What’s hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July? Local theater! This round-up is a lighter schedule because of the holiday, but if you’re in a festive mood, supporting art is always elevating.
The heat is certainly on indoor stages – Neil LaBute returns to St. Louis Friday to attend the sixth annual New Theatre Festival that bears his name, which is held every July at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. First batch of juried one-acts is presented over the first two weekends, while second batch arrives mid-month for another two-weekend round. The festival concludes STLAS’ 11th season.
Union Avenue Opera opens its 24th season with a Gilbert and Sullivan classic, “HMS Pinafore,” considered by many to have been a major influence on modern musical theater.
Take Two Productions wraps up its ode to Aqua Net and hard-rock hair bands from the ‘80s in the first regional production of the Tony-nominated “Rock of Ages,” while another wildly popular jukebox musical, “Jersey Boys,” premieres at the Muny. The Muny’s version of The Four Seasons’ rise to fame will be the first licensed production in the world.
Union Avenue Opera
July 6 – 14
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 Union at Enright
What It’s About: Union Avenue Opera opens its 24th season with the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera classic, “H.M.S. Pinafore,” or, “The Lass That Loved a Sailor.” It opened in 1878, becoming the second-longest run of any musical theater piece up to that time. It was the fourth collaboration by composer Arthur Sullivan and librettist W.S. Gilbert.
Aboard the ship, HMS Pinafore, the captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw. However, he father wants her to marry Sir Joseph Porter. Things will go haywire and silliness will abound, as it pokes fun at the British class system, patriotism, party politics and the ‘Peter Principle’ rise of unqualified people to positions of authority.
Starring: Steven Condy* as the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB; Thomas Gunther*, Captain Corcoran; Anthony Heinemann, Ralph Rackstraw; Jacob Lassetter, Dick Deadeye; Jason Mallory*, Bill Bobstay: Randell McGee, Bob Becket; Leann Schuering as Josephine; Erin Haupt as Cousin Hebe; and Katherine Calcamuggio*, Little Buttercup.
Ensemble – Abby Benson, Danielle Feinstein, Grace Fisher, David Goldman, Christina Kruger*, Jason Mallory*, Randell McGee, Sarah Paitz, Mark Saunders, Philip Touchette, Louisa Wimmer and Benjamin Worley*.
Director – Eric Gibson, with conductor Scott Schoonover
Of Note: This opera is sung in English and there will be projected English text.
Photo by John Lamb
July 9 – 16
Nightly at 8:15 p.m.
The Muny at Forest Park
MetroTix 314-534-1111 or Muny box office: 314-361-1900
What It’s About: Winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, “Jersey Boys” is the authentic biographic story of the magic behind the music of worldwide megahit group, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
The musical, with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, includes more than 30 chart-topping hits. Such fan favorites as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Oh What a Night.”
Starring: Mark Ballas as Frankie Valli, Bobby Conte Thornton as Bob Gaudio, Nicolas Dromard as Tommy DeVito and Keith Hines as Nick Massi, with Neal Benari as Gyp DeCarlo and Nicholas Rodriguez as Bob Crewe.
Ensemble includes Michelle Aravena, Candi Boyd, Tommy Martinez, Carissa Massaro, Trina Mills, Harris Milgrim, Dakota Mullins, Ben Nordstrom, Michael Seltzer, Gabi Stapula, Daryl Tofa and Victor Wisehart. The company will also be joined by the Muny Teen youth ensemble
Director: Josh Rhodes, who also choreographed, with music direction by Rick Bertone.
Of Note: This is the first licensed production of “Jersey Boys” in the world.
“LaBute New Theatre Festival”
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
July 6 – 15 (Part 1), 8 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre, 358 N. Boyle
What It’s About: The festival, now in its sixth year, features professional, new and previously unproduced one-act plays 45 minutes or less in length, chosen from submissions to the festival over the previous year. However, Neil LaBute premieres a one-act that runs every weekend during the fest.
The plays in Part 1 are:
“4th Reich” by Neil LaBute
“Shut up and Dance” by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich
“Advantage God” by Norman Kline
“Hipster Noir” by James McLindon
John Pierson directed three, and Wendy Greenwood helmed “Shut Up and Dance.”
The high school finalists will have staged readings at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 7, and admission is free.
Photo by Patrick Huber
“Rock of Ages”
Take Two Productions
June 29 – July 7
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Southhampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind Ave.
What It’s About: It’s the end of the 1980s in Hollywood, and one of the legendary venues on the Sunset Strip is threatened to be ‘cleaned up’ when German developers sweep into town with plans for a strip mall. Aspiring rock star Drew works there, along with small town girl Sherrie, fresh off the bus from Kansas. Can they help save the place and live happily ever after?
Starring: Jacob Bizaillion, Leah Loren Koclanes, Jordan Dennis, Gage Seitz, Kyle Kelesoma, Elise Brubaker, Robert Annis, Matthew Hansen, Jazzy Danziger, Melinda Call, Sara Rae Womack, Tim Kaniecki, Yianni Perahoritis, Jack Ryan Pelee, Maggie Nold and Kim Smith.
Director: Gary Long, with Music Director Nicolas Valdez
Of Note: A portion of ticket sales will benefit Kids Rock Cancer, a music program through Maryville University for young cancer patients and their families.
Photo by Gerry Love
Featured Image from “H.M.S. Pinafore” and shot by John Lamb