You know what’s in bloom besides the daffodils? Fresh, live theater at venues large and small – and in the streets. Shake, shake, shake your Will groove thing. That’s right, all of the Bard’s 38 plays are somewhere in town, in some form, during the next five days (April 18-22). Better yet, some programs are free. But wait, there’s more. Come inside for Drama! Comedy! Musicals! And under a tent for a mystery. Cross the mighty Mississippi to Illinois for a St. Louis playwright’s Broadway-worthy work and the local premiere of “Little Miss Sunshine.” Read on, but Go See a Play!
“The Case of the Missing Bellhop”
April 19 – May 13
What It’s About: The world-famous Balding Hotel has long been an exclusive getaway for dignitaries and nobility from around the world. A place where the staff and crew have unusual skills and where people can go about their business without many questions asked – making the hotel famous for luxury and impeccable service. But when a beloved bellhop goes missing, the Balding begins to attract attention. Secrets proliferate and questions abound! What happened to the bellhop, and who knew about it?
Of Note: Circus Flora has a new home, 3401 Washington Blvd., St. Louis.
“A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline”
The Playhouse @ Westport
April 17 – May 6
635 West Port Plaza, St. Louis 63146
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
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Gaslight Theatre
358 N. Boyle St., St. Louis (CWE)
Ticketmaster for tickets or 1 hour at box office before showtime.
What It’s About: Based on the author Ronald Harwood’s own experiences as 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, Emily Baker, 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 nights.
The Bankside Repertory Theatre Company
April 19-21 and 26-28 at 7:30 p.m.
Jacoby Arts Center
627 E. Broadway, Alton
What It’s About What constitutes a “normal” family? St. Louis educator Deanna Jent’s remarkable play presents the joys and challenges of real life family dynamics when one member is autistic.
Director: Sue Ellen Coughtry
Starring: Bankside Repertory Theatre Company members Chrissy Calkins Steele and Geoff Callaway, along with Jack Janssen, Tommy Nolan and Hannah LePoidevi
The Hawthorne Players
April 13 – 22
Florissant Civic Center
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.
Through April 22
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
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre, downtown Waterloo
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 25.
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee, St. Louis
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 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.
“Judgment at Nuremberg”
The Midnight Company, in partnership with SATE artists
7:3o p.m. Wed. – Sat., with 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
Missouri History Museum, Forest Park
What It’s About: “Judgment at Nuremberg” depicts the second wave of Post World War II trials at Nuremberg, as influential judges who cooperated with the Nazis, including the character Ernst Janning, portrayed as one of the most eminent German legal minds of the pre-war era, face a military tribunal.
Director: Ellie Schwetye
Starring: Mark Abels, Steve Callahan, Jack Corey, Charlotte Dougherty, Cassidy Flynn, Francesca Ferrari, Steve Garrett, Joe Hanrahan, Charlie Heuvelman, Hal Morgan, Michael B. Perkins, Terry TenBrook, Rachel Tibbetts, Jaz Tucker and Chuck Winning.
Of Note: Originally produced on television in 1957, made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1961, then adapted for the stage, premiering on Broadway in 2001, “Judgment at Nuremberg” not only brought some of the worst Nazi atrocities to public attention, but has become one of the twentieth century’s most important records of the Holocaust. In the play, Mann’s compassion strikes at the heart of human suffering, and it remains a play that unfortunately is as potent and relevant as ever. The play’s achievement has been to reaffirm humanity and justice in the wake of unspeakable evil.
“Little Miss Sunshine”
Curtains Up Theater Company
Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Wildey Theatre
252 N. Main St., Edwardsville
What It’s About: Based on the 2006 Oscar-nominated movie, this musical comedy features music and lyrics by William Finn (“Falsettos”) and book by James Lapine (“Into the Woods”). The Hoover family takes a road trip across country to fulfill young Olive’s desire to compete in a children’s beauty pageant.
Director: Carol Hodson and Christy Luster
Starring: Maeve Durkee, Carries Wenos Priesmeyer, George Doerr, Scott Tripp, Howard Bell, Vince Ojeda, Ella Sedabres, Elizabeth Guehlstorf, Scout Clement, Nadja Kapetanovich, Kya Wonders, Dianna Thompson Pallas, Connor McDonald and Ian Wonders.
Of Note: Play contains adult content.
New Jewish Theatre
Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theatre
New Jewish Community Center
2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur, 63146
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.
“Or What You Will, the Third”
April 12 – 21, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, Clayton
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.
The Black Rep
April 13 – 29
Edison Theatre on Washington University campus
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”
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
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
Shake 38: Ninth annual
What It’s About: Each spring, SHAKE 38 gives Shakespeare back to St. Louis residents, artists, performers, and fans of his work in a marathon celebration of the Bard’s 38 plays. Since its first year in 2010, SHAKE 38 has grown from a 38-hour performance by 200 artists to a five-day event attracting over 1,500 artists from across the region and dozens of diverse community partners. Only one rule exists for participants: Make the play happen any way you see fit. The result is a dazzling array of events across the St. Louis area, designed for a variety of audiences to enjoy.
Here is a sampling:
A take on Othello
because why not? theatre company
2 free performances on April 21
10:30 p.m. and midnight
What It’s About: One in three women has been the victim of violence by an intimate partner. Em is one of those women. Trapped in the cycle of an abusive relationship with her husband Jake, Em feels desperate and longs to escape. But will she be able to, before it’s too late? Based on the supporting characters in “Othello,” “Em” is a sobering, heartbreaking tale of the wrong turns “love” can make and the many forms abuse can take.
A take on King Lear:
“El Rey del Pollo”
Free reading 5 p.m. April 21
La Vallesana, 2801 Cherokee
What It’s About: El Rey del Pollo is a reading of the brand new (and very silly) adaptation of King Lear by Theatre Nuevo. This Shakespearean telenovela involves fierce sibling rivalry, a lot of backstabbing, and a giant chicken suit. The story is fun for the whole family… just not the one on stage. Enjoy a plate of La Vallesana’s arroz con pollo (or pistachio ice cream) and the passionate tale of El Rey del Pollo, which is just shy of an hour.
Adapted by Amanda Wales, with concept, direction and narration by Anna Skidis-Vargas. Starring: Rahames Galvan, Thalia Cruz, Cassandra Lopez, Wendy Renee Greenwood, Kelvin Urday, Adam M. Flores, Jesse Munoz, Carl Overly Jr.
An all-female take on Richard III (see Poor Monsters above)
A take on Antony and Cleopatra:
“Dat Asp: An Improvised Antony and Cleopatra”
The Improv Shop
What It’s About: Love! Heartbreak! Asps! The Improv Shop proudly presents Dat Asp: An Improvised Antony & Cleopatra. In sixty minutes, with little to no planning, our cast of talented cast of improvisers will present the entirety of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra. Adults only (18+).
“The Merchant of Venice”
April 20, 7 to 7:45 p.m.
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Columbia, Ill.
What It’s About: The Merchant of Venice, adapted for Readers’ Theatre, with illustrated storytelling and folk songs.
April 21, 3 to 4:30 p.m.
What It’s About:
|Set in the modern-day world of punk and emo-rock music, the students of Villa Duchesne are stoked to present their version of Twelfth Night at SHAKE 38. Shakespeare’s classic text is mixed with the songs of Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and more bring to life the impulsive, raw, full-throated declarations of love and the urgent, boundless pain of that love unrequited.|
April 21, 7 p.m.
William A. Kerr Foundation
Come experience the body-strewn rise and fall of Macbeth as Blind Pigs present a full production of the Scottish tragedy, in the intimate space of the Wiiliam A. Kerr Foundation.
Much Ado About Nothing
April 22, 6 to 7 p.m.
Tower Grove Park Turkish Pavilion (near the south gate)
What It’s About: “Much Ado About Nothing” will be an immersive, exciting, choose-your-own-adventure event! There will be a pre-show experience at 5:45 p.m. where audience members will be able to interact directly with the characters in the show. Guests will be given the option to sit in the shade and watch the central story, OR follow any character exiting a scene on their own separate adventure. What could be more magical than a masquerade at sunset?