By Lynn Venhaus
It’s opening day for our St. Louis Cardinals, but also new plays are offered this weekend, with a selection of plays currently in rotation and those making their final runs this weekend. Ah, the riches of what’s available- comedy, drama, musical, Shakespeare and new to St. Louis shows!
Go, Cards! And GO SEE A PLAY.
“Daddy Long Legs”
Insight Theatre Company
March 28 – April 14
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center
What It’s About: Based on the classic novel, which inspired the 1955 movie starring Fred Astaire, Daddy Long Legs is a beloved tale in the spirit of Jane Austen, The Brontë Sisters and “Downton Abbey. Daddy Long Legs features music and lyrics by Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist, Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre), and Tony-winning librettist/director, John Caird (Les Misérables), and is a “rags-to-riches” tale of newfound love.
Director: Maggie Ryan
Starring: Jennier Theby Quinn, Terry Barber
Stray Dog Theatre
April 4 -20, Thursday – Saturday 8 p.m.
Tower Grove Abbey
What It’s About: In the 1960s, the Dreamettes, led by the powerful Effie White, embark on an R&B music career that leads them across the country. Romantic entanglements, Effie’s weight, racism, and the arrival of a fresh new sound in the 1970s are part of this showbiz hit (a fictional nod to The Supremes and Motown).
Director: Justin Been
Starring: Ebony Easter, Eleanor Humphrey, Abraham Shaw, Omega D. Jones, Tateonna Thompson, Don McClendon, Marshall Jennings, Robert Crenshaw, Lawrence J. Haliburton, Tony L. Marr Jr., Chris Moore, Chrissie Watkins, Jazmine Wade, Margery Handy, Chasity Cook, Rahnesha Holmes, Sierra Smith, Laurell Stevenson, Diamon Lester, Kanisha Kellum, Malaika Pedzayl-Ferguson, Ashley Santana
“Is He Dead?”
Monroe Actors Stage Company
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Waterloo, Ill.
What It’s About:
Director: Zona Ludlum
Of Note: Special $5 student performance on Thursday, April 11
“A New Brain”
April 5-6, 12-14
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. April 14
Florissant Civic Center
What It’s About: By the Tony Award-winning authors of Falsettos, this musical is an energetic, sardonic, often comical story about a composer during a medical emergency. Gordon collapses into his lunch and awakes in the hospital, surrounded by his maritime-enthusiast lover, his mother, a co-worker, the doctor, and the nurses. Reluctantly, he had been composing a song for a children’s television show that features a frog – Mr. Bungee – and the specter of this large green character and the unfinished work haunts him throughout his medical ordeal. What was thought to be a tumor turns out to be something more operable, and Gordon recovers, grateful for a chance to compose the songs he yearns to produce.
Director: Stephen Peirick, with music direction by Colin Healy
Starring: Danny Brown, Joel Brown, Stephen Henley,
Chadly Konner Jourdyn, Chris Kernan, John Kuehn, Laura Kyro, Kay Love, Stephanie Merritt, Bradley Rohlf, Dawn Schmid
St. Louis Shakespeare
April 5 – 13
Tower Grove Church
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Thursday and Sunday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m.
What It’s About: In Venice, at the start of Othello, the soldier Iago announces his hatred for his commander, Othello, a Moor. Othello has promoted Cassio, not Iago, to be his lieutenant.
Iago crudely informs Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, that Othello and Desdemona have eloped. Before the Venetian Senate, Brabantio accuses Othello of bewitching Desdemona. The Senators wish to send Othello to Cyprus, which is under threat from Turkey. They bring Desdemona before them. She tells of her love for Othello, and the marriage stands. The Senate agrees to let her join Othello in Cyprus.
In Cyprus, Iago continues to plot against Othello and Cassio. He lures Cassio into a drunken fight, for which Cassio loses his new rank; Cassio, at Iago’s urging, then begs Desdemona to intervene. Iago uses this and other ploys—misinterpreted conversations, insinuations, and a lost handkerchief—to convince Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are lovers. Othello goes mad with jealousy and later smothers Desdemona on their marriage bed, only to learn of Iago’s treachery. He then kills himself.
Director: Patrice Foster
Starring: Reginald Pierre, Bridgette Bassa, Cynthia Pohlson, Phil Leveling, Jesse Munoz, Brad Kinzel, Will Pendergast, Mike Stephens, Hillary Gokenbach, Victor Mendez, Lisa Hinrichs and Cece Day
Of Note: It takes place in modern Venice and Cyprus. Othello is a powerful exploration of the human condition and the disaster that can arise from our emotions. Trust is eroded and innocence is corrupted in this tragic tale of manipulation and jealousy. Featuring live jazz, this exciting, new take on one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays is not one to miss.
West End Players Guild
April 5 – 13
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Thursday April 11 at 8 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church
733 North Union
What It’s About: Anna Ziegler’s “Photograph 51” is a moving portrait of Rosalind Franklin, one of the great female scientists of the 20th century, and her fervid drive to map the contours of the DNA molecule. A chorus of physicists relives the chase, revealing the largely-unsung achievements of this trail-blazing, fiercely independent woman – largely-unsung because the men usually credited with cracking the DNA code, James Watson and Francis Crick, did so by “borrowing” Franklin’s most important discovery.
Director: Ellie Schwetye
Starring: Nicole Angeli, Ben Ritchie, John Wolbers, Will Bonfiglio, Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Alex Fyles.
“The Play That Goes Wrong”
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
March 15 – April 7
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
Box Office: 314-968-4925
What It’s About: Calamity, disaster, fiasco: whichever word you’d like to choose, the opening night performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” has gone decidedly wrong. A maelstrom of madcap madness ensues, complete with collapsing scenery, unconscious actors and a stage crew pushed to the brink. Will The Rep survive this train wreck of a play? Come find out!
Director: Melissa Rain Anderson
Cast: Ka-Leung Cheung, Ryan George, Benjamin Curns, Michael Keyloun, Ruth Pferdehirt, Matthew McGloin, John Rapson and Evan Zes.
Of Note: The Rep’s production is the first stand-alone production outside of New York and London. The Broadway run was extended, and now there is a 12-city national tour underway, but this is not a touring show.
The Midnight Company
March 28 – April 13
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Kranzberg Arts Center black box theatre
What It’s About: Two actors take on 21 characters in a struggling small town. They decided to put on a play!
Director: Sarah Whitney
Starring: Joe Hanrahan, Shane Signorino
Of Note: This one-act by James Hindman is presented without an intermission.
“Time Stands Still”
New Jewish Theatre
March 28 – April 14
Box Office: 314-447-3283
Starring: Wendy Greenwood, Ben Nordstrom, Jerry Vogel, Eileen Engel
What It’s About: In this play, a top photojournalist recovers from a near-fatal roadside bomb blast as her long-term relationship with a reporter undergoes its own test of survival. Donald Margulies, whose widely admired plays, Sight Unseen and Collected Stories uncovered the personal wounds inflicted on the battlefronts of art and fiction writing, now takes as his subject a creative couple who have met, worked and loved amid the all too real, mortal combat of the Middle East.
The Fabulous Fox Theatre
March 26 – April 7
What It’s About: The musical tells the story of Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.