By Lynn Venhau

The truth is out there, “The X Files” told us during 11 seasons on television. For believers of any paranormal or extra-terrestrial phenomena, some sort of proof helps build a convincing case. “Anomalous Experience” earnestly scratches the surface but is only a piece of an ever-evolving puzzle for truth-seekers.

Inspired by true events, Joe Hanrahan’s original play is a serious-minded drama taking a clinical approach as a public lecture by a psychiatrist who has endured ridicule about his studies into alien abductions and features two patients sharing their experiences.

The Midnight Company’s world premiere production opens its 25th season and runs at the .Zack May 5 – 21.

A key component of science fiction during the last half of the 20th century – the so-called ‘Atomic Age’ — has been stories centered on aliens, whether Unidentified Flying Objects, abductions, or exploratory visits from extra-terrestrials.

But now, with the government acknowledging UFOs and recent sightings of unknown aircraft by military pilots, which are being investigated (even if Area 51 folklore remains shrouded in mystery), tales this century are more accepted and not viewed as merely the rantings of kooks.

However, a heavy dose of skepticism exists about alien abductions. That’s the focus of actor-playwright Hanrahan, who based his character on a real professor who forged ahead in his research despite the nay-sayers.

Joe Hanrahan. Photo by Joey Rumpell

Hanrahan won a St. Louis Theater Circle Award in March for his original play “Tinsel Town,” which is three showbiz vignettes taking place over a 24-hour period in Los Angeles, presented in 2021, and was nominated for his nostalgic one-man show “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond…James Bond.”  This is a different direction, and he has meticulously researched the subject to present it in a matter of fact, not preachy or fearful, way.

The sobering material touches on such familiar cases as Roswell, N.M., and goes back to ancient times (Chariots of the Gods) through production designer Kevin Bowman’s impressive slide show.

Given Midnight’s penchant for small character studies, the show is simply yet effectively staged, with Kevin Bowman’s minimal set.

Director Morgan Maul-Smith strips it down to maintain an air of gravitas through the actors – Hanrahan as James Collins and Joseph Garner and Payton Gillam as the two patients Scott and Virginia who believe they were abducted by aliens.

Anxious and apprehensive about their reception, but steadfast in their beliefs that something profound happened to them, Virginia and Scott share their harrowing experiences and re-enact hypnotic regression in a natural progression. 

Photo by Joey Rumpell

Both performers are engaging in conversations with Hanrahan, and Garner looks directly at the audience with his compelling experience. He is particularly haunting in his graphic descriptions of a breeding incident, and his struggles to cope with what has taken place. Gillam is effective in her recount of how her life changed, including her marriage.

That eerie uncertainty is carried through Ellie Schwetye’s masterful sound design and Tony Anselmo’s lighting design.

After their recount, it’s anti-climactic when the 80-minute play ends, because we don’t go farther in their lives. It would be interesting to see how their lives changed in the years since their encounters, if they felt they were being observed or studied.

This uncommon tale benefits from the strong actors, but the play is more sensible than sensational – just in case you were looking for escalating melodrama and shifting behaviors. As we’ve become accustomed to in fictional narratives on aliens, this is just the beginning.

“Anomalous Experience” is a thought-provoking look into unexplained abnormal events that make for a modern ghost story, although light on thrills and chills.

Photo by Joey Rumpell

The Midnight Company presents “Anomalous Experience” May 5 – 21, with performances Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., although the final show is Saturday, May 21 at 8 p.m., at the .Zack, 3224 Locust in the Grand Center Arts District of St. Louis. For tickets, visit www.metrotix.com. For more information, visit www.midnightcompany.com

The .Zack is a Kranzberg Arts Foundation space. Follow the COVID-19 guidelines currently in place. Masks are currently optional for patrons.

The Muny, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and The Midnight Company, with nine, eight and six awards, respectively, led the way at the 2022 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, which were held in a virtual, streaming ceremony on HEC Media on Monday, March 28, 2022.

The Muny’s 2021 production of “Chicago,” which returns to open its 2022 season, took top honors for an individual show with seven awards. Denis Jones, director and choreographer of “Chicago,” and Joe Hanrahan, artistic director of The Midnight Company, each was honored with two individual awards to lead all honorees.

Nominees in more than 30 categories vied for honors covering comedies, dramas, musicals and operas produced by local professional theater and opera companies in the combined calendar years of 2020 and 2021.

Because the coronavirus pandemic brought about the cancellation of so many productions by nearly all local professional theater companies, approximately 75 productions were considered for nominations for the combined years of 2020 and 2021. This compares to roughly 120 to 130 productions normally considered in one year alone.

The eighth annual award ceremony, which was to have been held ‘live’ at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, was canceled in February 2020 due to the escalating number of cases of COVID-19. Instead, that event was held virtually in a highly polished presentation produced by HEC Media and streamed on HEC’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and web site, as was this ninth annual event. There was no ceremony of any type by the Theater Circle in 2021.

For the ninth annual ceremony, members of the St. Louis Theater Circle considered nominees from shows produced in the first three months of 2020 and the last eight months of 2021 combined. In addition, a few shows produced between April 2020 and May 2021 were included.

The winners for the ninth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are:

Michelle Hand and Nicole Angeli in “It Is Magic”

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Nicole Angeli, “It Is Magic,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role (Tie)

  • Joe Hanrahan, “It Is Magic,” The Midnight Company
  • Carl Overly, Jr., “It Is Magic,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Ellie Schwetye, “Tinsel Town,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role

  • Adam Flores, “The Thanksgiving Play,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play

  • Seth Reiser, “A Christmas Carol,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Sound Design

  • David R. Molina, “King Lear,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
“Dress the Part”

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play

  • Christina Leinecke, “Dress the Part,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Set Design in a Play

  • Margery and Peter Spack, “The Ville: Avengeance,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Elizabeth Teeter, “The Glass Menagerie,” Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role

  • Brian McKinley, “Spell #7,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Laurie McConnell, “Annapurna,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role

  • Andre De Shields, “King Lear,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding New Play

  • “Tinsel Town,” by Joe Hanrahan, The Midnight Company
“Tinsel Town” by Joe Hanrahan

Outstanding Achievement in Opera

  • Patricia Racette, “La voix humaine,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Production of an Opera

  • “Gianni Schicchi,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Musical Director

  • Charlie Alterman, “Chicago,” The Muny

Outstanding Choreographer

  • Denis Jones,“Chicago,” The Muny
Smokey Joe’s Cafe

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Natascia Diaz, “On Your Feet!,” The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role

  • Adam Heller, “Chicago,” The Muny

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical

  • Sean M. Savoie, “Jersey Boys,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical

  • Edward E. Haynes Jr. and Kevan Loney, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” The Muny

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical

  • Emily Rebholz, “Chicago,” The Muny
Diana DeGarmo “Always…Patsy Cline”

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role

  • Diana DeGarmo, “Always…Patsy Cline,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Leading Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role

  • Christopher Kale Jones, “Jersey Boys,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy (Tie)

  • “Dress the Part,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
  • “It Is Magic,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama

  • “Two Trains Running,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

  • “Chicago,” The Muny

Outstanding Director of a Comedy

  • GQ and JQ, “Dress the Part,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Director of a Drama

  • Carl Cofield, “King Lear,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
Two Trains Running

Outstanding Director of a Musical

  • Denis Jones, “Chicago,” The Muny

Outstanding Production of a Comedy

  • “Dress the Part,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Production of a Drama

  • “Two Trains Running,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Production of a Musical

  • “Chicago,” The Muny

In addition, arts philanthropists Nancy and Ken Kranzberg were honored with a special award which was originally presented at the 2020 in-person ceremony.  Michael Hamilton and Jack Lane, co-founders of Stages St. Louis and the troupe’s recently retired artistic director and executive producer, respectively, were honored as well for their body of work. The Kranzbergs and Lane each gave a recorded acceptance speech during the virtual ceremony.

The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor outstanding achievement in St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.

Andre DeShields in “King Lear”

Members of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Steve Allen (stagedoorstl.com); Mark Bretz (Ladue News); Bob Cohn (St. Louis Jewish Light); Tina Farmer (KDHX); Michelle Kenyon (snoopstheatrethoughts.com); Gerry Kowarsky (Two on the Aisle, HEC Media); Chuck Lavazzi (KDHX); Rob Levy (Broadwayworld.com); Judith Newmark (judyacttwo.com); Ann Lemons Pollack (stlouiseats.typepad.com); Lynn Venhaus (PopLifeSTL.com); Bob Wilcox (Two on the Aisle, HEC Media); and Calvin Wilson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Eleanor Mullin, local performer and arts supporter, is group administrator.

For more information, contact [email protected] or ‘like’ the St. Louis Theater Circle on Facebook.

The Midnight Company is announcing it will move the 2022 opening production of its 25th Anniversary Season to a different venue.  Originally scheduled for the Kranzberg Black Box, ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE will be presented at the  .ZACK theatre, 3224 Locust.  The play, a world premiere written by Midnight Artistic Director Joe Hanrahan, will run May 5 – May 21, with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday matinees May 8 and May 15 at 2pm.  Tickets will be on sale in early April at MetroTix.com

Inspired by true events, the play is designed as a public lecture from a respected psychiatrist.  He’s been dealing with professional ridicule for his research into the phenomenon of Alien Abduction.  In the course of the play, he will present two patients who, in very different ways, have been victims of their perceived abductions. While he’s not exactly sure what’s going on, the psychiatrist is convinced that something real, something profound, is happening to these people and to our world.  Hanrahan said “The recent recorded sightings by military pilots and renewed government interest in Unidentified Aerial Phenomena provide the timely backdrop for this modern ghost story.”  

ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE will be directed by Morgan Maul-Smith.  Recently she directed ON GOLDEN POND at Kirkwood Theatre Guild and EARWORM by Shualee Cook at Tesseract, and she’s also directed in Montana at Missoula Childrens Theater.

ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE is the first play in Midnight’s 2022 25th Anniversary Season.  It will be followed by RODNEY’S WIFE, JULY 7 – 23 at The Chapel and ST. LOUIS WOMAN, October 6 – 22 at the .ZACK.

Recently Midnight was honored with 14 nominations for Outstanding Theatre during the 2020-21 seasons from the St. Louis Theatre Critics Circle. 

Two plays written by Hanrahan – NOW PLAYING THIRD BASE FOR THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS…BOND, JAMES BOND and TINSEL TOWN  – were nominated for Outstanding New Play, and TINSEL TOWN was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Production.

More information at MidnightCompany.com.

The Midnight Company, celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season in 2022, is announcing its lineup of productions for this landmark year.

Midnight will open with ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE by the Company’s Artistic Director, Joe Hanrahan, running May 5-21 at the Kranzberg Black Box Theatre.

Inspired by true events, the play is designed as a public lecture from a respected psychiatrist.  He’s been dealing with professional ridicule for his research into the phenomenon of Alien Abduction.  In the course of the play, he will present two patients who, in very different ways, have been victims of their perceived abductions. While he’s not exactly sure what’s going on, the psychiatrist is convinced that something real, something profound, is happening to these people and to our world. 

Hanrahan said “The recent recorded sightings by military pilots and renewed government interest in UAPs provide the current backdrop for this modern ghost story.”  ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE will be directed by Morgan Maul-Smith.  Recently she directed ON GOLDEN POND at Kirkwood Theatre Guild and EARWORM by Shualee Cook at Tesseract, and she’s also directed in Montana at Missoula Children’s Theater.

Midnight’s second show of the season will be RODNEY’S WIFE by Richard Nelson, directed by Joe Hanrahan, running July 7-23 at The Chapel. The play is set in Rome, 1962. Rodney is a fading American movie star, brought over to star in one of the first Spaghetti Westerns.  With him is his (second) wife, his daughter from his first marriage and his sister, whose husband, Rodney’s agent, just died, leaving her grasping on to her brother, getting into the middle of everything happening to his family. 

This powerful yet delicate 2004 play won critics’ raves, with New York’s Time Out saying “Nelson plunks his characters down at the crossroads of erotic tension and family guilt,” citing its echoes of “the closely observed simplicity of Chekhov” as well as “the eloquent bitterness of Albee.”  Hanrahan said,

Morgan Maul-Smith. Photo by Rachel Bailey

”Rome in1962 was the most exciting city in the world. The playwright has taken the passion and lust for living characteristic of the time and place, and infused it into a tumultuous day and a half in the lives of these characters.” The cast will include Kelly Howe as Faye (RODNEY’S WIFE), Rachel Tibbetts as Eva (Rodney’s sister) and John Wolbers as Rodney. The Italian villa set will be designed and lit by Bess Moynihan, with costumes by Elizabeth Henning.

The final show of the season will be ST. LOUIS WOMAN, written and directed by Joe Hanrahan, running October 6-22 at the .ZACK.  The show tells the stories of women who inspired and helped forge the legendary history of St. Louis music, and then spread that sound around the world.  The One-Woman Show with Music – performed by St. Louis singer/actress LAKA – begins with “Frankie And Johnny” and “St. Louis Blues”, two songs that put St. Louis on the musical map. 

And continues with characterizations and songs of Willie Mae Ford Smith (the Godmother of Gospel), Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday (who didn’t live in St. Louis, but played often at the Plantation Club, a hotspot on Delmar Boulevard in the 40’s, where the best black musicians of the day entertained white audiences), Tina Turner and more. 

Their abilities to rise above their troubled beginnings in a racially divided city and time, and to pour their souls into memorable song, provide the narrative for an exhilarating, inspiring show.  Hanrahan said “The first time I heard LAKA sing, I knew I wanted to work with her.  We talked of collaboration, and it led to ST. LOUIS WOMAN.  It’s our take on great music that came out of St. Louis, and the legendary women who made it.”

The Midnight Company made its debut in 1997, with a production of Eric Bogosian’s POUNDING NAILS IN THE FLOOR WITH MY FOREHEAD at the original home of the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. Since then the Company has presented 50 productions, most new to St. Louis, along with several original scripts written by Hanrahan. 

Their seasons have included such modern classics as WAITING FOR GODOT, SKYLIGHT, GIVE ‘EM HELL HARRY and A JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, and featured noted contemporary playwrights Wil Eno, Conor McPherson, Steven Dietz, Daniel MacIvor and Mickle Maher.

David Wassilak formed the Company with Hanrahan in 1997, and was part of the group till his departure in 2007. Sarah Whitney then joined Midnight in 2010 as Associate Artistic Director, and directed many of its productions till she left the Company in 2020.

Kelly Howe. Photo by Todd Davis.

The Company has performed in a variety of spaces – recently at the venues of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and The Chapel – and productions in the past have been presented at spaces of The Missouri History Museum, Christ Church Cathedral, The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, The Philadelphia Fringe Festival, The Jesse James Farm in Kearney, MO, Stray Dog’s Tower Grove Abbey, Winter Opera, pubs including McGurk’s, Dressel’s and The Great Grizzly Bear (and former pubs such as The Monocle and Cafe Balaban/Herbie’s Vintage 72), former trlrvision production studiosTechnisonic and Avatar, the former venue St. Marcus Theatre, Carrie Houk’s former Maplewood Acting workshop HH Studio, and warehouses at The Lemp Brewery, plus a production at The historic Learning Center (formerly the Wednesday Club) for The Tennessee Williams Festival, and several appearances at both the St. Louis Fringe Festival and the St. Louis Theatre Crawl.  

While at the Post-Dispatch, theatre critic Judy Newmark wrote, “The Midnight Company have gone out of their way to demonstrate that theatre is an art, not a building…their imagination and refusal to accept conventional limits can teach something to all of us us, in theatre or not.”

A visit to the website, MidnightCompany.com, offers a look at all previous Midnight shows, including photos, graphics, video, and reviews, and there’s a Blog with commentary on influences on the group’s work, decisions on choosing the plays they present, takes on trends in St. Louis theatre, the Women We Love series and much more.


   LAKA in ST. LOUIS WOMAN photo:  Todd Davis

By Lynn Venhaus

The intoxicating mystique of Los Angeles, with its star-making machinery and as the Dream Factory capital in Hollywood, has enticed starry-eyed people to flock there for at least a century.

Inevitably, some become disillusioned and compare the unnatural and phony atmosphere to the shiny synthetic Christmas tree decoration, thus the derogatory L.A. nickname. — “Tinsel Town.”

This is also the title of local playwright Joe Hanrahan’s witty collection of three short one-acts that are an insightful and humorous view of the deals, players, sights and sounds of La-La Land. They say write what you know, and Hanrahan has cleverly captured the rhythms of the industry as a ‘company town’ in the land of swimming pools and movie stars.

Hanrahan, artistic director of The Midnight Company, is producing these original works Dec. 2-18, with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., including two Sunday matinee performances Dec. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m., at the .ZACK Theatre.

The show presents three relatable scenarios that take place in a 24-hour period: “Late Lunch on Melrose,” “Just Off Sunset” and “Shoot in Santa Monica.”

This amusing glimpse is directed by Rachel Tibbetts, and she brightly capitalizes on the obvious chemistry between Hanrahan and the multi-faceted Ellie Schwetye. The duet work in sync, playing off each other seamlessly, which takes trust and displays their comfort with each other on stage.

The trio are true collaborators and have worked together in different capacities over the years. It’s fun to watch people who mutually respect each other have fun telling stories in tandem.

Aided by Michael B. Musgrave-Perkins’ stellar videography capturing the glitz, glamour, and gorgeous weather – and palm trees! — we have a keen sense of time (present) and recognizable places on a small, economical set.

An outdoor café is the setting for a “Late Lunch on Melrose” between a talent agent (Hanrahan) and his most famous client, a narcissistic actress (Schwetye) who is unhappy about the lack of work – and is no longer the flavor of the month. It’s 1:30 p.m., and the drama queen is impatient. The pair adjust their temperaments, between air kisses, depending on who has the edge as they sip martinis.

That’s the start of a tiny plot thread that will smartly unify all three parts, with the second, “Just Off Sunset,” taking place at 12:15 a.m. in an alley behind a nightclub where a once-hot rock singer (Schwetye) is trying to rejuvenate her career but is frustrated. She bonds with a grizzled session musician who’s seen it all, who has some tips for her, and she’s grateful for the feedback and advice.

The first act mimics L.A.’s notorious wheeling and dealing for laughs, no matter how disingenuous, and the characters are exaggerated to suit standard images we have in our minds – and is more caricature than sincere, but that’s the point.

The second one really percolates with the speech patterns of experienced, world-weary musicians, and the two performers seem authentic as they discussed their working lives.

Ellie Schwetye and Joe Hanrahan in “Shoot in Santa Monica.” Photo by Joey Rumpell.

The final act, “Shoot in Santa Monica,” is broader comedy and hits the nail on the head about selling out for commercial blockbusters just so you can do the smaller projects for love of the craft. Sound familiar? A stage actor from England (Hanrahan) is making his first movie and is anxious and overwhelmed. But at the urging of the director (Schwetye), he will muster his courage to deliver a speech about vanquishing their nemesis – space vampires. Not saying the lines exactly as written, it may sound like one of Winston Churchill’s addresses during World War II, but who’s gonna figure it out, right?

The time is 12:40 p.m. the next day. With a simple outfit change, Hanrahan conveys an actor in military garb acting in front of a ‘green screen,’ and his character must inspire the crowd. In a world where evil lurks in the fictional form of ridiculous monsters – and CGI-heavy movies that could be written by chimps – they know it’s sci-fi crap, but hey, that’s entertainment!

Hanrahan has a flair for writing about the behind-the-scenes drama — and comedy — of showbiz, and the two-person exchanges are sharp. He acknowledges a ‘new normal’ because of the pandemic and adds those challenges to the script.

The performers capably navigate these characters in a natural, appealing way, and it’s a pleasant experience escaping a tumultuous winter as an armchair traveler whisk away to Southern California. From Melrose to the Sunset Strip to Santa Monica, we see three facets of a process that’s fertile grounds for comic human exploration.

In these post-vaccinated pandemic times, Hanrahan, a brilliant storyteller, has used his talents to keep active on stage, earlier presenting two interesting one-man shows – his original crowd-pleasing nostalgic account of his childhood in the mid-60s, “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond,” which he developed from a one-act first presented at the St. Louis Fringe Festival, in July, and then “Here Lies Henry,” with a book by Daniel Brooks and Daniel MacIvor and directed by Schwetye, about an odd personality telling us his life story – which may or may not be true because of his penchant for alternative facts.

He has kept very busy — also performing in the five-person ensemble “It Is Magic,” by one of his favorite playwrights, Mickle Maher, that comically mashes up “Macbeth” and “The Three Little Pigs” by a community theater with some very colorful characters and was directed by Suki Peters in the fall.

For this year’s St. Louis Theatre Showcase (instead of the Grand Center Theatre Crawl), he presented an earlier penned one-act, “Tonight’s Special.”

The Midnight Company will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year – and it’s quite an achievement because he has skillfully used available resources to present humorous and thought-provoking works.

For this latest production, he has brought the two accomplished professional actresses and directors along for the journey. Tibbetts, the current artistic director of the Prison Performing Arts group, and Schwetye, are leaders of SATE (Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble), a highly regarded creative troupe.

Hanrahan first worked with Tibbetts when he recruited her to direct “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll,” and their association has since included his acting in SATE’s “One Flea Spare,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Doctor Faustus,” and last year’s Aphra Behn Festival.

And she has acted in Midnight’s “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “A Model for Matisse,” which Schwetye directed, who also helmed Midnight’s Irish thriller “Little Thing Big Thing,” featuring Tibbetts and Hanrahan. He directed both of them in SATE’s vampire drama, “Cuddles,” during the 2016-2017 season

Schwety also directs for other groups – next up in 2022 is “Every Brilliant Thing” for New Jewish Theatre.

This fruitful collaboration in “Tinsel Town” is an example of a dream team hitting all the beats well.

ffEllie Schwetye and Joe Hanrahan in “Just Off Sunset.” Photo by Joey Rumpell.

The Midnight Company presents “Tinsel Town” Dec. 2-18, with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., including two Sunday matinee performances Dec. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m., at the .ZACK Theatre, 3224 Locust, St. Louis. For tickets, visit MetroTix.com. For more information, visit www.midnightcompany.com.

Photos by Joey Rumpell

Tickets are on sale for The Midnight Company’s St. Louis premiere production of Mickle Maher’s It Is Magic at MetroTix.com.  Performances, at Kranzberg’s Black Box Theatre, are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays October 21 through November 6, with all shows at 8pm.  Tickets are $15 for Thursdays and $20 for Fridays and Saturdays.  The production will be following all Kranzberg Arts Foundation safety protocols, including proof of vaccination for entry, and masks at all times.

It Is Magic is a sorrowful and hilarious meditation on the deep, ancient evil at the heart of the community theatre audition process, and an investigation into the mysteries of theatre-making itself.  Two sisters, community theatre veterans who’ve never had the chance to contribute artistically, are holding auditions for their adult version of The Three Little Pigs in the theatre basement, while the group’s pretentious artistic director is attending, then avoiding, opening night of his MacBeth on the MainStage above.  A third sister appears, and reality becomes really magical at the local playhouse.

It Is Magic premiered in Chicago in May, 2019, and Third Coast Review called it “…one of those love letters to theatre…delightfully wacky,” while New City Stage said “Any show that juggles loving critics and tearing their throats out is good in my book.”  Midnight has previously presented two Mickle Maher plays, The Hunchback Variations and An Apology For The Course And Outcome of Certain Events As Delivered By Doctor John Faustus On This His Final Evening.  

Mickle Maher plays have Off-Broadway and around the world, and have been supported by grants from the NEA, the Rockefeller MAP fund, and Creative Capital. They include There is a Happiness That Morning Is; Song About Himself; The Strangerer; Spirits to Enforce; Cyrano (translator), The Cabinet; Lady Madeline; The Pine; and An Actor Prepares (an adaptation of Stanislavsky’s seminal book). He is a cofounder of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck, and has taught playwriting and related subjects at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, and Northwestern University. He recently wrote the book and lyrics for a new musical about basketball, commissioned by the Catastrophic Theatre of Houston and Daryl Morey, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets. And he’s currently adapting the graphic novel Berlin by Jason Lutes for the Court Theatre.

Suki Peters will direct It Is Magic.  In Spring, 2022, Suki will play the bride in Cherokee Street Theatre’s adaptation of Kill Bill, and she will direct Once for R-S Theatrics.  The cast for It Is Magic includes Nicole Angeli as Sandy, desperate to get a part in a play, the part being the lead role of the Wolf in her sister’s play.  Nicole was most recently seen in Metro Theater’s It’s A Wonderful Life, in West End’s Photograph 51, and in Stray Dog’s Hedda Gabler and A Doll’s House.  Michelle Hand portrays her sister, the first-time, aspiring playwright, Deb.  This past year Michelle was in Max & Louie’s Tiny Beautiful Things and SATE’s Zoom show Tonya And The Totes In Subterrstrata.  Carl Overly Jr. is Tim in the play, another actor vying for that coveted Big Bad Wolf role.  Carl was in recent productions of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s King Lear and COCA’s Billy Elliott, and upcoming will direct Rimers Of Eldritch at St Louis University.  Chrissie Watkins will be Elizabeth, arriving from seemingly nowhere to land smackdab in the middle of the audition process.  Chrissie was seen in Alpha Players’ The Mountaintop this summer.   And Midnight’s Artistic Director, Joe Hanrahan is in the role of Mortier Civic Playhouse Artistic Director Ken Mason, as arrogant, self-absorbed and sporadically brilliant as any Artistic Director comes.  This year Joe has acted in Midnight productions of Here Lies Henry, and in his own scripts of Now Playing Third Base For The St. Louis Cardinals Bond James Bond, My Violin My Voice at the St. Louis Fringe Festival, and Tonight’s Special at the St. Louis Theatre Showcase.  He will next be seen in his new script, Midnight’s Tinsel Town in December.

Linda Menard will be the Stage Manager for the show, Elizabeth Henning is designing costumes, Kevin Bowman is designing the set and lights, and Ted Drury will design sound.

For more information, visit MidnightCompany.com  

By Lynn Venhaus

1964 was a memorable year for Americans. Still reeling from President Kennedy’s assassination, an escalating war in Vietnam and civil rights struggles, the U.S. was on the cusp of enormous change.

For teenage St. Louisans like Joe Hanrahan, it was an eventful time, especially that summer. The four lads from Liverpool rocked their world and they were ecstatic about the big bang of the British Invasion. The hometown Cards would make a mad dash for the pennant and face the Yankees in the World Series. And the coolest of the cool, Sean Connery as super-spy 007, was back on the big screen.

Hanrahan, a gifted storyteller, weaves his boyhood obsessions about baseball, The Beatles and James Bond into an entertaining and heartfelt amalgamation he wrote, titled “Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond.”

His memory play, presented by The Midnight Company, will evoke a sense of being there. Vividly capturing a moment in time, you can visualize a dusty ballfield, neighborhood buddies and their equal passions for rooting for the hometown team and going to the movies.

These are the quintessential boys of summer. Joe, who played baseball in four different leagues, recalls his carefree days playing pick-up ball with his pals and nights selling soda and popcorn at Sportsman’s Park..

Hanrahan, who has performed his share of quirky one-man shows over the past decade, walks down a memory lane that other generations can relate to – not just Baby Boomers. He originally wrote the show for the 2018 St. Louis Fringe Festival, and then expanded it beyond that festival’s one-hour time limit for this new presentation.

It is one of his most accessible works, and he’s completely at home on the intimate stage at The Chapel.

He draws us in by creating a specific sense of place, and how what was happening socially, politically and athletically affected these kids growing up in the city, as the ‘Lou was dynamically changing too.

And being teenage boys, enamored with a friend’s spirited recounting the entire experience of seeing the second Ian Fleming adaptation, “From Russia with Love,” the night before at the air-cooled Maplewood Theatre, is a major focus of this play. Rich in details, it’s riveting, as Hanrahan acts out the reminiscence, using Connery’s suave and debonaire demeanor, the beauty of Daniella Bianchi, and the exciting triumph over Spectre.

While Hanrahan showcases his raconteur skills, he offers copious amounts of interesting details – of the segregation issues across America, how Gussie Busch, who took over ownership of the Cardinals in 1953, led the way in integrating the team. Our Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lou Brock joined Ken Boyer, Dick Groat, Curt Flood, Julian Javier, Bill White and a young Mike Shannon in defeating the all-white Yankees dynasty in seven games.

Looking back, it was a seminal moment in American history, and Hanrahan credits David Halberstam’s book, “October 1964,” for the insight into race issues in Major League Baseball.

Hanrahan doesn’t shy away from mentioning the developing racial tensions and progress here either.

The reflections are palpable. He expresses the joys of a halcyon youth 57 years ago with panache, taking us back to the days of hi-fis playing 45s of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me” – the Beatles scored the top five positions on the Billboard Top 40 singles in America, an unprecedented achievement. Or the LP “Meet the Beatles,” which Joe hijacked from his sister.

The production is deftly directed by Shane Signorino, who has worked with Hanrahan before.

Video designer Michael B. Perkins has enhanced the one-man show with a cultural panoply of the sights and sounds of the day – the Fab Four, MLB players and the front office brass, and snippets of the Bond movie.

It’s a clever multi-media presentation. Kevin Bowman also provides crisp production and lighting design.

While he threads a boy’s look back, Hanrahan delivers dollops of theatrical wisdom. It is, after all, a work of theater – with drama and comedy.

A bonus is a magazine cover display in the lobby, courtesy of Redbirds fan George Venegoni.

Hanrahan has linked the time it was in an engaging way, guaranteed to produce smiles on a warm St. Louis summer night.

The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., July 8 through July 24, and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on July 25, at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander. For more information: midnightcompany.com. Tickets available at metrotix.com.

By Lynn Venhaus
Oh the irony. Henry, who is an off-kilter sort, likes to sing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” when his life is anything but – or at least appears that way. That sets the tone for “Here Lies Henry,” a kooky one-man show that opened by The Midnight Company at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s blackbox theatre last weekend.

Part jester, part blowhard, Henry’s personality is central to his act, a freeform stream of conscience where he wonders aloud why there are yellow fire trucks and repeats his schtick with some twists. He wants to tell you something that you don’t already know. He can rant but he’d rather get a laugh. Did he really say that? Did he commit any of the crimes he takes credit for?

Henry is an entertainer created by the fertile mind of quirky Daniel MacIvor, a Canadian playwright, actor and screenwriter. MacIvor specializes in solo pieces, just like Joe Hanrahan, a St. Louis theater veteran, who acts, directs, writes and produces. He adds the peculiar and curious Henry to his repertoire of uncommon characters.

Hanrahan likes choosing works that aren’t part of the mainstream, and as The Midnight Company’s latest one-man show, the first since the coronavirus public health restrictions lifted, it’s a good fit.

Hanrahan has previously performed MacIvor’s other works, “Cul-de-Sac” and “House,” and understands the rhythm the playwright attains in this 1995 work.

As he tackles love and death, Hanrahan displays Henry’s awkwardness, his impish penchant for odd jokes and puns, and builds more confidence as he weaves tall tales. Henry might be “not quite right,” but will we know?

Director Ellie Schwetye, who has worked with Hanrahan multiple times, is also familiar with the off-center and the screwball. There is an ease to the presentation, maintaining a mood where you don’t quite know what’s happening or where it will go, but you’re willing to take the ride.

That uncertainty is the chief tone throughout – as Henry, who admits he lies, embellishes stories about his parents and life. Is he serious? Is this a TED talk? Or is this a comedy club’s open-mic night? It has that feel of a guy telling big whoppers at a bar – but you can’t ignore him here as he is compelled to get on your good side.

As always, Hanrahan is entertaining in his unconventional, idiosyncratic way. “Here Lies Henry” doesn’t necessarily answer the Big Questions, but you’ll have fun with the asking.

Technically, the show flows smoothly, with Tony Anselmo’s lighting design and Kevin Bowman’s production design. Anselmo designed lighting for Midnight Company’s past works, “Popcorn Falls” and “A Model for Matisse.”

“Here Lies Henry” is an interesting look at one man’s point of view. The play is presented without intermission and runs 70 minutes.

Photo by Joey Rumpell

“Here Lies Henry” will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, from June 10 to June 26, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, June 27, at the Kranzberg Black Box. For tickets, visit MetroTix.com or MidnightCompany.com. Call 314-487-5305 for more information.

By Lynn Venhaus
As an ever-busy presence in the St. Louis theater community, Ellie Schwetye has created a diverse body of work — acting, directing, producing and sound design for a myriad of companies. While she has been recognized for her individual achievements with multiple St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, she thrives on collaboration.

But her name associated with a project means that there will be a high bar for quality and a sharp attention to detail, from selecting a soundtrack to a Jane Austen homage, “First Impressions,” for SATE; to guiding Will Bonfiglio to a third Circle Award for Best Actor in a Comedy in “Fully Committed” at the New Jewish Theatre; to bringing haughty Mrs. White to life in SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” play; and portraying Emily Post, one of the hostesses in ERA’s “Trash MacBeth.”

She is the co-producer of SATE and has directed and/or worked with Equally Represented Arts (ERA), YoungLiars, West End Players Guild, New Jewish Theatre, Prison Performing Arts, The Tennesee Williams Festival St. Louis, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Black Rep, R-S Theatrics, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Midnight Company, Stray Dog Theatre, Mustard Seed Theatre and others.

Joe Hanrahan in “Here Lies Henry”

Like many other artists, Ellie was eager to return to live theater when it was safe to do so — either on stage or behind the scenes. And now, it’s happening — she’s directing the one-man show “Here Lies Henry” starring frequent collaborator Joe Hanrahan, whose Midnight Company is producing.

It runs Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. June 10 – 27, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. June 27, at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s black box theatre.

Most COVID restrictions have now lifted, so with larger capacity audiences allowed, tickets are now available at the door. Midnight was deemed MissouriArtSafe by the Missouri Arts Council, received permission from the City of St. Louis for the production, and followed strict safety protocols. 

Written by Daniel MacIvor, Henry is a man on a mission to tell you something you don’t already know. It is an idyllic — sort of — miserable — sort of — storybook — sort of — nightmarish — sort of — remarkable — sort of — regular show.

Ellie said she was immediately drawn to the material.

“Initially, what I liked about “Here Lies Henry” was the opportunity to collaborate with Joe Hanrahan again. I’ve joked that Joe could hand me the phone book and I’d direct it, if it meant working with him,” she said.. 

“But, of course, the material of the play itself is a draw. The character of Henry is so quirky, he’s such an innocent — but trying desperately not to appear so. It’s a lovely, weird, off-beat meditation on love, life, and death. There’s a Virginia Woolf-like stream-of-consciousness quality to the text, as well as moments that have me thinking about David Lynch and Andrew Wyeth,” she said.

Ellie and Joe have collaborated multiple times.

Rachel Tibbetts and Ellie Schwetye in “Cuddles,” directed by Joe Hanrahan

“Working with Joe is always a treat. ‘Henry’ is, I think, the sixth project on which we have worked together. Joe finds and writes amazing scripts – all of which are real studies in personality,” she said.

” As both an actor-producer and a director Joe is very laid back. He comes into every project with really clear ideas, and a great sense of play and collaboration. We experiment and laugh a lot during rehearsals. Joe has a great affinity for incorporating rock and pop music into his shows, as I do. I appreciate that he lets me sound design the shows I direct, which he knows I love doing.”

Since the pandemic forced live theater to shut down in March 2020, she said she kept her theater itch scratched with some outdoor theater, video projects and “a few, now ubiquitous, Zoom plays.”

How does it feel to be ‘back in the saddle’ again?

“It’s fantastic! This is my first in-person indoor production since March 2020. It’s pretty cool to be doing this play. Directing a one-man show was the best choice to ease back into the process. The first rehearsal was both terrifying and exhilarating,” she said.

Now she is returning to produce and sound design the play “Top Girls” with SATE — Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble,

“It’s a play we had programmed and cast since before the pandemic. Both my producing partner, Rachel Tibbetts, who is directing the play, and I really love the story, the script, and non-linear storytelling of Caryl Churchill’s text and are thrilled we finally get to bring it back to St. Louis,” she said.

And while filling up her plate after such an absence is tempting, she has reflected upon the next steps after the quarantine break.

“As for easing back into commitments, I think the pandemic taught me that being busy isn’t a virtue. I love the many facets of my work in the theatre, but I don’t need to do eleven projects a year anymore. Having said that, I am quite excited for some projects this fall including “Top Girls” with SATE, directing “The Miracle Worker” at Clayton High School, and another project with Midnight later in December,” she said.

Ellie as Emily Post in ERA’s “Trash MacBeth” with Rachel Tibbetts

Schwetye, 39, was born and raised in St. Louis.

During the down time, she explored activities that she had an interest in, but hadn’t given herself the time to dive in — and the opportunity was much appreciated.

“Unsurprisingly, much of it has been outdoors, since that’s been the safest way to socialize. I’ve been gardening a bit. The brilliant Nicole Angeli has been my hiking guru, and it’s been lovely to explore gorgeous conservation areas in eastern Missouri and central Illinois. Last summer, I supported my sister as her ground crew while she paddled the Missouri river — 340 miles! — from Kansas City to St. Charles. Now that was the ultimate stage management gig. Being on the river for four days and the fact that our team was representing the Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper organization opened my eyes to how precious and critical the Missouri river system is to our region,” she said. 

“I’ve also gotten to spend a lot of time at my family’s property in Labadie, Mo., which we affectionately and unoriginally call the Farm. We completed building a house that was inspired by a one-room schoolhouse that once sat on the property. I’ve been working with my dad for the past year on much of the finish carpentry in the house, including framing and hanging doors and cutting and installing window trim and baseboards from hemlock,” she said.

“The Comeback Special” as part of the LaBute New Play Festival at St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Q &A WITH ELLIE SCHWETYE

1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

“I’ve always been drawn to storytelling. Theatrical storytelling is a kind of magic. I’m also a bit of a show-off, so performing was a great outlet for that energy. As I developed though, I learned that I love directing and producing so much more. I find the process of bringing artists together in collaboration so much more rewarding than a curtain call.”

2. How would your friends describe you?

“Classic Aries: attention-seeking, passionate, optimistic, ambitious, independent, competitive, a bit selfish, impatient and impulsive.”

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

“Recently. it’s been out at the Farm with my nieces and nephews, hiking with buddies, and reading my dad’s first edition “Foxfire” books.”

4. What is your current obsession?

“My meadow is my current obsession. It’s one little corner of the Farm. I’m keeping a path cleared through it to better observe the variety of grasses and native plants growing there. I have been trying to learn a lot more about our native species. Since I’m out at the Farm almost every week, it’s been amazing watching the changes from season to season.”

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

“I used to be a pretty fast runner. I won a state track meet in the 800m event.”

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

“My college theatre experience was a defining time. I went to a women’s college, which is certainly where my feminist theatre aesthetic was solidified. Knowing that my mentors were a fashion designer who got her start on London’s Carnaby Street in the 60s, a former Breck girl-turned radical feminist bass player, and an East German dramaturg with the Berliner Ensemble probably makes a lot of sense for the theatre I like to make and watch now.”

“A Lovely Sunday in Creve Coeur” as part of an ensemble at The Tennessee Williams Festival in 2019

7. Who do you admire most?

“This is the hardest question of the ten! So many people. My parents, certainly – especially my mom; my sisters. I’ve been learning more about my grandparents and ancestors, and there are a lot of hard-working, gritty folks in my family tree to admire.”

“Artistically, I admire the folks I have the privilege of collaborating with – and there are so many amazing and inspiring artists in this group! I admire my teachers, like Kelley Weber, who encouraged me to be a theatre artist. And I admire the producers who took a chance on me, like Edie Avioli and Scott Sears, and Ron Himes and Linda Kennedy.”

“And I always admire the real women from history whose stories I often get to tell – like Henriatta Leavit, Annie Jump Cannon, Williamina Fleming, Rosalind Franklin, Sr. Jacque-Marie, or Helen Keller. Theatricalized stories of real women will always be the most fascinating to me.”

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

I keep a Google doc of plays I’d love to direct or scripts I’d love to develop. Rachel Hanks and I started musing a while back about a play based on the Stevens Sisters (Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell). Writing something original is certainly on the bucket-list. And as a some-time performer, I’m ready for the challenge of a one-woman show.

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

“Discovering and exploring unexpected nature and conservation areas in the region.”

10. What’s next?

“I’m looking forward to the YoungLiars Summer Training Festival in July, then “Top Girls” with SATE in September. I’ll be directing “The Miracle Worker” at Clayton High School in the fall, then in December I’ll be performing opposite Joe Hanrahan in his new trio of short plays “Tinsel Town” about artists in LA, directed by Rachel Tibbetts. It completes a trifecta of work the three of us have collaborated on, which has included “Cuddles” and “Little Thing, Big Thing.”

Ellie with John Wolbers in “First Impressions”

More on Ellie:

Family: my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, 5 nieces and nephews, and cousins (who are like sisters).
Education: The St. Louis answer: Clayton High School; the real answer: Mount Holyoke College.
Day job: Production Manager with my family’s business serving the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry.
First job: My first post-college job was as a professional Intern at the Black Rep. 
First role: Abigail Adams in the 5th grade musical “Dear Abby” (I still remember my big number!)
Favorite roles/plays: My Ozark adaptation of “As You Like It”, Rachel’s and my adaptation, “First Impressions” based on “Pride and Prejudice” (and getting to play Elizabeth Bennet in it!), ERA’s “The Residents of Craigslist”. I’m also really proud of co-founding and producing SATE’s Aphra Behn Festival, celebrating women writers and directors.
Dream role/play: There are two weirdo comedies I’d love to produce, direct, or perform in: “All Our Happy Days are Stupid” by Shiela Heti and “Freshwater” by Virginia Woolf, which she wrote for her sister Vanessa’s birthday party.
Awards/Honors/Achievements: St. Louis Theater Circle Awards for Production, Sound Design, Directing, Script Adaptation, and Performance in an Ensemble; PopLifeSTL’s 2019 Artist of the Year 🙂
Favorite quote/words to live by: “have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves”
A song that makes you happy: “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn

“Silent Sky,” which Ellie directed, at West End Players Guild in 2018
“Oedipus Apparatus” at West End Players Guild in 2017

The Midnight Company will present four plays in 2021, including two St. Louis Premieres and one World Premiere.  The Company, which presented the only live theatre in town during the pandemic with Eric Bogosian’s SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL in November 2020, and mindful of the fears and realities of the ongoing virus war, will open the season with two one-man plays in June and July.

Midnight’s Artistic Director Joe Hanrahan said, “Last November, we worked with the State’s MissouriArtSafe program, the City of St. Louis and the Kranzberg organization to make sure all safety guidelines were in place and being followed.  We’ll be doing the same going forward, hoping that vaccine efforts will continue to positively affect quality of life, enabling us to provide  quality theatrical experiences for our audiences.”

Hanrahan also said, “If there’s a theme to this season, with theatre coming back it’s appropriate that these shows deal with the theatre and show business.  While HERE LIES HENRY focuses on the Art and Science of Lying (particularly relevant to this age of political and societal falsehoods), Marlon Brando did say ‘Acting is lying for a living.’  Our second show, NOW PLAYING THIRD BASE… specifically occurs during a young man’s introduction to live theatre, of a sort.  IT IS MAGIC, our third show, actually takes place during auditions in the basement of a theatre, and TINSEL TOWN, the season closer, tells three stories set in the Los Angeles entertainment world.”
  
The Company opens with HERE LIES HENRY by Daniel MacIvor, June 10-27 at the Kranzberg Black Box.  It will be directed by Ellie Schwetye, with Joe Hanrahan as Henry, a man in a room with a mission to tell you something you don’t already know.  He’s also a liar.  Midnight has presented two plays by MacIvor (a celebrated Canadian writer/performer) including CUL-DE-SAC, and then HOUSE at the 2015 St. Louis Fringe.  Hanrahan performed both one-man shows, and critics said “ CUL-DE-SAC takes you places you may not want to go.  But Hanrahan makes a spellbinding guide.” (Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and “HOUSE is a perfect combination of virtuoso acting and compelling storytelling.” (Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX.)

Tickets for HERE LIES HENRY, a St. Louis Premiere, will go on sale May 10 at MetroTix.com, and prices, performances, capacity and safety procedures will be announced at that time.


Midnight will then present the rescheduled (from 2020) NOW PLAYING THIRD BASE FOR THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS…BOND, JAMES BOND, written and performed by Joe Hanrahan, directed by Shane Signorino, with video design by Michael B. Perkins. It will run July 8-23 at The Chapel.  First presented at the St. Louis Fringe in 2018, the script has been expanded, and Hanrahan said, “The Fringe version of this show had to come in under an hour.  This version, with additional material, should be deeper, hopefully richer.”  NOW PLAYING… is a memory show, of when a teen was introduced, in an unusual way, to live theatre, while the rest of life, including baseball, James Bond, racism, The Beatles, the assassination of John F. Kennedy and more swirled around him.  Michelle Kenyon in Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts called the play “…entertaining, educational, thought-provoking…” and also said it was “…difficult to describe, but what it is is excellent.”

In October, Hanrahan’s short play PATIENT #47 will be presented as part of True Community Theatre’s TRUTH, LIES, and CONFESSIONS October 1-3 at The Chapel.  PATIENT #47 was originally presented at the 2019 Theatre Crawl And later in the month, Midnight will begin to add additional performers to their cast lists. 

Midnight will present Mickle Maher’s IT IS MAGIC, also rescheduled from 2020, directed by Suki Peters, October 21-November 6 at the Kranzberg Black Box.  IT IS MAGIC takes place in the basement of a community theatre.  Two sisters, tireless long-term theatre volunteers but ignored in the artistic process, have finally received their chance to write and act for the group.  While opening night of the company’s Scottish Play goes on in the MainStage above them, they’re holding auditions for the role of the Big Bad Wolf for their new script, an adult version of THREE LITTLE PIGS.  But an inebriated, jaded artistic director and an unexpected, wild Third Sister intrude, delivering dire changes, dangerous chaos and, eventually, magic.  

The cast for the production includes Nicole Angeli, Michelle Hand, Joe Hanrahan, Britteny Henry and Carl Overly.  Chicago’s Third Coast Review called IT IS MAGIC “…one of those love letters to theatre…delightfully wacky,” and New City Stage in Chicago said “Any show that juggles loving critics with tearing their throats out is good in my book.”  

Midnight has previously presented Maher’s THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS and AN APOLOGY FOR THE COURSE OF CERTAIN EVENTS AS DELIVERED BY DOCTOR JOHN FAUSTUS ON THIS HIS FINAL EVENING (twice each), and IT IS MAGIC will be a St. Louis Premiere.
And rounding out the year (and rounding out a cycle of plays from three St. Louis theatre artists) is the World Premiere of TINSEL TOWN 3 Short Plays – 24 Hours In L.A. by Joe Hanrahan.  It will run December 2-18 at Avatar Studios, a television production studio on the edge of Downtown St. Louis, near Market and Jefferson, and will be directed by Rachel Tibbetts.   (Midnight has previously presented TITLE AND DEED and LITTLE THING BIG THING at Avatar.)

Joe Hanrahan

 In TINSEL TOWN, Ellie Schwetye and Hanrahan each play characters in the three plays set in the Los Angeles entertainment world.  In LATE LUNCH ON MELROSE, Hanrahan is a talent agent trying to convince his movie star client, Schwetye, to accept the new normal.  In JUST OFF SUNSET, Schwetye is a rock singer/songwriter who’s just finished a frustrating gig at a club, and Hanrahan is a grizzled backup musician who’s seen it all in the industry.  And in SHOOT IN SANTA MONICA, Hanrahan is a British actor brought to Hollywood for a role in a science fiction film, and Schwetye is the director trying to get her first film under her belt.

Hanrahan first worked with Tibbetts when he recruited her to direct an earlier Midnight run of SEX DRUGS ROCK & ROLL, after seeing her direction of BACHELORETTE for her home company, SATE.  Thus began an association between their two companies, with Hanrahan acting in ONE FLEA SPARE, OF MICE AND MEN, DOCTOR FAUSTUS and 2020’s APHRA BEHN FESTIVAL for SATE; and Schwetye directing JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG(with Tibbetts in the cast) and A MODEL FOR MATISSE for Midnight.

But it was during the winter of 2016/2017 that these three did two plays together that demanded a third, sometime in the future, to complete a triptych.  At that time, Hanrahan directed Schwetye and Tibbetts in the vampire drama, CUDDLES, for SATE, followed by Schwetye directing Tibbetts and Hanrahan in Midnight’s Irish thriller, LITTLE THING BIG THING.  So a third show was needed, with (as TINSEL TOWN provides) roles for Schwetye and Hanrahan, and Tibbetts directing.  And thus, the cycle will be complete, and TINSEL TOWN will bring Midnight’s 2021 season to  a close.