By Lynn Venhaus
Another opening, another show, and another, and another…We have an abundance of riches in the St. Louis region this weekend — many solid offerings from St. Peters, Mo. to Waterloo, Ill.
Whether it’s established playwrights like Arthur Miller, Sarah Ruhl or Laura Gunderson or emerging writers, we encourage you to take a fresh look at a classic or dive in to something new.
Speaking of playwrights, homegrown Beau Willimon will be in town Thursday night to attend the preview performance of his drama, “Farragut North.”
Willimon, who adapted the British TV series “House of Cards” for the American version on Netflix, is a graduate of John Burroughs High School, where he was a student of director Wayne Salomon.
It’s the final week for several shows — “District Merchants” at New Jewish Theatre, “Wittenberg” at Upstream Theatre and “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” at R-S Theatrics. “Fiddler on the Roof” tour ends its St. Louis stop on Sunday.
Openings include “The Crucible” at Stray Dog Theatre, “Farragut North” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio, “Oslo” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” at West End Players Guild.
Four shows open in Community Theatre — “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Act Two, ” “First Date” at Clinton County Showcase, “Little Shop of Horrors” at MASC and “Eurydice” at Clayton Community Theatre.
Metro Theatre continues with “The Hundred Dresses,” “Avenue Q” goes through March 3 at The Playhouse at Westport, “Deenie Nast Is Back” is just on Fridays, and SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” has two more weekends.
Whatever you are in the mood for, you can find it in the ‘Lou, or by crossing one of the bridges. Wherever you go, GO SEE A PLAY!
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
Jan. 25 – March 3
What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s purpose.
Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie Mueller
Starring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger
Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
“Black Theatre Workshop”
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.
Of Note: In honor for the 20th anniversary celebration of Black
Theater Workshop, SIUE Theater and Dance welcomes the return of alumnus Greg
Fenner who directed this year’s edition of BTW “Black in My Day.”
Fenner has worked in professional theater in both St. Louis and Chicago, and is the recipient of Best Actor in a Comedy for “Fully Committed” from the St. Louis Theater Circle.
“Classic Mystery Game”
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE)
Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Jan. 30 – Feb. 16
The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, 63105
What It’s About: SATE opens its Season of Ritual with a parody of the cult classic 1985 movie, “Clue,” written by Katy Keating. She has written about the failure of capitalism in a climate-changing world.
The film was written by Jonathan Lynn, and that was based on the game, “Cluedo,” which was created by Anthony E. Pratt.
Director: Katy Keating
Starring: Will Bonfiglio. Maggie Conroy, Michael Cassidy Flynn, Carl Overly Jr., Reginald Pierre, Ellie Schwetye, Rachel Tibbetts, Kristen Strom, Marcy Wiegert and Bess Moynihan
Of Note: Wednesdays, Feb. 13, are “Pay What You Can”
Stray Dog Theatre
Feb. 7 – 23
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; special 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Feb. 17.
Tower Grove Abbey
What It’s About: Lies. Betrayal. Lust. In 1690s Salem, a young girl leads a Puritanical purge of witchcraft against a local farmer and his wife. As fear and excitement grow in the town, the accusations grow more ferocious and terrifying, until no one is safe, and the truth is obscured completely. Written by Arthur Miller and winner of the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.
Starring: John Proctor: Graham Emmons, Elizabeth Proctor: Cynthia Pohlson, Abigail Williams: Alison Linderer, Mercy Lewis: Sienna DeSuza, Rebecca Nurse: Suzanne Greenwald, John Danforth: Joe Hanrahan, Ezekiel Cheever: Charles Heuvelman, John Hathorne: Jonathan Hey, Ann Putnam: Laura Kyro, Francis Nurse: Chuck Lavazzi, Susanna Walcott: Zoe Liu, Giles Corey: Gerry Love, Hopkins : Michael Maskus, Sarah Good: Liz Mischel, Thomas Putnam: Tom Moore, John Willard: Stephen Peirick, Rev. Samuel Parris: Ben Ritchie, Betty Parris: Avery Smith, John Hale: Abraham Shaw, Mary Warren: Chrissie Watkins and Tituba: Kelli Wright.
“Deenie Nast is Back”
Ten Directions and the St. Lou Fringe
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Feb. 1, 8 and 15
Emerald Room at The Monocle
What It’s About: One-woman show by Audrey Crabtree features international performance superstar Deenie Nast, who delivers a no holds barred, song-filled tribute to her lonely fans. Nast presents a hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of relationships, loneliness, and true connections. Nast sings the hits from her past, revealing very personal stories. Songs, physical comedy and audience interaction are involved.
New Jewish Theatre
Jan. 24 – Feb. 10
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Wool Studio Theater
Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive
What It’s About: Love, litigation, deep passions and predatory lending are taken to a new level. The play wades fearlessly into the complexities of life in America. It is set among Black and Jewish populations in an imagined time and place, simultaneously Shakespearean and post- Civil War Washington, D.C.
Directed by Jacqueline Thompson
Cast: Gary Wayne Barker, J. Samuel Davis, Courtney Bailey Parker, Alicen Moser, Erika Flowers, Karl Hawkins, Ron White, Rae Davis
Of Note: In Aaron Posner’s re-imagining, the play becomes less about the quality of mercy and more about how flexible a supposedly egalitarian society can be to the varied tribes struggling to find partners in America. Aaron Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like we are. In his “uneasy” comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today.
“Don’t Dress for Dinner”
Act Two Theatre
Feb. 8 – 17
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre
What It’s About: Bernard and Jacqueline are a not-so-happily married couple, both of whom are having extramarital affairs. As Jacqueline prepares to go out of town to visit her mother, Bernard invites his mistress and Robert, his best friend (and also Jacqueline’s lover, unbeknownst to Bernard), over for the weekend. He’s even hired a Cordon Bleu chef to cater the evening. Jacqueline discovers Robert is coming to town and cancels her trip, causing Bernard to panic. When Robert arrives, Bernard asks him to pretend Suzanne is Robert’s mistress. Robert mistakes the chef, for Bernard’s mistress, producing a highly complicated dinner of hilarious hijinks, secret trysts and slapstick comedy.” Performances take place in the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 1 St Peters Centre Blvd, St. Peters, MO 63376. For more information: act2theater.com.
Director: Paul James
Starring: Trish Nelke, John Emery, Laura Deveney, Becky Loughridge, Travis Wiggins, Justin Spurgeon
Clayton Community Theatre
Feb. 7 – 17
Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Washington University South Campus Theatre
6501 Clayton Road
Tickets by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What It’s About: This “weird and wonderful” (New York Times) retelling of the Greek myth about the musician Orpheus and his wife Eurydice ruminates on love, loss, and the power of memory. “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl is one of the few retellings of the classic myth told from the heroine’s perspective. It considers her untimely death and descent to the Underworld, what she finds there, and her difficult decision of whether or not to return to Earth with Orpheus. “Eurydice” was nominated for Drama League and Drama Desk awards in 2008.
Director – Jessa Knust
Starring: Eurydice – Mary Tomlinson, Orpheus – Wil Spaeth, Eurydice’s Father – Jeff Lovell, Nasty Interesting Man / Lord of the Underworld – Britteny Henry, Big Stone – Jack Janssen, Little Stone – Amie Bossi, Loud Stone – Ann Egenriether
“Exit, Pursued by a Bear”
West End Players Guild
Feb. 8 – 17
Showtimes are 2 p.m. Sundays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with Thursday the second week.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End
What It’s About: Nan Carter has had it. She’s had it with her husband Kyle’s “good ole boy” ways – the coming home drunk, the passing out on the couch, but not before he gives her a good shot or two. More importantly, she’s had it with a life contained within the four walls of their dreary North Georgia cabin. She knows there’s a more exciting world out there, and she’s decided to leave Kyle’s world behind and go find her own.
But first, she’s going to have some fun.
With the help of her stripper pal Sweetheart and her best bud theatre pal Simon, Nan is going to duct tape Kyle to his favorite chair, put on a little show to teach Kyle the error of his ways and then feed him to a bear.
Director: Teresa Doggett
Starring: Lexa Wroniak as Nan Carter, Alex Fyles as Kyle Carter, Tara Ernst as Sweetheart and Ethan Isaac as Simon.
Of Note: The play marks a return for playwright Lauren Gunderson, recognized last year by American Theatre magazine as America’s most-produced playwright. Gunderson’s Silent Sky was the big hit of WEPG’s 2018-19 season.
Please note that the Thursday show is on Valentine’s Day. For this show only, all ladies in attendance will receive a flower and chocolate. Gentlemen will receive a red duct tape bracelet.
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Feb. 8 – 24
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.
358 North Boyle
What It’s About: Stephen Bellamy is a wunderkind press secretary who has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a tight presidential primary race, Stephen’s meteoric rise falls prey to the backroom politics of more seasoned operatives. “Farragut North” is a timely story about the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it.
Director: Wayne Salomon
Starring: Spencer Sickmann, Peter Mayer, David Wassilak, Luis Aguilar, Hollyn Gayle, Shannon Nara and Joshua Parrack.
Of Note: Playwright Beau Willimon, who grew up in St. Louis and was a student of the director at John Burroughs School, will be in attendance for a special preview on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m.
The West End Grill and Pub will be open before and after the performances for drinks.
“Fiddler on the Roof”
Jan. 29 – Feb. 10
The Fabulous Fox Theatre
529 N. Grand
What It’s About: Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.
The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.
Clinton County Showcase
Feb. 8 – 17
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
Avon Theatre, 525 N. Second St., Breese, Ill.
What It’s About: Aaron is a “blind date virgin,” while Casey has been on more than her fair share. When the two are set up by a mutual friend, sparks fly-or do they? The night unfolds over the course of this couple’s hilarious first date, and it’s not without its share of surprises in the form of imaginary visits from Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, Casey’s uptight sister, the pair’s protective parents and even their future son.
“The Hundred Dresses”
Metro Theatre Company
Feb. 3 – Feb. 25
The Grandel Theatre
What It’s About: Wanda Petronski, the new girl in Room 13, is a Polish immigrant who lives in a shabby house and doesn’t have any friends. Every day she wears the same faded blue dress, but tells her new class-mates that she has a hundred dresses at home. Her classmates tease Wanda about her hundred dresses until one day she disappears from school. As guilt overtakes the children, they decide to find out what happened to Wanda and to make amends. But is it too late? Bullying, friendship and forgiveness are at the center of this play adapted from the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor Estes.
Cast: Sophie Murk as Wanda, Alicia Revé Like as Maddie, Hailey Medrano as Peggy, Philip C. Dixon as Mr. Mason, and Jacob Cange as Tommy/Mr. Svenson
Of Note: Eleanor Estes wrote down her childhood memories while recovering from tuberculosis and became a children’s author. Her many published works are widely read; but “The Hundred Dresses” continues to be the most popular, remaining in print since its publication in 1944. It was awarded the Newbery Honor in 1945. Speaking about “The Hundred Dresses” Eleanor Estes said, “I am holding up a mirror, and the scene reflected in the mirror is a true image of childhood, and the mirror, besides reflecting, also speaks and echoes the clear, profound, unpremeditated utterances, thoughts, and imageries of these children. I like to make children laugh or cry, to be moved in some way by my writing.
“Little Shop of Horrors”
Monroe Actors Stage Company
Feb. 8 – 10, 15 – 17
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Historic Capitol Theatre
What It’s About: Science fiction mixes with romantic comedy for the musical based on the Roger Corman B-movie, “Little Shop of Horrors,” with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. Seymour Krelbourn works for a florist on skid row and purchases a strange plant that appears during an eclipse, which he names Audrey Two. He has a crush on his co-worker Audrey, who dates a sado-masochistic dentist. The plant is a big hit, and things get weird.
Director: Matt Dossett, with music direction by Marcia Braswell
Starring: George Doerr IV as Seymour, John Jauss as Mr. Mushnik, Julie Petraborg as Audrey, Seth Acock as Orin, Tim McWhirter as Audrey Two, and Sarah Polizzi, Kara Grossmann and Hannah Lindsey as the street urchin chorus, with Jeff Clinebell, Valleri Dillard, Jennifer Kerner, Reagan Posey, Rachel Mackenzie, Mark Sochowski and Austin Brouk.
Of Note: A sensory-friendly performance is set for Sunday, Feb. 10.
“The Motherf**ker with The Hat”
Jan. 25 – Feb. 3
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
.Zack, 3224 Locust
What It’s About: How do you know where you’re going…if you don’t know who has been in your home? The serio-comedy explores how five people in New York navigate loyalty, trust, and duty through friendship, love and the challenges of adulthood. And how no one should ever underestimate the importance of cleaning up their accessories.
Director: Carl Overly Jr.
Starring: Adam Flores, Sofia Lidia, Jesse Munoz, Aaron Dodd, Taleesha Caturah.
Of Note: Adult themes and language, recommended for mature audiences.
Feb. 8 – March 3
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
130 Edgar Road, St. Louis
What It’s About: The winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play, this play by J.T. Rogers is set in 1993, when two bitter enemies shocked the world by shaking hands and agreeing to work towards peace. “Oslo” finds the unlikely story behind the historic event.
The drama explores the secretive and precarious negotiations that made that moment possible and focuses on the Norwegian couple who brokered talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Director: Steven Woolf
Starring: Jim Poulos, Kathleen Wise, Rajesh Bose, Ben Graney, Jerry Vogel, Michael James Reed, Amro Salama, John Rensenhouse, Michelle Hand, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Jeff Cummings, Jim Shankman, Chaunery Kingsford Tanguay, Jack Theiling and Tom Wethington.
Of Note: “Oslo” is recommended for adult audiences. The show contains strong adult language and weighty discussions about global politics and diplomatic relations.
Jan. 25 – Feb. 10
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. except Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center
What It’s About: It’s October 1517, and the new fall semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class of 1518) is returning from a summer in Poland spent studying astronomy, where he has learned of a revolutionary scientific theory that threatens the very order of the universe, resulting in psychic trauma and a crisis of faith for him. His teacher and mentor John Faustus has decided at long last to make an honest woman of his paramour, Helen, a former nun who is now one of the Continent’s most sought-after courtesans. And Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s instructor and priest, Martin Luther, is dealing with the spiritual and medical consequences of his long-simmering outrage at certain abusive practices of the Church.
Director: Philip Boehm
Starring: Casey Boland, Steve Isom, Alan Knoll and Caitlin Mickey.
Of Note: St. Louis premiere.