By Lynn Venhaus
It’s back to school and back to work after vacation as summer winds down. It’s also back to the boards for local theater companies, as we do not have any openings, only shows returning for more performances.
The St. Louis Fringe Festival returns, as voices continue to be unleashed Thursday through Saturday in the Grand Arts Center.
Two showcases for primo voices have final performances this weekend, so you do not want to miss “The Light in the Piazza” and Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars.”
And the drama goes on in Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” and “King Charles III.”
Go, See a Play!
“King Charles III”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Aug. 17 – 26
The Ivory Theatre
What It’s About: Mike Bartlett’s controversial 2014 play is “a future history” about what happens after Queen Elizabeth II dies, and the prince ascends to the throne after a lifetime of waiting. But how to rule? Who are these people beneath the crowns, the conscience of Britain’s most famous family and the unwritten rules of our democracy.
Director: Donna Northcutt
Cast: Colin Nichols, Jeremy Goldmeier, Andra Harkins, Britteny Henry, Lexie Baker, Michael Bouchard, Patience Davis, Hannah Pauluhn, Donna Postel, James Reiss, Jeff Lovell and William Pendergast.
Of Note: This is the first production of St. Louis Shakespeare’s 34th season.
Photo by Ron James
“The Light in the Piazza”
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Aug. 10 – 26
The Marcelle Theatre
3310 Sam Shepard Drive
What It’s About: Winner of numerous Tony Awards in 2005, this musical tells the story of a young American woman vacationing with her mother in Florence in the 1950s. When the woman falls for a local Italian man, uncomfortable truths come to light about what was past and what may be future.”
Director: Christina Rios, with music direction by Sarah Nelson
Starring: Kay Martin Love as Margaret, Macia Noorman as Clara, Tielere Cheatem as Fabrizio, Stephanie Merritt as Franca, Micheal Lowe as Guiseppe, Kent Coffel as Signor Naccarelli, Jodi Stockton as Signora Naccarelli and Avery Smith as Young Clara.
Ensemble includes Robert Doyle, Lindy Elliott, Anthony Randle, Melissa Felps, Ann Heir, Chris Kernan, Jason Meyers and Louisa Wimmer.
Of Note: St. Louis premiere.
“Lost in the Stars”
Union Avenue Opera
Aug. 17 – 25
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 Union at Enright.
What It’s About: Kurt Weill’s provocative work addresses the weighty moral issues of racism and injustice, more relevant now than ever in St. Louis. For his final Broadway score, Weill took “Cry, the Beloved Country” – a powerful, uncompromising social indictment of apartheid South Africa – and gave it a passionate voice.
Two aging men – a black country parson and a white British planter – are drawn into friendship by a shared grief. The parson’s faith is challenged by his son’s unintentional murder of the planter’s son, while the planter acquires faith through the loss of his son.
Director: Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Cast: Leader – Roderick George, Nita – Evan Adams*, Grace Kumalo – Jeanitta Perkins*, Stephen Kumalo – Kenneth Overton*, James Jarvis – Tim Schall*, Edward Jarvis – Charlie Mathis*, Arthur Jarvis – Stephen Peirick*, John Kumalo – Reginald Pierre*, Alex – Sherrod Murff*, Foreman – Ross Rubright, Mrs. Mkize – Rose Fischer, Hlabeni – Michael Hawkins, Mark Eland – Chuck Lavazzi*, Linda – Melody Wilson, Johannes Pafuri – Abraham Shaw*, Matthew Kumalo – Carl Overly, Jr.*, Absalom Kumalo – Myke Andrews*, Irina – Krysty Sawnn*, Burton – Anthony Heinemann and The Judge – Joel Rogier.
Ensemble – Evan Adams*, Sharifa Black*, Madeleine Buckley*, Erika Cockerham*, Laurel Ellison Dantas, Ebony Easter*, Rose Fischer, David Goldman*, Brittany Graham*, Michael Hawkins, Anthony Heinemann, Merry Keller, Lisa Khaimova*, Gina Malone, Randell McGee, Maika Miller*, Paul Herbert Pitts*, Joel Rogier, Ross Rubright, Mark Saunders, Moses Anthony Weathers* and Benjamin Worley*.
*Union Avenue Opera debut
Photo by John Lamb
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Aug. 15 – Sept. 1
Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.
6238 Alexander Drive
What It’s About: Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential play “No Exit” is about three damned souls are brought to the same room in hell by a mysterious Valet. Expecting medieval torture devises to punish them for eternity, they are surprised by the deceptively simple and relatively ugly room. As they are all introduced, none of them will admit the reason for their damnation. But Inez demands that they all stop lying to themselves and confess to their crimes. The play is an exploration into the human psyche and the invisible wounds we are capable of inflicting upon others, and ourselves.
Director: Bess Moynihan
Cast: Rachel Tibbetts, Shane Signorino, Sarah Morris, Katy Keating
Of Note “No Exit” is the source of Sartre’s famous quotation ‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ or “Hell Is Other People.”
Photo by Joey Rumpell
“Race Cars and Romance”
St. Louis Fringe Festival National Headline Act
Aug. 23 – 25
The Grandel Theatre
What It’s About: A Fringe Family-Friendly Event starring “Something Rotten!’s” Kate Bailey and Ralph Meitzler, and directed by St. Louis native and Broadway star Brandon Bieber.
“Race Cars and Romance” is a fast-paced, hilarious rom-com that tells the story of a young woman mechanic fighting to earn professional respect in the male-dominated world of stock car racing. She is torn between her desires to find love in a traditional relationship and the reality of her agitated, greasy, masculine working conditions. Her fortunes turn for the better after an unexpected meeting with an old foe and down-and-out race car driver leads to a winning relationship on the track but troubled romance off the track. Meanwhile, traditional relationships are redefined when her best friend, the playful Louraine finds her first “respectful” relationship, former shop owner Paw Paw offers dear Grandma Myrtle appreciation that’s long overdue, and other colorful customers find their connections while keeping the oil change business in non-stop laughter.”
St. Louis Fringe Festival
Aug. 23 – 25, Thursday through Saturday
Grand Arts Center
What It’s About: Original material – theater, dance, music, comedy, circus arts, performance art, cabaret and burlesque – are accepted for the annual festival. Tech is minimal and shows are often brief.
Fringe builds community by connecting uncensored, unjuried performing arts with accessible and affordable performances for audiences.
Venues: Kranzberg Art Center Black Box and Studio theatres, The Duet Gallery, The Grandel and .Zack.
Here is the line-up Aug. 23-25. For dates and locations, visit www.stlouisfringe.com
“Any Man in America” – Declaration Stage Company
“The Bothered” – Rogue Theatre Company
“Broadway Favorites” – Debut Theater Company
“The Countdown” – Open House Theatre
“The Devil’s Passion” – Bankside Repertory
“Ectopic: A Hypersexual Play” – Tesseract Theatre Company
“Grim Tales, Horific Vignettes” – Spooky Scary Productions
“Intervals” – Mill Hill Productions
#MeToo, Her Voice Must be Heard” – Until You’ve Walked in Her Shoes Inc.
“Now Playing Third Base for the St. Louis Cardinals…Bond, James Bond – The Midnight Company
“Pain” – Tony Marr Jr.
“Perennial Growth” – Whale of the People
“Political Snarkasm” – The Riccardi’s
“Race Cars and Romance” – National Headline Act
“Tall Tale Camp Tale” – On a Wing and a Prayer
“Til the Cold Winter’s Through – because, why not?