By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorWhat a weekend to Go See a Play! Lots o’ fresh offerings mixed with classics. Whether you want to laugh or have the heartstrings tugged, get out and see a show!

Jennfer Theby-Quinn and Andrew Keeler “Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 3 www.playhouseatwestport.com

What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s purpose.

Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie MuellerStarring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger

Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.“

Heather Beal, choreographer for “Black AF”“Black AF”TLT ProductionsFeb. 1 and 28 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. and 8 pm. SaturdayMarcelle Theatre3310 Sam Shepard DriveMetrotix: metrotix.com or [email protected]

What It’s About: The exploration of blackness, love, culture and the African-American experience brought to life through original works of dance.

Curated and conceived by Heather Beal, this modern dance concert is a joint undertaking by Heather Beal, Tre’von Griffith, Lauron Thompson and costume designer Marissa Perry.

“Classic Mystery Game”Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE)Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m.Jan. 30 – Feb. 16The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, [email protected] What It’s About: SATE opens its Season of Ritual with a parody of the cult classic 1985 movie, “Clue,” written by Katy Keating.She has written about the failure of capitalism in a climate-changing world.

The film was written by Jonathan Lynn, and that was based on the game, “Cluedo,” which was created by Anthony E. Pratt.

Director:Starring: Will Bonfiglio. Maggie Conroy, Michael Cassidy Flynn, Carl Overly Jr., Reginald Pierre, Ellie Schwetye, Rachel Tibbetts, Marcy Wiegert

Of Note: Wednesdays, Feb. 6 and 13, are “Pay What You Can”

“Deenie Nast is Back”Ten Directions and the St. Lou FringeFridays at 8 p.m.Feb. 1, 8 and 15Emerald Room at The Monoclewww.deenienast.comWhat It’s About: One-woman show by Audrey Crabtree features international performance superstar Deenie Nast, who delivers a no holds barred, song-filled tribute to her lonely fans. Nast presents a hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of relationships, loneliness, and true connections. Nast sings the hits from her past, revealing very personal stories. Songs, physical comedy and audience interaction are involved.

Photo by Eric Woolsey“District Merchants: An Uneasy Comedy”New Jewish TheatreJan. 24 – Feb. 10Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.Wool Studio TheaterJewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drivewww.newjewishtheatre.org314-442-3283

What It’s About: Love, litigation, deep passions and predatory lending are taken to a new level. The play wades fearlessly into the complexities of life in America. It is set among Black and Jewish populations in an imagined time and place, simultaneously Shakespearean and post- Civil War Washington, D.C. Directed by Jacqueline ThompsonCast: Gary Wayne Barker, J. Samuel Davis, Courtney Bailey Parker, Alicen Moser, Erika Flowers, Karl Hawkins, Ron White, Rae DavisOf Note: In Aaron Posner’s re-imagining, the play becomes less about the quality of mercy and more about how flexible a supposedly egalitarian society can be to the varied tribes struggling to find partners in America. Aaron Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like we are. In his “uneasy” comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today.

Fiddler on the Roof

“Fiddler on the Roof”The Fabulous Fox Theatre Jan. 29-Feb. 10What It’s About: Tony®-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.

“The Hundred Dresses”Metro Theatre CompanyFeb. 3 – Feb. 25The Grandel TheatreMetrotix.comwww.metroplays.orgWhat It’s About: Wanda Petronski, the new girl in Room 13, is a Polish immigrant who lives in a shabby house and doesn’t have any friends. Every day she wears the same faded blue dress, but tells her new class-mates that she has a hundred dresses at home. Her classmates tease Wanda about her hundred dresses until one day she disappears from school. As guilt overtakes the children, they decide to find out what happened to Wanda and to make amends. But is it too late? Bullying, friendship and forgiveness are at the center of this play adapted from the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor Estes.Cast:

Of Note: Eleanor Estes wrote down her childhood memories while recovering from tuberculosis, and became a children’s author. Her many published works are widely read; but “The Hundred Dresses” continues to be the most popular, remaining in print since its publication in 1944. It was awarded the Newbery Honor in 1945. Speaking about “The Hundred Dresses” Eleanor Estes said, “I am holding up a mirror, and the scene reflected in the mirror is a true image of childhood, and the mirror, besides reflecting, also speaks and echoes the clear, profound, unpremeditated utterances, thoughts, and imageries of these children. I like to make children laugh or cry, to be moved in some way by my writing.

“Jekyll and Hyde”

Next Generation Theatre Company Jan. 26 – Feb. 2 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

What It’s About: An evocative tale of two men – one, a passionate doctor; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women, both in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. Murder and chaos is pitted against love and virtue.

Starring: Keith Boyer as Dr. Henry Jekyll

Of Note: Rated PG-13 for violence.

“Jesus Christ Superstar”Looking Glass PlayhouseJan. 24 – Feb. 3Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.301 West St Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.comWhat It’s About: The Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical is a timeless work set against the backdrop of a Biblical series of events but seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.

“Maybe This Time”Alton Little TheatreFriday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. 618-462-3205www.altonlittletheater.org. What It’s About: Four dating vignettes.

Directed By: Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes, Gail Drillinger and Brant McCance, who all act in the show, too.

Starring: Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes, Gail Drillinger and Brant McCance The “she” brain is played by Tiffani Bowen; “he” brain by Sawyer Burton. The barista in the coffee shop is portrayed by Nick Trapp.

Of Note: St. Louis native Michael Madden is the playwright. He will be on hand for Q&A after the show Friday, followed by an opening night celebration at Applebee’s in Alton.

As homage to the coffee shop in the play, ALT’s coffee and wine bar will offer patrons a free beverage as part of the ticket price.

Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“The Motherf*cker with The Hat”R-S TheatricsJan. 25 – Feb. 3Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m..Zack, 3224 Locustwww.r-stheatrics.com

What It’s About: How do you know where you’re going…if you don’t know who has been in your home? The seriocomedy explores how 5 people in New York navigate loyalty, trust, and duty through friendship, love and the challenges of adulthood. And how no one should ever underestimate the importance of cleaning up their accessories.

Directed by:

Starring: Adam Flores, Sofia Lidia, Jesse Munoz, Aaron Dodd, Taleesha Caturah.

Alan Knoll and Steve Isom“Wittenberg”Upstream TheaterJan. 25 – Feb. 10Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. except Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Centerwww.upstreamtheater.org

What It’s About: It’s October 1517, and the new fall semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class of 1518) is returning from a summer in Poland spent studying astronomy, where he has learned of a revolutionary scientific theory that threatens the very order of the universe, resulting in psychic trauma and a crisis of faith for him. His teacher and mentor John Faustus has decided at long last to make an honest woman of his paramour, Helen, a former nun who is now one of the Continent’s most sought-after courtesans. And Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s instructor and priest, Martin Luther, is dealing with the spiritual and medical consequences of his long-simmering outrage at certain abusive practices of the Church.

Directed by: Philip BoehmStarring: Casey Boland, Steve Isom, Alan Knoll and Caitlin Mickey.

Of Note: St. Louis premiere.

Photo by Jon Gitchoff“The Wolves”The Repertory Theatre of St. LouisJan. 18 – Feb. 3 Studio TheatreLoretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campuswww.repstl.orgWhat It’s About: Nine teenage girls prepare for battle on a soccer field. As they stretch and warm up together, the teammates’ nonstop banter reveals how a collection of disparate personalities bonds to form a team.

Directed by Melissa Rain AndersonStarring: Cassandra Lopez, Cecily Dowd, Colleen Dougherty, Cece Hill, Maya J. Christian, Mary Katharine Harris, Esmeralda Garza, Rachael Logue, Keaton Whittaker, Nancy Bell,

Of Note: St. Louis premiere

By Lynn Venhaus Managing Editor As barren as the outdoors is of life, inside the walls of our theatrical spaces, large and small, are full of life. There are 15 shows available to audiences this weekend! There is something for every taste — pick one or two or three! And Go See a Play!

Accelerando – A Circus Spy Thriller Circus Harmony Jan. 26 at noon and 2 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 2 p.m.www.circusharmony.org/accelerando What It’s About: The annual show features their famous flying children with new acts, including Chinese Pole and Hoop Diving.

Photo by Jon Gitchoff“Alabama Story” Jan. 2 – 27 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis www.repstl.org

What It’s About: A determined librarian and a
segregationist senator face off over an innocent children’s book in 1959
Montgomery. Depicting the marriage of two rabbits – who happen to have
different-colored fur – the story has Sen. E.W. Higgins calling for a book ban.
But even as the pressure mounts, librarian Emily Wheelock Reed refuses to yield
to censorship. Inspired by true events.

Directed by Paul Mason Barnes Starring: Larry Paulsen, Jeanne Paulsen, Carl Howell, Carl Palmer, Corey Allen, Anna O’Donoghue“Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 3 www.playhouseatwestport.com

What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with
heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a
college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account.
He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s
purpose.

Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie MuellerStarring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger

Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won Tony Awards,
including

“Canfield Drive” The Black Rep Jan. 9 – 27 Edison Theatre on the campus of Washington University www.theblackrep.org What It’s About: The world premiere production is about two high-powered news reporters from across the aisle who are thrown together during the national coverage of the aftermath following the Michael Brown shooting death in Ferguson, Mo., in summer 2014.

As they untangle facts, they struggle to keep their private
lives out of the spotlight.
Directed by Ron Himes
Starring: Kristen Adele Calhoun, Christopher Hickey, Amy Loui, Eric Conners

Of Note: Created from diverse interviews of people from
around the corner and around the world, Canfield Drive was written by Kristen
Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker. It is a National Performance Network
Creation and Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in
partnership with The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and NPN.

Photo by Eric Woolsey“District Merchants: An Uneasy Comedy” New Jewish Theatre Jan. 24 – Feb. 10 Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Wool Studio Theater Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drivewww.newjewishtheatre.org 314-442-3283

What It’s About: Love, litigation, deep passions and predatory lending are taken to a new level. The play wades fearlessly into the complexities of life in America. It is set among Black and Jewish populations in an imagined time and place, simultaneously Shakespearean and post- Civil War Washington, D.C. Directed by Jacqueline Thompson Cast: Gary Wayne Barker, J. Samuel Davis, Karl Hawkins, Ron White, Rae Davis Of Note: In Aaron Posner’s reimagining, the play becomes less about the quality of mercy and more about how flexible a supposedly egalitarian society can be to the varied tribes struggling to find partners in America. Aaron Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like we are. In his “uneasy” comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today.

Fiddler on the Roof “Fiddler on the Roof” Fox TheatreJan. 29 –“L’Italiana in Algeri” Winter Opera St. Louis Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade 425 S. Lindbergh “Jekyll & Hyde” Next Generation Theatre Company Jan. 26 – Feb. 2 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. James J. Eagan Center, Florissant http://www.nextgenerationtheatre.company/jekyll/

What It’s About: An evocative tale of two men – one, a
passionate doctor; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women, both in love
with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. Murder and chaos is
pitted against love and virtue.

Starring: Keith Boyer as Dr. Henry Jekyll

Of Note: Rated PG-13 for violence.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” Looking Glass Playhouse Jan. 24 – Feb. 3 Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 301 West St Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. www.lookingglassplayhouse.com What It’s About: The Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical
is a timeless work set against the backdrop of a Biblical series of events but
seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.

“Love, Linda” Max and Louie Productions Jan. 18 – Jan. 27 Marcelle Theatre in Grand Arts Center www.maxandlouie.com

What It’s About: Linda Lee Thomas was the Southern beauty
who married and was the driving force behind legendary song writer Cole Porter
at the dawn of the roaring twenties. Though Cole Porter was gay, their
companionship and love lasted through 35 years of marriage and a spectacular,
glamour-filled life.
Through innovative jazz arrangements, the music and lyrics of Cole Porter
examine the darker sides of their life while also celebrating the deep love
that blossomed through their unconventional relationship.
Directed by Ken Page, Music Director Greg Schweizer
Starring Debby Lennon

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” Hard Road Theatre Productions Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School auditorium in Highland, Ill. www.hardroad.org

What It’s about: The pop doesn’t stop in this musical about
a high school prom in 1958 and, in the second act, a 10-year reunion in 1968,
with a soundtrack that includes big hits from both decades.  

Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“The Motherf*cker with The Hat” R-S Theatrics Jan. 25 – Feb. 1 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. .Zack, 3224 Locust www.r-stheatrics.com

What It’s About: How do you know where you’re going…if
you don’t know who has been in your home? The seriocomedy explores how 5 people
in New York navigate loyalty, trust, and duty through friendship, love and the
challenges of adulthood. And how no one should ever underestimate the
importance of cleaning up their accessories.

Directed by:

Starring: Adam Flores, Sofia Lidia, Jesse Munoz, Aaron Dodd, Taleesha Caturah

“On Golden Pond” Alton Little Theater Jan. 25 – 27 Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Alton Little Theater, 2450 N. Henry in Alton, Ill. 618-462-6562www.altonlittletheater.org What It’s About: At a summer lake home, the play focuses on a daughter’s turbulent relationship with her father, and also the trails of a loving couple in the twilight years of a long marriage.

“Wittenberg” Upstream Theater Jan. 25 – Feb. 10 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. except Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Center www.upstreamtheater.org

What It’s About: It’s October 1517, and the new fall
semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty
and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class
of 1518) is returning from a summer in Poland spent studying astronomy, where
he has learned of a revolutionary scientific theory that threatens the very
order of the universe, resulting in psychic trauma and a crisis of faith for
him. His teacher and mentor John Faustus has decided at long last to make an
honest woman of his paramour, Helen, a former nun who is now one of the
Continent’s most sought-after courtesans. And Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s
instructor and priest, Martin Luther, is dealing with the spiritual and medical
consequences of his long-simmering outrage at certain abusive practices of the
Church.

Directed by: Philip Boehm
Starring: Casey Boland, Steve Isom, Alan Knoll and Caitlin Mickey.

Of Note: St. Louis premiere.

Photo by Jon Gitchoff“The Wolves” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Jan. 18 – Feb. 3 Studio Theatre Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus www.repstl.org What It’s About: Nine teenage girls prepare for battle on a
soccer field. As they stretch and warm up together, the teammates’ nonstop
banter reveals how a collection of disparate personalities bonds to form a
team.

Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
Starring: Cassandra Lopez, Cecily Dowd, Colleen Dougherty, Cece Hill, Maya J.
Christian, Mary Katharine Harris, Esmeralda Garza, Rachael Logue, Keaton Whittaker,
Nancy Bell,

Of Note: St. Louis premiere

“Workers’ Opera” Bread and Roses Sunday, Jan. 27 Missouri History Museum 1 to 2:30 p.m. Free and open to the public www.breadandrosesmo.gov What It’s About: Bread and Roses presents these vignettes of new and revised sketches about laborers, unions, and workers’ rights in the past and the present. Every sketch is full of good music, some history and lots of political humor.

Director: Kathryn Bentley, associate professor at
SIU-Edwardsville and Artistic Director of the Black Theater Workshop.

Music and script editing by Colin McLaughlin.

Of Note: Written and performed by members of Service
Employees International Union, Communications Workers of America, United Media
Guild, Actors Equity, Asbestos Workers, and others involved in the arts and
organized labor.