By Lynn Venhaus

After not being on a stage since November 2019, Chauncy Thomas has made quite a comeback this summer – starring in two productions at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Bloomington, Ill., and as the Gentleman Caller Jim in “The Glass Menagerie” and the one-act “You Lied to Me About Centralia,” which was part of this year’s Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, all outdoors.

As he leaves to return to home in New York City, he will have left St. Louis better than when he arrived, to paraphrase his favorite quote.

Chauncy, a native of Peoria, Ill., landed in St. Louis when he attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning B.A. degrees in both drama and psychology.

He built a versatile and respected career in regional professional theatre before taking off for New York City nearly eight years ago, earning two St. Louis Theater Circle Award nominations for “Intimate Apparel” at New Jewish Theatre in 2017 and “Topdog/Underdog” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio in 2013.

Chauncy Thomas as Lymon and Carli Officer as Maretha in “The Piano Lesson” at The Black Rep in 2013

His resume includes “Clybourne Park” at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, “The Piano Lesson” at the Black Repertory Theatre, the La Bute New Play Festival at the St. Louis Actors’ Studio and multiple productions at the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.

Since 2014, he has returned here for productions, including “Dot” at the Black Rep and “The Winter’s Tale” at St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.

“St. Louis is still a place I call home. I still feel incredibly connected to the people there, and especially the theatre community,” he said.

During the pandemic in 2020, he decided to leave New York City for Iowa to stay with his brother and his family in mid-March.

“My twelve-year-old nephew let me use his bedroom, so it was two months of sleeping under Spider-man sheets. In mid-May I trekked to Peoria to stay with my mother. My silver lining of the pandemic is getting to spend so much time with her,” he said.

“I lost all but one of my side jobs, so math tutoring was paying the bills. I got little theatre gigs here and there: zoom readings, workshops, etc. But I truly missed being on stage,” he said. “Most of my actor friends in New York either had to move or were significantly concerned with their finances, so I was still counting my blessings.”

He has worked on many Shakespeare productions and enjoys the challenge.

“I’ve been doing a decent amount of Shakespeare for a decade but last year, I think I figured out how I should approach the work. For the first eight years, I was trying to meet some standard of what I thought Shakespeare was. I’ve since learned I need to bring as much of myself and my racial identity to the work as I can. It’s what makes me unique. I love performing Shakespeare because it’s brilliant, but it also presents the challenge of making a 400-year-old stories relevant to a modern audience,” he said.

With Jacqueline Thompson in “Intimate Apparel” at New Jewish Theatre in 2017.

He has traveled to other theaters in the county, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in Massachusetts.

From his base in New York City, his credits include “Romeo and Juliet” at Lincoln Center Education, “Hamlet” at RIPT Theater Company, “A Raisin in the Sun” at Bay Street Theater, “Our Town” and the television show “Madam Secretary,” in which he played a secret service agent.  

Last year, he wrote a one-act for the theatre season for the Performing Arts Department at Washington University, which was part of the live events cancelled due to the pandemic, but was performed as part of “Homecoming Voices,” four plays by alumni, in March.

His play “The Nicest White People that America Has Ever Produced,” featured a Black writer and a white director discussing race, power and artistic integrity in the film industry — a theoretical discourse that prompted real questions about friendship and ethics.

Doing Shakespeare and Williams in the same summer “has been a challenge,” but he is grateful to be working.

“It’s been crazy, but before that, it was nothing, a famine, so I’m trying to enjoy this feast,” he said. “I thought how in the world am I going to get all of this done, but after I had my mornings free, I worked on the line memorization and text analysis,” he said.

As for playing Jim in two different productions, he described it as “fascinating.”

Williams’ memory play of his family and their life in St. Louis features Jim as Tom’s friend from work who is invited to dinner at the Wingfield home to meet Tom’s sister Laura.

The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, “The Moon and Beyond,” ran from Aug. 19 to 29, with its signature play, the one-act and multiple presentations by scholars and a tribute with the cast.

Playwright John Guare wrote a one-act, “You Lied to Me About Centralia,” which imagined what happened after dinner when Jim rushes off to pick up his fiancé at the Wabash train station. The 20-minute play premiered off-Broadway in 2015, and is based on Williams’ short story, “Portrait of a Girl in Glass.”

For the St. Louis Theater Crawl in 2017, the Tennessee Williams Festival performed the one-act with Julia Crump, who returns this year as Jim’s shallow and judgmental girlfriend Betty, and Pete Winfrey, who now lives in New York City, as Jim.

For the radio play version last November, when the TWF pivoted with “Something Spoken,” a series of Williams’ one-acts on radio, Thomas worked opposite Crump for the first time. They were directed by Rayme Cornell, who also directed this year’s live production, presented as a matinee on Aug. 21 and 22.

Thomas described the play as “sweet” and his character thusly.

“I felt there were several directions it could have gone, and I love where Rayme guided us. I know this isn’t technically Tennessee Williams, but it’s certainly Williams adjacent. Many of my favorite plays are American classics, and I’m rarely able to get cast in those kinds of shows, so this was a real treat. Jim is a man with big dreams, and I love to play characters with strong wants and needs; they make the most compelling characters,” he said.

With Elizabeth Teeter in “The Glass Menagerie” this summer. Photo by ProPhotoSTL.

Crump said acting with Thomas is “a master class,” because he makes “bold choices, good choices.” She described him as a “generous and talented actor.”

Elizabeth Teeter. who played Laura in “The Glass Menagerie,” said she agreed with Crump completely. She participated in an interview along with Thomas, Crump and director Brian Hohlfeld regarding TWF St. Louis on the PopLifeSTL.com Presents…podcast on Aug. 14.

“I do look at these as two separate characters,” Thomas said. “Obviously, John Guare took some liberties, and so many things are open to interpretation.”

Chauncy said the perspective of the one-act was fascinating. “I’m either bending the truth, or avoiding the truth,” he said.

As for being part of this ensemble, he described the cast as “absolutely amazing.”

“The other three actors started rehearsal on August 2, while I started on August 9, and we were in tech on the 12th, so I had to figure out what was going on at a faster rate than ever before. On my first day of rehearsal, we didn’t even do a reading of the whole play. We started with Act 2, and after listening to the other actors for the six pages before my entrance, I immediately understood what story we were telling, the tone, the pace, and where I fit into the narrative. These three actors are so vibrant, in-the-moment, and honest, that they do much of the work for me. I don’t have to ‘act’ with them; I can simply exist,” he said.

Besides Teeter as Laura, Brenda Currin plays Amanda and Bradley James Tejeda plays Tom.

Working where Tennessee Williams lived as a boy has been a special experience as well.

“In terms of performing, rehearsing, and living — not the same unit, but the same building — in the apartment where Williams lived, it’s incredibly surreal,” he said.

“To quote Jim, ‘I’m usually pretty good at expressing things, but–this is something I don’t know how to say!’ When Carrie Houk (TWF Artistic Director) called me to offer me the role and explain the production, I was in such disbelief that I didn’t tell anyone about the production for weeks. It seemed unfathomable,” he said.

“All I can say is this production feels magical. I took my first acting class as a sophomore at Washington University, and, that year, Henry Schvey, chair of the theatre department, was directing ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ I was a member of the backstage crew, which was my first experience with a mainstage production, and in many ways my introduction to theatre. And now, 17 years later, I’m performing in the play, at Williams’ home, and the opening night gift my director Brian Hohlfeld gave me is Henry Schvey’s new book about Tennessee Williams. How is this my life?” he said.

Chauncy Thomas, right, in ISF’s “The Winter’s Tale” this summer. Photo by Pete Guither.

For his second year at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, he played Camillo and four small roles in “The Winter’s Tale” and Angelo in “Measure for Measure.”

Afterwards, the festival inducted him into the 2021 Actor Honor Roll.

“Chauncy Thomas is a wonderful addition to our Illinois Shakespeare Festival Actor Honor Roll, He creates rich, nuanced characters that are accessible yet complex. Chauncy is a skilled professional who also is the consummate company member: supportive, positive, and kind. It is a pleasure to welcome him to the honor roll,” said ISF Artistic Director John C. Stark.

In 2017, to celebrate the ISF 40th anniversary, they unveiled “40 Years/40 Actors,” a media display, to recognize “the passion, skill, and talent of select festival performers from the past four decades,” and continues with the annual Actor Honor Roll.

“I’m truly touched and honored by this recognition. This theatre means so much to me! I’ve met some of the loveliest people I could ever hope to meet, it’s the closest professional theatre to my childhood home (it’s an amazing blessing to have my mother in the audience five times in one season,” Thomas said.

“It’s been instrumental in my development as a classical actor, and it’s also been the setting or overlapped with some of the biggest emotional highs and lows of my life. When at its best, a theatre is a family, and I’m thrilled to be the newest member,” he said.

‘Take Ten’ Questions and Answers:

 1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

“Originally, I was so fascinated about how theatre was an exploration of myself. I’m now intrigued by the power of storytelling, the interpersonal connections I make with other artists, and the exploration of the human spirit.”

Chauncy and Reginald Pierre in “Topdog/Underdog” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio in 2013. Photo by Patrick Huber

2. How would your friends describe you?

“I took some direct quotes: ‘Funny, witty, smart, creative, thoughtful, organized and an amazing friend.’

“Weird.”

“They wouldn’t.”

“Strangely intellectual and precious for a man with this many muscles.”

“Very very very intentional.”

“A chill control freak with unlikely interests.”

“Loyal, brilliant, hilarious, thoughtful, deeply introspective, principled, all around awesome.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?

“I spend as much time with my friends as I possibly can.”

4.What is your current obsession?

“I’m so late, but the ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’”

5.What would people be surprised to find out about you?

“I’m ludicrously goofy.”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?

“In my early teenage years, I was very depressed and often had suicidal thoughts. No one could tell, because from the outside I seemed as if I was thriving. I was gay, in the closet and had plenty of friends, but no close ones. I was in a particularly bad place one day when I was 14 and called one of my acquaintances to ask if we could hang out. Twenty years later, I was best man at his wedding. I’m a person who struggles with feeling I may be a burden to someone, so the act of reaching out to the person who is now my oldest childhood friend was the first time I realized I was allowed to ask for emotional help when I needed it.”

7. Who do you admire most?

“My mom. She’s elegant, hilarious, benevolent, poised, and tough as nails.”

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list?

“Acting in a play I’ve written.”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

“City Museum.”

10. What’s next?

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that, yet. But the next play on my schedule is in St. Louis in 2022.”

Chauncy Thomas

More Information on Chauncy Thomas:

Age: 36

Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois

Current location: New York City

Family: 2 full brothers, 2 half-brothers, and 2 step-siblings

Education: BAs in Psychology and Drama from Washington University

Day job: Currently a math tutor. In a non-Covid-19 world add catering waiter, chess tutor, and I occasionally portrayed historical leaders for executive leadership trainings for Fortune 500 companies.

First job: House painter

First role: A guard in my high school’s production of “Cinderella.” First professional role was Father Ant in “The Ant and the Grasshopper” for Imaginary Theatre Company.

Favorite roles/plays: Booth in “Topdog/Underdog,” Walter Lee Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun”

Dream role/play: Belize in “Angels in America”.

Awards/Honors/Achievements: One Kevin Kline Award nomination and two St Louis Theater Circle Award nominations

Favorite quote/words to live by: “Leave everyone better than you find them.”

Chauncy Thomas in “Alabama Story”

A song that makes you happy: “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite

To listen to the PopLifeSTL.com Presents…Podcast about the Tennessee Williams Festival, visit: https://soundcloud.com/lynn-zipfel-venhaus/poplifestlcom-presents-august-14th-2021?fbclid=IwAR3lA4F4DCuAk67je9tNrFsb36G1fhaS6RFcZmOkWI0Lx6zQnvPyrCUg0jk

For more information on the Tennessee Williams Festival, visit https://www.twstl.org/

As a secret service agent in “Madam Secretary”. Photo provided.
In “Percentage America” by Carter Lewis at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo by Patrick Huber.
“Clybourne Park” at St. Louis Repertory Theatre. Jerry Naunheim Photo.

Imagine “The Glass Menagerie” performed where it first began.

A site-specific production at the historic “Tennessee,” the Westminster Place apartment  in the Central West End where it all began, will be part of the 6th annual Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis this summer. Brian Hohlfeld will direct.

The event will include the TW Tribute: St. Louis Woman, Scholars Panels, and a Workshop/Reading of “Why Does Desdemona Love the Moor,” which will be presented prior to its Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival engagement, to be directed by Thomas Mitchell.

Author Henry Schvey will sign his book, “Blue Song: St. Louis in the Life and Work of Tennessee Williams.” The event will feature a conversation with Schvey, a professor of drama and comparative literature at Washington University. He wrote the 2011 book, “Tennessee Williams at 100: From Washington University to the Wider World.”

Tennessee Williams Scholar Thomas Mitchell will lead a Tennessee Williams Walking Tour of the Central West End. From 1918 to 1922, Williams lived with his family at 4633 Westminster. He attended Soldan High School. He later moved to University City and studied at Washington University.

An opening weekend Block Party is also planned.

Additional productions, events and full casts will be announced at the beginning of July.

Certified with Missouri Arts Safe, the entire festival team is fully vaccinated.

About the Festival

The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis was established in 2016 by Carrie Houk, the award-winning producer, casting director, actor, and educator.  The Festival, which aims to enrich the cultural life of St. Louis by producing an annual theater festival and other artistic events that celebrate the artistry and life of Tennessee Williams, was named the 2019 Arts Startup of the Year by the Arts & Entertainment Council.

In 2014, Houk produced Williams’ “Stairs to the Roof” with such success that the ongoing annual Festival was established. The inaugural Festival was themed “Tennessee Williams: The St. Louis Years,” followed by “The Magic of the Other” in 2017 and “The French Quarter Years” in 2018. The 2019 festival featured “Night of the Iguana” and “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.” As the years have passed, the awards have mounted. In the last two years, the St. Louis Theater Circle has given them 12 awards. The Festival has attracted thousands to its readings, panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions, and productions.

About Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

Born Thomas Lanier Williams III in 1911 in Mississippi, Williams moved to St. Louis at age seven, when his father was made an executive with the International Shoe Company (where the City Museum and the Last Hotel are now located).

He lived here for more than two decades, attending Washington University, working at the International Shoe Company, and producing his first plays at local theaters. He credited his sometimes difficult experiences in St. Louis for the deeply felt poetic essence that permeates his artistry. When asked later in life when he left St. Louis, he replied, “I never really left.”

Most people are familiar with the famous works that have garnered multiple Pulitzer Prizes, Tony Awards and Academy Awards, such as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer.

He also wrote hundreds of additional plays, stories, essays, and poems, many of which are only now seeing the light of day as his estate permits greater access. He is today considered by many leading authorities to be America’s greatest playwright.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
The March winds are blowing in snow and ice, with productions starting strong,
and there is a mix of classic musicals, hard-hitting dramas and hilarious
comedies on local stages.

It’s the last weekend to catch the absorbing “Oslo” at the
Rep, the tenth anniversary “Rock of Ages” tour comes to The Fox, and “Avenue Q”
is extended at The Playhouse at Westport. New musicals opening include “The 25th
Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Company,” “La Cage Aux Folles.”
Wash U continues with “Angels in America” and SLU presents “The Misanthrope.”

“Well” opens at Mustard Seed Theatre, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest” at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, and “The Glitter Girls” at Alton
Little Theatre. The Black Rep’s “Milk Like Sugar” continues at The Black Rep.

Roar back and go see a play!

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” O’Fallon Theatre Works March 1-3 and 8-10 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon City Hall Tickets: www.ofallon.mo.us Tickets are on sale now at the Renaud Spirit Center and at the box office, which opens one hour before each show. What It’s About: Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with a funny book by Rachel Sheinkin and a vibrant musical score by William Finn.

An eclectic group of six adolescents vies for the spelling
championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching
stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of
(potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing,
pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling
mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get juice
boxes.

A riotous ride complete with audience participation, “The
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a fast-paced crowd-pleasing comedy.

Director: Melissa Boyer, with music director Wendi Dicken and choreographer Cameron Bopp. Starring: Ann Hier Brown, Mark Killmer, Benni Jillette, James McKinzie, Ben Ketcherside, Josh Towers, Hayden Hays, Mia Porcelli and Stefanie Kluba.

FRIDAY, FEB. 1, 2019 – This is a promotional photo for “Angels in America” by Washington University’s Performing Arts Department. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./WUSTL Photos “Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches” The Performing Arts Department at Washington University Feb. 22 – March 3 Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Edison Theatre Tickets: 314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu What It’s About: an epic that ranges from earth to heaven; focuses on politics, sex and religion; transports us to Washington, the Kremlin, the South Bronx, Salt Lake City and Antarctica; deals with Jews, Mormons, WASPs, blacks; switches between realism and fantasy, from the tragedy of AIDS to the camp comedy of drag queens to the death or at least the absconding of God.

“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
Mueller

Starring: 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.

“Company” Over Due Theatre March 1-3, 8-10 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Olivette Community Center 9723 Grandview 314-210-2959 www.overduetheatrecompany.com

What It’s About: First produced in 1970, Company was
nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six, including Best
Musical. Company takes an unvarnished look at marriage through the eyes of
Bobby who, unmarried on his thirty-fifth birthday, finds himself lost in the
company of his married friends. With his trademark wit and sophistication,
Stephen Sondheim examines the flawed nature of human relationships as Bobby
journeys towards the realization that, in spite of all of his friends’
failings, there is no point in “Being Alive” unless he has someone with whom to
share it.

“The Glitter Girls” Alton Little Theatre March 1- 10 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 2450 North Henry in Alto 618.462.6562 www.altonlittletheater.org.

What It’s About: A brand new play economically described as
“Steel Magnolias” meets “Survivor,” with a big dose of quirky humor thrown in
for good measure. A strong ensemble play, which questions the wisdom of sudden
wealth and the bonds of friendship.  

“La Cage Aux Folles” New Line Theatre Feb. 28 – March 23 Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drivewww.newlinetheatre.com

Tickets: MetroTix.com

What It’s About: What happens when the son of a middle-aged
gay couple brings home the daughter of an arch-conservative politician — and
her parents — for dinner? Musical comedy ensues.

“La Cage Aux Folles” takes place on the French Riviera for
a night of love, laughs, illusions and truths, and the triumph of family over
bullies and bigots.

Based on the 1973 French play and its 1978 film adaptation,
“La Cage Aux Folles” tells the story of a middle-aged show business couple,
grappling with aging, fidelity, kids, and holding on to their dignity when the
world around them would rather strip it away. At the center is Georges, a St.
Tropez nightclub owner, and his husband Albin, who is also the club’s erratic
headliner Zaza. When Georges’ son gets engaged to the daughter of a right-wing
politician, we see the politics and culture wars of 2019, at their most
ridiculous and most fevered, onstage right in front of us.

Director: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez and choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae
Womack.
Starring: Zachary Allen Farmer (Albin/Zaza), Robert Doyle (Georges), Kevin
Corpuz (Jean-Michel), Tielere Cheatem (Jacob), Zora Vredeveld (Anne), Kent
Coffel (M. Dindon), Mara Bollini (Mme. Dindon), Lindsey Jones (Jacqueline),
Joel Hackbarth (Francis), and as the notorious Cagelles – Jake Blonstein,
Dominic Dowdy-Windsor, Evan Fornachon, Tim Kaniecki, Clayton Humburg, and Ian
McCreary..

Of Note: In its original 1983 production, the show was a
safely old-fashioned musical comedy. But in its 2008 London revival and 2010
Broadway revival, the show was transformed from a lightweight comedy into a
more serious story with a lot of laughs.

The original 1983 Broadway production ran four years and
1,761 performances. The show received nine Tony nominations and won six,
including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book — beating out Sondheim’s
Sunday in the Park with George. It’s been revived on Broadway and in London
multiple times.

“Milk Like Sugar”

 “The Misanthrope” Saint Louis University TheatreFeb. 28 – March 3Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box501 N. Grand Blvd.Tickets through metrotix.com or 314.534-1111.

What It’s About: This Molière classic looks at the hypocrisy of society and the consequences of total honesty and will be directed by Lucy Cashion.Of Note: The additional Saturday matinee was scheduled due to the limited seating at the venue. A seating policy is in place for this production: unfilled seats will be released 7 minutes prior to the start of the show.Yourcooperation is appreciated.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves March 1-3, 7-10 Shows at 8 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves Tickets are available only at the door (cash or check). Sorry, we do not take advanced reservations www.theatreguildwg.org 314-962-0876

What It’s About: Ken Kesey’s iconic counter-culture novel
is set in a psychiatric hospital, where convicted criminal McMurphy winds up.
He challenges authority and changes patients’ lives. This is the play adaptation,
which was turned into an Oscar-winning film.

Director: Jessica Johns-Kelly.

Starring: Jerry Crump, Matthew Linhardt, Betsy Gasoske,
Greg Savel, Tyler Crandall, Hal Morgan, Jason Blackburn, David Eiben, Christian
Davis, Sherre Ward, Scott Ewers, Russ Leonard, Donald Kidd, Aaron Mermelstein,
Noreen Ann G. Rhodes and Amie Bossi.

Of Note: This show contains content not suitable for
children.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is very old historic
building with many steps and is not handicapped or wheelchair assessable.

Photo by Peter Wochniak

“Oslo” Feb. 8 – March 3 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 130 Edgar Road, St. Louiswww.repstl.org 314-968-4925 What It’s About: The winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play, this play by J.T. Rogers is set in 1993, when two bitter enemies shocked the world by shaking hands and agreeing to work towards peace. “Oslo” finds the unlikely story behind the historic event. The drama explores the secretive and precarious negotiations that made that moment possible and focuses on the Norwegian couple who brokered talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Director: Steven Woolf Starring: Jim Poulos, Kathleen Wise, Rajesh Bose, Ben Graney, Jerry Vogel, Michael James Reed, Amro Salama, John Rensenhouse, Michelle Hand, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Jeff Cummings, Jim Shankman, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jack Theiling and Tom Wethington. Of Note: “Oslo” is recommended for adult audiences. The show contains strong adult language and weighty discussions about global politics and diplomatic relations.

“Rock of Ages” The Fox Theatre March 1-3 Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm,. The Fox Theatre is at 527 North Grand in Grand Centerwww.fabulousfox.com What It’s About: Nominated for five Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Rock of Ages” captures the iconic era that was the big bad 1980s Hollywood. Know What Love Is, Feel the Noise, and Take Your Best Shot at one of the Sunset Strip’s last epic venues, a place where the legendary Stacee Jaxx returns to the stage and rock-n-roll dreamers line up to turn their fantasies into reality. Featuring the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister, and Whitesnake among many others, this Tenth Anniversary production features a dynamic new cast revisiting the larger than life characters and exhilarating story that turned the musical into a global phenomenon. This is one for the ages that will have you singing “Here I Go Again.”

“Well” Mustard Seed Theatre Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre 314-719-8060www.mustardseedtheatre.com What It’s About: Lisa Kron’s experimental play intends to explore racial and religious integration and cultural concepts of health. She does not want to talk about her Mother, who unexpectedly joins her on stage. What could possibly go wrong?

St. Louis Actors’ Studio is thrilled to announce that Annamaria Pileggi will join the organization as Associate Artistic Director.

She joins Founder/Artistic Director William Roth and fellow Associate Artistic Director John Pierson. She assumes her new role immediately, and in addition to her duties in artistic administration—including casting and future season planning—Anna will continue to direct during the company’s regular season.

Anna has already directed twice for STLAS, and both productions — this season’s Tribes and last season’s Blackbird — are nominated for multiple Theater Circle Awards. 

Anna is a Professor of the Practice in Drama at Washington University in St. Louis who has been on the faculty of the Performing Arts Department since 1991. She is a five-time recipient of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award recognizing excellence in teaching.  Pileggi directs and teaches courses in Acting, Movement, Musical Theatre, and Theatre for Social Change. She also serves as an administrator and acting instructor for the department’s Shakespeare Globe Program in London.

Pileggi has an MFA in acting from Brandeis University.  In addition to her teaching, Pileggi has directed professionally at many St Louis theatres, including, New Jewish, Max & Louie Productions, Onsite, That Uppity Theatre, Muddy Waters, Dramatic License, and HotCity.

She was also on staff at HotCity as an Associate Director and Co-Producer of the theatre’s Greenhouse New Play Development Series from 2007 until the company’s closing in 2014.

ABOUT ST. LOUIS ACTORS’ STUDIO St. Louis Actors’ Studio is one of the leading professional theatres in the St. Louis. area, producing a four-show season of plays at our 97-seat Gaslight Theatre. STLAS collaborates with renown director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute to produce the LaBute New Theater Festival each July in St. Louis and each January in New York City. The festival is a one-act play competition for emerging professionals and high-school writers.

By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorAnd down the stretch we come! In the waning days of February, our shortest month, dusk is getting later and sure signs of spring are upon us. We can stay indoors for awhile longer — the weather is still frightful — but what awaits us inside a theater is juicy entertainment. Whether you are in the mood for taut political dramas (“Farragut North,” “Oslo”) or classic Arthur Miller (“The Crucible”) or goofy foul-mouthed puppets, the St. Louis stages are showcasing some mighty fine talent.Some local college theater departments are presenting classics, with Lindenwood taking on “Our Town” and St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley is tackling Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Washington University is presenting the first part of “Angels in America.” Such ambition! Such enthusiasm! Catch it — Go See a Play!

FRIDAY, FEB. 1, 2019 – This is a promotional photo for “Angels in America” by Washington University’s Performing Arts Department. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./WUSTL Photos “Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches”Washington University Performing Arts Department Feb. 22 – March 3Thursdays and Fridays at 7 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 p.m.Edison Theatre314-935-6543www.pad.artsci.wustl.eduWhat It’s About: Tony Kushner’s epic play focuses on politics, sex and religion, switching between realism and fantasy, dealing with the tragedy of AIDS to very spiritual territory.

Director: Henry SchveyStarring: Louis Gordon and Alex Knapp are Prior and Louis, and Nathan Wetter and Stephanie Wright are Joe and Harper. Stephen Reaugh is Roy Cohn. Justin Wright is Prior’s ex-lover Belize, a nurse and former drag queen. Jacque Randolph is the Angel, Kelley Abell is Hannah, Joe’s mother. Helen Fox fills a variety of roles.

“Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 17 (extended run) 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
Mueller

Starring: 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.

“By the Way…Meet Vera Stark” Feb. 13 – 24 Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Emerson Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.webster.edu/conservatory/season 314-968-7128

What It’s About: A new comedy from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Lynn Nottage, this draws upon the screwball films of the 1930s to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. “By the Way…Meet Vera Stark” is a 70-year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career.

Photo by John Lamb“The Crucible” Stray Dog Theatre Feb. 7 – 23 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; special 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Feb. 17. Tower Grove Abbey 2336 Tennessee www.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995

What It’s About: Lies. Betrayal. Lust. In 1690s
Salem, a young girl leads a Puritanical purge of witchcraft against a local
farmer and his wife. As fear and excitement grow in the town, the accusations
grow more ferocious and terrifying, until no one is safe, and the truth is
obscured completely. Written by Arthur Miller and winner of the 1953 Tony Award
for Best Play.

Starring: John Proctor: Graham Emmons, Elizabeth Proctor:
Cynthia Pohlson, Abigail Williams: Alison Linderer, Mercy Lewis: Sienna DeSuza,
Rebecca Nurse: Suzanne Greenwald, John Danforth: Joe Hanrahan, Ezekiel Cheever:
Charles Heuvelman, John Hathorne: Jonathan Hey, Ann Putnam: Laura Kyro, Francis
Nurse: Chuck Lavazzi, Susanna Walcott: Zoe Liu, Giles Corey: Gerry Love, Hopkins
: Michael Maskus, Sarah Good: Liz Mischel, Thomas Putnam: Tom Moore, John
Willard: Stephen Peirick, Rev. Samuel Parris: Ben Ritchie, Betty Parris: Avery
Smith, John Hale: Abraham Shaw, Mary Warren: Chrissie Watkins and Tituba: Kelli
Wright.

Photo of Spencer Sickmann and Hollyn Gayle by Patrick Huber. “Farragut North” St. Louis Actors’ Studio Feb. 8 – 24 Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m. Gaslight Theatre 358 North Boyle Metrotix.com 314-458-2978www.stlas.org

What It’s About: Stephen Bellamy is a wunderkind press secretary who has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a tight presidential primary race, Stephen’s meteoric rise falls prey to the backroom politics of more seasoned operatives. “Farragut North” is a timely story about the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it. Director: Wayne Salomon Starring: Spencer Sickmann, Peter Mayer, David Wassilak, Shannon NaraThe West End Grill and Pub will be open before and after the performances for drinks.

“The Hundred Dresses” Metro Theatre Company Feb. 3 – Feb. 25 The Grandel Theatre Metrotix.com www.metroplays.org

What 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.

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.

Justis Drakes “Milk Like Sugar”The Black RepFeb. 13 – March 3Hotchner StudioWashington Universitywww.theblackrep.org

What It’s About: Milk Like Sugar is an astute gut-wrenching observation of the impact of racism on African American youth. We see the cyclical nature of inherited trauma, the normalization of underfunded communities, the dire need for education that nurtures latent talent, childhood hunger, the categorization of Black youth as adults, and the injustice of the criminal system. The myth of self-determination and seeing those who cannot escape their circumstance as inferior is keeping us for mobilizing and tithing whatever time and talent we might have to give into those communities. This play affirms these children need us, just as much as we need them.

Photo by Peter Wochniak

“Oslo” Feb. 8 – March 3 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 130 Edgar Road, St. Louiswww.repstl.org 314-968-4925 What It’s About: The winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play, this play by J.T. Rogers is set in 1993, when two bitter enemies shocked the world by shaking hands and agreeing to work towards peace. “Oslo” finds the unlikely story behind the historic event. The drama explores the secretive and precarious negotiations that made that moment possible and focuses on the Norwegian couple who brokered talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Director: Steven Woolf Starring: Jim Poulos, Kathleen Wise, Rajesh Bose, Ben Graney, Jerry Vogel, Michael James Reed, Amro Salama, John Rensenhouse, Michelle Hand, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Jeff Cummings, Jim Shankman, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jack Theiling and Tom Wethington. Of Note: “Oslo” is recommended for adult audiences. The show contains strong adult language and weighty discussions about global politics and diplomatic relations.

“Our Town”Lindenwood UniversityFeb. 21 – 23 at 7:30 p.m.Scheidegger Center for the Arts, St. Charles campuswww.lindenwood.edu

What It’s About: Thornton Wilder’s timeless drama of life in the mythical village of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, has become an American classic with universal appeal. It first appeared on Broadway in 1938.

Director: Patrice Foster

“The Rat Pack is Back” Friday, February 22, at 7:30 p.m.. The Fox Theatre 527 North Grand in Grand Centerwww.fabulousfox.comWhat It’s About: This spirited show recreates one of the famous “Summit at the Sands” nights when the swingin’, ring-a-ding group known as “The Rat Pack” was creating hipster legend with a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred nightclub act starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop.

“A Streetcar Named Desire”St. Louis Community College at Florissant ValleyFeb. 21 – 24Fisher Theatre, 3400 Pershall Road www.stlcc.edu/fv/

“Transluminate”The Q Collective Feb. 21 – 23Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drivehttps://theqcollective.theater

What It’s About: A short-play festival and celebration of transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid artists.

 
In this World Premiere production, two high-powered news reporters from across the aisle are thrown together during a ratings frenzy in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. As they untangle the real cause of Brown’s death, they struggle to keep their own secrets out of the spotlight. Created from diverse interviews of people from around the corner and around the world, “Canfield Drive” shines a light of hope as it wrestles with the greatest questions of our age.
“Canfield Drive,” written by Kristen Adele Calhoun and Michael Thomas Walker, is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by 651 Arts in partnership with The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, and NPN.  The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: www.npnweb.org.
Producing Director Ron Himes says “We have worked on this script with Michael Thomas Walker and Kristen Adele Calhoun for four years, with workshops at Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, Denver, Hartford, and St. Louis.  We are so excited to premiere this work here in St Louis for our community.”
Playwright Michael Thomas Walker says “If ‘riot is the language of the unheard’, this play aims to understand the killing of Michael Brown, the Ferguson protests and the subsequent #BlackLivesMatter movement by hearing the unheard voices and amplifying those stories.  We hope this play will serve as a platform for the necessary conversations about race, culture, privilege, history, and healing.”
The cast of “Canfield Drive” includes Kristen Adele recent credits include Corduroy (Denver Center of Performing Arts), Bump (Ensemble Studio Theatre), and Skeleton Crew (Premiere Stages); Christopher Hickey, with The Black Rep credits include Oak & Ivy and Relativity; Amy Loui with The Black Rep credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Three Ways Home, and Eric Connors with The Black Rep credits include Ms Julie, Clarissa & John, Anne & Emmett, Oak & Ivy, and Jitney .
“Canfield Drive” is directed by Producing Director Ron Himes, with scenic design by Peter and Margery Spack, lighting design by Jim Burwinkel; costumes by Marissa Perry, and sound design by Kareem Deanes, and Tracy D. Holliway-Wiggins is the stage manager.
The production will run January 9-27 at the Edison Theatre at Washington University. Tickets are available at www.theblackrep.org, 314-534-3807, or pick them up at our box office located at 6662 Olive Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130.
 

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
St. Charles will literally become a ghost town when actors take over the streets during “Legends and Lanterns” this weekend and next. Strange things will be happening not only in neighborhoods but on local stages this week, too.
More Halloween spirit can be found in “Evil Dead: The Musical” at Stray Dog Theatre and “The Zombies of Penzance” at New Line Theatre.
The Bard gets spooky in “Macbeth,” and Rebel and Misfits starts its third Immersive Theatre Project Oct. 24 with a preview of “Macbeth: Come Like Shadows.”
The Bard also gets stormy in “The Tempest,” a gender-swap production from St. Louis Shakespeare.
For fantasy fun, Variety Club celebrates its 10th season with “The Little Mermaid” at the Touhill.
Times, they are a-changing for women in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” now surprising audiences at The Rep, while a punk-rock, lesbian chef holds court in “Raging Skillet at The New Jewish Theatre.
The LGBTQ community is sharing their stories in “The Coming Out Festival” from the Q Collective. The tragic hate-crime death of Matthew Shepard is explored in “The Laramie Project” at Clayton Community Theatre.
Mustard Seed Theatre offers a provocative look at sin, grief and grace in “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” with 13 actors portraying 27 characters.
Fun, fantasy, comedy, drama, spooky or tragic — take your pick, but Go See a Play!

Amanda Brasher rehearses “Weird” by Nicholas Pappas in The Coming Out Festival.The Coming Out Play Festival
The Q Collective
Oct. 19 and 20
Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Monocle on Manchester in the Grove
www.theqcollective.theater
What It’s About: Six one-act plays that explore the coming out experience.
 
 
 
“A Doll’s House, Part II”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Oct. 11 – Nov. 4
Browning Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Center
130 Edgar Roadwww.repstl.org
314-968-4925
Michael James Reed as Torvald and Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL.comWhat It’s About: Lucas Hnath’s audacious sequel was written more than 135 years after Henrik Ibsen’s original. The familial drama remains a foundational piece of theater, with a still-controversial ending in which a married woman chooses to walk out on her family. But in 2017, Hnath took the themes and characters of that familiar classic and flipped them on their heads, imagining what would happen if protagonist Nora Helmer returned home 15 years after her dramatic exit.
Director: Timothy Near
Starring: Caralyn Kozlowski, Andrea Abello, Michael James Reed, Tina Johnson
Photo by John Lamb“Evil Dead: The Musical”
Stray Dog Theatre
Oct. 11 – 27
Thursday through Saturday; Added performance Wednesday, Oct. 24
Tower Grove Abbey
2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org
314-865-1995
What It’s About: Based on the 1980s cult classic “Evil Dead” films, this campy show bursts with farce and blood. Five college kids take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods and encounter ancient evil spirits and revenge-seeking Candarian demons.
Director: Justin Been, with music direction by Jennifer Buchheit and choreography by Sam Gaitsch.
Starring: Riley Dunn, Dawn Schmid, Maria Bartolotta, Josh Douglas, Stephen Henley, Jennelle Gilreath, Kevin O’Brien, Corey Fraine and Christen Ringhausen.
Of Note: Some performances are sold out, and tickets are predicted to be limited during run. Wait lists will begin nightly at 7 p.m. (when the lobby opens) at the box office for any unclaimed seats and those will be handed out at 7:55 p.m.
The Splatter Zone is considered Signature Seating. With your purchase of a “Splatter Zone” seat you also receive an exclusive T-Shirt with just enough white space for us to create a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Those adventurous enough to sit in the “Splatter Zone” are encouraged to dress down. Stray Dog Theatre is not responsible for property damage or loss resulting from the “Splatter Zone.”
“The Laramie Project”
Clayton Community Theatre
Oct. 11 – 21
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Washington University South Campus Theatre (old CBC high school)
314-721-9228
www.placeseveryone.org
What It’s About: Based on the true story of gay Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old victim of a hate crime in 1998 in Laramie, Wy., “The Laramie Project” unfolds through the words of people in Laramie who were interviewed by members of Tectonic Theater Company in the 18 months following Matthew Shepard’s death (Oct. 12, 1998), creating a portrait of the community and key individuals in the aftermath of the event and as the victim’s killers were brought to trial and convicted.
Director: Jim Danek
Starring: Jim Abels, Kelly Hunter, Jack Janssen, Mark Lull, Tim Naegelin, Elizabeth Penny, Tina Renard, Lucy Sappington, Rob Tierney, Johnathon Waller, Chrissie Watkins
Of Note: This is the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death.
In connection with its production, Clayton Community Theatre will be hosting post-show discussion of the issues raised in the play on Friday, Oct. 19. These conversations will be hosted by Denny Patterson, who has studied the Shepards, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and their ongoing legacy.
Chris E. Ware and Jesse Munoz as Judas and Jesus. Ann K Photography“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”
Mustard Seed Theatre
Oct. 10 – 28
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., No Friday
Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre
6800 Wydown Blvd.www.mustardseedtheatre.com
Tickets: MetroTix.com
314-719-8060
What It’s About: Set in Purgatory, the trial to determine Judas’ fate is underway. A defense attorney argues that the disgraced disciple should not be damned for all time, that others are culpable in the greater scheme of things, while an overzealous prosecutor thinks a special place in hell is just fine.
A jury will decide Judas’ fate, but not before a parade of high-profile witnesses take the stand
Director: Adam Flores, resident artist
Starring: Courtney Bailey Parker, Rae Davis, Graham Emmon, Carmen Garcia, Chelsea Krenning, Erick Lindsey, Carl Overby, Chandler Spradling, Arielle Rovinsky, Rachel Tibbetts, Chris E. Ware, and Eric Dean White
Of Note: Mature/adult subject matter, language and content. Not recommended for children.
There are no Friday performances. Thursday evening performances on Oct. 18 and 25 are Pay With A Can/Pay What You Can performances.
Photo by Ann K Photography
“Legends and Lanterns”
Historic Main Street in St. Charles
Oct. 20-21, 26-28
Saturday, Oct. 20 – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 21 – noon to 5 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 26, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27 – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28 – noon to 5 p.m.
What It’s About: This Halloween, St. Charles will become literally a ghost town. Historic Main Street will be invaded by a plethora of playful paranormal poltergeists from parts unknown. These notorious and infamous witches, villains, and spirits from lore and legend will unleash the magic of their enchanted lanterns to bring you eerie entertainment. But don’t worry, these friendly ghouls have more treats to offer than tricks, and they enjoy meeting “little monsters” of all ages.
Finding its inspiration from the past, Legends & Lanterns offers the vintage charm of Halloween in the 1910s-1930s, to the historical rituals and customs brought to the holiday by the Druids and Victorians, to the ethereal atmosphere depicted in American ghost stories and Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
As you explore every mysterious nook and cranny of Main Street, you’ll unearth various activities that will bring to “life” the backstories and origins of this beloved holiday, All Hallow’s Eve. It’s a little bit silly. It’s a little bit macabre. But it’s all fun.
Some of the programs include “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Writers Block: Unbound,” and “Eerie Jamboree.”
Pick-up your official Legends & Lanterns Passport at the Tourism Center (230 South Main Street), Scarecrow Glen, Hayride Locations, or Plaza del Dia de los Muertos.
The Little Mermaid presented by Variety – Children’s Charity St. Louis at Touhill at University of Missouri – St. Louis on Oct 23, 2014.“The Little Mermaid”
Variety Theatre
Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18 – 21
Touhill Performing Arts Center
University of Missouri – St. Louis
www.touhill.org
What It’s About: Sing, dance and swim along as we follow Ariel’s journey to walk on land and find true love. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Variety Theatre is the country’s only production of its kind. Featuring an inclusive children’s ensemble performing alongside a professional adult cast, this Broadway classic is a must-see event.
Director: Lara Teeter
Starring Terrence Mann as King Triton; Berklea Going as Ariel; David Bryan Johnson as Prince Eric; Joy Boland as Ursula: Drew Humphrey, Alan Knoll, Ian Nolting, Dustin Crumbaugh, Michael Hawkins, Chandler Ford, Will Bonfiglio, Eileen Engel, Larissa White, Whit Reichert, Corbyn Sprayberry, Dena DiGiancina, Allison Newman, Caitlin Witty, JR Pruski, Jimmy Capek and Mason Kelso.
Of Note: In 2018, Variety Theatre was awarded the “Special Award for a Body of Work” by the St. Louis Theater Circle, an honor only presented when it is felt it is truly deserved.
“Macbeth: Come Like Shadows”
Rebel and Misfits Productions
Immersive Theatre Project
Oct. 24 – Nov. 10
Wednesday through Saturday at location patrons are bused to.
www.rebelandmisfitsproductions.com
What It’s About: Dive into a shocking world and discover the heart and dark underbelly of a story that you have undoubtedly come in contact with before, but never allowed full access to the dripping heat and intimacy pulled along by its characters. This is one of Shakespeare’s boldest and most passionate plays deeply imagined.
Who are the inhabitants?  Why do their souls choose the courses they embark upon?  What is behind the door? Immerse yourself in a world of direct interaction, walk into this complexly-woven tale, wade into its unlocked depths.
Co-Directors: Kelly Hummert, Sean Patrick Higgins with Jordan Woods assisting.
Starring: Sean Patrick Higgins, Jeffrey Cummings, Spencer Sickmann, Reginald Pierre, Paul Cereghino, Shane Signorino, Kelly Hummert, Aarya Locker, Phil Leveling, Patrice Foster, Joel Antony, Hailey Medrano, Tyler Cheatem, Cynthia Pohlson, Ali Linderer, Kevin Corpuz and Jordan Woods
Of Note: We invite you to meet these characters as you never have before. Drink with them.  Dance with them.  Share your secrets with them. They will, in turn, weave you into the fabric of the action. Come and experience this high-octane, dangerous, and sexy world, where nothing is ever quite what it seems.
Pick Up Location: 1615 South Broadway, St Louis, MO 63104 (parking lot near DB’s), buses will transport the audience to and from the location.
“The Naked Magicians”The Playhouse at Westport
Oct. 19-21 (5 shows)
Tickets: MetroTix at metrotix.com or by phone at 314-534-1111. Additionally, tickets will also be available at the box office one hour prior to show time.
www.playhouseatwestport.com
What It’s About: The Naked Magicians, the world’s naughtiest and funniest magic show, strips away the top hats and capes to promise full-frontal illusions with magic, muscles and endless laughs.
Starring: Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, two of Australia’s most famous magicians, w who have performed in seven countries and 200+cities. “Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants,” Tyler said.
Of Note: They are back by popular demand after their sold-out performances last year. Post-show meet-and-greet tickets for an additional $20.
The show includes coarse language, sexual references and some nudity and is intended for audiences 18+. For more information, go to www.nakedmagicians.com.
“Raging Skillet”New Jewish Theatre
Oct. 4 – 21
JCCA Wool Theatre, Creve Coeur
www.newjewishtheatre.com
What It’s About: A tasty adaptation of celebrity Chef Rossi’s autobiographical memoir, “Raging Skillet” – is equal parts book launch, cooking demonstration, heaping helping of comedy and a side of Jewish mother guilt.  When Rossi’s Jewish mother discovers the microwave, home-cooked meals become a thing of the past. What starts as a rebellion against her Orthodox parents, chauvinism in the kitchen and the pressures of conformity ends with Rossi becoming New York’s #1 punk-rock, Jewish, Lesbian caterer. This hilarious and heartfelt new comedy is based on her true-life story.
Director: Lee Anne Mathews
Starring: Sarajane Alverson as Chef Rossi, Kathleen Sitzer as her mother, and Erin Renee Roberts as DJ Skillet, sous chef and part-time DJ.
Of Note: Talkback scheduled for Oct. 18.
There is food.
“Redemption of a Dogg”
Stifel Theatre
Friday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m.
www.stifeltheatre.com
What It’s About: Je’Carvous Johnson’s new stage play examines the internal battle one man has between preserving his lifelong legacy and losing the love of his life, when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family. It is set against a backdrop of Snoop Dogg’s greatest hits.
“The Rocky Horror Show”
Washington University
The Performing Arts Department
Oct. 19 – 28
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Edison Theatre
314-935-6543
pad.artsci.wustl.edu
What It’s About: Cult classic rock musical. Newlyweds Brad and Janet have blown a tire. They abandon their car and stumble into Frank N Furter’s castle in Transylvania.
“Silent Sky”
Insight Theatre Company
Oct. 19 – Nov. 4
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center, 510 N. Grand
314 – 556-1293
www.insighttheatrecompany.com
What It’s About: When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love.
Director: Maggie Ryan
Cast: Gwen Wotawa, Henrietta Leavitt; Alex Freeman, Peter Shaw; Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Margaret; Jenni Ryan, Willamina; and Chrissy Steele – Abigail.
Of Note: The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.”
 
“The Tempest”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Oct. 12 – 21
Ivory Theatre
7620 Michigan
314-361-5664
www.stlshakespeare.org
What It’s About: A story of shipwreck and magic, “The Tempest” begins on a ship caught in a violent storm. Alonso, the king of Naples, is on board. On a nearby island, the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, tells his daughter, Miranda, that he has caused the storm with his magical powers.
Director: Patrick Siler
“Workers’ Opera”
Bread and Roses
Saturday, Oct. 20
Communications Workers of America Local 6300
Brunch Buffet & Performance Tickets are $20 in advance or at the door
Westport: 2258 Grissom Drive St. Louis, MO 63146
What It’s About: Written and performed by members of Service Employees International Union, Communications Workers of America, United Media Guild, Labor Engagement for the United Way, and others involved in the arts and organized labor.
Every sketch is full of good music, some history and lots of political humor featuring these workers-turned-actors.
Director: Kathryn Bentley, associate professor at SIU-Edwardsville and Artistic Director of the Black Theater Workshop. Music and script editing by Colin McLaughlin.

“The Zombies of Penzance”
New Line Theatre
Sept. 27 – Oct. 20
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.
The Marcelle Theater
3310 Samuel Shepard Drive in Grand Arts Center
Tickets: 314-534-1111
www.newlinetheatre.com
What It’s About: The world premiere of the rock musical, “The Zombies of Penzance: At Night Come the Flesh Eaters,” is based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Based on the conceit that the original draft, never seen before, was dated December 1878, Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn’t want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance, for obvious reasons.
Co-Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Windsor-Dowdy. Miller has painstakingly reassembled these rediscovered materials into their original form, filling in the gaps with educated guesses based on other G&S shows and drafts. St. Louis composer and orchestrator John Gerdes is reconstructing Sullivan’s music.
Cast: Most of the cast from New Line’s public reading in January will return, with Sean Michael as Frederic, Melissa Felps as Mabel, Zachary Allen Farmer as Major-General Stanley the Zombie Hunter, Dominic Dowdy-Windsor as the Zombie King, with Mara Bollini, Kent Coffel, Robert Doyle, Matt Hill, Lindsey Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Kyle Kelesoma, Melanie Kozak, Sarah Porter, Christina Rios, and Kimi Short.
Of Note: New Line Theatre, “the bad boy of musical theatre,” opens its 28th season of adult, alternative musical theatre. New Line has shocked the music world by discovering a controversial, long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896.
One of the team’s best-known works, The Pirates of Penzance, originally debuted in New York in 1879, and was revived to great success in the early 1980s with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt, and Rex Smith. What we now know is that there was an earlier, stranger draft of the show, which nobody knew about, with most of the same characters but a somewhat different plot.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing EditorTHAT VOICE: Are you on Team Kennedy yet? If you haven’t heard Kennedy Holmes, 13, from St. Louis in her blind audition on “The Voice,” be prepared to be wowed and understand why it went viral.
Part of The Muny Kids for five years, Kennedy starred as Little Inez in the 2015 “Hairspray” production, has sung the national anthem for Cardinals’ games and appeared as one of the Cratchit children in “A Christmas Carol” at The Rep in 2016. She is an eighth grader at John Burroughs School.
Her confident delivery of Adele’s “Turning Tables,” which showcased her control and range, impressed all four judges and got a 4-chair turn – and standing ovation.
She auditioned in Indianapolis earlier this year and is the youngest person in the singing competition this season. Producers saved her for the last spot and teased her appearance in a sneak peek last week that set her schoolmates and local folks buzzing. The cliffhanger coach pick was easy to guess.
Kennedy, while remarkably poised singing, got emotional over Jennifer Hudson, and then sang with her idol in an impromptu “I Am Changing” from “Dreamgirls.”
The guys made convincing pitches.
Adam Levine: “Very, very rarely does someone come around that kind of reignites our passion for what we do. And to hear you sing today did that. Just to see that kind of confidence naturally exist in you at such a young age, it’s unheard of. After the 15 seasons, you really could become the absolute biggest thing to ever come from this show.”
Blake Shelton: “Let me be the first to thank you for coming to ‘The Voice,’ ’cause our ratings are going to shoot through the roof this evening. I think you are the best vocalist that has auditioned this year. I want you to pick me as your coach so you can teach me how to sing like that.”
After Kennedy’s pick, Hudson was ecstatic. “I think the game is over because I just won ‘The Voice’ with little Miss Kennedy. Yes, I did.”
Here’s the clip from the Blind Auditions, which started Sept. 24. To date, her audition video has been viewed 3.6 million times on YouTube.com.

This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kennedy. It will be fun watching her progress on the national stage, next in the Knockout Rounds, then hopefully Battle Rounds and Live Performances. (And the local television and radio stations are all over it.)
***DEVIL MAY CARE: As the calendar turns autumnal, it’s time for sinister, spooky suspense. Five local theater groups have teamed up to present “Faustival: The Devils We Choose” – one in August and the rest through December.
The artistic collaboration is between Equally Represented Arts, The Midnight Company, Theatre Nuevo, SATE, and the Post-Romantics. They are presenting works on the Faust myth from the 16th century – about a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for perks.
ERA FaustIn August, ERA, along with Kid Scientist, presented “Faust (go down with all the re$t),” an experimental rock-opera-adaptation of Goethe’s most celebrated work.
Currently, The Midnight Company is presenting the one-act “An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening,” along with another one-act by Mickle Maher, “The Hunchback Variations.”
For more information, www.midnightcompany.com
In October, Theatre Nuevo will present “whither should I fly” from Oct. 25 – Nov. 10 at the William A. Kerr Foundation, 21 O’Fallon St., St. Louis. For more information, visit www.theatrenuevo.com
Starting on Halloween, “Doctor Faustus, or the Modern Prometheus” by John Wolbers and Kit Marlowe will be performed by Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE) Wednesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 17 at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, St. Louis. For more information, www.slightlyoff.org.
The Post-Romantics will present “Doomsday Faust” Dec. 5 – 8 at the Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive Street, St. Louis.
For more information, please visit faustival.org.
***MOVING ON UP: The aforementioned John Wolbers, who has adapted Faust for SATE, shared some exciting news recently. He is a new Producing Associate at the Metro Theatre Company. He has served as the full-time resident teaching artist at MTC since the 2012-2013 season. He will assist Artistic Director Julia Flood with casting, directing and production administration.
Andrew Kuhlman is Broadway bound! He is currently working in New York as a co-producer on “The Prom,” the Broadway musical comedy that begins previews on Oct. 23. Andrew, an associate producer at Stages St. Louis, made the announcement Sept. 7.
“I am beyond excited to be taking this journey with a show that I could not believe in more. I cannot wait for audiences to fall in love with this hilarious, heartfelt and energetic musical,” he said.
“The Prom” has some prominent local connections – including Jack Lane, at Stages St. Louis, as one of its producers. Lane already has two Tony Awards as part of the group behind “Fun Home” and “The Humans.”
Joe Grandy, Andrew Kuhlman of “The Prom”The show lyricist and book writer is Chad Beguelin, who grew up in Centralia, Ill. He’s a multiple Tony nominee, for book and lyrics to “The Wedding Singer” and lyrics to “Aladdin.”
The cast includes Muny favorite Beth Leavel, Tony winner for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and Muny veterans, including St. Louis natives Drew Redington and Jack Sippel, and Fairview Heights native Joe Grandy.
***WHO’S WHO: Upstream Theater is hosting renowned director Marianne de Pury who will stage the U.S. premiere of “Chef” by UK/Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz. The one-woman show, starring Linda Kennedy, opens Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 14.
Linda Kennedy, Photo by ProPhotoSTL“Chef” is the gripping story of how one woman went from being an haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope.
Originally from the French part of Switzerland, de Pury is known for her work with the famed Open Theatre, where she composed music for “America Hurrah” and “Viet Rock.” Since those days she has directed all over the world–mostly in Germany, where her most recent work, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” was nominated as one of the year’s best productions.
Playwright Rob Urbanati came to the ‘Lou for Tesseract Theatre Company’s opening of his play, “Mama’s Boy,” which explores the relationship between a controlling mom and her son, who gained infamy as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
Here he is with the cast after Friday night’s show. They got our attention opening night at the .Zack, conveying a roller-coaster of emotions played out in historical context.
Urbanati, of New York City, is a playwright, screenwriter, book author, director, and director of new play development at Queens Theatre in the Park. His well-constructed 2015 drama is a fascinating exploration of family dynamics. It’s directed by Brad Schwartz.
From left: Jeremy Goldmeier (Robert Oswald), Brandon Atkins (Lee Harvey Oswald), playwright Rob Urbanati, Donna Parrone (Marguerite Oswald) and Carly Uding (Marina Oswald).
Lynn Venhaus photo***AROUND TOWN: Alas, the Stephen Sondheim appearance in St. Louis Oct. 4 is sold out. He is accepting the 2018 St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates for being one of the most eminent lyricists and composers of the modern era.
He is the first musical lyricist to win the award since its inception in 1967. In a remarkable career spanning 70 years, Sondheim has written the lyrics, music —or both, for some of the most iconic and long running plays in the history of American theater.
The response was overwhelming, and all seats in the Sheldon Concert Hall and the simulcast viewing room have been reserved. During the event, which begins at 7 p.m., Mike Isaacson, executive producer and artistic director – and major Sondheim fan – will interview him on stage.
Three-time Tony Award winner “Avenue Q” has been extended three more weeks for its winter presentation at the Playhouse @ Westport.
Because of overwhelming ticket response, the “furry, funny and feel-good musical” will now run Jan. 25 – March 3. The cast is a combo of local and touring performers.
Another famous St. Louisan, poet, novelist and playwright A.E. Hotchner, an alumnus of Washington University, has endowed an annual Playwriting Festival. Three new works will be presented this weekend (Sept. 28 and 29) – “Tom and Grace” by Scott Greenberg, “Arriving At” by Ike Butler on Saturday at 2 p.m. and “Florida” by Lucas Marschke at 7 p.m. The guest dramaturg is Michele Volansky, chair of the drama department at Washington College in Maryland. The event is sponsored by Newman’s Own Foundation. For more information, visit: pad.artsci.wustl.edu.
The Stage Left Grille is now under Fox Management, so you can stop there for a bite to eat before a show at the Fox Theatre, the Kranzberg Arts Center or The Grandel, or any place in the Grand Arts Center.
“Confessions of a Nightingale,” a production from the Tennessee Williams Festival set for Nov. 1-4, has to be postponed until 2019.
***CHAMPAGNE & MOONSHINE: If you saw “Always, Patsy Cline” at Stages St. Louis in 2014 or at The Playhouse at Westport the following year, you must remember Jacqueline Petroccia as the star. A national sensation in that role, I recall that her velvety voice was “like butter.” She has released a debut solo album, the double EP “Champagne and Moonshine,” Collaborators on the album include musician royalty from Music City, including members of the Nashville Symphony, the award-winning Rascal Flatts, and Broadway Musician Brent Frederick.
Recorded live, with special permission, at the legendary and historic Quonset Hut on Music Row in Nashville, Tenn.,the album is available online through CD Baby (physical copy), Amazon, and iTunes.
The first EP, “Champagne,” features a big band sound appropriate for any ballroom or supper club, including an original arrangement mix “Crazy/Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Mambo Italiano.” The second EP, “Moonshine,” features new country music hits, and her original debut single “Your Name in Lights,” written by Brandon Hood, Hillary Lee Lindsey, and Troy Verges
Her other stage credits include the national tours of :The Producers,” “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She was a featured soloist on the album “Where the Sky Ends” by Michael Mott (Broadway Records) and has appeared on “Prairie Home Companion,” featured with the Williamsburg Swing Orchestra and in her solo cabaret show Sometimes Patsy Cline (productions at 54 Below and Regional Theatres). More information can be found at JacquelinePetroccia.com
***YOU GO GLEN COCO: “Is butter a carb? Whatever, I’m having cheese fries.”
Wednesday, Oct. 3, is unofficially known as National Mean Girls Day, so imaginative Chef Liz of Tenacious Eats has created a fun event for the evening. Tickets are $35 and include a Mean Girls-inspired cocktail, entree and Kalteen Protein Bar for dessert.
Expect some “fetch” prizes if you can answer some Mean Girls trivia and photo ops will be available with a Lindsay Lohan lookalike. Costumes are encouraged, and it is on a Wednesday, so you might want to wear pink!
The Tina Fey movie will be shown at 7 p.m. on the big screen at the West End Grill & Pub, 354 N. Boyle. Doors open at 6 p.m. for pre-show fun, Mean Girls trivia, prizes and photo ops. Tickets are available at: www.BrownPaperTickets.com.
***WORD: Decoding Theatre Reviews – a must-read: http://exeuntmagazine.com/features/theatre-reviews-decoded/
***GO SEE A PLAY POLL: Who are your favorite moms in musicals? Answer our poll and you will be entered in our drawing for two tickets to “One Funny Mother” at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m.
Dena Blizzard, former Miss New JerseyHilarious Dena Blizzard, best known as “The Target Mom,” is a viral sensation and former Miss New Jersey. Her one-woman show puts the fun in domestic dysfunction.
FAVORITE MOM IN MUSICALS:Mae Peterson in “Bye, Bye Birdie”Margaret Smith in “Carrie”“Big Edie” Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale in “Grey Gardens”Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray”The Witch in “Into the Woods”Lady Thiang in “The King and I”Margaret Johnson in “The Light in the Piazza”
Send your pick to: [email protected] by Monday, Oct. 1, at noon. Winner will be notified soon after, and arrangements will be made for your tickets to be waiting for you at the box office.
Our last winner was Christopher Strawhun for “Oklahoma!” at Stages St. Louis.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Let’s hear it for St. Louis native Chris Redd and longest-ever SNL cast member Kenan Thompson on their Emmy win for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for “Come Back, Barack,” a Boyz II Men-style parody from last November’s episode hosted by Chance the Rapper.

Q: Despite multiple nominations, SNL has won only once before, for what song?
Justin Timberlake and Andy Samburg’s collaboration, “D**k in a Box.”
Fun fact: Theme songs also count for the award. “Moonlighting,” “Cheers,” “Chico and the Man,” “Growing Pains” and “Police Woman” have won.
Chris Redd didn’t live in St. Louis long and moved to Chicago as a youth. He is back at “Saturday Night Live” for his second season, which starts this Saturday, with host Adam Driver and musical guest Kanye West.
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Tips? Contact: [email protected]

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
RISING STARS: Seeing talented teenagers passionately follow their dreams is such a thrill. The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation is ahead of the game, for it fosters, promotes, and encourages young people in the St. Louis region to discover and participate in the joy and wonder of live performances.
Besides the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition, the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation also produces a variety of other performing arts programs that focus on youth including Kids’ Night at the Fabulous Fox, Broadway Master Classes, Educational Encores, and is a producing partner of the 2nd Annual St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards.
This Sunday, they are sponsoring a free event that will feature 25 entertainment acts, including finalists from the 8th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition and nomineees from the 2nd Annual St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards:

The High Schooll Musical Theatre Awards representatives include: Outstanding Lead Actress winner Maggie Kuntz and nominees Paige Terch. Meg Gorton and  Sydney Jones
Outstanding Lead Actor nominees Tony Merritt and Jared Goudsmit.
Outstanding Supporting Actress nominees Annelise Laakko, Natalie Brown and Haley Driver.
The Teen Talent Showcase representatives include pianists John Yanev and Robyne Sieh, singers Morgan Taylor, Josh Royal, Bennett English and Jennifer Ferry; dancers Arielle Adams, De’Jai Walker, Madison Alexander, Megan Mayer, Brooke Reese, Hillary Zgonina, Kelsey Carnes and DessaRae Lampkins; alto sax player Kameron Huff and TBD (Lilliana Matthews, Aaron Moore, Everett Remstedt, Allan Stacy and Jalen Thompson.
The Rising Stars Showcase featuring the Stars of Tomorrow will take place on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 2 p.m. at The Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis. Admission is free and it is open to the public. For more information, visit: www.foxpacf.org.
 
Photo Maggie Kuntz, Dolly Levi in Cor Jesu’s “Hello,Dolly!” She went on to compete in the National Jimmy Awards.
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EXPLORE ST. LOUIS:  St. Louis will be rolling out the red carpet when throngs come to the city for the 100th PGA Championship Aug. 6 – 12 at the Bellerive Country Club.
Have you seen the four commercials that award-winning actor and St. Louis native Sterling K. Brown has done for the St. Louis Visitors and Convention Bureau? The 30-second segments are “Arch,” “Blues,” “Family Fun” and “Neighborhoods.”

Local actor, playwright and theater booster Stephen Peirick played Merriwether to Matt Lindhardt’s Lewis in the “Arch” commercial. He said Sterling was kind and introduced himself before they started working on the spot.
If you want to see the commercials or find out more about what’s happening here in August, check out www.explorestl.com.
 
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GO SEE A PLAY POLL: Meet at the Muny for “Meet Me in St. Louis,” the finale of the Muny’s Centennial Season! Those who send in their choice in the poll will be placed in a drawing for two tickets to any performance of “Meet Me in St. Louis” from Aug. 4 – 12 at the Muny in Forest Park.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” was a 1944 MGM movie before it was adapted as a stage musical in 1989, although the Muny presented it before that.in the 1960s and ’70s.
This 2018 production will feature a revised book by Gordon Greenberg and new orchestrations by John McDaniel is the first since 2009, and the eighth overall.
McDaniel, a Grammy, Tony and Emmy-winning producer, composer, conductor and pianist is from St. Louis. He was Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show bandleader from 1996 to 2002, and has worked with the Muny before, on the 2012 “Pirates!”
Poll Question for Ticket Drawing: What is your favorite movie that either takes place in St. Louis or was shot in St. Louis?
“The Game of Their Lives”“The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery”“King of the Hill”“Meet Me in St. Louis”“Up in the Air”“White Palace”
Send your selection by email to: [email protected] by 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3. Please include your phone number. The winner will be notified, and arrangements will be made with the Muny for the night you choose.
Our July 28 poll winner was Robert Kapeller of St. Louis. He won two tickets to “Evita” at The Rep on Sept. 7. As for the favorite girlfriends musical, “Wicked” won in a landslide.
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DOWN MEMORY LANE: The first time I saw the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” was at a free showing at the downtown Famous Barr department store the summer of 1974. They had special events and exhibits in honor of the 70th anniversary of the World’s Fair in St. Louis and showed the movie for free in their ninth floor exhibition hall. (That’s what was transformed into the holiday world extravaganza at Christmastime.) At the movie, they sold specially-priced iced tea and hot dogs, two refreshments who made their debut in 1904.
Sally Benson’s “Kensington Stories” was the basis for the movie, and her family lived at 5135 Kensington in north St. Louis city. The house is long-gone but this is what it once looked like, pictured at left.
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TRIVIA TIME-OUT: Forty years ago, the first National Lampoon movie, “Animal House” premiered. This groundbreaking movie first shown on July 28, 1978 spawned many knockoffs and launched the careers of many young stars, including the first film by SNL breakthrough John Belushi. (And is very helpful in the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game).
Question: Who are the two people associated with the movie that have a local connection?
Answer: Writer Harold Ramis attended Washington University, Class of 1966, and used his college days as a member of Zeta Beta Tau for inspiration. He would go on to fame as a writer, actor (“Ghostbusters”) and director (“Groundhog Day”), and returned to his roots here. He served two terms on the Washington University board of trustees and was master of ceremonies for Homecoming in 1984. Here is a 1979 photo of him back in a Wash U frathouse.

Karen Allen, who played Katy, was born in Carrollton, Ill. Her mother was from Jerseyville and her father from Roodhouse, and she spent summers visiting her grandparents in Jersey County after his FBI work took them to other cities for her first 10 years. Her father went to Washington University after her parents married; they met at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
I interviewed the delightful and very active Allen two years ago when she was being honored by the St. Louis International Film Festival. She said she enjoys seeing cast members at film reunion events.

At left she is shown with Peter Riegert. “Animal House” was her first movie.
To read more about her life, here is my feature in the Belleville News-Democrat. https://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article114225998.html
***WORD: Wise advice from the late great screenwriter, actor and director Harold Ramis:
“There’s a great rabbinical motto that says you start each day with a note in each pocket. One note says, “The world was created for you today,” and the other note says, “I’m a speck of dust in a meaningless universe,” and you have to balance both things.”
“No one will laugh at how great things are for somebody.”
“My only conclusion about structure is that nothing works if you don’t have interesting characters and a good story to tell.”
― Harold Ramis (1944 – 2014)
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WINNERS CIRCLE: Cinema St. Louis handed out awards for the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase on July 22. This year’s event featured 107 films, and some advanced to the 27th annual St. Louis International Film Festival Nov. 1 – 11. These are the juried award winners that were written, directed, edited, or produced by St. Louis residents or films with strong local ties.
DOCUMENTARIES
Best Use of Music: Busking on the Wagon, Randy Shinn and Drew Gowran
Best Sound: Such and Such, Cory Byers
Best Editing: Gateway Sound, Justin Fisher and Patrick Lawrence
Best Cinematography: Lingua Francas, David Christopher Pitt
Best Local Subject: The Man Behind the Merferds, Phil Berwick
Best Direction: Lisa Boyd, An American Tragedy
Best Documentary Short: For a Better Life, Yasmin Mistry
Best Documentary Feature: Gateway Sound, Justin Fisher
EXPERIMENTAL
Best Experimental Film: Passages in Revisiting: I Hear Someone Playing Urheen, Xinyue Deng
NARRATIVES
Best Costumes: Shutter, Nancy Eppert and Maude Vintage
Best Makeup/Hairstyling: East Plains: Get Out!, Jessica Dana
Best Use of Music: The Wedding Song, Ben Stanton, Thia Schuessler and Will Dickerson
Best Sound: Strings, Ross Mercer, Ryan Kneezle and Theo Lodato
Best Production Design/Art Direction: Parallel Chords, Gypsi Pate
Best Special/Visual Effects: Dawn of Man, Vlad Sarkisov
Best Editing: MLM, Benjamin Dewhurst
Best Cinematography: Parallel Chords, Kyle Krupinksi
Best Screenplay: Foxes, Tristan Taylor and Garrick BernardBest Actor: Ayinde Howell, Foxes
Best Actress: Jackie Kelly, Mother of Calamity
Best Direction: Richard Louis Ulrich, Steve
Best Animated Film: Tiffanys, Caitlin Chiusano, Sean Esser and Zhara Honore
Best Comedy: Cabin Killer, Michael Rich
Best Drama: Saint Sinner, Brian Cooksey
Best Narrative Short: Foxes, Tristan Taylor
Best Narrative Feature: Parallel Chords, Catherine Dudley-Rose
To see the list of films selected for SLIFF, visit www.cinemastlouis.org
Pictured are Best Actor Aynde Howell of “Foxes” and Best Actress Jackie Kelly of “Mother of Calamity” on the Showcase program.
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Have any tidbits for the column? Please contact Lynn Venhaus at: [email protected]
Featured photo of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis” from Tams-Witmark. Harold Ramis photos from Washington University archives.