By Lynn Venhaus
As the summer is winding down post-Labor Day, big ambitious premieres are taking place – “Angels in America” at The Rep, “Man of La Mancha” at Stages St. Louis and “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” at The Black Rep are a trio of top-shelf talent.
If you want cozy comedies, Alton Little Theater and the Theater Guild of Webster Groves open two weekend runs of “Happily Ever After,” a wedding comedy, and “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” which is what it is.
Continuing are “Shakespeare in Love,” “The 39 Steps,” “Karmatic”
and “Tuck Everlasting.”
Whether you are in the mood for epic or intimate, GO SEE A PLAY!
“Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 4 – Oct. 4
Loretto-Hilton Center on Webster University campus
What It’s About: A towering epic that unveils new depths with each passing year, Tony Kushner’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece arrives on The Rep’s stage for the first time. The AIDS epidemic is the flashpoint in Kushner’s swirling tapestry of American culture, myths and spirituality. Navigating this maelstrom are Prior Walter, whose prophetic visions lead him toward an uncertain destiny, Joe Pitt, a devout and painfully closeted Mormon, and Roy Cohn, a lawyer whose AIDS diagnosis forces him to face a lifetime of misdeeds. These twin plays’ vision of a wounded and chaotic nation struggling toward redemption is more urgent than ever.
Director: Tony Speciale
Of Note: In repertory alternating with “Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika”
“Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope”
The Black Rep
Sept. 4 – 22
The Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus
What It’s About: Garnering a Grammy and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” was the first musical revue in the history of Broadway to be written and directed by African American women, namely Micki Grant and Vinette Caroll which ran over 1,000 performances. With little dialogue between performances, its poignant social commentary is woven into an unbroken cycle of high-energy, feel-good song and dance numbers.
Director: Ron Himes, with musical direction by Charles Creath and choreography by Antonio Douthit-Boyd
Starring: Denise Thimes, Drummond Crenshaw, and Antonio Douthit-Boyd, with Robert Crenshaw, Sieglinda Fox, Herman Gordon, Amber Rose, Camille Sharp, Keith Tyrone, Alison Watkins, and Tyler White.
“Happily Ever After”
Alton Little Theatre
Sept. 6 – 15
2450 North Henry in Alton
Box Office: 618-462-6562
What It’s About A family friendly farce with a Texas Twang
and plot twists aplenty in the tradition of classic Kaufman and Hart.
Director: Kevin Frakes
Aug. 30 – Sept. 8
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Box Office: MetroTix, 314-534-1111.
What It’s About: Karmic follows Sasha, a beautifully vibrant and charming young woman on the road to a career in marketing. A turbulent cycle of karma begins when four people cross paths freshman year of college. They soon find out that what lies behind and before them are small matters compared to what lies within. As the past comes back to haunt them, we watch what happens when we take fate into our own hands.
“I’m so excited about sharing the work of our very own Artistic Director. This powerful show helps us see ourselves through new lenses. The workshop of this show over 10 years ago, birthed the creative partnership of Lauron and I. We are excited to breathe new life and present the official premiere” states Producing Director, TreG.
Director: TreG (Tre’von Griffith)
Starring: Lauron Thompson-Cosby, Zachary Scott Clark, Mel McCray, Tameika Thomas, and Effrem Thomas Grettenberger.
Of Note: TLT Productions specializes in original content and continues its third season with the premiere production of Lauron Thompson-Cosby’s trilling piece on the complicated cycle of karma-“Karmatic.”
“Man of La Mancha”
Stages St. Louis
Sept. 6 – Oct. 6
Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center
111 South Geyer Road
What It’s About: A romantic and inspiring musical adventure, “Man of La Mancha” tells the epic story of seventeenth-century author Miguel de Cervantes and his immortal literary creation Don Quixote. Dream the impossible dream on a romantic musical adventure, “Man of La Mancha” tells the story of the title chivalrous knight and his epic misadventures that take him into battles with imaginary adversaries of the mind and into romance with the beautiful Dulcinea. A poignant combination of drama, comedy and imagination, features a lush melodic score that includes the rousing title tune, the rapturous Dulcinea, the classic The Impossible Dream, and more.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: James Patterson, Patrick John Moran, Amanda Robles, Ryan Cooper, Kari Ely, Steve Isom, John Flack
“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940”
Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
Sept. 6-8, 12-15
Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Sept. 8 and 15, with all other shows at 8 p.m.
Box Office: 314-962-0876
What It’s About: The creative team responsible for a recent Broadway flop, in which three chorus girls were murdered by the mysterious “Stage Door Slasher,” assemble for a backer’s audition of their new show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy “angel.” The house is replete with sliding panels, secret passageways and a German maid who is apparently four different people — all of which figure diabolically in the comic mayhem that follows when the infamous “slasher” makes his reappearance and strikes again.
Director: Bekah Harbison
Starring: Danielle Feinstein, Peggy Levin, David DeRose, Patrick Ryan, Shane Rudolph, Samantha Hayes, Donald Kidd, Carin Thyssen, Russ Leonard, Emme Geissal
Of Note: Tickets are available at the door (cash or check). They do not take advanced reservations.
The Guild is a very old building, historic in fact, but because of this we are not wheelchair or handicap accessible. The Guild has a total of 31 steps.
“Shakespeare in Love”
Aug. 29-Sept. 1, Sept. 5-8, Sept. 12-15
Thursday – Saturday performances at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
The Grandel Theatre
3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center
Box Office: MetroTix
What It’s About: A funny and genuinely moving comedy by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block… the deadline for his new play is fast approaching but he’s in desperate need of inspiration. That is, until he finds his muse – Viola. This beautiful young woman is Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his next play. Against a bustling background of mistaken identity, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece.
Director: Suki Peters, with musical direction by Catherine Kopff
Starring: Aaron Dodd as William Shakespeare, Gwen Wotawa as Viola DeLesseps, Joneal Joplin as Mister Fennyman, Whit Reichert as Mister Henslowe, Spencer Sickmann as Kit Marlowe, Carl Overly as Burbage, Michelle Hand as Nurse, Wendy Greenwood as Queen Elizabeth, Shane Signorino as Ned Alleyn, Ted Drury as Wessex, Robert Ashton as Tilney, Ryan Lawson-Maeske as Sam, Ruth Ezell as Mistress Quickly, Rachel Bailey as Kate, Mara Bollini as Molly, Anthony Winniger as Robin/Frees, Tyler Woods as Lambert, Chuck Brinkley as Ralph, Abraham Shaw as Nol, Joseph Garner as Peter/Barman, Riley James as Webster, John Foughty as Wabash, Kurt Knoedelseder as Sir Robert De Lesseps, Tommy Nolan as Lady DeLesseps and Herman Schermer as The Dog Trainer. Introduing Annie as Spot the Dog.
Of Note: Insight’s Dramaturg will join the cast and director for Talk Backs after Sunday matinees.
Shakespeare in Love is Insight Theatre Company’s 50th professional production and they are celebrating this momentous occasion by giving back to the community through their “Love is Love” campaign. Insight feels that love is love – whether that be romantic love, love of the arts, love for all humans or love for your community. They plan to share the love by supporting non-profit organizations who do good works for our city that allow St. Louis, and its people, to thrive. Fifty percent of ticket sales from every Thursday night performance will be donated to an outstanding organization that supports our community and promotes love, respect and equity for all. As an additional bonus, these organizations will give a brief presentation before the show to share more about their mission and how to get involved. Insight is honored to celebrate this occasion with the following outstanding non-profits on the upcoming Thursday evenings:
9/12 – PROMO Missouri’s Statewide LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organization
PROMO is Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for LGBTQ+ equality through legislative action, electoral politics, grassroots organizing, and community education.
“The 39 Steps”
St. Louis Shakespeare
Aug 30 – Sept. 7
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Tower Grove Baptist Church
4257 Magnolia Ave., St. Louis 63110
What It’s About: A madcap tour-de-force situational comedy hi-jink! Four actors play over 100 characters in this hilarious parody of Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller. You won’t want to miss it! From the novel by John Buchan, the movie by Alfred Hitchcock, licensed by ITV Global Entertainment Ltd., and an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon.
Director: Dustin Massie
Cast: Phil Leveling, Kelly Schnider, Rebecca Loughridge, and Brian Kappler
Next Generation Theatre Company
Aug. 30 – Sept. 8
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Florissant Civic Center Theatre
Parker and Waterford
What It’s About: 11-year old Winnie Foster yearns for a life of adventure beyond her white picket fence, but when she meets the Tuck Family, she gets more adventure than she could have ever imagined, including an extraordinary choice: Will Winnie return to her life, or leave her family behind and join Jesse on a journey of everlasting life. “Shakespeare in Love”