Dance the Vote, a St. Louis based arts and civic engagement initiative, founded by theatre artist and activist Joan Lipkin four years ago will be featured in an upcoming program, Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, a nationally televised event on Thursday, Oct 29, at 8pm Central on CBS and other platforms.

Following their first performance outside Vintage Vinyl, an iconic record store in St. Louis for a few dozen people on a rainy afternoon, Dance the Vote attracted over one thousand people at the midterms at the Missouri History Museum for a community dance class, performances by diverse dance companies, spoken word artists and singers about the history and importance of voting, paired with voter registration.

When the pandemic hit and following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, they pivoted to commission and center dance videos, predominantly by choreographers of color. The themes continue to be about the history and significance of voting, as well as what issues might compel someone to vote including: climate change, racial justice, disability, incarceration, gender equity, women’s suffrage, the wall, and more.

The pieces were released in a series of weekly episodes in pairs of two or three dances, and each episode included information on how to register to vote, check voter registration, and the phone number for the election protection hotline for questions or issues at the polls.

The pieces may be seen on YouTube, Instagram (@dancethevotestl), Facebook (@DanceTheVoteStl), Twitter (@DanceTheVoteStl), and Vimeo as well as their website www.dancethevotestl.org.

This summer, Dance the Vote and Webster University partnered to offer a competition for college students throughout the United States honoring the late congressman John Lewis, called Make Good Trouble: Why John Lewis Inspires Me to Vote. Cash awards have been issued in several categories including mixed media, video, dance pieces, painting, collage, and photo essay.

Joan Lipkin

“We are honored to be included in this exciting program about voting because it recognizes the essential role that the performing arts can play in voter education and advocacy. In addition, Dance the Vote exemplifies how a small grass-roots organization with a promising idea can offer a model for the arts and civic engagement for many communities. We are pleased to have St. Louis showcased on this important national platform,” said Joan Lipkin, founder of Dance the Vote.

Every Vote Counts is a celebration of civic engagement and one last push to get people to vote.

Hosted by Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, and Kerry Washington, with appearances by Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Cobie Smulders, Coldplay, Condoleezza Rice, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, John Kasich, Kelly Clarkson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Natalie Portman, Shaquille O’Neal, Tan France, Wilmer Valderrama, and more, with performances by Alicia Keys, Dan + Shay, Offset, and Shawn Mendes.

Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy, a nationally televised and streamed event, will air on the CBS Television Network and will be streamed via CBS All Access on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 9 PM, ET/PT, 8PM CST. The special will also be available via the following platforms: iHeartMedia radio stations and app, Apple Music, Apple TV App, Amazon Music, Twitch, NowThis, YouTube, Twitter, TIDAL and Facebook, with more to be announced.

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


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

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

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

The Band’s Visit touring show

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

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

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

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

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

Brett Amber


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by John Lamb


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Black Rep will present a concert version of the
Broadway hit musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at the 560 Music Center on Saturday,
Oct, 12, for One Night Only.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a musical revue with a book by
Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr., and music by various composers and
lyricists as arranged and orchestrated by Luther Henderson. It is named after
the song by Fats Waller (with Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf), “Ain’t Misbehavin’”.

The musical is a tribute to the black musicians of the
1920s and 1930s who were part of the Harlem Renaissance, an era of growing
creativity, cultural awareness, and ethnic pride. It was a time when Manhattan
nightclubs like the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom were the playgrounds of
high society and Lenox Avenue dives were filled with piano players banging out
the new beat known as swing.
An ensemble of performers present an evening of rowdy, raunchy, and humorous
songs that encapsulate the various moods of the era and reflect Waller’s view
of life as a journey meant for pleasure and play.

The Chicago Sun Times said: “Fun and off-the-charts
galvanic energy are the main orders of the day in this show… Talk about
“Spreadin’ the Rhythm Around.” Pure joy.”

The Huffington Post said: “This is a boozy, after hours
party, and we’re all invited.”

The cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ in concert features cast
members from the Season 43 opening hit production of “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t
Cope” led by Drummond Crenshaw, Amber Rose, Tyler White, Robert Crenshaw, and
Sieglinda Fox.

It is directed by Producing Director Ron Himes, with
musical direction by Charles Creath, choreography by Kirven Douthit-Boyd and
Heather Beal.

Proceeds from the 2019 Gala go to support The Black Rep’s
Community and Education programs such as: 
Summer Performing Arts (SPA), Teen Tech Program, The Professional Intern
Program and many others.

Other highlights of the evening will also feature a
presentation of the Frankie Muse Freeman Spirit Awards to Anne Marie Clark and
Wesley Bell as well as the Woodie King Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr.
Glory Van Scott and George Faison.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is sponsored in part by Centene
Corporation, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Edward Jones, Webster University, McCormack
Baron Salazar Inc., Keith Williamson, Gisele Marcus, Tom and Barbara Feiner,
Loren and Marcia Grossman, Lionel Phillip, Hank Webber and Chris Jacobs.

For tickets or more information, contact the box office at
314-534-3807 or go online to theblackrep.org.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Rain, heat, humidity and bugs. Acting on outdoor stages brings its own set of
problems, which Patrick Blindauer knows first-hand. He performed in three shows
this summer, kicking off the season with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis as
Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost,” then moving on to the Muny in “1776” and
“Footloose.”

“I’ve never been as aware of the weather as I am when
working outdoors. If I see it’s going to be hot, I have to make sure to start
hydrating an hour or so beforehand. I’m also a big proponent of sunscreen and
bug-spray,” he said.
An above-average rainfall has wreaked havoc on performance schedules, and recently,
an extreme heat wave has made performing outdoors a challenge. In “Footloose,”
he is rocking a permed mullet as Coach Roger Dunbar. Although when the weather
broke, Monday’s crowd was the highest of the season – a beautiful night at the
Muny.

“Footloose” is the third time he is working in a show with his wife, Rebecca Young.

“First was “My Fair Lady” at Stages St. Louis and then there was “Annie” at the Muny last year (She played Warbucks’ maid Mrs. Pugh, he was Bundles – picking up the laundry at the orphanage). This year we’re actually playing husband and wife (Eleanor Dunbar, who is on the Bomont school board),” he said.

Young is a veteran of regional and national stages. She toured in “The Producers” and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, appeared in “Carnival!” at the Kennedy Center and at Stages St. Louis in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “On the Town,” in addition to the “My Fair Lady,” where she met Patrick. They have been married for eight years and have one daughter, Magnolia, aka Maggie, who is 3 years old.

Blindauer graduated from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University and moved to New York City in 1998. He can be seen in the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind” – he had one line — and was on seven episodes of “Strangers with Candy,” a Comedy Central series that ran for three seasons. Never mind working with Russell Crowe. What was working with Amy Sedaris like?

“She’s awesome. So sweet off-camera, but such a cut-up on
the set. She would have an idea for a moment and do a couple of different takes
so they could pick later. I’m so glad she’s having continued success,” he said.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner presented by Upstream Theater at Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis, MO on April 9, 2015.

He returned to St. Louis in 2011 and became known for an eclectic body of work. He is versatile enough to join Jerry Vogel in the intense drama “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” at Upstream Theater and to cavort as the accordion-playing Cheshire Cat in the musical “Wonderland: Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure” at Metro Theatre Company last holiday season.

Besides this year’s Shakespeare Festival, he has worked
with the group in last year’s “Romeo and Juliet,” as part of the prologue and
played Peter and the Apothecary. He was in the Festival’s “Shake in the Streets”
original “Twelfth Night” take “The World Begun,” performed in north St. Louis in
September 2015.

He thinks the festival is one of the city’s best summer
traditions.

“It’s incredible. Where else can you have a picnic and
watch free Shakespeare under the stars with thousands of other people?” he
said.

Patrick Blindauer as Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost”His performance as Costard in “Love’s Labors Lost”received rave reviews from theater critics. A comic character, he is a country bumpkin who is arrested for not adhering to the king’s proclamation that all men of the court avoid the company of women for three years.

He enjoyed portraying Costard and the opportunity to work with executive producer Tom Ridgely, who directed for the first time after moving here last year.

“Costard is such a fun role. He’s a clown who also figures into the plot, and I was given lots of freedom to play around, which I appreciated,” he said. “Tom speaks the speech very well, and I thought that he fostered a collaborative, congenial atmosphere in the rehearsal hall. I’d love the chance to work with him again.” Another fun role was the iconic Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” for the Variety Theatre in 2017. He will return in this year’s “Mary Poppins,” set for the Touhill Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. The Variety Children’s Charity sponsors an annual musical that includes children with physical and developmental disabilities working with professional actors.

The Variety Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz” in 2017“Variety is an amazing organization, one that truly
transforms lives, and their yearly musical is a thing of beauty. ‘Oz’ was a ton
of fun and working with those kids and Lara (Teeter) was a real treat. I can’t
say anything about ‘Mary Poppins’ quite yet, I’m afraid,” he said.

Returning to the Muny the past few seasons has been a pleasure, he said.

His first role at the Muny was in “42nd Street” in 2016 – well, actually three, as Mac, Thug and Doctor. He performed several parts in last season’s “Annie” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”

He was cast as Samuel Chase, a representative of Maryland
in the Continental Congress, in “1776,” which was a special experience for him.

“I was actually born on the 4th of July, and I’m named
after Patrick Henry, so anything patriotic definitely catches my attention.
I’ve been a big fan of the movie for many years, and this is my second
production, having previously played Lee,” he said.

Patrick as Samuel Chase is second from left. Photo by Phillip HamerThe Muny’s closing performance of “1776” was on July 3, but because of a rain delay, the actors actually signed the Declaration of Independence on stage on July 4 – very cool because it was not only our real Independence Day, but Patrick’s birthday too.

He was looking forward to working with two-time Tony winner Christian Borle as director of “Footloose,” making his Muny debut. (This interview was done before the show rehearsals had begun).

“Oh my God, I can hardly believe it. I will have to refrain
from pinching myself constantly,” he said.

He has ventured out of St. Louis, too, portraying Horton in “Seussical” this spring at the Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Mo., part of their theater for young audience program.

“The World Begun” Shake in the Streets with Marlene Coveyou

Being a working actor in St. Louis means side gigs, too.
His day job is quite impressive, however, and has gained him national
recognition.

He is a professional crossword puzzle constructor, publishing more than 60 in the New York Times, including a week-long contest similar to his Puzzlefests.

He has had work published in USA Today, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Crosswords with Friends and the GAMES magazine.

He is one of the 10 constructors featured in Will Shortz’s
Favorite Puzzlemakers. He cohosts the crossword tournament Lollapuzzoola, which
takes place in NYC every year on a Saturday in August. He also writes for the
American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

A proud word nerd growing up, he began his lifelong love of puzzles from the time his mom bought him Mr. Light and his dad shared his Games magazines, he said. The theater bug bit hard in junior high school.

But he didn’t take up solving crosswords until the summer
of 2004.

“I quit smoking cigarettes and wanted something else to do
with my free hand, so I took up solving. After about a year, I tried to make
and sell one, which was much harder than I’d imagined,” he said. “My first
puzzle was published by the New York Times on July 21, 2005 (a Thursday).”

He is considered a clever puzzle writer by the industry and fans.

“I just try to make fun puzzles, puzzles that push the
envelope and revolve around a theme or gimmick that I would find exciting to
discover as a solver. I like to break the crossword rules and surprise solvers
or give them a real aha moment,” he said.

You can find more about his work at his website,
www.patrickspuzzles.com

The Rime of the Ancient MarinerQUESTIONS WITH PATRICK BLINDAUER 1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

 “My first production
was ‘Oliver!’ when I was 12, and it was truly a family affair: I played the
Artful Dodger, my dad played Fagin, my sister was an orphan, and my mom helped
with costumes. I loved the sense of community and the feeling of working
together toward a common goal — I still do.’

2. How would your friends describe you?

“Probably as someone who likes to make people smile,
whether that means telling a joke or a story, being silly, or giving them my
latest crossword to try.”

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

“As the father of a three-nager, my spare time lately is
taken up by playing make believe, going to the park or library, and reading
books. I also enjoy letterboxing, which involves following clues and going on
hikes to find hand-carved rubber stamps.”

4. What is your current obsession?

 “When I’m not in
rehearsal or performing, I’m constructing crossword puzzles for newspapers,
various clients, or my website: patrickspuzzles.com.”

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

“I was a professional magician when I was a teenager, and I
still love to do tricks with coins or a deck of cards.

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

 “Being present at
the birth of my daughter was the most incredible thing. She has made my life
richer and fuller than I ever thought possible.”

7. Who do you admire most?

“My wife, Rebecca–she is so funny and caring and
thoughtful. I’m very lucky to have found her, and she makes me a better person
every day.”

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

“Going into outer space is a dream of mine–astronauts need
theatre, too, right?”

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

“Visiting the Magic House or the City Museum with my wife
and kiddo.”

10. What’s next?

“My wife and I will both be in “Footloose,” where
we will be playing husband and wife.

And “Mary Poppins” at Variety.

MORE ABOUT PATRICK:

“Wonderland: Alice’s Adventures in Rock and Roll”Name: Patrick Blindauer Age: 42 Birthplace: Louisiana Current location: Ballwin, Mo. Family: daughter Magnolia Education: BFA from Webster University Day job: Crossword constructor and Dad First job: Fry Guy at Red Lobster First role: Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” Favorite roles/plays: Horton in “Seussical,” Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” Dream role/play: King George in “Hamilton,” Nostradamus in “Something Rotten!” Awards/Honors/Achievements: One of Will Shortz’s 10 favorite puzzlemakers Favorite quote/words to live by: “All the world’s a stage…” A song that makes you happy: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams