By Lynn Venhaus
Christ Memorial Productions’ presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” won eight Best Performance Awards for choreography, music direction, lighting, costumes, acting and Best Featured Dancer while Kirkwood Theatre Guild’s production of the George and Ira Gershwin 1920s musical-screwball comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” won seven, including Best Large Ensemble Musical Production, Best Director and five acting awards, from Arts For Life Sunday.

It was KTG’s sixth win for musical production since 2000. Both shows had been nominated for 17 awards apiece. “A New Brain,” which was a local community theater premiere for Hawthorne Players, won Best Small Ensemble Production.

Arts For Life is a nonprofit organization that encompasses 140 communities and 8,460 square miles in St. Louis city, county and St. Charles County in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

Founded in 1994 by Lucinda Gyurci as a group dedicated to the healing power of the arts, AFL has honored community theater musicals for performances and achievements since 1999 (BPAs), plays since 2015 (Theatre Mask Awards) and expanded awards in youth musical theater in 2013.

Best Small Ensemble Musical “A New Brain”

But this is the first time AFL did not host a live gala. Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ceremony was re-imagined as a pre-recorded virtual celebration. The 21st annual BPAs took place June 14, which was the original date, but transitioned to a streaming format broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

AFL President Mary McCreight said the coronavirus safety measures in place and restrictions on gatherings in St. Louis County were factors in the decision to cancel the live show but still have some sort of event.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for our local arts community to come together online and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the previous year,” McCreight said.

Performances from nominees for large ensemble musicals, two small ensemble musicals and five youth productions premiered on AFL’s YouTube channel for 10 days leading up to the awards, and are now available there, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCSL5RPbHTrhbc0mbHcWnA

There were 15 community theaters and 10 youth-only groups who participated last year. More than 60 judges in the Theatre Recognition Guild scored 46 shows — 19 large ensembles, 3 small and 24 youth, featuring 939 roles. For 2019, there were 154 individual nominations from 22 groups, with 36 percent first-time nominees and 65 percent first-time winners.

Goshen Theatre Project, which led all groups with 18 nominations, won five youth awards overall for “Les Miserables School Edition,” including Best Youth Musical Production, Supporting Actress Natalie Cochran as Eponine, costume design (Terry Pattison), lighting design (Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill) and Bennett English as Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean.

Other multiple winners in the youth categories were Riverbend Theatre, which won three for “The Drowsy Chaperone” — director (Kristi Doering), music direction (Michael Frazier/Alison Neace) and lead actor (Jayson Heil as the Man in Chair), and Young People’s Theatre, which won two for “Newsies” – best supporting actor (Will Dery as Les) and set design (Brisby Andrews and Gary Rackers).

Norbert Leo Butz

Thirty-three awards honoring excellence during 2019 were announced by past winners and members of the AFL board of directors, with two special guest presenters — Norbert Leo Butz, two-time Tony Award winner who grew up in St. Louis, and Hana S. Sharif, the Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Butz, who also announced the youth musical production winner, told the audience to believe in themselves, even when it’s hard, and follow their dreams, noting he had supportive parents and “great” teachers.

“Believe in yourself and keep on being grateful. Stick to it,” he said from his home in New Jersey. “(Performing arts) feeds our soul, our minds, our hearts.”

AFL donated to Butz’s charity, The Angel Band Project, which uses music therapy to help victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and advocates for rights of survivors. For more information, visit www.angelbandproject.org

Jennifer Kerner

Four special honors were given out to Jennifer Kerner for her inclusion efforts, Bennett English for Best Youth Musical Performance as Jean Valjean in Goshen Theatre Project’s “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Kayla Dressman for Best Featured Dancer as Dream Laurie in  CMP’s “Oklahoma!” and Diane Hanisch, the BPA musical director/conductor for the past 20 years, who won a national Spotlight Award from the American Association of Community Theatres, presented by Quiana Clark-Roland. A Lifetime Achievement Award was not designated this year.

Kerner’s recognition was for her advocacy on inclusion and helping to make the live theater experience accessible to all individuals. Kerner, a local singer and actress, works to help place people with developmental disabilities in jobs. She has guided local theater companies in providing sensory-friendly performances and has worked to create comfortable environments for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing disorders.

McCreight was thrilled about Hanisch’s national award.

Diane Hanisch

“This award is designed to help pay tribute to an individual for long or special service. It recognizes outstanding dedication, service and contribution to your organization. It is for someone who has made a significant impact on the quality of your organization. Diane has done just that with per professionalism and charm. She is a gem! Not only can she calm the nerves of a 12-year-old singing a solo, but others who are singing in front of 700 people for the first time. She arranges and writes the music, gathers her professional band, and conducts the show with aplomb. Diane cares as much about our legacy as anyone involved on the Arts for Life Board. No one is more deserving,” she said.

The annual Youth Scholarships, which are awarded to two students pursuing a degree in the arts, were announced, with Alaina Bozarth, a graduate of Metro East Lutheran High School, and Josiah Haan, a graduate of Fort Zumwalt High School, each given $500. Bozarth plans to major in musical theatre at Belmont University in Louisville, Ky., and Haan plans to major in technical theatre and design at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

Other ensemble nominees include “Hello, Dolly!” from Wentzville Christian Church, “Oklahoma!” from Monroe Actors Stage Company and “The Bridges of Madison County” from Alpha Players of Florissant for Best Large Ensemble and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from O’Fallon TheatreWorks for Best Small Ensemble.

For Best Youth Production, in addition to “Les Miserables,” nominees include “The Drowsy Chaperone” from Riverbend Theatre, “Matilda” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts, “Newsies” from Young People’s Theatre and “Spring Awakening” from Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.

CMP’s Oklahoma!

For the record books, Kimberly Klick won her sixth BPA for choreography for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”. She had previously won for CMP’s “Mary Poppins” and “The King and I,” plus “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Big the Musical” and “Fiddler on the Roof” for other companies. It was her 10th overall, including wins for Best Featured Dancer in “Brigadoon” in 2000, Lead Actress for Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2006 and Jo in “Little Women” in 2008, and Cameo Actress in “Titanic” 2003.

It was three in a row for Jonathan Hartley, who won for lighting design of “Oklahoma!” and had won last year for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at DaySpring Center for the Arts; he won for set design for DSA’s “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017. Stephanie Fox won her third in four years for choreography in Gateway Center for the Performing Arts shows – “Spring Awakening” 2019, “Carrie the Musical” 2017 and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” 2016. Terry Pattison also won her third for costume design since 2017: “Peter Pan,” “The Lion King Jr.” and “Les Miz,” all for Goshen Theatre Project, and won set design for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in 2018.

Joe Paule Sr. won his third for musical direction, for CMP’s “Oklahoma!”, following CMP’s “The King and I” in 2014 and Hawthorne Players’ “The Producers” in 2010. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award last year. It was the second award for Michael Frazier and Alison Neace for musical direction, this year for Riverbend Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” and for Alton Little Theatre’s “The Spitfire Grill” in 2011.

Other multiple winners included two for Alpha Players of Florissant’s “The Bridges of Madison County” for Lead Actor (Cole Guttmann) and Cameo Actress (Chelsie Johnston) and Take a Bow Showcase for “Annie” – juvenile performer (Leontine Rickert) and duo/group (Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller).

Winners Will Shaw and Kimmie Kidd-Booker in “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

In the acting categories, Mike Huelsmann’s award for Best Featured Actor as Jud Fry was his third, after Lead Actor as Javert in Take Two Productions’ “Les Miz” (2013) and as part of Best Duo/Group in Looking Glass Playhouse’s “Young Frankenstein” 2015. Kimmie Kidd-Booker’s award for Best Featured Actress as Estonia Dulworth in “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was her second win, after Best Featured Actress in “The Wiz” in 2014. George Doerr IV won his second, as Igor in Alfresco’s “Young Frankenstein,” after winning Best Actor in 2017 for Alfresco’s “The Rocky Horror Show.”

The virtual program included the following production team: directors Mary McCreight and David Wicks Jr., video supervisor Kim Klick, visual designers Colin Dowd and Bethany Hamilton, voice-over announcer Ken Clark and host Karen Fulks.

A list of winners is included here, below.

AFL’s Theatre Mask Awards was originally set for April 4, then moved to July 18, but now will also be a virtual celebration. The 2020 TMAs will honor excellence in community theater productions of dramas and comedies during 2019 in a live interactive viewing event at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18, on the AFL Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The awards show will be recorded beforehand and the content will remain on social media.

On March 16, McCreight suspended all public activities of the AFL organization because of the public health crisis. The extension has been extended until further notice. Both TRG and TMA branch judges and participating groups will receive announcements on future developments. As the region re-opens, social distancing and wearing face coverings continues. At this time, all AFL performance venues remain closed.

“I am incredibly grateful to all of our constituencies – the board, judges, participating groups, audience members and donors – for their commitment to AFL and their engagement and unwavering support of our local theatre community during these uncertain times,” McCreight said.

Any company that won can have a representative pick up their trophies on July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Clayton Community Theatre, which is located at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117.

Riverbend Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone

A souvenir program is available to download online: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YlomcYjVNqDNqmPTCrYGSjnAtDwkn9QT/view

A limited number of copies will be available for purchase as well.

For more information, contact AFL TRG Secretary Kim Klick at [email protected]

To see a list of the 2019 nominees and winners, as well as the awards history 1999-2019, visit the website: www.artsforlife.org

Follow AFL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2020 Best Performance Award Winners:

Best Musical Production Large Ensemble: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Musical Production Small Ensemble: “A New Brain,” Hawthorne Players

Best Youth Musical Production: “Les Miserables: School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Director: Dani Mann, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Project

Best Musical Direction: Kathy Eichelberger and Joseph Paule Jr., “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Choreography: Kimberly Klick, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Lead Actor: Cole Guttmann, “The Bridges of Madison County, “Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Lead Actress: Jaclyn Amber, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Featured Actor: Mike Huelsmann, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Featured Actress: Kimmie Kidd-Booker, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Supporting Actor: Caleb Long, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Supporting Actress: Dianne M. Mueller, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Actor in a Comedic Role: George Doerr IV, “Young Frankenstein,” Alfresco Productions

Best Actress in a Comedic Role: Margery Handy, “The Wizard of Oz,” Alton Little Theater

Best Cameo Actor: Jacob Streuter, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Looking Glass Playhouse

Best Cameo Actress: Chelsie Johnston, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Alpha Players of Florissant

Best Actor in a Non-Singing Role: Will Shaw, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Actress in a Non-Singing Role: Maria Wilken, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Best Duo/Group: Matthew Joost and Carole Ann Miller, “Annie,” Take A Bow Showcase

Best Set Design: Matt Dossett, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” Monroe Actors Stage Company

Best Lighting Design: Jonathan Hartley, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Costume Design: Krysta Wenski, “Oklahoma!” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Juvenile Performer: Leontine Rickert, “Annie,” Take a Bow Showcase

Best Youth Director: Kristi Doering, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Music Direction: Michael Frazier and Alison Neace, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Choreography: Stephanie Fox, “Spring Awakening,” Gateway Center for the Performing Arts

Best Youth Lead Actor: Jayson Heil, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Youth Lead Actress: Alli McDonald, “Once Upon a Mattress,” St. John’s UCC Performing Arts Camp

Best Youth Supporting Actor: Will Dery, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Supporting Actress: Natalie Cochran, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Costume Design: Terry Pattison, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Youth Set Design: Brisby Andrews and Greg Rackers, “Newsies,” Young People’s Theatre

Best Youth Lighting Design: Halli Pattison and Blake Churchill, “Les Miserables School Edition,” Goshen Theatre Project



By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorRewind, reboot, reimagine. Time to look back and move forward. We have kids young and old: smart kindergartners, sarcastic ’50s high school seniors, defiant ’80s high school dancers, poor struggling college students in Paris and Biblical brothers, munchkins and French rebels.

And it’s not exactly a bed of roses for the adults either — but we have spry seniors in Florida, hardy pioneers seeking fortunes in the California Gold Rush, three possible dads on a Greek island and New Yorkers staying at The Plaza .

Growing up, coming of age, growing old — all universal tales. Get refreshed and renewed — go see a play!

Betsy Bennett and Rick Compton “Assisted Living: The Musical” The Playhouse at Westport Aug. 1-11 Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through MetroTix at www.metrotix.com or by calling 314-534-1111. Tickets are also available at the Playhouse box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more should call 314-402-2430 for special rates. For more information, visit www.playhouseatwestport.com What It’s About: Betsy Bennett and Rick Compton, who wrote it, play 18 different characters who live in a senior living community, Pelican Roost, in Naples, Fla.“Footloose” The Hawthorne Players Aug. 2-3, 9-11 Florissant Civic Center Theatre 314- 921-5678 www. hawthorneplayers.info What It’s About: The musical is based on the 1984 movie, “Footloose,” and features some of those songs: “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” “Holding Out for a Hero” and the title song.  The dance-heavy show is about a new kid in town who clashes with the town minister after he learns dancing and rock music is not allowed.

Photo by ProPhotoSTL “Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, “Grease” blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Knitel, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

 “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” July 26 – Aug. 4 OverDue Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview Drive, Olivette, MO 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, “Joseph”
is one of the most enduring shows of all time and reimagines the biblical story
of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors.

Dress rehearsal on July 23, 2019 for Union Avenue Opera’s production of La bohème.“La Boheme” Union Avenue Opera July 26 – Aug. 2 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: Puccini’s opera about a group of poor artists and their search for love and happiness.

Starring: Jesse Donner, Yulia Lysenko, Andrew Wannigman, Cree
Carrico, Isaiah Musik-Ayala, Nicholas Ward, E. Scott Levin, Dale Obermark, Randell
McGee

Ensemble: Linda Brady, Madeline Buckley, Chasity Cook,
David Goldman, Michael Hawkins, Adam Kosberg, Christina Kruger, Randell McGee,
Jamison Mckeehan, Elizabeth Ducey Moss, Dale Obermark, Michaele Postell, Ross
Rubright, Tina Sayers, Miles Wadlington, Danielle Yilmaz

Of Note: The opera is sung in Italian with projected
English text.

“Les Miserables” School EditionGoshen Theatre ProjectAug. 1 – 4Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.Sunday at 1:30 p.m.The Hettenhausen Center for the Performing Arts

“Mamma Mia!” July 26 – Aug. 4 Hard Road Theatre Productions Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s About: ABBA songs on a Greek isle. Three possible
dads, a wedding, and Donna and the Dynamos.

“Matilda” The Muny Aug. 5 – 11 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org

What It’s About: Adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel about a precocious kindergartener, her special powers, and the kindness shown to her in the face of wicked adults. Director: John Tartaglia Starring: Beth Malone (Miss Trunchbull), Conforti (Matilda), Laura Michelle Kelly (Miss Honey), Ann Harada (Mrs. Wormwood), Josh Grisetti (Mr. Wormwood) and Darlesia Cearcy (Mrs. Phelps). The ensemble completing this cast will feature Maya Bowles, Colby Dezelick, Sean Ewing, Ryan Fitzgerald, Berklea Going, Trevor Michael Schmidt, Gabi Stapula and Sharrod Williams, as well as The Muny Kid and Teen youth ensemble.

Of Note: Beth Malone is the first female to play Miss Trunchbull in a professional production of “Matilda.” Mary Engelbreit designed the costumes and set.

Photo by Philip Hamer “Paint Your Wagon” The Muny July 27 – Aug. 2 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: A reimagined version of a 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical set in the California gold rush. It’s a moving tale of ambition, love and home that features such songs as “They Call the Wind Mariah,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” This adaptation has a revised book by Jon Marans. It’sproduced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

Director: Josh Rhodes, also choreographer, with
Starring: Bogart (Ben Rumson), Mamie Parris (Cayla Woodling), Omar Lopez-Cepero
(Armando), Bobby Conte Thornton (William), Maya Keleher (Jennifer Rumson),
Allan K. Washington (Wesley), Andrew Kober (Jake), Austin Ku (Ming-Li), Raymond
J. Lee (Guang-Li), Rodney Hicks (H. Ford) and Michael James Reed (Craig
Woodling). A golden ensemble completes this cast, including Akilah Ayanna, Juan
Caballer, Matthew Davies, Richard Gatta, Sally Glaze, Michael Milkanin, Trina
Mills, Pascal Pastrana, Michael Seltzer and Cooper Stanton. The company will
also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.

“Plaza Suite” Act Two Theatre July 31 – Aug. 11 St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 1 St Peters Centre Blvd. www.act2theater.com. What It’s About: Neil Simon wrote three one-acts that all take place at The Plaza Hotel in NYC

“Rising Stars Showcase” The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation Sunday, August 4, at 2 p.m. Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center www.foxpacf.org/event/rising-stars-showcase-2 What It’s About: This free event is open to the public and is an afternoon of amazing talent from the Finalists and Nominees of both the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition and the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards.

“The Wizard of Oz” Alton Little Theater July 25 – Aug. 4. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org

What It’s About: Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy
needs to find her way home after following the yellow brick road and making her
way to the Emerald City.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
A variety of classics old and new are currently on local stages. Opening this
weekend are “Paint Your Wagon” at The Muny and “La Boheme” at Union Avenue
Opera, with community theater productions of “Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Mamma Mia!”, a college production
of “Catch Me If You Can” and youth productions of “Carrie,” “Frozen Jr.,” “Seussical”
and “Into the Woods.”

An annual tradition, “The Rocky Horror Show,” is performed
twice each evening on Friday and Saturday at the Looking Glass Playhouse in
Lebanon.

Continuing on regional stages are “Grease,” “Jaws the
Parody: Live” and the second leg of the LaBute New Theater Festival.

“Carrie” at Debut TheatreWhatever your plans on this last weekend in July, go see a play!“Carrie” Debut Theatre Company July 26-28 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. The Olive Tree, 1211 S. Newstead Ave., St. Louis https://debuttheatreco.weebly.com/ What It’s About: Based on the Stephen King novel and Brian DePalma movie, Carrie White is bullied in high school and her religious fundamentalist mother doesn’t want her going to the prom. Carrie has telekinesis and all hell will break loose.

Starring: Carrie White-MacLean Blanner, Margaret White-Isabel Cecilia Garcia, Sue Snell-Jessica Watts, Tommy Ross-Charlie Wehde, Chris Hargensen-Gabby Anderson, Billy Nolan-Sam Guillemette, Ms. Gardner-Ally Wukitsch, Norma-Emma Gulovsen, Helen-Gabby DeRennaux, Frieda-Allison Crandall, Claudia-Savannah Lamb, -Thomas Molen, Freddy-Nathan Hakenworth and Stokes-Santino Bono. Also Featuring Ginger Cox-Young Carrie, Children’s Ensemble- Tatum Douglas, Chloe Grieshaber, and Riley Kummer.“Catch Me If You Can” July 24-28 St. Charles Community College FAB Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, Mo 636-922-8050 www.stchas.edu/events

What It’s About: Based on the hit film and the incredible true story, “Catch Me If You Can” is a musical comedy about chasing your dreams without getting caught. Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abignale Jr., runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. When Frank’s lies catch the attention of FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, though, Carl pursues Frank across the country to make him pay for his crimes“Frozen Jr.” Rock Show Productions Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m., Friday, July 26 at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 27 at 7 p.m. The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63103www.rockshowproductions.org What It’s About: Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” based on the Disney animated musical adaptation.

“Beauty School Dropout”“Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, GREASE blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Knitel, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

“Into the Woods” COCA July 26-27 Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m. Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus www.cocastl.org

What It’s About: An epic fairytale about wishes, family and
the choices we make. James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite
storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless, and relevant,
piece.
Director: Jim Butz, with music direction by Colin Healy and choreography by
Christopher Page-Sanders

Of Note: Ages 9 and up.

Great White Shark scares“Jaws The Parody: Live!” St. Louis Shakespeare’s Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre July 19 – July 27 Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 and 25, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.  Regional Arts Commission in University Citywww.stlshakespeare.org What It’s About: A spoof of the 1975 movie about the killer shark that terrorized a New England beach community, Amity Island, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 bestseller.

Director: Donna Northcott
Starring: Ryan Glosemeyer as Chief Brody, James Enstall as Matt
Hooper, Rob McLemore as Quint, Shannon Nara as Ellen Brody, Dylan Comer as
Mayor Vaughn and playing multiple roles are CeCe Day, Jack Janssen, Maya Kelch,
Deanna Massie, Bethany Miscannon, and others.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” July 26 – Aug. 4 Over Due Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview Drive, Olivette, MO 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, “Joseph”
is one of the most enduring shows of all time and reimagines the biblical story
of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors.

“La Boheme”“La Boheme” Union Avenue Opera July 26 – Aug. 2 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881www.unionavenueopera.org What It’s About: Puccini’s opera about a group of poor artists and their search for love and happiness.

Of Note: The opera is sung in Italian with projected
English text.

LaBute New Theater Festival July 19-28 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. The Gaslight Theatre 358 N. Boyle, St. Louiswww.stlas.org 314-458-2978 Box Office: www.ticketmaster.com, 800-982-2787; will also be available at the theater box office one hour prior to performances

What It’s About: New previously unproduced one-act play
submissions of 45 minutes or less are juried and selected. They must not have
more than four characters and be able to

 Six plays were
chosen: One group was performed in the first two weeks of July, the final group
in the second two weeks. “Great Negro Works of Art,” a Midwest Premiere from
Mr. LaBute, will be performed every night for the run of the festival.

Set 2 includes:

 “Great Negro Works
of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson, starring Carly Rosenbaum and
Jaz Tucker

“Predilections” by Richard Curtis, directed by Wendy Renee
Greenwood, starring Kim Furlow and Tielere Cheatem
 “Henrietta” by Joseph Krawczyk,
directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Carly Rosenbaum and Chuck Brinkley

“Sisyphus and Icarus a Love story” by William
Ivor Fowkes, directed by Wendy Renee Greenwood, starring Colleen Backer, Shane
Signorino and Tielere Cheatem

“Mamma Mia!” July 26 – Aug. 4 Hard Road Theatre Productions Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s About: ABBA songs on a Greek isle. Three possible
dads, a wedding, and Donna and the Dynamos.

 “Overdone” by David
Hamley and “Screaming at Optimum Pitch” by Peg Flach
First Run Theatre
July 19 – 28
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, 517 Theatre Lane in Webster Groves, Mo. www.firstruntheatre.com.

“Paint Your Wagon” The Muny July 27 – Aug. 2 Nightly at 8:15 p.m. Forest Park outdoor stagewww.muny.org What It’s About: A reimagined version of a 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical set in the California gold rush. It’s a moving tale of ambition, love and home that features such songs as “They Call the Wind Mariah,” “I Talk to the Trees” and “Wand’rin’ Star.” This adaptation has a revised book by Jon Marans. It’sproduced in association with On the Wagon Productions and Garmar Ventures.

Director: Josh Rhodes, also choreographer, with Starring: Bogart (Ben Rumson), Mamie Parris (Cayla Woodling), Omar Lopez-Cepero (Armando), Mark Evans (William), Maya Keleher (Jennifer Rumson), Allan K. Washington (Wesley), Andrew Kober (Jake), Austin Ku (Ming-Li), Raymond J. Lee (Guang-Li), Rodney Hicks (H. Ford) and Michael James Reed (Craig Woodling). A golden ensemble completes this cast, including Akilah Ayanna, Juan Caballer, Matthew Davies, Richard Gatta, Sally Glaze, Michael Milkanin, Trina Mills, Pascal Pastrana, Michael Seltzer and Cooper Stanton. The company will also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble.

Russ Reidelberger as Dr. Frank N. Furter“The Rocky Horror Show” Looking Glass Playhouse Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., July 26 and 27 301 W. St. Louis St. in Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com What It’s About: In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.“Seussical the Musical” DaySpring Arts July 26-27 at 7 p.m.; July 28 at 3 p.m. DeSmet High School, 222 N. Ballas Road, St. Louis dayspringarts.org

What It’s About: The musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn
Ahrens brings Dr. Seuss’ beloved characters to life, including Cat in the Hat, Gertrude
McFuzz and Horton the Elephant.

“The Wizard of Oz” Alton Little Theater July 25 – Aug. 4. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org

What It’s About: Based on the books by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy
needs to find her way home after following the yellow brick road and making her
way to the Emerald City.

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorThree metro-east community theater groups and a veteran youth program won multiple awards at the 20th annual Best Performance Awards sponsored by Arts For Life on June 9. 

The awards recognize excellence in community and youth
musical theater, with 27 groups participating from St. Charles County to
Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois as part of the St Louis
Metropolitan area. It is the oldest and longest continually running theater
awards in St. Louis.

“Into the Woods” Curtain’s Up Theater CompanyCurtain’s Up Theater Company won six awards for its production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” including Best Large Ensemble Musical, Directors Glenn Saltamachia and Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis, Music Director Liz Murphy White, Costume Design Donna Saltamachia, Comedic Actress Miranda Mobley as Little Red and Supporting Actor Dennis Folwarczny as Cinderella’s Prince. It had received 16 nominations, the most for any show. The 1986 musical is a twist on Brothers Grimm fairy tales, exploring the consequences of wishes and quests.

“Dames at Sea” Alfresco Productions“Dames at Sea” at Alfresco Productions won four,
for Best Small Ensemble Musical, Best Leading Actress Morgan Ladyman,
Supporting Actress Elizabeth Semko and Best Choreography Ashley Pavlige. It had
received 12 nominations. The 1966 musical romantic comedy is an homage to
nostalgic 1930s movie musicals.

Bryce Miller won Best Youth Actor for “Big Fish” from Shooting Star Productions“Big Fish” at Shooting Star Productions won six
awards in the youth categories: Best Youth Production, Best Choreography Ellen
Isom, Best Music Director Ross Bell, Best Actor Bryce Miller as Edward Bloom,
Best Supporting Actress Carolyn Karutz as The Witch and Best Set Design Marty
Strohmeyer and Christopher Phillips. It had received 14 nominations. Based on
the 2003 movie by Tim Burton, adapted from David Wallace’s 1998 book, “Big
Fish” tells the larger-than-life tale of traveling salesman Edward Bloom, a man
who leads an extraordinary life according to the stories he shares.

Mia Williams won Best Youth Actress as Rafiki in “The Lion King Jr.” from Goshen Theatre ProjectThe Goshen Theatre Project in Madison County won three
awards — for leading actress, Mia Williams, as Rafiki, and costume design
Terry Pattison, for “The Lion King Jr.” (the crowd gasped when the
walking giraffe came out and the kids came down the aisles in their animal
costumes), and another one for Terry Pattison for set design for “Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang.”

Glenn Guillermo in “Bells Are Ringing”

Winning two awards were Alpha Players of Florissant’s “Bells Are Ringing” for Cameo and Non-Singing Actor, while Christ Memorial Productions’ “The Wizard of Oz” won for Juvenile Performance and Non-Singing Actress, and Looking Glass Playhouse won lighting design for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and best actor for “Newsies.”.

Another first occurred – both the youth supporting actor
and adult featured actor won for playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson in “Guys and
Dolls” at Riverbend Theatre and Kirkwood Theatre Guild respectively, Spencer
Domer and Christopher Strawhun.

“Guys and Dolls” Riverbend TheatreThis year, 48 shows – 21 large, 7 small and 20 youth —
were eligible for BPA awards consideration, with 1,302 artists judged for
nominations. Trophies were awarded in 33 categories.

 “Theater is alive
and kicking in 2019 and local theaters in metro St. Louis and Illinois are to
be commended for a job well done,” McCreight said. “The awards are a wonderful way
for all actors and tech crews to celebrate and enjoy each other’s successes and
be recognized and rewarded.”

Since it began in 1998, AFL’s goal has been “Making a
Dramatic Difference” and is proud to salute, support and serve the theater
groups in the metropolitan St. Louis area. The non-profit organization
continues to be passionate about the healing power of the performing arts.

Morgan Ladyman, Best Actress as Ruby in “Dames at Sea”AFL President Mary McCreight said the group is dedicated to
promoting public awareness of local community theater, encouraging excellence
in the arts and acknowledging the incredible people who take part.

“St. Louis is an amazing city, especially for the arts.
There are over sixty theatre companies at home here, a third of which are
community theatre. As we watch music education and theatre programs rapidly die
in our schools, the need to keep community theatre alive is more important now
than ever,” McCreight said.

The best musical award was the first for Curtain’s Up
Theater Company, and with his win, director Glenn Saltamachia made AFL history.
He is the first person to win both Best Director Awards at the Best Performance
Awards and at the Theatre Mask Awards in April, which honors dramas and
comedies. He won the TMA for directing “Frost/Nixon” at Looking Glass Playhouse,
and that drama was tied with Actors’ Attic, for “The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-time,” as Best Play – Drama.

He shared the director’s award with Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis, who
started as assistant director but made such an impact on set design, staging
and concept that he was billed as a co-director.

“It has been an incredible year! To win the TMA and BPA for
Directing in the same year is an honor I could never have dreamed of.  I have worked with two outstanding companies-
– LGP and CUTC, and I have been blessed and extremely lucky to have had
outstanding, talented, wonderful casts, production crews, technicians, and
musicians to work with,” Saltamachia said.

 “The honor is more a
reflection of their talent, hard work and determination than anything I have
brought to the table. I have always said my greatest talent as a director is
that I surround myself with extremely talented, capable people who share my
passion for good theatre. The fact that both my shows also won for Best
Ensemble in their respective categories proves my point,” he said.

Saltamachia said he was bit by the theater bug when as a
brand new second lieutenant in the Air Force, he auditioned for the Kessler Air
Force Base Little Theatre production of “Charley’s Aunt.”
“Throughout my Air Force career, I would participate in productions wherever we
were stationed when I had the time and circumstances allowed,” he said. “After
retiring from the Air Force in 1997 in Belleville, I began to hear of all the
great local community theaters, and in 1999, I got up the nerve to audition for
the Looking Glass Playhouse production of “Oliver!” and I’ve never stopped.”

Saltamachia has directed 10 shows for LGP since 2001, his
first being “The Odd Couple.” Then, he worked with some Edwardsville people who
were starting a theater company, Curtain’s Up. He appeared in “The Curious
Savage” and has directed six shows for them, the first was “Fiddler on the
Roof” in 2008.

Over the years, he has directed shows for Clinton County
Showcase in Breese, Hard Road Productions in Highland, and in Belleville, Brass
Rail Players, Downtown Players and Cathedral Players. 

“The thing I love most about directing is the process. I
love everything about it!  From script
analysis, planning conferences for concept development, set design and staging
months before production. Then the fun starts with auditions and rehearsals,”
he said. “But the absolute best part is watching as a group of diverse people;
who may not have known each other before, come together, work hard and share
their talents to produce something we are all are proud of. And on the way we
become a family who love each other and develop friendships for life.”

“Thanks to AFL. I am honored and humbled, but I am smart
enough to know I didn’t win these awards by myself,” Saltamachia said. 

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” Goshen Theatre ProjectTerry Pattison, who won awards for costume design and set
design for Goshen Theatre Project, said the group is in its fifth season.

“The Lion King had 46 kids in it, all under the age of 15.
There were well over 160 costumes, all hand-created. Most of the masks and
animals were constructed from a high-density foam so they stayed light weight,”
she said.

The animal costumes included: Lions, lioness, hornbills,
ostrich, zebra, gazelle, egrets, giraffes, wildebeasts, rhino, meerkat, warthog
and various birds.

 “I am honored to
have received two BPA’s this year, one for costuming and the other for scenic
design. I am always creating something in one way or another and it is a
humbling experience to have been recognized against all the other talent in the
St. Louis community theater circuit,” Pattison said.

Lucinda Gyurci, who founded Arts for Life in 1998, said she
continues to be inspired by community theater productions.

“Big Fish” Shooting Star Productions“I feel fortunate to have watched many young people, who
grew up in community theatre, become wonderfully talented adults; some making
their way to Broadway; some establishing their art in local professional
theatre; and some bringing up their next generation in their own footsteps on
the stage,” she said.

Joe Paule Sr. received the Lifetime Achievement Award for
his work as a musician in numerous pit bands, orchestras and as a music
director. Kim Klick and Glenn Guillermo were honored with two special awards,
“TRG Recognition 20th Anniversary Exceptional Volunteer Award,” citing
extraordinary above and beyond service.

Sean Harvey “Crazy for You”

Two special youth awards were given to Caroline Santiago
Turner, who received Best Youth Musical Performance for “Violet,” and
Sean Harvey, named Best Youth Featured Dancer, as Bobby in “Crazy for
You,” both produced by the Gateway Center for the Performing Arts.

Allison McDonald of Timberland High School and Kira Averett
of Mascoutah received the 2019 AFL Youth Scholarships.

The ceremony was directed by Ken Clark, with music
direction by Diane Hanisch. Ryan Cooper served as master of ceremonies for the
fifth time.

The complete list of awards is as follows:
Best Large Ensemble Musical: “Into the Woods,” Curtain’s Up Theater Company
Best Small Ensemble Musical: “Dames at Sea,” Alfresco Productions

Best Youth Musical: “Big Fish,” Shooting Star Productions
Best Direction: Glenn Saltamachia and Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis, “Into the Woods,”
Curtain’s Up Theater Company

Best Direction- Youth Production: Paul Pagano, “Violet,”
Gateway Center for the Performing Arts
Best Music Direction: Liz Murphy White, “Into the Woods,” Curtain’s Up Theater
Company

Best Music Direction – Youth Production: Ross Bell, ‘Big
Fish,” Shooting Star Productions
Best Choreography: Ashley Pavlige, “Dames at Sea,” Alfresco Productions

Best Choreography – Youth Production: Ellen Isom, “Big
Fish,” Shooting Star Productions

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Austin Turnbull, Jack Kelly,
“Newsies,” Looking Glass Playhouse

Best Leading Actor – Youth Production: Bryce Miller, Edward
Bloom, “Big Fish,” Shooting Star Productions

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Morgan Ladyman, Ruby,
“Dames at Sea,” Alfresco Producifion

Best Leading Actress – Youth Production: Mia Williams,
Rafiki, “The Lion King Jr.,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Actor in a Featured Role: Christopher Strawhun,
Nicely-Nicely Johnson, “Guys and Dolls,” Kirkwood Theatre Guild
Best Actress in a Featured Role: Elizabeth Breed Penny, Paulette, “Legally
Blonde,” Hawthorne Players

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Dennis Folwarczny,
Cinderella’s Prince, “Into the Woods,” Curtain’s Up Theater Company

Best Supporting Actor – Youth Production: Spencer Domer,
Nicely-Nicely Johnson, “Guys and Dolls,” Riverbend Theatre

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Elizabeth Semko, Joan,
“Dames at Sea,” Alfresco Productions
Best Supporting Actress – Youth Production: Carolyn Karutz, The Witch, “Big
Fish,” Shooting Star Productions

Best Actor in a Comedic Role: Matthew Hansen, Franz, “Rock
of Ages,” Take Two Productions
Best Actress in a Comedic Role: Miranda Mobley, Little Red Riding Hood, “Into
the Woods,” Curtain’s Up Theatre Company

Best Actor in a Non-Singing Role: Kevin Michael Hester, Dr.
Kitchell, “Bells Are Ringing,” Alpha Players of Florissant
Best Actress in a Non-Singing Role: Nicky Collett, Wicked Witch/Miss Gulch,
“The Wizard of Oz,” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Duo or Group Performance: Abby Cockerham, Laura Megan
Deveney and Theresa Peters Nigus as Donna, Linolium and Betty in “The Great
American Trailer Park Musical,” Act Two Theatre
Best Actor in a Cameo Role: Glenn Guillermo, Carl, “Bells Are Ringing,” Alpha
Players of Florissant
Best Actress in a Cameo Role: Julia Gilbert, Babette, Disney’s “Beauty and the
Beast,” Alfresco Productions

Best Youth Performer: Victor Landon, Munchkin Mayor, “The
Wizard of Oz,” Christ Memorial Productions

Best Costume Design: Donna Saltamachia, “Into the Woods,”
Curtain’s Up Theater Company

Best Youth Costume Design: Terry Pattison, “The Lion King
Jr.,” Goshen Theatre Project

Best Set Design: Terry Pattison, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,”
Goshen Theatre Project

Best Set Design – Youth Production: Marty Strohmeyer and
Christopher Phillips, ‘Big Fish,” Shooting Star Productions

Best Lighting Design: Jason Koonce, “Bloody Bloody Andrew
Jackson,” Looking Glass Playhouse
Best Lighting Design – Youth Production: Jonathan Hartley, “Disney’s Beauty and
the Beast,” DaySpring School of Arts

For more information, visit www.artsforlife.org

“Dames at Sea” Alfresco ProductionsFor a PDF of the BPA nominations for 2018, here is the
link:

http://nebula.wsimg.com/b255dc30a55d222d652ab689930da965?AccessKeyId=901C1079C3BABD637603&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Heroes and villains, and every shade of gray in between are featured on local stages this weekend. And some are in desperate need of love – and a hug!
Nicky Collett Photo by Aaron JostMean Girl Day is fast approaching (Oct. 3), and we have the classic big bad green one – the Wicked Witch of the West, who terrorizes munchkins, the land of Oz and Dorothy – and Toto, too in Christ Memorial Production’s “The Wizard of Oz” with a cast of 100.+
We have a deal with the devil, presented Midnight Company-style, with two one-acts including one that’s part of Faustival, a celebration of that evil liaison between the good doctor and Satan.

Did Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate President Kennedy? Tesseract Theatre Company explores Oswald’s relationship with his mother in “Mama’s Boy.”
More wicked this way comes in Mother Nature, when the great floods of 1993 wreak havoc on a small river town in southern Illinois in the musical tale of hope and survival,“The Flood,” presented by folks who lived through it, the Monroe Actors Stage Company.
Dealing with adversity is the poster boy, Job, the one from the Bible. Only Neil Simon has updated it for modern times in “God’s Favorite.” Laughter ensues in a joint venture between the Alton Little Theater and Curtain’s Up Theater.
The once-frightening Phantom of the Opera returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel, “Love Never Dies,” now playing at the Fox Theatre on its first North American tour, this time he’s in Coney Island.
That’s in New York, New York – and that’s where you’ll find our plucky newsboys saving their jobs and the world in Disney’s “Newsies” at Looking Glass Playhouse.”
More all-American characters appear in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!” now playing at Stages St. Louis, showing that the farmers and cowmen can be friends.
Friendship is celebrated, along with family and cultural heritage in “Crowns” a gospel musical at The Black Rep, last chance to see it.
And then there are the icons. South American folk hero Eva Peron is immortalized in Webber’s “Evita,” now playing at The Rep. Crooner Bobby Darin is remembered in “Darin” Bobby’s Biggest Hits” at the Playhouse at Westport.
And Robert Dubac provides gales of laughter pointing out the idiocy of modern society in “The Book of Moron,” now playing at The Playhouse at Westport.
Happy Fall, y’all! And Go See a Play!
“An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus” and “The Hunchback Variations” (Two One-Acts by Mickle Maher)
Midnight Theatre Company
Sept. 20 – 29
Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Monocle, 4510 Manchesterwww.midnightcompany.com
What It’s About: “Apology/Faustus” finds Dr. John Faustus (Hanrahan) in some room, at some time, apologizing to a random group of people (the audience) for not standing up against evil in his lifetime, as personified by Mephistopheles (Wassilak.)
“The Hunchback Variations” presents a series of variations on a panel discussion between The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wassilak) and Ludwig Van Beethoven (Hanrahan) in which the two talk about their attempts to create a mysterious sound —  the legendary, elusive sound effect of Anton Chekhov’s, described twice in the original production of “The Cherry Orchard.”
Starring: Joe Hanrahan, David Wassilak
Of Note: These shows are part of FAUSTival, an artistic collaborations among five St. Louis theatre companies – ERA, Theatre Nuevo, SATE, the Post-Romantics and Midnight – from August through December, each company presenting an adaptation of the Faust myth.  Festival passes and more info at FAUSTival.org.
“The Book of Moron”
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
Sept. 13 – 23
www.westportstl.com
What It’s About:  Robert Dubac’s newest Off-Broadway hit “The Book of Moron” has been described as one of the most hilarious, intelligent and scorching satirical attacks on idiocracy since Mark Twain. Having been brainwashed by a culture that worships the Kardashians over character, delusion over truth, and selfies over self-effacement, Dubac begins his journey with a simple question: Who am I? What do I believe? What’s the point?
Okay, that’s three questions but suffice to say, he has no answers. Just voices. Inner voices who come to life with precision and wit. One by one they pull him into a hysterical alternative universe of critical thought in search of the bigger picture. It’s a head trip on a banana peel.”
“Crowns: The Gospel Musical”The Black Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 23
Edison Theatre at Washington University
Box Office: (314) 534-3807
www.blackrep.org
What It’s About: Crowns refers to hats worn by black women. Hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn.
Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales about everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functions.
Director: Linda Kennedy
Cast: Anita Jackson leads the cast as Mother Shaw, with Maureen Williams as Wanda, Amber Rose as Velma, Leah Stewart as Mabel, Eleanor Humphrey as Jeannette, Myke Andrews as The Man and Tyler White as Yolanda.
Of Note: Director Linda Kennedy says: “The mothers and grandmothers, women of the church, were the glue that held us all together. They helped to raise us and helped make us accountable for our actions. We feared them then but are so grateful to them now. One of the greatest gifts a child can receive is the opportunity to sit and listen to and learn from an elder.” Rounding out the behind the scenes team will be the stage manager, Tracy D. Holliway-Wiggins, set designer, Dunsi Dai, lighting by Joe Clapper, and costumes by Daryl Harris.
“Darin: Bobby’s Biggest Hits”Sept. 26 – 30
The Playhouse at Westport
Tickets: MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111
www.
What It’s About: Back by popular demand, Artists Lounge Live presents a Bobby Darin tribute starring Christopher Kale Jones.
Jones, a PBS retro-rocker (“Under the Streetlamp”) and “Jersey Boys” star who played Frankie Valli on the first national tour, and in L.A. and San Francisco companies, embodies the dazzling versatility of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bobby Darin. Jones tenderly recounts Darin’s story of life lived in the spotlight and lost too soon. Songs featured in the show include “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Beyond the Sea.”
“Evita”The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 30
www.repstl.org
What It’s About:  The incandescent Eva Perón’s rise from poverty to power electrified the world – and made her an iconic political celebrity. Winner of seven Tony Awards, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s tour-de-force musical revels in the glamour, charisma and controversy that defined the First Lady of Argentina. With its unforgettable anthem “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, “Evita” dazzles with pure passion.
Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by Charlie Alterman and choreography by Gustavo Zajac.
Cast: Michelle Aravena (Eva Perón), Pepe Nufrio (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Perón), Nicolas Dávila (Augstín Magaldi/Ensemble), Shea Gomez (Perón’s Mistress/Ensemble).
Ensemble: Maria Bilbao, Nathaniel Burich, Ben Chavez, Samuel Druhora, Carmen Garcia, Esmeralda Garza, Samantha Gershman, Julie Hanson, Keith Hines, Jose Luaces, Ben Nordstrom, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, April Strelinger and Tim Wessel.
Eric Woolsey Photo
“The Flood”Monroe Actors Stage Company
September 20 – 23, 27 – 30
Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre
202 South Main Street, Waterloo, IL 62208
Box Office: 618-939-7469
www.masctheatre.org
What It’s About: As the Mississippi River waters rise, the small town of Meyerville struggles with preparing for the worst. This creative and dramatic musical was written by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel after they visited the town of Valmeyer, Ill., following the 1993 floods. They interviewed Monroe County citizens and were intrigued by the citizens’ decision to rebuild to higher ground. Their adaptation of the story is based on the fictional town of Meyerville and members of its village.
Director: Amber Dillard, with Musical Director Marcia Braswell
Of Note: MASC and Show Sponsor George Obernagel observe the 25th Anniversary of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1993 with their production of “The Flood.” The show has been named an official event of the Illinois State Bicentennial.
House opens one half hour before curtain; ticket booth opens one hour before curtain. The theatre is only accessible by a staircase.
“God’s Favorite”
Alton Little Theater and Curtain’s Up Theater
Sept. 14 – 23
Box Office 618-462-3205www.altonlittletheater.org
What It’s About: Neil Simon’s very funny show is loosely based on the Biblical Book of Job. A (rare) devout multimillionaire whose faith is tested encounters every malady and yet stands firm while real estate collapses around him. This is often called Simon’s most imaginative play.
Director:
Cast: Joe Benjamin, Howard Bell; Ben Benjamin,  Anthony Tuzzo; Sarah Benjamin, Christy Luster; Rose Benjamin, Carol Hodson; David Benjamin, Brant McCance; Mady, Sarah Chapman-Wiser; Morris, Vince Ojeda; and Sidney Lipton, Aaron Mermelstein.
Of Note: Alton Little Theatre presented this play 20 years ago and this is a return engagement.
“Love Never Dies”

The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand
Sept. 18 – 30www.fabulousfox.com
Tickets: www.MetroTix.com or 314-534-1111 or Fox Box Office
What It’s About: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is a sequel to the mega-hit “The Phantom of the Opera,” and takes place 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House. It is 1907 and he has escaped to a new life in New York, running a freak show vaudeville act at Coney Island. His music soars there, but he still yearns for his musical protégé and one true love, Christine Daae. Now a world-class soprano, she arrives in New York for a singing engagement that will hopefully get her now-jerk of a husband, Raoul, out of gambling debt. Lo and behold, the Phantom lures her to sing in his show. She has her young son Gustave, age 10, in tow. Is triumph or tragedy on the horizon?
Director: Simon Phillips
Starring: Bronson Norris Murphy as The Phantom, Meghan Picerno as Christine, Sean Thompson as Raoul, Mary Michael Patterson as Meg, Karen Mason as Madame Giry, and Jake Heston Miller and Christian Harmston alternating as Gustave.
Of Note: The show is the reworked Australia production of 2011, after the inaugural London West End musical opened in 2010 to mostly mixed reviews. It has yet to play Broadway but is now on its first North American tour.
“Mama’s Boy”Tesseract Theatre Company
Sept. 21 – 30
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.
.Zack, 3224 Locust, St. Louiswww.tesseracttheatre.org
Tickets: MetroTix.com
What It’s About: A new play by Rob Urbinati is the riveting story of Lee Harvey Oswald and his complex relationship with his overbearing mother Marguerite. “Mama’s Boy” follows Marguerite’s reckless attempts to reunite her family, from Lee’s return to the U.S. from Russia, through the assassination of Kennedy, to her son’s own murder and her defense of his innocence in the months that follow. A fascinating examination of family dynamics and obsessive maternal devotion played out in the shadow of history.
Director: Bradley Schwartz
Starring: Carly Uding, Jeremy Goldmeier, Brandon Atkins
Of Note: Playwright Rob Urbinati is in town the first weekend to see the show.
“Newsies”Looking Glass Playhouse
Sept. 20 – 23, 27-30
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Looking Glass Playhouse
Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.com
What It’s About: Disney’s Newsies tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged ‘newsies.’ When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right.
Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, “Newsies” features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots). Featuring the now classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe,” Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message that is perfect for the whole family.
Director: Jason Johnson
Of Note: Looking Glass Playhouse is celebrating its 45th season.
“Oklahoma!”Stages St. Louis
Sept. 7 – Oct. 7
Robert G. Reim Theatre
Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road
www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Romance, conflict, comedy and colorful characters set in 1906 in the Oklahoma territory.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Zoe Vonder Haar as Aunt Eller, John Flack as Andrew Carnes, Leah Berry as Bertie Cummings and
Of Note: “Oh, what a beautiful musical! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless first collaboration was, in many ways, their most innovative. And while OKLAHOMA! completely changed the face of American musical theatre 75 years ago, it remains as fresh and vital today as it was then with its loving celebration of the American spirit. A stunning blend of drama, music, and dance, the exhilarating Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains such classics as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Kansas City,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the pulsating title tune, “Oklahoma!” A gold standard that set the bar for all great musicals that came after it.
Peter Wochniak Photo
“The Wizard of Oz”Christ Memorial Productions
Sept. 14 – 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, 5252 S. Lindberghwww.CMPShows.org
314-631-0304
What It’s About: L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox. It is adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and based upon the classic MGM motion picture owned by Turner Entertainment Company.
Dorothy Gale of Kansas journeys to the Land of Oz, where she encounters the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, and is besieged by the Wicked Witch of the West, all with her beloved Toto by her side. Will she make it back home to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry with The Wizard’s help?
Cast: Grace Wilkinson – Dorothy, Jennifer Kerner – Aunt Em / Chorus, Kathryn Nestor Klein – Glinda / Chorus, Michael Klein – Uncle Henry / Winkie / Chorus, Ray Martin – Tinman / Hickory, Nathan Gallop – Scarecrow / Hunk, John Jauss – Lion / Zeke, Nicky Collett – Wicked Witch of the West / Miss Gulch, Keith Poppitz – Wizard / Professor / Chorus
Of Note: The cast has more than 100 members. If you are interested in a special Sensory Friendly performance on Thursday, Sept. 20. please email [email protected] for details.
Photo by Aaron Jost
Feature Image of “Crowns” by Phillip Hamer
 
 
 
 

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Oh, the places you’ll go – the Oklahoma territory in 1906, Buenos Aires, the Emerald City, church, an art gallery, a boarding school, and a comedic mind on pop culture brainwashing. From classic musicals to iconic playwrights, you’ll be transported on adventures. Pick a place and go see a play!
“The Book of Moron”The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
Sept. 13 – 23
www.westportstl.com
What It’s About:  Robert Dubac’s newest Off-Broadway hit “The Book of Moron” has been described as one of the most hilarious, intelligent and scorching satirical attacks on idiocracy since Mark Twain. Having been brainwashed by a culture that worships the Kardashians over character, delusion over truth, and selfies over self-effacement, Dubac begins his journey with a simple question: Who am I? What do I believe? What’s the point?
Okay, that’s three questions but suffice to say, he has no answers. Just voices. Inner voices who come to life with precision and wit. One by one they pull him into a hysterical alternative universe of critical thought in search of the bigger picture. It’s a head trip on a banana peel.”

The Children’s Hour”The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
Sept. 7 – 16
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
314-962-0876
www.theatreguildwg.org
What It’s About:  Longtime friends Karen and Martha run a boarding school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumor about the two women, the rumor soon turns to scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done
Director: Barbara Mulligan
Cast: Jessica Johns Kelly, Nori Rhodes, Pepi Parshall, Patrick Ryan, Melanie Klug, Betsy Gasoske, Kaylee Ryan, Lydia Foss, Valletta Thurmon, Adrianna Misra, Sydney McClenning, Jesen Clendennen, Gracie Giles, Gentry Giles, Sophia Leritz and Christian Davis.
Of Note: Tickets are Adults $15, Seniors and Students $12, and are available at the door (cash or check). They do not take advanced reservations.
The Guild is a very old building, historic in fact, but because of this we are not wheelchair or handicap accessible. The Guild has a total of 31 steps.
Robert Stevens photo
“Crowns: The Gospel Musical”The Black Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 23
Edison Theatre at Washington University
Box Office: (314) 534-3807
www.blackrep.org
What It’s About: Crowns refers to hats worn by black women. Hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn.
Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales about everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functions.
Director: Linda Kennedy
Cast: Anita Jackson leads the cast as Mother Shaw, with Maureen Williams as Wanda, Amber Rose as Velma, Leah Stewart as Mabel, Eleanor Humphrey as Jeannette, Myke Andrews as The Man and Tyler White as Yolanda.
Of Note: Director Linda Kennedy says: “The mothers and grandmothers, women of the church, were the glue that held us all together. They helped to raise us and helped make us accountable for our actions. We feared them then but are so grateful to them now. One of the greatest gifts a child can receive is the opportunity to sit and listen to and learn from an elder.” Rounding out the behind the scenes team will be the stage manager, Tracy D. Holliway-Wiggins, set designer, Dunsi Dai, lighting by Joe Clapper, and costumes by Daryl Harris.
“Evita”The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 30
www.repstl.org
What It’s About:  The incandescent Eva Perón’s rise from poverty to power electrified the world – and made her an iconic political celebrity. Winner of seven Tony Awards, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s tour-de-force musical revels in the glamour, charisma and controversy that defined the First Lady of Argentina. With its unforgettable anthem “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, “Evita” dazzles with pure passion.
Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by Charlie Alterman and choreography by Gustavo Zajac.
Cast: Michelle Aravena (Eva Perón), Pepe Nufrio (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Perón), Nicolas Dávila (Augstín Magaldi/Ensemble), Shea Gomez (Perón’s Mistress/Ensemble).
Ensemble: Maria Bilbao, Nathaniel Burich, Ben Chavez, Samuel Druhora, Carmen Garcia, Esmeralda Garza, Samantha Gershman, Julie Hanson, Keith Hines, Jose Luaces, Ben Nordstrom, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, April Strelinger and Tim Wessel.
Eric Woolsey Photo
“Oklahoma!”Stages St. Louis
Sept. 7 – Oct. 7
Robert G. Reim Theatre
Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road
www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Romance, conflict, comedy and colorful characters set in 1906 in the Oklahoma territory.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Zoe Vonder Haar as Aunt Eller, John Flack as Andrew Carnes, Leah Berry as Bertie Cummings and
Of Note: “Oh, what a beautiful musical! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless first collaboration was, in many ways, their most innovative. And while OKLAHOMA! completely changed the face of American musical theatre 75 years ago, it remains as fresh and vital today as it was then with its loving celebration of the American spirit. A stunning blend of drama, music, and dance, the exhilarating Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains such classics as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Kansas City,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the pulsating title tune, “Oklahoma!” A gold standard that set the bar for all great musicals that came after it.
Peter Wochniak Photo
“Social Security”Alfresco Productions
Sept. 14, 15 and 16
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sunday at 2 p.m.
Alfresco Arts Center
2041 Delmar Ave., Granite Citywww.alfrescoproductions.org
What It’s About: The comedy focuses on trendy Manhattan art gallery owners Barbara and David Kahn, whose lives is turned upside down when her sister Trudy deposits their eccentric mother Sophie, on the couple’s doorstep, while she and her husband head to Buffalo to rescue their sexually precocious college student from a menage a trois!   Sophie is introduced to Maurice, who offers to paint her portrait and soon begins to brighten her life in ways she never expected, in her twilight years.
Director: Tim Callahan
Cast: Leslie Aerts, Danny Brown, Julie Cox, Nick Drago, John Mefford and Trish Nelke.
Photo Provided
“The Wizard of Oz”
Christ Memorial Productions
Sept. 14 – 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church
5252 S. Lindbergh>www.CMPShows.org
314-631-0304.
What It’s About: L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, background music by Herbert Stothart, dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard, orchestration by Larry Wilcox. It is adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and based upon the classic MGM motion picture owned by Turner Entertainment Company.
Dorothy Gale of Kansas journeys to the Land of Oz, where she encounters the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, and is besieged by the Wicked Witch of the West, all with her beloved Toto by her side. Will she make it back home to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry with The Wizard’s help?
Cast: Grace Wilkinson – Dorothy
Jennifer Kerner – Aunt Em / Chorus
Kathryn Nestor Klein – Glinda / Chorus
Michael Klein – Uncle Henry / Winkie / Chorus
Ray Martin – Tinman / Hickory
Nathan Gallop – Scarecrow / Hunk
John Jauss – Lion / Zeke
Nicky Collett – Wicked Witch of the West / Miss Gulch
Keith Poppitz – Wizard / Professor / Chorus
Lucy – Toto
Victor Landon – Munchkin Mayor / Monkey / Tap & Dancer / Chorus
Elena Adams – Munchkin Barrister / Poppy / Chorus
Abigail Roberts – Munchkin Coroner / Poppy / Chorus
Delaney McCoy – Munchkin Lullaby League / Monkey / Tap Dancer / Chorus
Ella Blasé – Munchkin Lullaby League / Monkey / Tap Dancer
Ginger Cox – Munchkin Lullaby League / Poppy / Chorus
Dakota Davis – Munchkin Lollipop Guild / Nikko
Jackson Ehlen – Munchkin Lollipop Guild / Poppy / Chorus
John McCreary – Munchkin Lollipop Guild / Poppy / Chorus
Of Note: The cast has more than 100 members. If you are interested in a special Sensory Friendly performance on Thursday, Sept. 20. please email [email protected] for details.