Go See a Play: What’s Happening April 13 – 17

We quibble with T.S. Eliot about his famous quote. April is the cruelest month only if you can’t fit in all the theater that’s available. Talk about a full menu of offerings! Musicals, comedy, dramas, original and adapted works all in the mix this week, and Shake 38 is on the horizon. Here’s what’s happening in our orbit:

“Cardboard Piano”
West End Players Guild
April 12-15
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Thursday, April 12; 2 p.m. Sundays
Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Boulevard, St. Louis

What It’s About: In civil war-torn northern Uganda, a missionary’s daughter and a local girl exchange secret wedding vows and plan their escape, but they cannot evade the reach of the encroaching civil war.

Hansol Jung’s play explores the deep but tragic relationship between the two young women and a troubled child soldier they try to save. The cardboard piano is their symbol of the hope and courage needed to carry on in a hopeless world. But can anyone have the courage to forgive the unforgivable?

Director: Linda Kennedy

Starring: Frankie Ferrari, Reginald Pierre, Darrious Varner and Jazmine Wade.

Of Note: Patrons will get the first peek at West End’s upcoming 2018-19 season, their 108th.

“A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline”
The Playhouse @ Westport
April 17 – May 6
635 West Port Plaza, St. Louis 63146
Tickets: 314.534.1111
www.westportplayhousestl.com

What It’s About: A happy, loving tribute to one of country music’s most enduring superstars traces the legendary singer’s rise from her hometown in Winchester, Va., to the Grand Ole Opry, Las Vegas and Carnegie Hall. Patsy Cline defined the term “crossover hit” by dominating country, blues, pop and gospel charts simultaneously in the 1950s and early ‘60s. Featuring 21 of Patsy’s hits, including “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Sweet Dreams,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” “Seven Lonely Days” and the title song, “A Closer Walk with Thee.”

Starring: Julie Johnson

“The Dresser”

St. Louis Actors’ Studio
April 13-29
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Gaslight Theatre
358 N. Boyle St., St. Louis (CWE)
314-458-2978
www.stlas.org
Ticketmaster for tickets or 1 hour at the box office before showtime.

What It’s About: Based on the author Ronald Harwood’s own experiences as the dresser to Sir Donald Wolfit, this bracing, heartbreaking drama is an elegy to a bygone era. As World War II rages, backstage in a provincial English theatre, an aging, once-famous classical actor is troubled. Sir, the last in a dying breed of great Shakespearean actors, is unwilling to take to the stage and it falls to his faithful dresser Norman to rouse another great performance.

Director: Bobby Miller

Starring: John Contini, David Wassilak, Missy Heinemann, Bridget Bassa, Richard Lewis, Chuck Brinkley, Anthony Heinemann and Jeremy Goldmeier.

Of Note: With respect to the CWE neighborhood please do not park on the residential streets (Maryland, McPherson, Olive and Westminster). For your convenience, there is plenty of well-lit parking along Boyle Ave. from Maryland north to Delmar, on both sides of the street. Valet Parking Every Friday and Saturday night.

“The Fantasticks”
The Hawthorne Players
April 13 – 22
Florissant Civic Center
314-921-5678
www.hawthorneplayers.info

What It’s About: ‘Try to Remember’ a time when this romantic charmer wasn’t enchanting audiences around the world. “The Fantasticks” is the longest-running musical in the world. It is a timeless fable of love that manages to be nostalgic and universal at the same time.

Director: Colleen Heneghan

Starring: Tim Callahan as El Gallo, Janine Norman as Luisa, Sean Michael as Matt, Mark Lull as Hucklebee, Paul Morris as Bellomy, John Mefford as Henry, John Robertson as Mortimer and Denise Chappell Nickel as Mute.

 

Hamilton Orpheum Theatre cast

“Hamilton”

 

The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand
Through April 22
www.fabulousfox.com
MetroTix: 314-534-1111

What It’s About:  A story of America then, as told by America now, “Hamilton” is the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, a West Indies immigrant who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War, and the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.

The musical, with book, score and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway.

Director: Thomas Kail

Starring: (First National Tour, with replacements) Austin Scott, Nicholas Christopher, Julia K. Harriman, Sabrina Sloan, Chris De’Sean Lee, Ruben J. Carbajal, Chaundre Broomfield-Hall, Isa Briones, Carvens Lissaint, Peter Matthew Smith, and Alexander Ferguson.

Of Note: “Hamilton” won 11 Tony Awards out of record-setting 16 nominations in 2016. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, multiple Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk awards.

Yvette Lu of St. Louis is one of the swings in the ensemble, and Muny alum Sean Harrison Jones (Mike in “A Chorus Line,” “Newsies”) is a dancer.

The “Hamilton” Lottery gives away 40 orchestra tickets away a day (each $10). You can enter once a day for up to 2 tickets. Download the app or go online.

Tickets are also released daily. Check with metrotix.com

“An Inspector Calls”
Monroe Actors Stage Company
April 13-15, 20-22
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre, downtown Waterloo
www.masctheatre.org
618-939-7469
What It’s About: A mystery like “Murder on the Orient Express” that may perplex you or leave you hanging, it explores who is responsible for the death of beautiful young Eva Smith? Wealthy powerful Arthur Birling, or one of his family? His cold wife, amorous future son-in-law, jealous daughter or drunken son?

Director: Zona Ludlum

Starring: Jim Bradley, Maria Wilken, Anna Thies, Zach Thompson, David Zimmermann, Regan Aycock and Matt Dossett.

“Jesus Christ Superstar”
Stray Dog Theatre
April 12 – 28
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
Special performances at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, and at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, and April 25.
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee, St. Louis
www.straydogtheatre.org
314-865-1995

What It’s About: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1970 rock opera follows the last week of Jesus’ life, exploring his personal relationships and struggles with Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, his disciples, and the Roman Empire.

Director: Justin Been

Starring: Omega Jones, Phil Leveling, Heather Matthews, Lavonne Byers, Jon Hey, Riley Dunn, Kevin Corpuz, Mike Hodges, Gerry Love, Michael Baird, Maria Bartolotta, Tristan Davis, Ebony Easter, Corey Fraine, Stephen Henley, William Humphrey, Lindsey Jones, Tim Kaniecki, Kevin O’Brien, Belinda Quimby, Dawn Schmid, and Chrissie Watkins.

Of Note: Friday performances April 13, 20 and 27 will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing by students from the Sign Language Studies program at Southwestern Illinois College. The Sunday, April 22 matinee will offer MindsEye Audio Description for visually impaired patrons.

Community Outreach: In keeping with its mission of community outreach, non-perishable food is collected at each performance and donated to Food Outreach Inc.

“New Jerusalem”
New Jewish Theatre
April 4-22
Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theatre
New Jewish Community Center
2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur, 63146
www.newjewishtheatre.org
314-442-3283

What It’s About: Playwright David Ives’ “New Jerusalem, the Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Torah Talmud Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656” is the true story of Jewish philosopher Beruch de Spinoza, who was ex-communicated from Amsterdam’s Jewish community in the mid-1600’s in order to keep the peace of that city’s Jews.

Director: Tim Ocel

Starring: Will Bonfiglio, Jim Butz, John Flack, Greg Johnston, Karlie Pinder, Robert Riordan and Jennifer Theby-Quinn.

“Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine”

Playhouse @ Westport
April 12-15
635 West Port Plaza, St. Louis 63146
Tickets: 314.534.1111
www.westportplayhousestl.com

What It’s About: Award-winning dynamo Angela Ingersoll (“End of the Rainbow”) superbly captures the emotional and vocal power of Judy Garland live in concert. With her great big voice and naturally winning humor, Ingersoll soars in this loving homage. Iconic songs include “Over the Rainbow,” “Get Happy,” and “The Man That Got Away.” For more information, visit www.artistsloungelive.com.

Of Note: Chicago Tribune calls her “Magnificent. The best Judy Garland Chicago ever saw. Barring the real one.” Chicago Sun-Times exclaims, “Phenomenal. Angela Ingersoll was born to play Judy Garland. Ingersoll’s tour de force performance might well leave you believing you’ve encountered the ghost of the beloved film star.”

“Or What You Will, the Third”

Poor Monsters
April 12 – 21, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, Clayton
www.brownpapertickets.com

What It’s About: “Shakespeare: literary master or monkey with a typewriter? How about a coven of bad-ass vagina-wielding artists in Saint Louis? “Or What You Will, The Third” is a choose-your-own-adventure of sketches inspired by Shakespeare’s “Richard III” all written, produced, designed, and performed without Y-chromosomes.”

Director: Katy Keating

Starring: Alicen Moser, Ashley Bauman, Lex Ronan, Summer Baer and Thalia Cruz.

 

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“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”

 

St. Louis Shakespeare
April 12-15
7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan
www.stlshakespeare.org
314-361-5664

What It’s About: Tom Stoppard’s comedy, penned during the height of the absurdist movement, follows the two hapless friends of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as they go on a journey from which they never return. On a day like any other, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s peaceful morning is suddenly disrupted when a messenger from Elsinore castle raps on their window informing them that they have been summoned. Thus, begins the journey for our befuddled travelers as they explore fate, their purpose and very nature of existence.

Director: Suki Peters

Starring: Robert Thibaut as Rosencrantz, Ted Drury as Guildenstern, Isaiah Di Lorenzo as The Player, Scott McDonald as Hamlet, Nick Kelly as Claudius, Wendy Renée Greenwood as Gertrude, Dan McGee as Polonius and Eileen Engel as Ophelia.

As Tragedians and others: Joe Garner, Megan Wiegert, Genevieve Collins, Cliff Turner and Michael Pierce.

“Torn Asunder”

 

The Black Rep
April 13 – 29
Edison Theatre on Washington University campus
www.theblackrep.org
What It’s About: “Torn Asunder” by Nikkole Salter is set in Prince George’s County, Maryland, 1859. Hannah, a relatively contented enslaved woman, has her world rocked when her master dies and she, for the first time, is separated from her family, new husband, and baby. But, just as she begins to lose all hope to ever see her husband and child again, the seceded south falls to the Union, slavery is abolished with the 13th Amendment, and Hannah has the opportunity to put her family back together — if she can find them.

Director: Ron Himes

Starring: Carl Overly Jr., Alan Knoll, Graham Emmons

Of Note: World premiere. “Torn Asunder” dramatizes true stories of newly emancipated African Americans trying to overcome the ever-present vestiges of chattel slavery to reconnect with their families. Based on the research of Prof. Heather Andrea Williams in her book, “Help Me to Find My People,” Nikkole Salter was commissioned by her and Kathy A. Perkins to write the script.

“A Tree, Falling”

Upstream Theater
April 13 – 29
Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sundays at 7 p.m., except April 29, which is at 2 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand in Grand Center
www.upstreamtheater.org

What It’s About: Octogenarian Lenny was once a busy physician at the epicenter of a vibrant family who now has no recollection whatever of his earlier life. These days his chief adventure is the daily tracking down of the remote control — at least until a friendly social worker named Lola shows up. Try as she might to help Lenny recover his memory, though, he continues to live within the moment, and the poignancy of his plight forces Lola to question the meaning of her own past as well as her future.

Starring: Jerry Vogel, Kari Ely

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