Go See a Play! What’s Happening July 12 – 17

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Women are front and center this week – Independent Theatre Company opens “For Colored Girls” with its all-female cast. It’s the last weekend to see the female quartet in “The Revolutionists.’ Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” continues at the Muny through Tuesday.

And there are two “Mamma Mia!” productions – at Take Two in Tower Grove Church and SIUE’s Dunham Hall Theatre.

It’s the final weekend for Union Avenue Opera’s “Candide” and the first set of the LaBute New Theater Festival,” where women rule this round.

Actors’ Attic performs “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Spotlight Productions offers “Newsies.”

For a dose of girl power, 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.

Jeff Clinebell, Molly Dorgan. Photo by Pam Keeven

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Actors Attic
July 11-14
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Columbia Middle School Cafetorium
100 Eagle Drive, Columbia, Ill.

What It’s About: Loosely based on Ian Fleming’s book, this fantasy-adventure musical features songs by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, the composers behind “Mary Poppins.” Eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts takes his children on a wild ride in a magical car. Fanciful experiences occur.

Starring: Jeff Clinebell, Maggie Dorgan, Randy Manning, Mark Tullis, Lizanne Young, MaryBeth Scherr, Johnny Adams, Easton Dill, Amalia Dorgan, Thomas Young, Patrick Dent, Karen Lundy, Jessi Brutton, Sophie Spurgeon, Thomas Wiethop

Of Note: Artistic Director MaryBeth Scherr and company built the car from scratch.

Ashley Brown as Fairy Godfather

 “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 Greg Anthony Rassen and choreography by Josh Walden

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.

The cast of “For Colored Girls…”

“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf”
Independent Theater Company
July 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 14 at 2 p.m.
Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves

What It’s About: Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf” is a spellbinding collection of vivid prose and free verse narratives about and performed by black women.

Cast: Yashica Stimage, Chrissie Watkins, Sierra K. Smith, Britteny Henry, A’Keisha Lee, Kelly G. Hunter, Taleesha Caturah, Karen Pierce, Tinah Twardowski and Mrs. Rello.

“Mamma Mia!”
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
July 12 – 121
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Dunham Hall Theater, Edwardsville

What It’s About: This smash Broadway hit is a hilarious and touching story of marriage, family and finding where you belong. Set on an idyllic Greek island on the eve of a wedding, the musical follows a mother, her daughter, and three possible dads on an unforgettable trip down the aisle. Mamma Mia! features the greatest hits of supergroup ABBA, including “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo” and more! Come see why more than 54 million people worldwide have laughed and danced to this unforgettable jukebox musical.

“Mamma Mia”
Take Two Productions
July 12, 13, 18-20 at 7:30 p.m.
Tower Grove Baptist Church
4257 Magnolia

What It’s About: ABBA’s hits tell the hilarious story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. This sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

Chuck Brinkley, Spencer Sickmann in “Privilge”

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: www.ticketmaster.com, 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.

 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

Jenni Ryan, Sam Auch and Kimmie Kidd

 “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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