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/)

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, That Uppity Theatre Company produced two sold out performances of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler as the official site for V-Day Missouri 2019, raising over $10,000 in honor of the 50th anniversary of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the state’s largest grassroots pro-choice organization. The show’s success persisted despite a snow storm, censorship from Facebook ads, and competition from one of the busiest weekends of the year. The play was performed at the .ZACK at 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103 in Grand Center on Saturday, February 16th at 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 17th at 2 PM. “I believe access to reproductive healthcare is a human right and a fundamental freedom,” said Joan Lipkin, Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company, and producer of V-Day St Louis who selected NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri as the chief beneficiary of the production. “With the Trump administration and anti-choice lawmakers dominating both Congress and the statehouse, it is essential that we lend support in every way, including monetarily. Ninety percent of the proceeds from the show benefited NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. Everyone volunteered their time to support NARAL Missouri. It is tremendous how many artists in the St Louis community came forward to share their skills to oppose this violence against women.” TUTC’s production broke ground as the first professional production of the play in St. Louis to include four transgender performers. The show was lead by a cast of 25 women, including six live percussionists, and co-directed by a team of four female directors. The cast included cisgender, transgender, non-binary, African American, Asian American, Latina, white, immigrant, and refugee women, spanning several decades in age. The monologues featured Galina Angheluta, Anna Blair, Teresa Doggett, Paige Russell Elias, Carmen Garcia, Pam Reckamp, Gail Smith, Margeau Steinau, Sara Lin, Alderwoman Annie Rice, Christa Lou Cunningham, India Reid, Judi Mann, Talichia Noah, Jeanitta Perkins, Mariah Richardson, Grace Wilder, and Miss Leon (aka Dieta Pepsi). The directors were Rhonda Cropp, Joan Lipkin, Suki Peters, and Pam Reckamp, with technical direction by Michael Perkins.

Lisa Frumhoff, Debbie Blackwell, Rithia Brown, Angela Rey Guerrero, and Natalie Turner Jones provided a live drumming ensemble before and during the show. Although this play by Eve Ensler has been produced thousands of times and was named “probably the most important piece of political theatre of the last decade” by Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, it had not received a production by a professional company in over ten years in St Louis. “Some of the moments were joyful, some poignant, some heartbreaking, but all were vivid,” said theatre critic Gerry Kowarsky of Two on the Aisle. “The cast members made the 20 year-old script entirely their own, celebrating the existence of the play and the gains in openness of expression that have been made in the last two decades.” “That Uppity Theatre Company’s V-Day 2019 production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues opened its arms to welcome a truly diverse cast of female and female-identifying performers,” said Tina Farmer for KDHX. “The casting, supported with strong direction by Rhonda Cropp, Joan Lipkin, Suki Peters and Pam Reckhamp, was cause for a celebratory mood, even if the pieces themselves were emotionally varied, ranging from heartbreaking to exuberant and from sensual to righteous and angry.” The play explores consensual and nonconsensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, direct and indirect encounters with reproduction, sex work, love, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm, and many other topics. At the performances, audience members were encouraged to sign up for Pro-Choice Lobby Day which will be held by NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri on March 12 in Jefferson City to protest the myriad of anti-choice bills that have been introduced in the General Assembly since the beginning of the year. Sign up now for more information. “It was an honor to see two packed houses full of patrons supporting reproductive freedom via this fantastic production,” said Leah Boersig, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Board Chair. “Thank you to Joan Lipkin, That Uppity Theatre Company, The Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the volunteers, patrons, donors, and everyone else who worked to make this weekend such a success.” This production was part of the international V-Day movement started by Ensler, which this year runs February 1-March 8 and encompasses over 1,000 productions around the globe. The Vagina Monologues is the cornerstone of the V-Day movement, whose participants stage benefit performances of the show and/or host other related events in their communities. The remaining 10% of the proceeds, not only from this production but from every V-Day production worldwide, will go to Ensler’s Spotlight campaign.

That Uppity Theatre Company will present The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 16-17 at the .ZACK Performing Arts Incubator.Produced as part of VDAY 2019, the production benefits NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, which will receive 90 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales. The remaining 10 percent goes to Eve Ensler’s VDAY organization Spotlight, which focuses on women in prisons, jails, and detention centers, and formerly incarcerated women.

This production of The Vagina Monologues is in honor of the 50th anniversary of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the state’s largest grassroots pro-choice organization.

Itfeatures an all-female cast of more than 20 women–including professional theatre artists, community members, drag performers, and even an alderwoman–all volunteering their time to benefit VDAY and NARAL.

Performances are at the .ZACK at 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103 in Grand Center on Saturday, Feb, 16 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 PM.

Tickets are available through Metrotix. For convenience, tickets can be purchased online 24/7 at https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/naral-the-vagina-monologues, or at any Metrotix outlet for a fee, or during regular hours at the Fox Theatre Box Office with no fee.

The event will feature one of the largest and most diverse casts of women seen on stage in St. Louis and will include cisgender, transgender, non-binary, African American, Asian American, Latina, white, immigrant, and refugee women, spanning several decades in age. The play explores consensual and nonconsensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, direct and indirect encounters with reproduction, sex work, love, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm, and many other topics.

“I believe access to reproductive healthcare is a human right and a fundamental freedom,” said Joan Lipkin, Producing Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company, who selected NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri as the chief beneficiary of the production.

“With the Trump administration and anti-choice lawmakers dominating both Congress and the statehouse, it is essential that we lend support in every way, including monetarily. Ninety percent of the proceeds from the show will benefit NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. Everyone is volunteering their time to support NARAL Missouri. It is tremendous how many artists in the community have come forward to share their skills to oppose this violence against women.”

“We are honored that That Uppity Theatre Company selected us as the main beneficiary of this production of The Vagina Monologues,” said Leah Boersig, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Board President. “The anti-choice supermajority in Missouri’s General Assembly is constantly working to chip away at reproductive freedom, but we’re fighting back every day to protect individuals who are facing issues like those featured in this production. The support of That Uppity Theatre Company, the patrons, and everyone else involved in this show is what allows us to keep fighting for improved access to reproductive healthcare in Missouri for all.”

This production is part of the international V-Day movement started by Ensler, which this year will run from February 1-March 8 and encompass over 1,000 productions around the globe. The Vagina Monologues is the cornerstone of the V-Day movement, whose participants stage benefit performances of the show and/or host other related events in their communities. The remaining 10% of the proceeds, not only from this production but from every V-Day production worldwide, will go to Ensler’s Spotlight campaign.

“We are deliberately offering tickets at a wide range of pricing to both raise money for this worthy organization as well as to ensure that as many people as possible can participate. We want them to have a powerful theatre experience and to feel connected to what is at stake,” said Lipkin. The show is directed by Rhonda Cropp, Joan Lipkin, Suki Peters, and Pam Reckamp. Technical direction by Michael Perkins.

Performers include Galina Angheluta, Anna Blair, Teresa Doggett, Paige Russell Elias, Carmen Garcia, Pam Reckamp, Gail Smith, Margeau Steinau, Sara Lin, Alderwoman Annie Rice, Christa Lou Cunningham, India Reid, Judi Mann, Talichia Noah, Jeanitta Perkins, Mariah Richardson, Grace Wilder, Miss Leon (aka Dieta Pepsi), and others. Featuring live drumming by Lisa Frumhoff, Debbie Blackwell, Rithia Brown, and Natalie Turner Jones.

For more information, see prochoicemissouri.org.

ABOUT V-DAY 2019: V-Day is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that distributes funds to national and international grassroots organizations and programs that work to stop violence against girls and women. V-Day’s 2018-2019 Spotlight will focus on women in prisons and jails, detention centers, and formerly incarcerated women.

ABOUT THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES: The episodic play was once called “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade,” by Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, and was included in the Times’s list of the most influential American plays since Angels In America last year.

Ensler based the piece on 200 interviews. Since originally performing the piece in 1996, she has continued to edit and expand the text to include transgender perspectives, writing the monologue They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… after interviewing a group of women whose gender identity differed from their assigned gender identity at birth. She also included a piece about the rape of women in Bosnia, based on interviews.

Each year, the script released for V-Day is slightly different.

ABOUT NARAL PRO-CHOICE MISSOURI: NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Missouri, and we believe that every woman should be able to make personal decisions about the full range of reproductive health options. NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options.