Jesse Darden as Candide and Thomas Gunther. Photo by Dan Donovan.

Go See a Play! What’s Happening July 5 – 10

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Got plans for the weekend? Despite a slowdown with the Independence Day holiday, July has kicked off with a bang – Union Avenue Opera begins its 25th season with “Candide” and the LaBute New Theatre Festival settles in for the month.

R-S Theatrics presents a concert version of their acclaimed 2013 “Parade,” with many of the cast members returning for the one-night-only performance July 6. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” makes its Muny debut Monday. An all-female cast continues in “The Revolutionists.”

If you have an extended holiday break, it’s time to go see a play!

Dress rehearsal on July 2, 2019 for Union Avenue Opera’s production of Candide.

(Scottish Opera House version)
Union Avenue Opera
July 5, 6, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 N. Union Blvd.

What It’s About: War! Earthquakes! Disease! Very bad things happen to very good people (and plenty of bad ones too). When young Candide’s marriage proposal to a baron’s daughter doesn’t quite go as planned, this naïve student of optimism is thrust into an eye-opening odyssey across lands near and far. What follows is Leonard Bernstein’s cherished adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide opening Union Avenue Opera’s 25th Anniversary Season.

 Candide is part opera, part musical, and entirely irreverent. Voltaire’s philosophical spoof becomes a brilliant and breathless operetta set to a vivid score by Bernstein which abounds with spectacular music that includes a famous overture, the soprano showpiece “Glitter and Be Gay,” and the soaring finale, “Make our Garden Grow.” Through all its hysterical scouring of 18th-century wickedness and woe, Candide still finds a way to move and inspire with life-affirming lessons that, surprisingly, ring just as true today.

Book by Hugh Wheeler, after Voltaire; Lyrics by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Leonard Bernstein

Presented in English with English supertitles

Director: Annamaria Pileggi; Conductor Scott Schoonover

Starring: Christine Brewer as The Old Lady, Jesse Darden as Candide, Brooklyn Snow as Cunegonde, Charlie Tingen as Maximillian, Gina Malone as Paquette, Captain/Vanderdendur – Christopher Nelson and Thomas Gunther as Voltaire. Greg Johnston and Graham Emmons make their UAO stage debuts covering a variety of supporting characters. Th chorus has 16 emerging artists.

Ensemble and supporting characters: Sharifa Black, R. Nathan Brown, Aleksandar Dragojević, Danielle Feinstein, Grace Fisher, Michael Hawkins, Anthony Heinemann, Emily Heyl, Jeffrey Heyl, Merry Keller, Liya Khaimova, Jason Mallory, Sophie Shugart, Joel Rogier, Leann Schuering, Philip Touchette.

Of Note: “I have always enjoyed and been impressed with productions I have seen at UAO and I can’t think of a better place to make my opera directorial debut! I love the sweeping and theatrical nature of Candide. The breadth and scope of the story, along with the lushness and scale of Bernstein’s music make Candide a quintessentially live event. There is something thrilling about being in the same room with Candide as he journeys through all of the trials and tribulations of his story,” Pileggi said.

Student rush tickets are available at the door for $15 (cash only) with a valid student ID.

 “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”
The Muny
July 8 – 16
Forest Park

What It’s About: The classic tale goes like this — With a Stepmother and two stepsisters gearing up for the ball, Cinderella has no chance to go, but a Fairy Godmother comes to her rescue, and she is able to meet Prince Charming. This is an updated, female-forward story.

Despite three “Cinderella” TV movies with the Rodgers and Hammerstein score – Julie Andrews in 1957, Leslie Ann Warren in 1965 and Brandy in 1997, this version had never appeared on a Broadway stage until 2013. This is not the same story as the Disney animated feature in 1950 nor the live-action film in 2015.

Directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, with music direction by

Starring: Mikaela Bennett (Ella), Jason Gotay (Prince Topher), Ashley Brown (Marie), Alison Fraser (Madame), John Scherer (Sebastian), Stephanie Gibson (Gabrielle), Jen Cody (Charlotte), Chad Burris (Jean-Michel) and Victor Ryan Robertson (Lord Pinkleton).

Ensemble includes Akilah Ayanna, Jack Brewer, Jordan De Leon, Emma Gassett, Samantha Gershman, Jeff Gorti, Katie Griffith, Juan Guillen, Julie Hanson, Michael Hartung, Joshua K.A. Johnson, Kamal Lado, Amanda LaMotte, Commodore C. Primous III, Payton Evelyn Pritchett, Mikayla Renfrow, Cooper Stanton and April Strelinger. The company will also be joined by the Muny Kid and Teen youth ensemble.

Of Note: “Enchantment is demanded, and enchantment there will be. This will be The Muny premiere of this recent Broadway edition of Cinderella, and this is an exciting company of artists to create real Muny magic,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson.

R-S Theatrics
Saturday, July 6 at 7 p.m.
3224 Locust St.

What It’s About: A one-night-only concert revival of “Parade,” by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry, will feature many of the original St. Louis cast members of R-S Theatrics’ production in 2013. This is a benefit for R-S Theatrics.

On Confederate Memorial Day, 1913, 13-year-old Mary Phagan, an employee of the National Pencil Company was found murdered in the basement of the company’s factory in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite no evidence implicating him, the factory supervisor, Leo Frank, a Jewish man originally from Brooklyn, NY, was arrested, tried, and convicted of the murder. The notoriety and anti-Semitism surrounding the case led to two groups emerging, the revival of the defunct KKK and the birth of the premier Jewish Civil Rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League.

Of Note: Needless to say, “Parade” is an even more an essential work of theater today than it was in 2013. You can purchase tickets for the show only at the door for $35/person.

Carly Rosenbaum and Jaz Tucker in “Great Negro Works of Art”

LaBute New Theater Festival
July 5-14, July 19-28
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Gaslight Theatre
358 N. Boyle, St. Louis
Box Office:, 800-982-2787; will also be available at the theater box office one hour prior to performances

What It’s About: New previously unproduced one-act play submissions of 45 minutes or less are juried and selected. They must not have more than four characters and be able to

 Six plays were chosen: One group to be performed in the first two weeks of July, the final group in the second two weeks. “Great Negro Works of Art,” a Midwest Premiere from Mr. LaBute, will be performed every night for the run of the festival.

July 5-14, Set One:

“Great Negro Works of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson, starring Carly Rosenbaum and Jaz Tucker

“Color Timer” by Michael Long (Alexandria, VA), Directed by Jenny Smith, starring Colleen Backer, Rachel Bailey and Shane Signorino

“Privilege” – by Joe Sutton (West Orange, NJ), Directed by Jenny Smith, starring Chuck Brinkley, Carly Rosenbaum, Shane Signorino and Spencer Sickmann

“Kim Jong Rosemary” by Carter W. Lewis (Stl, MO) Directed by John Pierson, starring Colleen Backer, Eli Hurwitz and Jenny Smith

 July 20-29, Set Two:

“Predilections” by Richard Curtis (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood, starring Kim Furlow and Tielere Cheatem

“Henrietta” by Joseph Krawczyk (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood, starring Chuck Brinkley and Carly Rosenbaum

“Sisyphus and Icarus a Love Story” by William Ivor Fowkes (NY,NY) Directed by Wendy Greenwood, starring Colleen Backer, Tielere Cheatem and Shane Signorino

“Great Negro Works of Art” by Neil LaBute, Directed by John Pierson, starring Carly Rosenbaum and Jaz Tucker

“The Revolutionists”
Insight Theatre Company
June 27 – July 14
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center

What It’s About: Written by Lauren Gunderson, four beautiful, badass women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back the extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world. It’s a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection…that ends in a song and a scaffold.

Director: Trish Brown

Cast: Sam Auch, Kimmie Kidd, Laurie McConnell and Jenni Ryan.

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