicago and in 2016, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
Fun fact: “Gilligan’s Island” creator Sherwood Schwartz named the tiny ship that took that fateful trip for Minow because he thought he had ruined television. Minow is noted for a speech in which he called American television a “vast wasteland.”
*** REEL TIMES TRIO: Of course I’m going to plug my own, Reel Times Trio podcast, which is Carl “The Intern” Middleman, myself and a rotating guest to discuss the latest movie releases, what’s out on DVD and streaming, what’s new in Hollywood and Broadway, what’s happening locally, good TV and more.
We’re on iTunes and SoundCloud, and have a Facebook page where we post episodes each week. We also are posted here at PopLifeSTL.com During the pandemic, after a brief layoff, we have transitioned to Zoom. Find us here: https://soundcloud.com/lynn-zipfel-venhaus
*** ICYMI: Need something to do? HBO has unlocked the vault on nine popular series that you can watch for free on HBO Now or HBO Go, or if you have cable TV, now through May 31. The shows are: Barry, Big Little Lies, The Wire, The Sopranos, Succession, Veep, Silicon Valley, Six Feet Under, True Blood and Ballers.
Need to know where you can find a movie to watch, whether
it’s streaming or not? Check out www.justwatch.com or
download the app on your phone.
Did you miss Andrea Bocelli’s free streaming concert from Milan on Easter Sunday? Here is the YouTube link to the half-hour concert, featuring the famed opera singer performing “Ave Maria,” “Santa Maria” and “Amazing Grace”: https://youtu.be/huTUOek4LgU
He told NBC News: “I believe in the strength of praying
together. I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that
everyone – whether they are believers or not – truly needs right now. Thanks to
music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in
the world, we will hug this wounded earth’s pulsing heart…”
One of the best ads yet on staying safe for the good of a city, Here’s Doner Advertising Agency’s uplifting message to Detroit: https://youtu.be/JJzlXhXrD7I
*** WORD: “The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what truth and beauty and kindness really are.” — Terence McNally (1938-2020), in his Lifetime Achievement Award speech at last year’s Tony’s.
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.
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.
As concerns for public health grows as the Coronavirus spreads in the U.S.,
many arts and entertainment events have been cancelled in the metropolitan St.
Louis area. Some will be rescheduled. While others, in smaller venues,
St. Louis City banned events with crowds bigger than 1,000
Thursday and St. Louis County announced Friday it is preventing crowds bigger
than 250, effective immediately, until further notice.
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is the utmost importance in
making these decisions. Governors of Missouri and Illinois have declared states
of emergency, as had the U.S. President on Friday.
Nationally, Broadway went dark and its 31 theatres
announced they would be closed through Easter, which is April 12.
Dramatists Play Service, which holds the rights to many shows, has announced
refunds to companies who have to cancel and also information regarding possibly
live-streaming shows. For further information, visit https://www.dramatists.com/text/covid19cancellationpolicy.asp
Here is a list of what’s the latest news from local
companies and venues, with the most up-to-date information as possible. It is
best to check with a group before heading out as news can change fast.
Most companies released statements about how they have
stepped up cleaning efforts and encouraging those feeling sick to stay home.
They have also offered refund information. Check their social media and
websites for current information.
On Thursday, the Fox Theatre announced postponement of all
performances and tours through March 31.
“The Bachelor Live on Stage, scheduled for Friday, March 13
and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scheduled for March 17-29 will both be
postponed. Plans to reschedule are
currently underway. Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets – they will
be honored on the new dates,” statement said.
Decisions about other future shows will be made as they
follow the evolving situation with the COVID-19 Virus and the City of St.
Louis’ determination of the length of this prohibition, a spokesman said.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, on the campus of
Webster University, is opening “The Cake” in the Studio Theatre March 13, and Friday
evening announced that they would suspend all performances beginning Monday,
March 16. They are postponing the opening of “Dreaming Zenzile,” set to open
March 20, with hopes of rescheduling this summer.
This is a reversal of their announcement Wednesday that all
their performances would continue. Here is the new statement:
“Following the declaration of a state of emergency in St. Louis County
surrounding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), The Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis must place the safety of its patrons, staff and artists above all other
Based on the Centers for Disease Control and World Health
Organization’s recommendations against large group gatherings, The Rep has
decided to cancel all performances and events beginning Monday, March 16
through the end of the season. We plan to postpone our Mainstage world premiere
of Dreaming Zenzile, with the goal of mounting it this summer.
“We do not take this decision lightly, knowing that the
communal connections made at public arts events are some of the strongest tools
against the fears and anxieties of this moment. As we ride out this turbulent
time together, we remain resolutely committed to the power of storytelling to
change lives and uplift our shared humanity. Thank you for your understanding
and for being a part of our Rep family. We look forward to welcoming you home
again this summer.
We will be reaching out to ticketholders shortly via email,
phone and/or text with more details regarding ticket options. For additional
updates, stay tuned to repstl.org and our Facebook and Twitter feeds,” the
The Playhouse at Westport continues “Flanagan’s Wake”
performances as planned. However, the company that owns the venue released a
statement explaining their efforts.
“Our efforts in cleaning the venue have been stepped up and
we will be disinfecting each seat, handrail and surface within the theatre
prior to opening doors for each performance. Our bartenders will be wearing
gloves, which will be changed frequently through the evening.
“In addition, Cushman & Wakefield, the property
management for Westport Plaza has increased their efforts to assist in
providing a safe environment for those that visit the Plaza. All public
surfaces, from elevator buttons to escalator rails, to door handles and
bathrooms are all being heavily sanitized multiple times throughout each day.
We, along with, many of you, are closely following and
monitoring all reports issued from the CDC as well as our local and state
governmental agencies and will adjust any and all protocol accordingly. At this
time, all shows are playing as scheduled,” explained Sue Silverstein, vice president
/ general manager, Playhouse @ Westport Plaza
The Moolah Shrine have announced plans to reschedule the
annual circus March 19-22 at Family Arena. Here is their statement:
For more than 78 years, the Moolah® Shriners have provided family entertainment
to St Charles and St Louis region. As always, our focus has been the safety and
well-being of families. After consulting with government health professionals
and the Family Arena, We have decided to take strong but necessary actions to
protect the health and well-being of all who plan on attending our circus.
As Shriners, we are about compassion and love; we help heal
the sick, care for those in need. Our plans, for now, are to reschedule our
78th Moolah Shrine Circus for later this year. Thank you for your support, and
we look forward to seeing you all later this year.
For further information, please refer to Moolah.org on
Monday, March 16,” they noted.
William Roth, founder and artistic director of St. Louis
Actors’ Studio, said they would offer their black box theater, The Gaslight
Theatre, to performers in need of space during this pandemic.
“Many performers and band members have lost their incomes.
The 100- seat Gaslight Theatre, based on availability, is offering itself up to
bands whose gigs have been canceled. This offer is, of course, based on
availability and the daily health regulations posted by the CDC and the local
governments. As long as it’s legal we are an available venue,”
Roth said. He can be reached by email at [email protected]
THE SHOW MUST GO ON “Clybourne Park” at Alpha Players at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The audience is limited to 200.
Note: “We are constantly disinfecting common surfaces as
much as we can. We ask that high risk individuals (as defined by the CDC) or
those that are exhibiting symptoms to refrain from entering the premises.”
“It’s Only a Play” at Looking Glass Playhouse in Lebanon,
Ill. this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Note: “As of 12 March 2020 we have no intention to cancel
any performances for It’s Only a Play. If we do, every effort will be made to
give a minimum notice of 24 hours.”
Also, cleaning efforts stepped up and ticket refunds
“Flanagan’s Wake” at The Playhouse at Westport continue
performances as planned, extended through April 11, with a special St.
Patrick’s Day performance Tuesday.
Note: “Please be aware of your own health. If you are sick,
or even questioning you are sick, please stay home. We will be happy to
exchange your tickets for another performance. The top priority at the
Playhouse @ Westport is the safety and the well-being of our guests, casts and
“Love Sex and the IRS” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at their theatre,
Newport and Summit.
“On Golden Pond” at Kirkwood Theatre Guild this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road.
“The Philadelphia Story” at Clayton Community Center
cancelled their opening night, March 12, but continue performances March 13 and
14 and at 2 p.m. March 15 in the Washington University South Campus Theatre.
“Return to Forbidden Planet” at KTK Productions in the St. John the Baptist
gymnasium, 4200 Delor, this weekend and next (Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
and Sunday at 2 p.m.)
“Head Over Heels” at New Line Productions at The Marcelle Theatre this Friday
and Saturday at 8 p.m., sold out, and continuing Thursday through Saturday
until March 28.
Note: “We hope to run as scheduled through March 28, but
we’ll continue to monitor the news and re-assess as the situation evolves. If
anyone has purchased tickets but is not feeling well, please stay home, rest
up, and contact MetroTix for a refund. The usual “no refund” rule
will not apply.”
POSTPONED “The Bachelor Live on Stage” tour at The Fox Theatre March 13. Plans to be rescheduled.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” tour at The Fox Theatre March 17 – 29. To be rescheduled.
10th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition
April 4 at The Fox Theatre. To be rescheduled.
CANCELLED The Black Rep “Spell #7” at the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre. They had extended the run through this weekend, but cancelled it in light of the COVID-19 developments.
The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University All events and performances (internal, hosted or rented) scheduled through June 1. This includes: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis “Cymbeline” (March 16), Young People’s Concert (March 19), TAO DRUM (March 24), The ReMINDers (April 6), and speaker, Ishmael Beah (April 15).
Patrons are offered 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
Please contact the box office, during operating hours, to
discuss your ticket disposition. The box office is open Monday – Friday from noon
to 4 p.m.
College Performances Cancelled
“Cabaret” at Lindenwood University – St. Charles.
Representatives will contact ticket holders on refunds.
“A Doll’s House” at Missouri Baptist University. Will transition to streaming.
More information to follow.