Go See a Play! What’s Happening Feb. 15-23

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
We say Ha! to winter storms. OK, eight of the 12 winter storms so far with snow/ice accumulation have happened on a Thursday, Friday or weekend, primo time for productions. So pick one close by and go. (Except SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” is sold out for rest of the run.)
We have a smorgasbord of offerings – comedies, dramas, musicals – some vintage, some timely, all from dedicated theater companies with devoted performers.
Put on your galoshes and GO SEE A PLAY!

“Avenue Q”
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.

“By the Way…Meet Vera Stark”
Feb. 13 – 24
Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Emerson Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center

Photo by Eric Woolsey

What It’s About: A new comedy from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Lynn Nottage, this draws upon the screwball films of the 1930s to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. “By the Way…Meet Vera Stark” is a 70-year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career.

“Classic Mystery Game”
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE)
Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Jan. 30 – Feb. 16
The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, 63105

Photo by Joey Rumpell

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

“The Crucible”
Stray Dog Theatre
Feb. 7 – 23
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; special 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Feb. 17.
Tower Grove Abbey
2336 Tennessee

Photo by Justin Been

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.

Photo by Eric Woolsey

“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 tickets@placeseveryone.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.

“Farragut North”
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Feb. 8 – 24
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m.
Gaslight Theatre
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, Shannon Nara, Joshua Parrack, Hollyn Gayle, Luis Aguilar

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.

 “First Date”
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.

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
Waterloo, Ill.
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.

“Milk Like Sugar”
The Black Rep
Feb. 13 – March 3
Hotchner Studio Theatre
Washington University campus

What It’s About: The impact of racism on African American youth, observing the cyclical nature of inherited trauma, the normalization of underfunded communities, the dire need for education that nurtures latent talent, childhood hunger, the categorization of Black youth as adults, and the injustice of the criminal system. The myth of self-determination and seeing those who cannot escape their circumstance as inferior is keeping us for mobilizing and tithing whatever time and talent we might have to give into those communities. This play affirms these children need us, just as much as we need them.

Photo by Peter Wochniak

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.

“The Vagina Monologues”
Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.
That Uppity Theatre Company and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri
.ZACK, 3224 Locust in Grand Center

What It’s About: The event will feature one of the largest and most diverse casts of women seen on stage in St. Louis and will include cisgender, transgender, non-binary, African American, Asian American, Latina, white, immigrant, and refugee women, spanning several decades in age. The play explores consensual and nonconsensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, direct and indirect encounters with reproduction, sex work, love, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm, and many other topics.

Directors: Rhonda Cropp, Joan Lipkin, Suki Peters, and Pam Reckamp. Technical direction by Michael Perkins.

Starring: Galina Angheluta, Anna Blair, Teresa Doggett, Paige Russell Elias, Carmen Garcia, Pam Reckamp, Gail Smith, Margeau Steinau, Sara Lin, Alderwoman Annie Rice, Christa Lou Cunningham, India Reid, Judi Mann, Talichia Noah, Jeanitta Perkins, Mariah Richardson, Grace Wilder, and Miss Leon (aka Dieta Pepsi). Featuring live drumming by Lisa Frumhoff, Debbie Blackwell, Rithia Brown, Angela Rey Guerrero and Natalie Turner Jones

“The Zoo Story” and “Black Comedy”
Feb. 13 -17
St. Louis Community College at Meramec
Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

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