By Lynn Venhaus

Love has got everything to do with it. The costumes are gorgeous, the musicianship splendid and the legendary subjects all deserving of the spotlight in the reverent play with music, “St. Louis Woman.”

Local playwright Joe Hanrahan, Midnight Company’s founder and artistic director, has a deep knowledge and interest in local history as well as an affinity for and expertise in popular music.

In this enjoyable, affectionate showcase brimming with good beats and striking visuals, Hanrahan honors local legacies by presenting their impact on the world through an earnest young singer, Laka.

Laka is a relative newcomer on the local music scene, having performed her first cabaret at the Blue Strawberry in April 2020, and she does not have any experience regional theater.

This work is her stage debut – and it appears that her collaboration with Hanrahan took them both to their happy place. She is a likable performer, projecting perseverance and positivity, even if she is acting novice with more to learn.

Laka embodies their important traits of dedication and resolve as Hanrahan, also the director, unfolds snapshots of Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Katherine Dunham, Maya Angelou, Fontella Bass, Ann Peebles, and Willie Mae Ford Smith.

The women are all artists with some connection to St. Louis, whether they were born here, grew up here or moved her during their adult years. You might not have heard of everyone but by the end of the show, they will all be memorable.

Hanrahan reveals interesting tidbits about their lives while Laka tells their story in looks, voice and career/life observances. Each woman could be celebrated in their own show, but this ties them intrinsically together, in small-batch narratives.

Hanrahan knows how to mine key details from his copious research to make the script flow. It’s well-constructed with moments big and small.

“They brought this city to the world with their music, dance and poetry,” he said.

The accompanying music, with cool cats Corey Patterson on keyboards and Gabe Bonfili on percussion, had a fun vibe. They excelled at keeping the tempo upbeat and the mood pleasant – nice, easy and kicked up a notch. Bruce Bramoweth’s contributions as a music consultant helped set the piece, too.

Enhancing the show immeasurably is Liz Henning’s stunning costume designs – she captured each period and personality perfectly. The red-sequined mini-cocktail dress Laka rocked as Tina was a wow!

An accomplished video designer, Michael Musgrave-Perkins has done exceptional work with archival footage and vintage documents to convey time periods for each woman, setting us in a ‘you are there’ format. The selections are first-rate and the presentation polished.

Ashley L. Tate has executed appropriate choreography, particularly the iconic Banana Dance by Josephine Baker, and Tina Turner’s vivacious gyrations.

Lighting Designer Tony Anselmo and Production Designer Kevin Bowman helped create the look that set the mood and the groove.

Straightforward and sincere, “St. Louis Woman” raises the voices of some remarkable women, leading lights once rolling on the river. It’s a remembrance to savor, a pride to share and world-class names forever linked to our city’s tapestry.

Laka. Photo by Joey Rumpell.

The Midnight Company presents “St. Louis Woman” Oct. 6-22, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (Oct. 9 and 16) at the .Zack Theatre, 3224 Locust in the Grand Center Arts District. For more information, visit www. midnightcompany.com.

The Midnight Company will present the World Premiere of ST. LOUIS WOMAN, a play with music starring LAKA, written and directed by Midnight’s Artistic Director, Joe Hanrahan.  ST. LOUIS WOMAN will run October 6 – 22 at the .ZACK theatre, with performances Thursdays/Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday matinees October 9 and 16 at 2pm.  Tickets are $30 for Fridays/Saturdays and Sundays, and $20 for Thursdays, and tickets are on sale now at MetroTix.com.

 ST. LOUIS WOMAN will honor the enduring legacy of some of the amazing women in St. Louis who brought this city to the world with their timeless music, dance and poetry.  LAKA will portray such legendary artists as Josephine Baker, Tina Turner and Katherine Dunham (and present the poetry of Maya Angelou, the song stylings of chart-toppers Fontella Bass and Ann Peebles, and the Gospel classics of the legendary Willie Mae Ford Smith.)  These women were born in St. Louis, or came here when young (typically to join Gospel choirs), or, in Dunham’s case, moved here during the height of their careers to continue their momentous work.

LAKA is a singer-songwriter who prides herself in performing a multitude of genres. She recently released her third single, a country-folk song titled “Keep it to Myself”, written by Mike Lipel. LAKA debuted her first cabaret show at the Blue Strawberry in October of 2020 titled “The Music in Me”, her life story through music and went on to perform the show earlier this year in New York City at the venue, Don’t Tell Mama. She noticed that the life stories she told in between songs connected her audience more to the songs. Laka continued to branch out this year with appearances in Las Vegas, Naples, FLA, and Nashville.

 The Midnight Company is celebrating its 25th Anniversary producing theatre in St. Louis, presenting a full season of plays in 2022 after receiving 14 nominations from the recent St. Louis Theatre Critics Circle Awards, winning four.   This year, Midnight presented ANOMALOUS EXPERIENCE in May, and RODNEY’S WIFE in July, with ST. LOUIS WOMAN rounding out this season.  But this Fall, Midnight’s work can also be seen at…

LAKA as TIna Turner. Photo by Todd Davis


 ST. LOUIS THEATRE SHOWCASE  Friday/Saturday September 16 & 17 at the Public Media Commons, 3653 Olive St.  Each night, beginning at 7pm, five different St. Louis theatre companies will present a short play or piece of theatre.  Midnight will be in the Saturday night lineup, presenting a new play by Joe Hanrahan – LAST CALL, directed by Sarah Holt, performed by Tom Kopp and Joe Hanrahan.  The event is FREE, and you can register to attend at KWMU.org.  Local craft beverages will be available.

And…TRUE Community Theatre’s SHORTS FESTIVAL, new plays by local playwrights about Truth, Lies, and Confessions.  Friday/Saturday November 4 and 5, it will be presented at Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Avenue at 7pm  Tickets can be purchased with a donation, and can be reserved at EventBrite.com.  Midnight will be offering another Hanrahan script, PATIENT #47, directed by David Wassilak (David is appearing in Albion Theatre’s HEROES, opening September 23), featuring Alia Arif and Hanrahan.

THE COLLABORATORS:  
THE BAND  Backing up LAKA will be two of her favorite musicians.  Corey Patterson on keyboards (Corey is the Music Director for the show) and Gabe Bonfii on percussion.
Bruce Bramoweth is our Music Consultant.  Bruce has a show every Sunday night on KDHX – “Chicken Shack,” a mix of blues and jazz and r&b and much more.
CHOREOGRAPHY by Ashley Tate.  Ashley has been the Artistic Director for the Ashleyliane Dance Company, which is celebrating its 15th year of Dance.  She recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Dance at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but not before working with LAKA for ST. LOUIS WOMAN, and working with Joan Lipkin on DANCE THE VOTE, September 24, 12:30pm at Missouri History Museum.  Ashley promises to be back in St. Louis as often as she can.
COSTUME DESIGN/STAGE MANAGEMENT by Liz Henning.  Liz has worked with Midnight on numerous shows, and last year was nominated for Outstanding Costume Design from the St. Louis Theatre Critics Circle for TINSEL TOWN.
VIDEO DESIGN by Michael Musgrave-Perkins.  Michael has provided video design for several Midnight shows, including TINSEL TOWN, A MODEL FOR MATISSE, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG and LITTLE THING BIG THING.
LIGHTING DESIGN by Tony Anselmo and PRODUCTION DESIGN from Kevin Bowman, both who have provided outstanding work for previous Midnight shows.

THE PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR: Joe Hanrahan is Midnight’s Artistic Director, and for them, he’s written LIFE AFTER DEATH, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE JAMES, DRACULA  (adaptation), THE EVEREST GAME, MY VIOLIN MY VOICE, NOW PLAYING THIRD BASE FOR THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS…BOND, JAMES BOND (nominated Outstanding New Play St. Louis Theatre Critic Circle 2021), TINSEL TOWN (Winner Outstanding New Play by the Circle, 2021), and several shorter plays for The Crawl.   His scripts have also been performed in Kansas, Brooklyn, NY, and in St. Louis.  As a director, he’s directed several Midnight shows, and filled the same role for The Black Rep (THE BROWNSVILLE RAID and NO CHILD), SATE (CUDDLES), R-S Theatrics (THE FLICK), Clayton Community Theatre (A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Winner Outstanding Director, Arts for Life), and Webster Groves Theatre Guild (BUS STOP and THE UNDERPANTS.)  He most recently directed RODNEY’S WIFE for Midnight.

Laka as Josephine Baker. Photo by Todd Davis

Hanrahan said “When I first heard LAKA sing, I was amazed.  One of the best voices I’d ever heard, she could sing literally anything, and anything she sang moved me.  When we met, she was interested in expanding the range of her talents, maybe doing something more theatrical.  So the concept for ST. LOUIS WOMAN was born.  And as I’ve gotten to know her, her intelligence, determination and work ethic has helped carve the path for this show.  This is a unique opportunity to present some of the great art and tremendous people who carved out their exceptional careers in St. Louis.”

And LAKA said, “After seeing one of Joe Hanrahan’s one-man plays, I thought how neat it is for one person to be able to captivate an audience with acting alone. Because of my cabaret shows, I thought I could learn from him to be better at what I do.  When Joe introduced the idea behind St. Louis Woman I was immediately drawn to it. St. Louis has a rich music history, being an epicenter during the height of jazz, blues, and rock’n roll.  I think we sometimes forget the prominence that our beautiful city once held and how many greats called this area home. During the preparation for this play, I’ve become ever more connected to these artists and this city that I call home. Their stories are inspiring, motivating, and courageous. I’m honored and humbled to pay tribute and increase awareness of these women’s role in St. Louis history. The current arts scene in the city is continuing to resurge and remembering the past will certainly help forge our future.”

Midnight is cross-promoting with several like-minded organizations, and hopes to spread the word about their upcoming events:
MISSOURI GOSPEL HALL OF FAME  Go to mogospel.com to find out more about their work preserving and enlightening a new wave of Gospel Music.
CONSUMING KINETICS DANCE COMPANY  Go to ckdc.org and learn about their shows and classes.  On Oct 22 and 23, at the Marcelle Theatre, they will present “French Connection,” original dances celebrating the legacy of Josephine Baker (a principal character in ST. LOUIS WOMAN.)
MISSOURI HISTORY MUSEUM  Go to mohistory.org for information about their continuing exhibit “ST. LOUIS SOUND,” with pictures, film and audio exploring the deep roots of popular music in the city.
JAZZ ST. LOUIS  Go to jazzstl.org and learn about the full array of performers they have coming up in the months ahead, including several shows from the incomparable Regina Carter in September.
CINEMA ST. LOUIS Go to cinemastlouis.org for their variety of always fascinating programs.  Last month they allowed Midnight to promote ST. LOUIS WOMAN during their showing of Josephine Baker’s first silent film “Siren Of The Tropics,” which was shown as part of their French Film Festival.
And, of course, ASHLEY LIANE DANCE COMPANY.  Go to ashleyliane.com, and follow the group’s shows and events.
More at midnightcompany.com
and lakasoul.com

photos by Todd Davis
video by Keyaira Harris

By Lynn Venhaus

During the ten-minute intermission, I overheard a woman in the audience tell her companion: “I hope my kids don’t find my diaries.”

Whoa, and that reaction was before The Midnight Company’s seismic second act of “Rodney’s Wife.” I surmised other parents probably shared that sentiment at some point during this unsettling, distressing drama written by Richard Nelson.

Director Joe Hanrahan, who is eager to explore different dimensions, does not shy away from edgy or dark, thinks cinematically, and has an affinity for the period and the inner workings of show business, slowly pulling back the curtain, so to speak.

He has assembled a cast of six local acting heavyweights, who illustrate why they are so highly regarded, and the retro Italian setting is a designers’ dream.

The daughter of Rodney and his second wife, who found her mother’s diary from an eventful summer in 1962, introduces herself and takes us back to that time.

Kelly Howe is believable in dual roles, carefully choosing what emotion to display when. The statuesque Fay is a former actress who had married a widower 10 years ago. Rodney (John Wolbers) is now a fading movie actor. Is she content in her current role as “Rodney’s wife”?

In a quietly shattering performance, Howe starts out staying in the background while other big personalities suck the air out of the room — and then tries not to be suffocated.

Kelly Howe as Fay. Photo by Joey Rumpell

Her arrogant, domineering husband and his overbearing, busybody sister Eva (Rachel Tibbetts) try to control the temperature in the room. Eva was married to Rodney’s manager but is now a widow.

For people who pretend to live out loud, something is obviously ‘off,’ and subtle clues poke through the facades. Nelson builds tension, with anxiety and desperation fighting for attention in a shades of Anton Chekhov meets Tennessee Williams way, minus all-encompassing gloom and predictably overwrought hysteria.

Without spoiling any crucial plot turns, “Rodney’s Wife” has many layers and moving parts in its portrayal of a dysfunctional family. Oh, it’s complicated, all right. The melodramatic action is akin to divulging bombshells on a TV soap opera, and torching others with the secrets.

A prolific American writer, Nelson won a Tony Award for best book of a musical (James Joyce’s “The Dead” in 2000), and several Obie Awards. “Rodney’s Wife” was mounted off-Broadway in 2004 at the Playwrights Horizons, starring David Strathairn and Jessica Chastain as father and daughter.

As Fay prepares for a small celebration in a rented villa on the outskirts of Rome, well-heeled and seemingly carefree folks rush in, laughing and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Rodney’s daughter Lee (Summer Baer), who has been mostly away at boarding school and college, has surprised her father with big news — she is engaged to Ted, a smart, amiable American writer (Oliver Bacus).

Rodney is regaling his future son-in-law with boorish moviemaking stories. Turns out the actor, a legend in his own mind, is filming a spaghetti western, but this is not exactly Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name. These are the low-budget early years of the Italian fascination with the American West, before Sergio Leone would make his mark with this distinctive genre.

Dissatisfied and unpleasant, Rodney is rescued from his miserable experience by his new manager Henry (Ben Ritchie), who drops off a script that he views as more suitable for his talents, only they’d have to leave for America the next day. In addition, Henry, while professional and practical, has his own worries back home.

And why is Fay like a cat on a hot tin roof in the midst of the merriment?

Summer Baer and Ben Ritchie. Photo by Joey Rumpell

What started out as a forced happy family gathering unravels into shock and betrayals, attitudes are laid bare, and scabs are picked at and reformed. Some prefer not to play along, others mask their feelings for survival, and the perpetual role-playing is ongoing.

All six are clinging – whether to fading beauty, to their comfortable lifestyle, to forging a new identity, to the past, to keeping up appearances, their deceptions, or to whom they think they are/should be.

As the self-absorbed Rodney, John Wolters is revelatory, displaying a dramatic heft that you don’t often see when he’s trotting the boards, usually (but not always) in lighter fare. I wish Nelson had not written Rodney as a cliché.

Sartorially splendid, Rachel Tibbetts’ Eva craves the spotlight as much as her actor brother, and she fools no one as a busybody Karen trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives. Her equally loud brother indulges her, and Tibbetts embraces being abrasive in a role that’s mostly comical, but she conveys enough depth to make it more than one-note.

As the not-fully-formed 25-year-old adult daughter Lee, Summer Baer modulates the tones between dutiful daughter, her stepmom’s pal, tolerant of her hovering aunt and supportive fiancé to Ted. But what is it that she wants? A conflicted Lee doesn’t appear to be as forceful expressing what she wants as everyone around her seems to know what’s best for her.

Photo by Joey Rumpell

Although Bacus portrays Ted as assured as he’s making first impressions, it is as if Lee has blithely brought a prey into the lion’s den. You feel for this guy, hoping he’s better at seeing the red flags than we are.

Nelson has boxed himself into a corner narratively, and both Fay and Lee are frustratingly enigmatic – but the pair of actresses do everything they can for more fully realized interpretations.

However, his savvy choice of Rome 1962 is an exciting canvas for Bess Moynihan, whose scenic and lighting designs are astonishing, and for Liz Henning, whose astute costume designs are some of the best she’s ever done on local stages. Miriam Whatley has designed props that are ideally suited to the atmosphere.

Moynihan’s flair for striking production design – complete with an inviting patio –provides a good flow for character movements. Her superb lighting, especially the natural dawn, effectively establishes the shifting moods over the course of a night and day.

The drama’s impressive sleek look touches on what an attractive playground Italy was in the 1960s, not only because of the cultural revolution in movies, music, art, fashion, and style but how post-war Italy was putting fascism in the rear-view mirror and hedonism was in full throttle.

Hanrahan and company are successful in creating an intoxicating vibe of exotic travel, lush surroundings, and a pop art palette without having the benefit of idyllic sun-drenched exteriors. (I mean, we’ve seen “Three Coins in the Fountain”! I digress…).

As an example, Federico Fellini had unleashed “La Dolce Vita” in 1960 and was working on his opus, “8-1/2” (released in 1963), and he wasn’t the only director getting buzz in this new golden age. Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’avventura” also was released in 1960.

Rodney looks like a guy who could be driving an Alfa Romeo while the handsome, well-mannered Ted could be tooling down the Amalfi Coast in a Fiat, doing his best Marcello Mastroanni.

The women wear their stylish cocktail dresses and chic casual attire with aplomb, sometimes adorned with bright scarves, and their hair is fixed in elegant styles – Lee’s swept-back ponytail, Eva’s classic elegant knot. The air of luxury permeates the small space.

During intermission or before/after the show, be sure to view a special fashion collection in the Chapel, which highlights haute couture of the era, and the designers, colors and styles that were famous.

Because of the fine performances, The Midnight Company has elevated this work, sharpening the explosive interpersonal dynamics. With inspired highly skilled craftmanship from the creative team, The Chapel’s intimate space has been admirably transformed into a mid-century modern with an international aesthetic.

Using the irony of such a luxurious landscape, Nelson has basically imprisoned his characters, who are products of their time, for better or for worse, which makes the sorrow and the unspoken regrets hang heavy in the air.

The Midnight Company presents “Rodney’s Wife” from July 7 to July 23, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 10 and 17, at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, St. Louis. For more information, visit: www.midnightcompany.com.

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.