New Line Theatre closes its 28th season with a bit of history. Known for producing edgy shows with loyal followings ‘Be More Chill’ was a perfect fit. They secured the rights, and then the show exploded in popularity after a sold-out Off-Broadway run and Broadway transfer. This does not usually happen, but a local theatre is legally doing a show that is also currently running on Broadway.Read More
The season ends at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St Louis with the touring production of ‘Come From Away’. The show follows the true story set in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on the days surrounding the September 11th attacks on America.Read More
‘Waitress’ continues this year's Fabulous Fox Theatre’s season. Based off of the film by Adrienne Shelley the story follows ‘Jenna’ a waitress who is known for her amazing pies. ‘Jenna’ finds herself struggling to be free from a cycle of abuse and finding the confidence within to grow. She discovers she is pregnant and ponders what that means to her future. Written by Grammy award winner Sara Bareilles the original score is charming, funny, and compelling.Read More
Ten Directions is a theatre company that originated in New York, but moved St. Louis Missouri recently. Connecting with the theatre company Young Liars lead to this production of “Bouffon Glass Menajoree: a parody of the beloved American classic.” Take that ‘parody’ as a warning. This production takes every extreme twist and turn while spinning the story of the Wingfield family.Read More
Tribes’, written by Nina Raine, is about what makes a family and the importance in how we communicate with those we love. It follows ‘Billy’ who is deaf as he discovers the Deaf World and British Sign Language (BSL). His family is hearing, so he never experienced sign and read lips to communicate instead, as is the case with many deaf people born into hearing families. He meets ‘Sylvia’ who is a Hard of Hearing and a Child of Deaf Adult (HoH and CODA) that changes his life. Raine does not hold back and touches on some crucial issues. Isolation, language deprivation, finding love, and employment are over analyzed by the family of academics that are all struggling to find a way to connect.Read More
The Hawthorne Players present “Legally Blonde: The Musical” at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre. The story follows the story of “Elle Woods” who gets scorned by her boyfriend and decides to change herself in order to win him back. That includes being admitted to Harvard Law school. The story is based off the film released in 2001, which is based off the novel by Amanda Brown also released in 2001.Read More
"It Shoulda Been You" is a charming musical about a wedding that goes wrong and then right and then wrong and then right again. A modern love story, the plot is fast paced and has many moving parts. Center Stage Theatre completes the season with a top-notch production.Read More
‘Annie’ continues the 100th season at The Muny in St Louis. The musical set in the time of the Great Depression is about an orphan named ‘Annie’ (Peyton Ella) who is selected by billionaire ‘Oliver Warbucks’ (Christopher Sieber) to stay with him in his mansion for Christmas. Both Ella and Sieber have amazing solos and fantastic chemistry as we follow the plot.Read More
R-S Theatrics prides itself on presenting works that have never been done in St Louis at the regional level. This production brought the original work of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. 'In the Heights' is the semi-autobiographical musical by Miranda, best known for the current smash hit on Broadway Hamilton.
Set in the neighborhood he grew up in, Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, the story follows a first generation American running his family's corner bodega after his parents pass away. We stay on the corner all forth of July weekend. The plot revolves around the gentrification of the area. Shops are closing and people are trying to move out. With all the talk of who belongs here this a beautiful reminder to fly the flag of where ever you are from. 'In the Heights' is one of my favorite shows and this production was a wonderful experience for those who love Lin-Maunel's work and those just wanting to see a great show on a night out.
The production did face some technical difficulties. Microphones would pop and come in and out. The strong cast and musicians overcame those few issues quickly. Standouts in the cast are Jesse Muñoz (Usnavi), Cassandra Lopez (Nina), Carmen García (Abuela Claudia), Kelvin Urday (Piragüero), and Kevin Corpuz (Sonny). Muñoz took the reins of the show and ran. A powerful and confident display for a complicated character. Lopez's voice was a perfect fit for 'Nina'. Strong and a wonderful blend with Marshall Jennings (Benny). García owned the stage during 'Paciencia y Fe'. That was one of my favorite parts. The use of flashback actors (Claudia's Mom: Cecily A King, young Claudia: Alora Marguerite, teen Claudia: Isabel García) along with the staging of the company was so touching and timely. Urday as the Piragua seller drew the audience and the scenes helped the story move and the quick pace that it needed. Corpuz as 'Usnavi's' cousin 'Sonny' got so many of the laughs. He delivered the one-liners beautifully and stole some scenes while trying to impress 'Nina'.
The ensemble was a strong group. The choreography (Cecily A King) worked well on the small stage and covered the many genres written into the story. Staging and sets (Keller Ryan) worked well in this stunning production. Costumes by Sara Porter fit the story well.
This would be the part of the review where I tell you to 'get your tickets now!' 'Visit Metrotix.com without delay!' Sadly I can not, because the entire run has sold out. You can contact the box office about being added to the nightly wait list, and there is talks about adding another date. Check out www.r-stheatrics.com/index for more details.
The Muny opens its 99th season as the as America's largest outdoor theatre. 11,000 seats in the beautiful Forest Park on the site of the 1904 Worlds Fair. The stage set between two oak trees has welcomed award winners and Broadway legends.
This production of Jesus Christ Superstar was powerful and timely. The set (Paul Tate Depoo III) was beautiful. The choreography (Jon Rua) was fresh and unique, an audience member called it 'not your average Broadway Jazz Square'. Costumes (Tristan Raines) looked beautiful all the way to the free seats.
One of the most powerful scenes I have witnessed in a long time was during 'Hosanna'. The backdrop video screen changed from propaganda warnings of 'Rome is Watching' and 'Render unto Cesar' to a live feed from a camera. Jesus (Bryce Ryness) begins to preach and the camera rounds so that the audience is in the shot. The effect was a stunning shot where it looked like Rockstar Jesus was preaching to the 11,000 in the audience. Breathtaking is the only word to describe that scene. The visuals of the protest and police actions, so common in St Louis in recent years, were impressive and touching.
Other audience favorite scenes were the 70s game show inspired 'King Harold's Song', 'Everything's Alright' with the power trio of Ciara Renee (Mary Magdalene), Ryness, and Constantine Maroulis (Judas), and 'Superstar' which had the audience holding on to every word.
I think my second-grade teacher would be ashamed of the amount of applause I have towards Judas. His voice flowed out of the theatre and filled the entire park. Maroulis made the character his own and had the audience on the edge of their seats watching the disciple's fall and betrayal. Duets between Ryness and Maroulis were full of power and passion. Other standouts of the cast were Christopher Sieber (King Herod), and Nicholas Ward (Caiaphas).
This production told a story that has been told many times in a fresh and intellectual way. One regret is that it could only run for one week. That, I guess is the downfall of 'Muny Magic'. Visit muny.org for information on future show details and ticketing.
For 17 years the "Shakespeare Festival St. Louis" has turned the glen near Art Hill in Forest Park into a place of entertainment and education. Their mission is to take Shakespeare to the stage, to the street, and into the schools all across the St. Louis area. This year's production was one of the Bard's lesser-known romances, "The Winter's Tale".
The plot follows the story of King Leontes (Charles Pasternak) who falls under the delusion that his wife Queen Hermione (Cherie Corinne Rice) and best friend King Polixenes (Chauncy Thomas) had an affair and he is not the father of their two children. Mayhem and drama weave the plot that breaks the cast emotionally and physically, this is the play known for the stage direction "exit pursued by bear".
Themes of time and forgiveness are exquisitely displayed. Time passes and the actors often are exposing action that happened offstage. I enjoyed the use of modern music to open the action. The narration is everywhere in 'The Winter's Tale', so having Leontes rock out to 'don't wanna know' by Maroon 5 before telling the sad story to his family is fitting and also gets the audience moving. Forgiveness comes later Because delusion of Leontes is powerful and only ends with heartbreak.
The cast is talented with storytelling, from the heartache to redemption these actors brought it all to life. Gary Glasgow, Whit Reichert, and Antonio L Rodriguez were standouts with a mix of witty and physical comedy as the rouge, Shepherd, and Shepard's son.
I would recommend a trip to Forest Park to see this show. The glen opens at 530 pm with events running until showtime at 8pm, everyday but Tuesdays. Visit www.sfstl.com for information on the current production and the organizations outreach projects. Now, parting is such sweet sorrow. Until next year for Romeo and Juliet.
- OnStage St. Louis Critic
STL Shakespeare company latest production is 'The Comedy of Errors' and plays at The Ivory Theatre in St Louis. It is a great showing of this classic piece from The Bard's work. Closing out their 32nd season of bringing Shakespeare to the gateway city with this funny and witty show.
The setting of the show is the port town of Ephesus. A man is in search of his sons and wife, but is jailed for being from a different town named Syracuse. We then meet a pair of travelers from Syracuse. They are mistaken for townspeople who not only share their names, but look exactly alike too. Conflict continues to move the plot along as the two sets of twins move around town interacting with others and not behaving like their namesakes.
The cast avoid the overacting clichés that often plague Shakespeare productions. Physical comedy and stage presence took center stage. Michael Pierce (Dromio of Ephesus) and Zac McMillan (Dromio of Syracuse) both are entertaining and convincing waving from frightened to embolden all while being flung around by Chuck Winning (Antipholus of Ephesus) and Shane Signorino (Antipholus of Syacuse). Casting of these two pairs is wonderful. They look alike and have a group chemistry that works on stage. The ensemble rounded out the cast perfectly. I enjoyed Abraham Shaw's (jailer/officer) work in the scene where the arrest happens. Again great work of physical comedy without overdoing.
The costumes (Annalise Webb) were beautiful. Period looking, but functional. The shoe throwing had to be fun to plan. The set (Scott McDonald) fit the wonderful direction (Shaun Sheley). Excellent use of color and props on the house and the boardwalk.
I would recommend this production for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of Shakespeare. The story is told with humor and charm. Visit stlshakespeare.org for ticket and show information. 'The Comedy of Errors' runs until April 9th at The Ivory Theatre.
OnStage St. Louis Critic
The Roundabout Theatre Company's touring production of 'Cabaret' stopped in St. Louis. 'willkommen' indeed! Fresh off its Broadway run at studio 54 theatre the show travels well and is a powerful reminder of a dark time in the worlds history.
The story is of an American novelist Clifford Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley)traveling to Berlin during the rise of Hitler. He becomes infatuated with the night club lifestyle and a singer Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin), but realizes the danger that is coming. Narrated by the Emcee (Jon Peterson) who is the embodiment of excess that Cliff wants to fill his life with, the story takes some dark turns. Eakeley and Larkin have powerful chemistry and truly show the obsession of the characters relationship. Peterson was wild, charming, engaging, and put the audience on notice from the opening number. The jokes hit even the back of the house.
Having seen the original set in the Broadway theatre I really liked the way it filled the Fox's stage. The lighting was brilliant and led to amazing transitions. The Kit Kat boys and girls flirted and charmed their way into the lime light.
Standout scenes for me were 'Willkommen', 'Don't Tell Mama', 'Maybe This Time', and the opening of act 2 'Entr'Acte' and 'Kick Line'. All classic and well known to fans of the show.
I would recommend you 'leave your troubles outside' and see this amazing production. Also leave the little ones and sensitive ones at home. Topics and themes for this show are not family friendly, but this time there was no Shia Labeouf.
For touring information visit cabaretmusical.com.
OnStage Missouri Columnist
The current show for O'fallon Theatre Works is a trip to Neverland. 'Peter and the Starcatcher' is the story of how Peter Pan came to be, written by Rick Elice and music by Wayne Barker. Pirates, treasure, lost boys, and even a crocodile come to life on the stage.
The plot is strong and witty. Cast members play many parts often switching mid-scene. That took a little time to figure out, but was done so cleverly. The set (Christopher Resimius) is minimalist which worked with the storytelling style of this play. The costumes (Raelynn Twohy) worked well, allowing the actors to switch quickly back and forth, and the mermaid fins and wigs are show stoppers.
My main issues with this production is with the sound. There was a lot of echoes and sometimes the music overpowered the actors. Most of the show the sound was perfect, but there were many pops of inaudible lines. Another issue I had was actually getting the tickets. The posters and other promotional material said to call a number to reserve a seat. When I did I was told that I had to go to a website. The website took a little playing around on, skipping all the classes offered through the city hall and finding the right date for the show. Now that I have done that once I think it will go easier, but it was some work to figure out.
But, getting the ticket was worth it. The cast is amazing. Stand outs were the lost boys, Jeremy Boyd (Peter) Mark Van Coutren (Prentiss), and Brady Stiff (Ted). They work well together and are amazing storytellers. Greg Stiff (Betty Bumbrake) and Joe Groeblinghoff (Alf) are the comic light of this production. They are silly and charming without overdoing it. Calyn Roth (Molly) is a powerhouse. A strong character that also showed fear and vulnerability. The whole cast works as a well oiled machine.
I would recommend this production to the young and young at heart, those who won't grow up. Find some star stuff and get ready to fight some pirates.
Visit http://www.ofallon.mo.us/parks&rec/ofallontheatreworks for tickets (create an account first). Running until March 5th at the O'Fallon Missouri city hall, catch this production before it says 'tiramisu'. Photo by Photography by Vicky
OnStage St. Louis Critic
The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis continues its wonderful Broadway season with the musical comedy 'Something Rotten'. Fresh off its Broadway run the three male leads Rob McClure(Nick Bottom), Josh Grisetti(Nigel Bottom), and Adam Pascal(Shakespeare) took the show on the road, very much like Shakespeare's time(the theatre references are starting).
This show is a love letter to musical theatre. Fans laughed and cheered for their favorite references. But it also was hilarious for those who have not seen a lot of theatre. A master class and basic level lesson running on stage at the same time. It was great to try and catch all the references, and see how they advanced the story.
McClure and Grisetti have strong scenes of brotherly love that were equally funny and charming. Pascal was a crowd favorite and had the audience cheering along with the ensemble members. Other standouts in the cast include Maggie Lakis (Bea) and Autumn Hurlbert (Portia). Bea popping up in different scenes when least expected made me chuckle and she had some of the funniest lines. Hurlbert and Grisetti had a sweet chemistry.
The set was fitting and moved with ease from scene to scene. The costumes looked great. I was impressed with the quick change in 'We See the Light'. I would recommend this show for the theatre fanatic and first time audience member. It's a wonder story told in classic musical theatre frills. Check out fabulousfox.com for tickets and show information while the show is in St. Louis, or follow the tour at www.rottenbroadway.com.
OnStage St. Louis Critic
As a Disney fanatic I was excited to see Tarzan on the roster for this season. And when I saw it was going to be performed in ASL, I was already planing my road trip. I went to college just across the river so I know the town and art community. I was intrigued to see how this company would make these 'two worlds one family'.
The pre-show education was perfect. A trophy case was filled with character descriptions and basic signs that were helpful for the deaf and hearing audience. A special shout out to the two volunteer ushers who ask me how to sign certain words after seeing that I could sign. It was beautiful to see theater staff being attentive to all the guest. The audience was a mix of season ticket holders, parents with young children (thankfully most sat on an aisle seat for quick exit as there were a few tantrums during the show), and a few signers. The production was in collaboration with Quincy University's interpreters training program.
The stage deck was a colorful, but not distracting, jungle mural. The proscenium stage was covered in moss to stretch the forest into the audience. Platforms played the parts of trees for the actors to climb. I have to say I was most impressed with the zip line. The last time I saw this show was at the Muny in St. Louis and I fell in love with adult Tarzan's entrance. Well done Joseph Harris and company.
Standouts of the cast were Kala (Jeri Conboy, voice by Natalie Clark) and Kerchak (Aren Williams, voice by Dayton Job), Young Tarzan (Joey Engelmeyer, voice by Semachiah Bounds), Porter (Max Miller, signed by Michaela Brehe), Jane (Allison Hustson, signed by Taylor McCollough) and Tarzan (Camden Scifres, voiced by Andrew Arnold). The cast was rounded out by 'jungle spirits' that would sign certain parts and helped keep the tempo of the music visual. They helped when the signs got lost and weren't visible. I enjoyed their costumes (Janae Lafleur) of flowing green material.
Two of my favorite scenes were 'Son Of Man' and Jane explaining names to Tarzan. 'Son of Man' was a great ensemble number that showed off everyone in the cast. The first meeting of Jane and Tarzan was done so well. It was charming and warm and received a lot of laughs, I still chuckle at Tarzan saying/signing 'o I c' mimicking Jane.
I can say that the ASL was clear and understandable from my seat about 3/4th of the way back. The sign choices were strong and added to the storytelling. There were also deaf culture references with how to get someone attention and signed only lines. Jane Meirose was the interpreter lead.
I wish this show would have run longer then one weekend. Maybe for Quincy Community Theatre's next production? A theatre and ASL fan can only hope.
OnStage St. Louis Critic
'To the New Girl' is a collection of monologues where women give advice to the new partner of their former lover. It is presented in one 90 minute act. This production is presented with ASL interpreters at every performance and benefits the L.E.A.D institute. The L.E.A.D institute focuses on leadership through education and advocacy for the deaf. For more information visit deaflead.com. The Tesseract Theatre company is located in the new theatre incubator called .Zack located off of Grand Ave on Locust Ave. For more information on .Zack please visit kranzbergartsfoundation.org.
The stage is set to look like a formal living room. Lots of chairs and small props sit around. Each women tells her story and stays to hear the others. This adds to the storytelling since they react to each others stories with glances and nods. I enjoy how this style of monologues differs from a play version of storytelling. I was on speech team when I was in high school so I am familiar with this style.
Topics covered in the letters range from fetishes to abuse, infidelity to infertility. These are topics that need to see the light of day and get their chance in the production. Some stories are humorous and others spark fear and anger. Some will leave you with hope, others show you how some relationships must end. The whole cast is strong and memorable.
I would recommend this show to anyone who needs a boost of female empowerment. Ticket and show details can be found at tesseracttheatre.org or Metrotix.com.
- OnStage Associate St. Louis Critic
The tour of “Finding Neverland” is currently running at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. The charming and tear jerking story behind the creation of ‘Peter Pan’ is a perfect choice for a family. From the young to the young-at-heart, this show is entertaining for all. Be ready to believe and never grow up.
The physicality of the show is top level. The ensemble of dancers climbing and moving over the stage is stunning. I must give a special notice of Kevin Kern (J.M Barrie) and the ensemble dancers during the scene “Hook”. I have not seen so much energy in a number since the last tour of ‘Pippin’. The choreography was created by Mia Michaels and illusions by Paul Kieve.
I enjoy this well written story within a story, and seeing the clever staging (scenic design by Scott Pask) that is used to show the connections between 1900s London and Barrie’s Neverland.
The scenes where Barrie’s imagination would take over were well played and showed how it feels to be a writer trying to figure out the next story. “We Own the Night” is one of my favorite parts of the whole show. References to the ‘Peter Pan’ had the older crowd uttering out loud in acknowledgment. This show has a lot of quotable lines that had everyone laughing and cheering. The use of lighting (Kenneth Posner) to link the two worlds is well played. ‘Tinker Bell’s’ light and the fairy dust effects were jaw dropping and had everyone clapping along. The theatre nerd in me also enjoyed that there was a whole acting troupe that welcomed the Davis Boys into their own Neverland as they prepare to enter Barrie’s.
Standouts in the cast are Christine Dwyer (Sylvia Llewelyn Davis) and Kevin Kern (J.M Barrie). They have a strong chemistry that shone through in all of their scenes together. Dwyer was the doting and loving mother. Her telling number “All That Matters” is powerful. Kern plays ‘Barrie’ so sweetly. He combines the innocence of someone who does not want to grow up with the experience of someone who has suffered a loss. The children who played the Davis Boys were all amazing. “We’re All Made of Stars” was a show stopper.
Over all this is a sweet show with a strong message about the importance of remaining young at heart and the trouble of being stuck never growing up. I would recommend a visit pass the second star on the right and straight on until morning by getting ticket and show information at fabulousfox.com or metrotix.com.
Photo by KSP Images
- OnStage St. Louis Critic
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) continues its 50th season with the holiday themed play “A Christmas Carol” based off of the novella by Charles Dickens. The material is often preformed this time or year, but the Rep takes a delightful maturity to the story. The cautionary tale of a life wasted forced me to leave the theatre in a very introspective mindset.
How can I do more good? Am I as open minded and forgiving as the townspeople are to Scrooge? This is very timely show not only because of the season, but also the social environment. As good theatre does, this production makes the audience think while also entertaining.
Standouts in the cast are Chris Tipp (Dick Wilkins/Tom Watkins) and Landon Tate Boyle (Young Scrooge/Ghost of Christmas Future) for their chemistry and friendship during the flashbacks to Christmas Past. John Rensenhouse (Ebenezer Scrooge) plays the arc of the character beautifully. I felt the pain and anger during the flashbacks, and joy at the end. The Ghosts that visited Scrooge were powerful and touching. Jacqueline Thompson (Ghost of Christmas Past) is a careful guide who does not shy away or scare at Scrooge’s temper. Jerry Vogel (Ghost of Christmas Present) is a merrymaker that has too much fun showing Scrooge how the people in his life are currently celebrating while he feels so low about his own life. Vogal also stole the show has funny and kind Mr. Fezziwig. Many of the cast played multiple roles, which is common but can be confusing if not done properly. This group was very successful; I noticed familiar faces but could easily see the new character.
I enjoyed the set (Robert Mark Morgan), lighting (Rob Denton) and costumes (Dorothy Marshall Englis). Their work was a charming demonstration of period while bringing creativity to the Ghosts’ entrances and appearance. The use of smoke and lighting effects honestly had me jumping from my chair. The ensemble was strong and I enjoyed the chorus of caroling throughout the show.
The Rep’s production is a wonderful take on the classic. They remain true to the material, but not simply repeating the same Christmas show cliché. The entire cast and crew does an amazing job. I would recommend this show to get the whole family in the Christmas spirit.
Catch this holiday classic at the St. Louis Rep until December 24th. Show details and ticket information can be found at repstl.org or by calling the box office at 314-968-4925.
Photo: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
- Missouri Critic
This clever and funny story of family and acceptance is written by Christopher Duranc. We follow the family of brother “Vanya” (Paul James) and sister “Sonia” (Judy E Yordon) waiting for their other sister “Masha” (Tricia Wallace) in their family home. She is a famous actress coming back to town for a party with her new boyfriend “Spike” (Jake Baumgartner). Hilarity and drama ensue when old issues come to the surface. The siblings have a housekeeper “Cassandra” (Lauren Cole) who is clairvoyant and warns the family about danger and changes ahead. They also have a neighbor “Nina” (Becky Phillips) who guides everyone to be confident in their own skin. Another point of drama is seen when the conflicts between generations are explored. “Spike”, “Cassandra”, and “Nina” are all in their 20s and the siblings are around 50 or so.
The cast was wonderfully warm. It felt like I was looking into the ‘morning room’ of this family and involved in all the infighting and insecurities. Everyone stood out and has their moment to shine. James’ “Vanya” is a perfect bundle of nerves and brings an amazing vulnerability to the character. Yordon’ “Sonia” has some of the most powerful scenes. She goes from witty and sarcastic banter, to heartfelt confessions. It is an emotional roller coaster to watch. Wallace’s “Masha” is a force to be reckoned with, a top notch diva. Baumgartner’s “Spike” is hilarious and definitely draws the audience’s attention with his energy. Cole’s “Cassandra” uses physical comedy in just the right way to emphasize her character’s needs. Phillips’ “Nina” sweet disposition and charm smoothed the sharp edges and wits of the siblings.
This is a well-rounded production. Blending a beautiful set (Lonna Wilke, scenic and lighting design) and a strong cast lets the story flow clearly. Director Lynne Snyder made simple but powerful choices.
The charming tale explores the family dynamic and the separation between generations. I would recommend this show if you are looking for a funny, witty evening at the theatre. I laughed and connected with these characters. Mature topics are discussed so this show is not for children.
Performances run until November 20th at the Donald D Shook Fine Arts Building Theater on St. Charles Community College campus. For ticket and show information check out stchastickets.com or call 636-933 8050.