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

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

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

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

The Rep’s commissioned playwrights feature:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lynn Venhaus

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

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has closed all its venues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Greg Lazerwitz

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

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

Fox Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Playhouse @ Westport

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

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

Refunds are available at point of purchase.

St. Louis Actors’ Studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upstream Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

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

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

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



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

Wydown Auditorium

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

Arts For Life

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

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

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


Other Companies

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

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

By Lynn Venhaus

As concerns for public health grows as the Coronavirus spreads in the U.S., many arts and entertainment events have been cancelled in the metropolitan St. Louis area. Some will be rescheduled. While others, in smaller venues, continue.

St. Louis City banned events with crowds bigger than 1,000 Thursday and St. Louis County announced Friday it is preventing crowds bigger than 250, effective immediately, until further notice.

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is the utmost importance in making these decisions. Governors of Missouri and Illinois have declared states of emergency, as had the U.S. President on Friday.

Nationally, Broadway went dark and its 31 theatres announced they would be closed through Easter, which is April 12.

Dramatists Play Service, which holds the rights to many shows, has announced refunds to companies who have to cancel and also information regarding possibly live-streaming shows. For further information, visit https://www.dramatists.com/text/covid19cancellationpolicy.asp

Here is a list of what’s the latest news from local companies and venues, with the most up-to-date information as possible. It is best to check with a group before heading out as news can change fast.

Most companies released statements about how they have stepped up cleaning efforts and encouraging those feeling sick to stay home. They have also offered refund information. Check their social media and websites for current information.

On Thursday, the Fox Theatre announced postponement of all performances and tours through March 31.

“The Bachelor Live on Stage, scheduled for Friday, March 13 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scheduled for March 17-29 will both be postponed.   Plans to reschedule are currently underway. Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets – they will be honored on the new dates,” statement said.

Decisions about other future shows will be made as they follow the evolving situation with the COVID-19 Virus and the City of St. Louis’ determination of the length of this prohibition, a spokesman said.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, on the campus of Webster University, is opening “The Cake” in the Studio Theatre March 13, and Friday evening announced that they would suspend all performances beginning Monday, March 16. They are postponing the opening of “Dreaming Zenzile,” set to open March 20, with hopes of rescheduling this summer.

This is a reversal of their announcement Wednesday that all their performances would continue. Here is the new statement:

“Following the declaration of a state of emergency in St. Louis County surrounding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis must place the safety of its patrons, staff and artists above all other considerations.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization’s recommendations against large group gatherings, The Rep has decided to cancel all performances and events beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of the season. We plan to postpone our Mainstage world premiere of Dreaming Zenzile, with the goal of mounting it this summer.

“We do not take this decision lightly, knowing that the communal connections made at public arts events are some of the strongest tools against the fears and anxieties of this moment. As we ride out this turbulent time together, we remain resolutely committed to the power of storytelling to change lives and uplift our shared humanity. Thank you for your understanding and for being a part of our Rep family. We look forward to welcoming you home again this summer.

We will be reaching out to ticketholders shortly via email, phone and/or text with more details regarding ticket options. For additional updates, stay tuned to repstl.org and our Facebook and Twitter feeds,” the statement said.

The Playhouse at Westport continues “Flanagan’s Wake” performances as planned. However, the company that owns the venue released a statement explaining their efforts.

“Our efforts in cleaning the venue have been stepped up and we will be disinfecting each seat, handrail and surface within the theatre prior to opening doors for each performance. Our bartenders will be wearing gloves, which will be changed frequently through the evening.

“In addition, Cushman & Wakefield, the property management for Westport Plaza has increased their efforts to assist in providing a safe environment for those that visit the Plaza. All public surfaces, from elevator buttons to escalator rails, to door handles and bathrooms are all being heavily sanitized multiple times throughout each day.

We, along with, many of you, are closely following and monitoring all reports issued from the CDC as well as our local and state governmental agencies and will adjust any and all protocol accordingly. At this time, all shows are playing as scheduled,” explained Sue Silverstein, vice president / general manager, Playhouse @ Westport Plaza

The Moolah Shrine have announced plans to reschedule the annual circus March 19-22 at Family Arena. Here is their statement:

For more than 78 years, the Moolah® Shriners have provided family entertainment to St Charles and St Louis region. As always, our focus has been the safety and well-being of families. After consulting with government health professionals and the Family Arena, We have decided to take strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all who plan on attending our circus.

As Shriners, we are about compassion and love; we help heal the sick, care for those in need. Our plans, for now, are to reschedule our 78th Moolah Shrine Circus for later this year. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you all later this year.

For further information, please refer to Moolah.org on Monday, March 16,” they noted.

William Roth, founder and artistic director of St. Louis Actors’ Studio, said they would offer their black box theater, The Gaslight Theatre, to performers in need of space during this pandemic.

“Many performers and band members have lost their incomes. The 100- seat Gaslight Theatre, based on availability, is offering itself up to bands whose gigs have been canceled. This offer is, of course, based on availability and the daily health regulations posted by the CDC and the local governments. As long as it’s legal we are an available venue,” Roth said. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

THE SHOW MUST GO ON
“Clybourne Park” at Alpha Players at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The audience is limited to 200.

Note: “We are constantly disinfecting common surfaces as much as we can. We ask that high risk individuals (as defined by the CDC) or those that are exhibiting symptoms to refrain from entering the premises.”

“It’s Only a Play” at Looking Glass Playhouse in Lebanon, Ill. this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Note: “As of 12 March 2020 we have no intention to cancel any performances for It’s Only a Play. If we do, every effort will be made to give a minimum notice of 24 hours.”

Also, cleaning efforts stepped up and ticket refunds available.

“Flanagan’s Wake” at The Playhouse at Westport continue performances as planned, extended through April 11, with a special St. Patrick’s Day performance Tuesday.

Note: “Please be aware of your own health. If you are sick, or even questioning you are sick, please stay home. We will be happy to exchange your tickets for another performance. The top priority at the Playhouse @ Westport is the safety and the well-being of our guests, casts and employees.”

“Love Sex and the IRS” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at their theatre, Newport and Summit.

“On Golden Pond” at Kirkwood Theatre Guild this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road.

“The Philadelphia Story” at Clayton Community Center cancelled their opening night, March 12, but continue performances March 13 and 14 and at 2 p.m. March 15 in the Washington University South Campus Theatre.

“Return to Forbidden Planet” at KTK Productions in the St. John the Baptist gymnasium, 4200 Delor, this weekend and next (Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.)


“Head Over Heels” at New Line Productions at The Marcelle Theatre this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., sold out, and continuing Thursday through Saturday until March 28.

Note: “We hope to run as scheduled through March 28, but we’ll continue to monitor the news and re-assess as the situation evolves. If anyone has purchased tickets but is not feeling well, please stay home, rest up, and contact MetroTix for a refund. The usual “no refund” rule will not apply.”

POSTPONED
“The Bachelor Live on Stage” tour at The Fox Theatre March 13. Plans to be rescheduled.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” tour at The Fox Theatre March 17 – 29. To be rescheduled.

10th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition April 4 at The Fox Theatre. To be rescheduled.

CANCELLED
The Black Rep “Spell #7” at the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre. They had extended the run through this weekend, but cancelled it in light of the COVID-19 developments.

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University
All events and performances (internal, hosted or rented) scheduled through June 1.
This includes:
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis “Cymbeline” (March 16), Young People’s Concert (March 19), TAO DRUM (March 24), The ReMINDers (April 6), and speaker, Ishmael Beah (April 15).

Patrons are offered the possibility of applying their tickets to a future event at the Hett, donating the ticket value to the University or contacting them for a full refund, less any original mailing fees.

Please contact the box office, during operating hours, to discuss your ticket disposition. The box office is open Monday – Friday from noon to 4 p.m.

College Performances Cancelled

“Cabaret” at Lindenwood University – St. Charles. Representatives will contact ticket holders on refunds.

“A Doll’s House” at Missouri Baptist University. Will transition to streaming. More information to follow.

By Lynn Venhaus
A 10-time Tony winner’s national tour comes to the ‘Lou, world premieres of “The Roommate” and last chance to see a whole roster of shows. There is a feast of choices as we usher March in, and spring can’t be far behind. Here’s what’s on local stages.


“Annapurna”
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
The Gaslight Theatre
N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis
Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.
Sunday at 3 p.m.
Feb. 14 – March 1
www.stlas.org
314-458-2978

Laurie McConnell and John Pierson star as Emma and Ulysses in Sharr White’s play about love and loss in the backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. Once married, they have a child, but haven’t seen each other for a long time.

Our review:
https://www.poplifestl.com/oh-those-ties-that-bind-an-extraordinary-annapurna-at-st-louis-actors-studio/

The Band’s Visit touring show

“The Band’s Visit”
Fox Theatre
527 N. Grand
Feb. 25 – March 8
www.fabulousfox.com

Winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2018, this joyously offbeat story is set in a remote town where a band of musicians arrive, lost. They bring the town to life in unexpected ways. This is an adaptation of a 2007 Israeli film, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. It is performed without intermission.

Here is our review: https://www.poplifestl.com/unforgettable-music-big-heart-distinguish-tony-winner-the-bands-visit-at-the-fox/

“The Ever After”
Curtain’s Up
Saturday, Feb. 29, at 6:30 p.m.
Dunham Hall, SIUEdwardsville
www.curtainsuptheater.com

A cheesy talk show host invites familiar fairy tale characters who have been estranged for 20 years to reconcile on the show.

Brett Amber


 “Flanagan’s Wake”
Emery Entertainment
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
635 Westport Plaza
Jan. 24 – March 21
www.playhouseatwestport.com

This interactive hit show from Chicago is set in an Irish pub, and Flanagan’s family and friends give him a comedic memorial with plenty o’ pints, crazy sing-a-longs and witty tales.
Cast includes Brian Ballybunion, Fiona Finn (Jennifer Theby-Quinn), Mickey Finn Father Damon Fitzgerald (Patrick Blindauer), Kathleen Mooney, Mayor Martin O’Doul

Our review: https://www.poplifestl.com/flanagans-wake-a-raucous-raunchy-ribald-romp/

“Ghost”
Metro Theatre Company
Feb. 2 – March 1
Fridays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
The Grandel Theatre
3610 Grandel Square
www.metroplays.org

World premiere of a new play adapted by Idris Goodwin from Jason Reynolds’ award-winning bestseller for young readers. Castle Cranshaw, aka “Ghost,” has only known running, but he runs for all the wrong reasons until he meets Coach. Directed by Jacqueline Thompson and stars

“Men on Boats”
The Performing Arts Department at Washington University
Feb. 21 – March 1
Edison Theatre on campus
pad.artsci.wustl.edu

John Wesley Powell’s expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers is a 19th century journey.

“The Mystery of Irma Vep”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Feb. 14 – March 8
Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus
www.repstl.org

One dark and stormy night…two actors play eight characters, with a few dozen costume changes, a lot of wigs and a blending of classic horror, B-movie mysteries and farce.  
Charles Ludlam’s supernatural comedy includes a newly revived mummy, a mysterious portrait, a family curse and a howling werewolf.

Our Review: https://www.poplifestl.com/campy-farce-irma-vep-cant-hold-audience/

“The Office! A Musical Parody”
Emery Entertainment
March 4 – 8
Wednesday-Friday at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Grandel Theatre
Tickets: Metrotix 314-534-1111 or one hour before showtime at Grandel box office.
www.theofficemusicalparody.com/tour

Dunder Mifflin is opening an office near you. This is the third North American tour of the unauthorized off-Broadway show, written by Bob and Tobly McSmith. It is still playing at the Jerry Orbach Theatre at 210 West 50th Street in NYC.

Mashable calls it “the world’s most elaborate inside job, created with a whole lot of love, just for fans.” It’s a typical morning at Scranton’s third largest paper company until, for no logical reason, a documentary crew begins filming the lives of the employees.

“Picnic”
Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts
Feb. 20 – March 1
Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Stage III Auditorium
www.webster.edu
314-968-7128

William Inge’s play is set in a small town one Labor Day Weekend in the joint backyards of two widows. One lives with her two daughters and a boarder; the other is a woman and her mother. A studly young man, Hall, comes to town, and the resulting electrical charge causes some friction.

Photo by John Lamb


“The Roommate”
The West End Players Guild
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Additional Thursday show Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.
Feb. 21 – March 1
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 N. Union at Enright
www.westendplayers.org
314-367-0025

St. Louis premiere of Jen Silverman’s contemporary comedy has been described as “The Odd Couple” meets “Breaking Bad.” Sharon, a divorced empty nester takes on a roommate in her Iowa City house – and Robyn has come from the Bronx. She has a mysterious, shady past who moves around a lot. She is everything Sharon is not — a vegan and gay, for starters. They begin to influence each other in surprising ways.

“Saint Joan of Arc”
The University Theatre at Saint Louis University
Collaborative piece with Prison Performing Arts
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Feb. 21 – March 1
Kranzberg Arts Center
501 N. Grand
Tickets: www.metrotix.com

Inspired by love of God and country, Joan became a 15th century French military leader. This is a contemporary retelling directed by Lucy Cashion.

“Spell #7”
The Black Rep
Wednesday at
Feb. 19 – March 8
A.E. Hotchner Studio at Washington University.
www.theblackrep.org


Ntozake Shange’s Spell #7 is a choreopoem set in a bar in St. Louis frequented by Black artists and musicians, actors, and performers. In a series of dreamlike vignettes and poetic monologues, they commiserate about the difficulties they face as black artist.


“Transluminate”
A short-play festival
The Q Collective
Thursday and Friday, Feb. 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 29, at 4 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Chapel
6238 Alexander Drive
www.theqcollective.theater

“The Vagina Monologues”
St. Louis College of Pharmacy
Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.
Academic and Research Building Auditorium
4531 Children’s Place, St. Louis, MO 63110
Tickets: $5 at the door (cash only) or available for purchase on Eventbrite ahead of time

Note: All proceeds from ticket and dessert sales will go directly to Lydia’s House in St. Louis

Eve Ensler’s play is based on interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grave, the piece celebrates sexuality and strength. Through this play and the liberation of this one-word, countless people throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives.

The play gave birth to V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against all women and girls. Activists are working to end harassment, rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery. (https://www.vday.org/homepage.html)

It is sponsored by the Department of Liberal Arts and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. For more information, email [email protected]

Lydia’s House works in faith to end domestic violence by being a place of healing and a voice of hope for abused women and their children.” (https://www.lydiashouse.org/)


 The theatre will produce classics Moby Dick and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as two world premieres at two different theatres this season
 ST. LOUIS — The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis announces a dynamic new set of shows for its 2020-2021 season designed to delight, excite and engage theatregoers like never before.

“This year, we want to share the magic of The Rep with both our longtime supporters and new audiences across the region,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “Our new season will feature classics, contemporary thought-provoking shows and robust family programming to make theatre accessible to more people than ever before.”

The 2020-2021 season will include well-known works such as Moby Dick and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as groundbreaking contemporary plays like Hir, a dark comedy that explores family dysfunction and gender roles in America, and Mlima’s Tale, a captivating work from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.

The Rep will also debut world-premiere productions of Top of the World, a riveting psychological thriller, and The Gradient, a daring new play set in a near-future world where there are rehabilitation centers for men accused of sexual misconduct.

Sharif announced the season lineup at an event Thursday evening at Delmar Hall emceed by Julie Tristan, award-winning host and journalist for 98.1 FM and KPLR 11, and featuring special guest Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, who delivered a proclamation welcoming Sharif to Missouri.

For the first time, two of The Rep’s productions this season will be presented in partnership with COCA – Center of Creative Arts in the soon-to-be-opened, state-of-the-art Berges Theatre in University City.

“Welcoming partners such as The Rep into our space is just the type of new programming we envisioned as we launched COCA’s expansion plans,” said Kelly Pollock, Executive Director of COCA. “Hosting part of The Rep’s season in the new Berges Theatre creates an opportunity to support professional theatre in St. Louis, while providing opportunities for young people brings us all closer to creating a St. Louis that is connected and inclusive.”

Event guests also got a sneak peek of the 2020-2021 season lineup with a special musical performance from Little Shop of Horrors, performed by vocalists Shayna Blass and Mark G. Meadows.

In addition to the six Mainstage shows and three Studio shows, The Rep will also produce the story of Donny Hathaway in Twisted Melodies, three productions for young audiences as part of its Imaginary Theatre Company, as well as an expanded New Play Festival in the fall. This season also kicks off a new holiday tradition with a December production of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. (Detailed descriptions and run dates of all shows below and at repstl.org/2020-2021).

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS
The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. Learn more about The Rep at www.repstl.org.


The Rep’s 2020-2021 Season

MAINSTAGE:

Little Shop of Horrors
Book by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
 
Previews: Sept. 4-10, 2020
Performances: Sept. 11 – Oct. 2, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts (130 Edgar Rd.)
 
It’s a classic tale, really: Girl meets boy. Boy meets carnivorous alien plant. Carnivorous alien plant develops an insatiable taste for blood. Join Seymour and Audrey on this musical comedy joy ride bursting with pop melodies, soul ballads and girl group swagger. Buckle up for an evening of romance, action and a just a touch of overzealous dentistry.
 
Top of the World
by Catherine Butterfield
 
Performances: October 2020
Performed at COCA’s Berges Theatre (524 Trinity Ave.)
 
A riveting psychological thriller makes its world premiere at The Rep. Following the suicide of his wife, television crime show runner Brendan Murray desperately seeks any clues he might have missed. The mystery deepens when an episode of Brendan’s TV show begins to mirror his real-life tragedy all too closely. As Brendan and his family replay their memories seeking answers, they only unlock more questions. One question looms above the rest: how do they find a pathway to healing?
 
The Great Leap
by Lauren Yee
 
Previews: Oct. 30 – Nov. 5, 2020
Performances: Nov. 6-22, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
Armed with a lethal crossover dribble and a knack for devastating trash talk, 17-year-old Manford Lum is the star point guard of a U.S. college basketball team traveling to Beijing for an exhibition match between two rival coaches. But as this Chinese-American phenom arrives amidst the roiling backdrop of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Manford discovers himself at the epicenter of a personal, political and cultural standoff. Lauren Yee’s formidable play bristles with all the relentless energy of its underdog hero.
 
Native Gardens
by Karen Zacarias
 
Previews: Jan. 15-21, 2021
Performances: Jan. 22 – Feb. 7, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” In Karen Zacarías’ brilliant comedy, cultures and gardens collide, turning well-meaning neighbors into feuding enemies. The play begins as a polite backyard dispute between the young, upwardly mobile Del Valles and the thoroughly Baby Boomer Butleys. But as the pairs squabble over the two feet of dirt where their properties meet, the action spirals into a symphony of inspired chaos.
 
Oo-Bla-Dee
by Regina Taylor
 
Performances: February 2021
Performed at COCA’s Berges Theatre
 
The piano is rollicking, the bass is thumping and the saxophone is wailing. It can only mean one thing: Evelyn Waters & The Diviners are in town. Regina Taylor’s swinging musical chronicles a 1940s Black female jazz band as they journey from St. Louis to Chicago seeking fame and freedom in a climate of racism, sexism and an unforgiving industry. Inspired by the true stories of Billie Holiday, Sweethearts of Rhythm, Valaida Snow and May Lou Williams, Oo-Bla-Dee celebrates all the women musicians who fought for and earned their rightful place in American history.
 
Moby Dick
Adapted by David Catlin
From the book by Herman Melville
 
Previews: March 12-18, 2021
Performances: March 19 – April 11, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
Madness, obsession and bloodlust take harrowing flight in a thrilling revision of Melville’s masterpiece. Captain Ahab’s hunt for the great White Whale soars to new heights through exhilarating acrobatic and theatrical spectacle that invites audiences into the heart of the action. This adaptation from Lookingglass Theatre Company brings a literary legend to life in an experience that’s both visceral and evocative.
STEVE WOOLF STUDIO SERIES:

Hir
by Taylor Mac
 
Previews: Oct. 9-15, 2020
Performances: Oct. 16 – Nov. 1, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
As Isaac returns from the war zone of Afghanistan, he finds fresh battle lines have been drawn in his childhood home. This dark comedy sees the soldier’s dysfunctional family in a total role reversal: a tyrannical father enfeebled by sickness, a once timid mother drunk with power and a sibling transitioning into a person he doesn’t recognize anymore. With the family’s former identity upended, old wounds and unresolved grudges drag them into all-out chaos.
 
The Gradient
by Steph Del Rosso
 
Previews: Jan. 8 – Jan. 14, 2021
Performances: Jan. 15-31, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

In this world premiere satire set in the not-so-distant future, a new facility promises to take men accused of sexual misconduct and rehabilitate them into responsible citizens. But inside the walls of The Gradient, the culture ruled by profit margins and corporate buzzwords muddles its high ideals. New employee Tess is eager to do her part, but finds herself locked in a subtle psychological battle with her latest client – one who has the perfect answer to her every question. Steph Del Rosso’s bold new play asks: can we mass-produce forgiveness?
 
Mlima’s Tale
by Lynn Nottage
 
Previews: March 26 – April 1, 2021
Performances: April 2-18, 2021
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

Mlima, a majestic and powerful African elephant, is murdered for his tusks. From beyond the veil of death, Mlima’s spirit follows the path of his tusks on a moving, lyrical journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade. From Lynn Nottage, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Sweat and RuinedMlima’s Tale is a captivating and haunting fable come to life.
Kelvin Roston Jr. as Donny Hathaway
SPECIAL SHOWS:*
 
Twisted Melodies
Written by and starring Kelvin Roston, Jr.
 
Performances: July 2020
 
This powerful one-man show is based on the life of St. Louis soul music icon Donny Hathaway, perhaps best known for his duets with Roberta Flack. Twisted Melodies is an immersive and crushing play about the brilliant singer and composer’s compelling inner struggle. Torn between the muses that inspire him and the mental illness that torments him, Hathaway evaluates his life in a gripping performance by St. Louis native Kelvin Roston, Jr.
 
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Michael Wilson
 
Previews: Dec. 6-10, 2020
Performances: Dec. 11-30, 2020
Performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
 
At long last, the ghosts of Ebenezer Scrooge’s past, present and future have caught up with him. Now London’s most infamous miser must take a transformative journey as he faces the worst parts of himself and discovers unexpected redemption. Families are sure to delight in this enchanting winter’s tale filled with the wonder of Christmas in a theatrical extravaganza unlike any that St. Louis has seen before. Don’t miss the start of a new tradition as The Rep launches its annual production of Michael Wilson’s fantastical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale.

* Single-ticket exclusives
IMAGINARY THEATRE COMPANY:
 
A Gnome for Christmas
by Sarah Brandt
Music and lyrics by Stephen James Neale
 
A warm-hearted holiday musical sprinkled with fun and hijinks, A Gnome for Christmas returns to the Imaginary Theatre Company. Lulu’s father is an inventor…just not a very successful one. After another of his failed inventions lands the family at a rundown farmhouse, Lulu’s about ready to give up. But when mysterious and magical things start happening, it seems that this farm might be home to more than meets the eye. A mischievous enchanted gnome, Timmy, is determined to bring Lulu a little Christmas cheer. With memorable songs and lovable characters, it’s the perfect holiday confection.
 
Puss in Boots
by Nathan and Jennifer Roberts
 
Everyone’s favorite feline fable is here to charm and beguile! The miller’s son is not finding life easy, with barely a penny to his name and no inheritance from his father, save for a useless cat and a pair of too-small boots. But this cat hides a secret: She can talk! And sing! And she has a plan to take them from the poorhouse to a princely castle. But how long can this extraordinary kitty keep up the ruse before the cat is out of the bag? Bring the whole family and share the legend of Puss in Boots!
 
Tomás and the Library Lady
Adapted by José Cruz Gonzalez
From the book by Pat Mora
 
Dive into a fantastical world of books in this celebratory true story. As Tomás’ family heads north to Iowa for work, they find fewer and fewer people who speak their native Spanish language. Looking for a place to fit in, Tomás finds a new passion when he befriends a librarian who introduces him to the magical world of books. This enchanting story adventures through the pages of towering dinosaurs and ferocious tigers, igniting Tomás’ imagination and bringing the audience along for the ride.

By Lynn Venhaus
“The Mystery of Irma Vep” is the play that went wrong — and not in a funny way. Its once-red hot reputation for absurdity and daring has dimmed as the overwhelming digital world of content has surpassed its satiric mix of genres three decades later.

Mashing up B-movie mysteries is no longer novel and spoofing Victorian melodrama is too creaky, even in drag. And despite its look-hard-to-read-between-the-lines allegory for monsters and terminal illness, none of it registers with this 21st century audience. Sadly, the show never catches fire and the material lands with a loud thud.

Playwright Charles Ludlam’s campy farce is a specific scenario that may make clever interactive dinner-theater but somehow seems saggy and dated in 2020, especially as a major production. Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif described it as one of the all-time great comedies, the 1984 original won Drama Desk and Obie Awards, and in 1991, it was the most produced play in America.

Thirty-six years later, no matter how they focused on the ‘monsters in society’ during the AIDS epidemic, its message is lost in translation because this script is not engaging.

Think the goofy merriment of Monty Python, or even Tim Conway and Harvey Korman on the old “The Carol Burnett Show.” They are timeless but this show is not. Why doesn’t it work? Are the dark-and-stormy-night manor gimmicks no longer effective? It’s old Abbott and Costello hijinks set in an outdated supernatural world.

When the dense pop culture landscape has given us vampires next door, the walking dead roaming our cities and ghost hunters flourishing in recent years, “Irma Vep” doesn’t even have quaint going for it.

Esteban Andres Cruz, photo by Jon Gitchoff

Out of touch and out of tune, the show is in sorely need of a trim, as its construct fails to engage in two too-long acts on The Rep’s mainstage. Clearly, a 90-minute running time would have helped, instead of prolonging viewers’ misery, and the pace could have picked up.

Unlike the 2005 parody adaptation of Hitchcock’s 1935 movie “The 39 Steps,” which turned into a surprising amusing romp, this jumble of ancient family curse, mummy and howling werewolf is not interesting. When they went to Egypt, they lost me and it went downhill from there.

A “Penny Dreadful” is a psychological thriller that features dark mystery and suspense, but when this show is intended for laughs, neither the comedy nor the horror ignites. That’s a shame because the odd day-glo weird angles set by scenic designer Michael Locher looks terrific – although some sight line issues and what is with the giant skull? — and the lighting by designer Marie Yokoyama is spooky and effective.

This play was produced years ago in The Studio, and that intimate space seems to be a better fit than the larger auditorium. It could have benefited the two actors who try very hard to keep a momentum that involves playing eight characters and a few dozen costume changes and wigs. Bless those dressers, who get a herculean work out.

Nimble Esteban Andres Cruz and Tommy Everett Russell are obviously accomplished actors and look fabulous in the bold, elaborate costume designs by Sara Ryung Clement. They are trying hard to entertain, especially in the colorful drag outfits, and play off each other well.

But the frolic seems forced. This is a show that sorely needed a fresh interpretation, but director Nelson T. Eusebio III didn’t hit the refresh button to deconstruct what didn’t age well, but went big visually with the souped-up focus on outrageous drag looks and gender politics. That’s unfortunate because the production is an epic letdown.

Is it trying to do too much? To be more things to more people? To have hidden meaning when people aren’t looking for it? To create magic, you need a spark, and why isn’t it there?

And by the number of audience members who left at intermission, it’s not connecting with core subscribers. I was hoping it would find it’s “legs,” but there is obviously something that’s preventing people from getting into the story. The adventure isn’t all that adventurous.

Photo by Jon Gitchoff

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents “The Mystery of Irma Vep” Feb. 14 – March 8 on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, visit repstl.org. For the box office, call 314-968-4925.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim

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

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

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

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

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

OK, off my soapbox.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPANY OF THE YEAR: New Jewish Theatre.

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

Ellie in “Antigone: Requiem for Patriarchus”

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Ellie Schwetye.

Ellie in “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur”

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb Miofsky in “Cry-Baby” at New Line

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

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

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

DYNAMIC DUOS

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

JUVENILE PERFORMANCE AWARDS

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

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

Jane Paradise in “Brighton Beach Memoirs”

COMEDY AWARDS
Best Actress in a Comedy

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

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

Best Actor in a Comedy

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

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

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

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

Best Director of a Comedy

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

Best Ensemble in a Comedy

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

(tie) Well, Mustard Seed Theatre

BEST COMEDY PRODUCTION

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

DRAMA AWARDS

Ben Ritchie and Nicole Angeli in “Photograph 51”

Best Actress in a Drama

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

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

Jim Butz in “The Night of the Iguana”

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

David Ryan Smith and Peter Fre

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

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

Best Director of a Drama

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

Best Ensemble in a Drama Production

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

Best Dramatic Production

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

MUSICAL AWARDS

Casr of Cry-Baby at New Line

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

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

Best Choreographer (and not just in musicals)

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

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

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

Best Actress in a Musical

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

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

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

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

Best Director of a Musical

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

A Man of No Importance


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

“Kinky Boots” at the Muny

Best Musical Production

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

?Dreamgirls”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

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

“The Who’s Tommy”

Best Lighting Design in a Musical

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

“Matilda” at the Muny

Best Set Design in a Musical

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

Feeding Beatrice

Best Sound Design of a Play

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

Best Costume Design in a Play

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

Best Set Design in a Play

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

Best Lighting Design in a Play

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

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

This December, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice swept into The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and charmed theatregoers from every corner of the region. In the process, it shattered The Rep’s preexisting sales records and grossed more than $1 million.
 
Adapted by Christopher Baker and directed by The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director, Hana S. Sharif, the play handily topped the theatre’s previous top-seller – 2016’s A Christmas Carol – and enchanted more than 20,000 audience members during its run.
 
“Part of the joy of directing Pride and Prejudice was watching everyone – from the cast to the creative team to audiences – fall in love with Jane Austen’s characters and storytelling all over again,” Sharif said. “It is a gift to witness the magic of an incredible onstage team forging an emotional connection with sold-out houses. This was my first love letter to St. Louis and I am honored to witness its historic success.”
 
The production marked Sharif’s directorial debut at The Rep, and served as a triumphant capper to the first half of her debut season as The Rep’s artistic leader.
 
Sharif officially arrived at The Rep in June, part of a new wave of leadership at regional theatres throughout the nation. This fresh crop of leaders is younger and more diverse  – in a survey of 101 regional artistic director positions filled since 2015, Bay Area theatre directors Rebecca Novick and Evren Odcikin found that 42 of these incoming leaders were women (up from 22) and 29 were people of color (up from 13).
 
As an African-American woman taking the reins at one of the country’s most prestigious regional theatres, Sharif quickly became one of the leading faces of this exciting sea change.
 
In just six months, Sharif has galvanized The Rep’s presence both onstage and in the community. The theatre has rapidly expanded its outreach programs, hiring a Special Events Manager and a Community Organizing Manager to help bring The Rep beyond its home in suburban Webster Groves to the rest of the St. Louis region.
 
“This first year is very much about learning from and listening to the community,” Sharif said. “We’re planting seeds for the next era of The Rep, and a major part of that is understanding what the community needs from its art. We’ve learned at every step of the way, from our season-opening Angels in America through Pride and Prejudice, and it’s all informing our plans for the 2020-2021 season and beyond. I can’t wait to share our next act with St. Louis.”

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Photo by Philip Hamer.

Charles Glenn, an iconic performer and recently retired St. Louis Blues anthem singer, will provide the musical entertainment at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ Summer Block Party.

The Rep will host its Summer Block Party from 5 to 8 p.m. on July 25 at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves. The event is completely free and open to the public.

Glenn’s impassioned performances of the national anthem have been a staple at Blues games for the last 19 years. In April, he announced that the 2018-2019 campaign would be his last with the Blues. But the team wouldn’t let him retire without one last magical run, as Glenn’s singular voice helped to soundtrack the team’s journey all the way to its first-ever Stanley Cup championship.

In recognition for his contributions to the city, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson declared June 9 “Charles Glenn Day” on the date of his final Blues anthem performance.

While his performances at the Enterprise Center might be his best-known, Glenn boasts a lifetime of musical greatness. The son of an accomplished opera singer, he has performed at events throughout the region and served as the opening act for such artists as Smokey Robinson, the Allman Brothers and Huey Lewis and the News.

It’s fitting that a St. Louis icon will help to power The Rep’s Summer Block Party.

The event serves as both an introduction to the theatre’s new artistic director, Hana S. Sharif, as well as a celebration of the community The Rep calls home. Other attractions at the event will include food trucks, lawn games, Q&As and demonstrations from Rep artists, kids’ activities and more. Sharif will be on hand to meet with attendees and share her vision for The Rep.

For more information on The Rep’s Summer Block Party, visit repstl.org/blockparty.