By Lynn Venhaus
As the year winds down, so do our stage offerings. But there is plenty of cheer to mark the holidays — the national tour of “Anastasia” is at the Fox while the Church Basement Ladies are rocking around the Christmas tree at The Playhouse@Westport and Alice’s Rock ‘n Roll Adventure is enthralling kids and adults at The Grandel.
The first production of the new year kicks off at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “Alabama Story” begins previews Jan. 2. Inspired by true events and written by Kenneth Jones, the drama is about a determined librarian and a segregationist senator who face off over an innocent children’s book in 1959 Montgomery.
Make sure your new year includes plans to Go See a Play!
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Jan. 2 – Jan. 27
What It’s About: Depicting the marriage of two rabbits — who happen to have different colored fur — the story has Sen. E.W. Higgins calling for a book ban. But even as the pressure mounts, librarian Emily Wheelock Reed refuses to yield to censorship. Inspired by true events, this is a stirring testament to free expression.
Director: Paul Mason Barnes
Starring: Jeanne Paulsen (Emily Wheelock Reed), Carl Palmer (Senator E.W. Higgins), Larry Paulsen (Garth Williams, Others), Corey Allen (Joshua Moore). Anna O’Donoghue (Lily Whitfield) and Carl Howell (Thomas Franklin)
The Fabulous Fox
Dec. 26 – Jan. 6
www.metrotix.com or www.fabulousfox.com
What It’s About: Inspired by the beloved films, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical “Anastasia” is from the Tony Award-winning creators of “Ragtime,” Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics), with a book by playwright Terrence McNally.
It transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas”
The Playhouse @ Westport
Nov. 8 – Jan. 6
635 Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights
MetroTix: www.metrotix.com or 314-534-1111
What It’s About: An all-new holiday show is set in 1959, on the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. During holiday preparations, the down-to-earth ladies are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present. Content to do things the way they have always been done, yet pondering new ideas, the reality of everyday life hits home as they plan the Sunday School Christmas Program.
As the children rehearse in the sanctuary, several of the ladies are in the kitchen finishing up the treat bags filled with apples, peanuts and ribbon candy while the others put the final touches on the nativity pieces. As they mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them.
Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!
Directors: Lee Anne Mathews and Emily Clinger, with music direction by Joseph Dreyer
Cast: Rosemary Watts, Lee Anne Mathews,
Of Note: Performances are Sundays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., Saturdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Additionally, tickets will be available at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza box office one hour prior to show time. Groups of 10 or more can call 314-616-4455 for special rates.
All five installments of the musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies” are inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller “Growing Up Lutheran.”
“Wonderland: Alice’s Rock ‘n Roll Adventure”
Metro Theatre Company
Dec. 2 – Dec. 30
The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center
What It’s About: Part rock concert, part theater, all of your favorite characters as Metro Theater Company presents this new, wild and wondrous take on Lewis Carroll’s beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization. A cast of actors/musicians plays an eclectic mix of everything from soul and rock to punk to ska as Alice chases through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. A fun, hip, and refreshing fusion of music, theatre and poetry, it is the search for one’s authentic self, asking how can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you’re still writing the song? It places Alice in a strange, new world, where she conquers her fears and uses her musical skills to defeat the Jabberwock.