By Lynn VenhausManaging EditorWhat a weekend to Go See a Play! Lots o’ fresh offerings mixed with classics. Whether you want to laugh or have the heartstrings tugged, get out and see a show!
Jennfer Theby-Quinn and Andrew Keeler “Avenue Q” The Playhouse at Westport Plaza Jan. 25 – March 3 www.playhouseatwestport.com
What It’s About: Part flesh, part felt and packed with heart, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical telling the story of Princeton, a college grad who moves into the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He and his Avenue Q neighbors struggle to find jobs, dates and their life’s purpose.
Director: Lee Anne Mathews, with Music Director Charlie MuellerStarring: Andrew Keeler, Brent Ambler, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Kevin O’Brien, Grace Langford, Illeana Kirven, April Strelinger
Of Note: For mature audiences. “Avenue Q” won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.“
Heather Beal, choreographer for “Black AF”“Black AF”TLT ProductionsFeb. 1 and 28 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. and 8 pm. SaturdayMarcelle Theatre3310 Sam Shepard DriveMetrotix: metrotix.com or email@example.com
What It’s About: The exploration of blackness, love, culture and the African-American experience brought to life through original works of dance.
Curated and conceived by Heather Beal, this modern dance concert is a joint undertaking by Heather Beal, Tre’von Griffith, Lauron Thompson and costume designer Marissa Perry.
“Classic Mystery Game”Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE)Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8 p.m.Jan. 30 – Feb. 16The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive, firstname.lastname@example.org What It’s About: SATE opens its Season of Ritual with a parody of the cult classic 1985 movie, “Clue,” written by Katy Keating.She has written about the failure of capitalism in a climate-changing world.
The film was written by Jonathan Lynn, and that was based on the game, “Cluedo,” which was created by Anthony E. Pratt.
Director:Starring: Will Bonfiglio. Maggie Conroy, Michael Cassidy Flynn, Carl Overly Jr., Reginald Pierre, Ellie Schwetye, Rachel Tibbetts, Marcy Wiegert
Of Note: Wednesdays, Feb. 6 and 13, are “Pay What You Can”
“Deenie Nast is Back”Ten Directions and the St. Lou FringeFridays at 8 p.m.Feb. 1, 8 and 15Emerald Room at The Monoclewww.deenienast.comWhat It’s About: One-woman show by Audrey Crabtree features international performance superstar Deenie Nast, who delivers a no holds barred, song-filled tribute to her lonely fans. Nast presents a hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of relationships, loneliness, and true connections. Nast sings the hits from her past, revealing very personal stories. Songs, physical comedy and audience interaction are involved.
Photo by Eric Woolsey“District Merchants: An Uneasy Comedy”New Jewish TheatreJan. 24 – Feb. 10Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.Wool Studio TheaterJewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drivewww.newjewishtheatre.org314-442-3283
What It’s About: Love, litigation, deep passions and predatory lending are taken to a new level. The play wades fearlessly into the complexities of life in America. It is set among Black and Jewish populations in an imagined time and place, simultaneously Shakespearean and post- Civil War Washington, D.C. Directed by Jacqueline ThompsonCast: Gary Wayne Barker, J. Samuel Davis, Courtney Bailey Parker, Alicen Moser, Erika Flowers, Karl Hawkins, Ron White, Rae DavisOf Note: In Aaron Posner’s re-imagining, the play becomes less about the quality of mercy and more about how flexible a supposedly egalitarian society can be to the varied tribes struggling to find partners in America. Aaron Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like we are. In his “uneasy” comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today.
Fiddler on the Roof
“Fiddler on the Roof”The Fabulous Fox Theatre Jan. 29-Feb. 10What It’s About: Tony®-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind South Pacific, The King and I and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play Oslo, bring a fresh and authentic vision to this beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.
The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. You’ll be there when the sun rises on this new production, with stunning movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins. A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.
“The Hundred Dresses”Metro Theatre CompanyFeb. 3 – Feb. 25The Grandel TheatreMetrotix.comwww.metroplays.orgWhat It’s About: Wanda Petronski, the new girl in Room 13, is a Polish immigrant who lives in a shabby house and doesn’t have any friends. Every day she wears the same faded blue dress, but tells her new class-mates that she has a hundred dresses at home. Her classmates tease Wanda about her hundred dresses until one day she disappears from school. As guilt overtakes the children, they decide to find out what happened to Wanda and to make amends. But is it too late? Bullying, friendship and forgiveness are at the center of this play adapted from the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Eleanor Estes.Cast:
Of Note: Eleanor Estes wrote down her childhood memories while recovering from tuberculosis, and became a children’s author. Her many published works are widely read; but “The Hundred Dresses” continues to be the most popular, remaining in print since its publication in 1944. It was awarded the Newbery Honor in 1945. Speaking about “The Hundred Dresses” Eleanor Estes said, “I am holding up a mirror, and the scene reflected in the mirror is a true image of childhood, and the mirror, besides reflecting, also speaks and echoes the clear, profound, unpremeditated utterances, thoughts, and imageries of these children. I like to make children laugh or cry, to be moved in some way by my writing.
“Jekyll and Hyde”
Next Generation Theatre Company Jan. 26 – Feb. 2 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
What It’s About: An evocative tale of two men – one, a passionate doctor; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women, both in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. Murder and chaos is pitted against love and virtue.
Starring: Keith Boyer as Dr. Henry Jekyll
Of Note: Rated PG-13 for violence.
“Jesus Christ Superstar”Looking Glass PlayhouseJan. 24 – Feb. 3Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.301 West St Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill.www.lookingglassplayhouse.comWhat It’s About: The Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical is a timeless work set against the backdrop of a Biblical series of events but seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.
“Maybe This Time”Alton Little TheatreFriday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. 618-462-3205www.altonlittletheater.org. What It’s About: Four dating vignettes.
Directed By: Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes, Gail Drillinger and Brant McCance, who all act in the show, too.
Starring: Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes, Gail Drillinger and Brant McCance The “she” brain is played by Tiffani Bowen; “he” brain by Sawyer Burton. The barista in the coffee shop is portrayed by Nick Trapp.
Of Note: St. Louis native Michael Madden is the playwright. He will be on hand for Q&A after the show Friday, followed by an opening night celebration at Applebee’s in Alton.
As homage to the coffee shop in the play, ALT’s coffee and wine bar will offer patrons a free beverage as part of the ticket price.
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“The Motherf*cker with The Hat”R-S TheatricsJan. 25 – Feb. 3Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m..Zack, 3224 Locustwww.r-stheatrics.com
What It’s About: How do you know where you’re going…if you don’t know who has been in your home? The seriocomedy explores how 5 people in New York navigate loyalty, trust, and duty through friendship, love and the challenges of adulthood. And how no one should ever underestimate the importance of cleaning up their accessories.
Starring: Adam Flores, Sofia Lidia, Jesse Munoz, Aaron Dodd, Taleesha Caturah.
Alan Knoll and Steve Isom“Wittenberg”Upstream TheaterJan. 25 – Feb. 10Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. except Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.Kranzberg Arts Centerwww.upstreamtheater.org
What It’s About: It’s October 1517, and the new fall semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class of 1518) is returning from a summer in Poland spent studying astronomy, where he has learned of a revolutionary scientific theory that threatens the very order of the universe, resulting in psychic trauma and a crisis of faith for him. His teacher and mentor John Faustus has decided at long last to make an honest woman of his paramour, Helen, a former nun who is now one of the Continent’s most sought-after courtesans. And Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s instructor and priest, Martin Luther, is dealing with the spiritual and medical consequences of his long-simmering outrage at certain abusive practices of the Church.
Directed by: Philip BoehmStarring: Casey Boland, Steve Isom, Alan Knoll and Caitlin Mickey.
Of Note: St. Louis premiere.
Photo by Jon Gitchoff“The Wolves”The Repertory Theatre of St. LouisJan. 18 – Feb. 3 Studio TheatreLoretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campuswww.repstl.orgWhat It’s About: Nine teenage girls prepare for battle on a soccer field. As they stretch and warm up together, the teammates’ nonstop banter reveals how a collection of disparate personalities bonds to form a team.
Directed by Melissa Rain AndersonStarring: Cassandra Lopez, Cecily Dowd, Colleen Dougherty, Cece Hill, Maya J. Christian, Mary Katharine Harris, Esmeralda Garza, Rachael Logue, Keaton Whittaker, Nancy Bell,
Of Note: St. Louis premiere
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.