By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorShow me Summertime! It’s here, the official start of summer, and there are 20 plays, musicals and operas, plus one circus, to enjoy this weekend. (Is this a record?)Outdoors, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis closes out its park run of “Love’s Labors Lost,” this weekend, while “Kinky Boots” at the Muny is the second show of the second century, ending Tuesday.It’s the last chance to see “Be More Chill” at New Line — OK, the run is sold-out, but there are still student tickets and a waiting list that they manage to get in most of the time.
Others ending their run include the A.R. Gurney comedy “Sylvia” at Stray Dog Theatre, and Act Inc. in St. Charles, with their double header, “Travels with My Aunt” and “Leaving Iowa.”The Opera Theatre of St. Louis is in repertory with their four summer offerings. The midwest premiere of “The Boy from Oz” continues at Stages St. Louis.New offerings include Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at SIUE, “101 Dalmatians” for young audiences at Stages St. Louis, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” by the Q Collective and “Indecent” by Max and Louie Productions.
In Community Theatre, Looking Glass Playhouse’s Youth Show is “Singin’ in the Rain” and O’Fallon Theatre Works presents “The Miracle Worker.”
Whatever your preference, go see a play and kick off a summer of fun.
“101 Dalmatians” Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences June 18 – 30 Robert Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood www.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Condensed from the Disney animated film, “101
Dalmatians” is about the evil Cruella DeVil and her two klutzy henchmen as they
trey to steal a litter of the cutest puppies ever to hit jolly old London Town.
But not to worry – thus fur-raising adventure ends happily with plenty of puppy
power to spare!
Director/Choreographer: Peggy Taphorn
Starring: Tyler Jent, Eric Michael Parker, Larissa White, Drew Humphrey, Dena
DiGiacinto, Laura Ernst, Ryan Cooper, Joshua Roach
“An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri” Gitana Productions June 20-23 Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand www.gitana-inc.org.
What It’s About: This provocative original play is inspired
by the amazing stories of such remarkable individuals as Friedrich Munch, Judge
Arnold Krekel and August Boernstein; German immigrants and leading
abolitionists in the State of Missouri. Through the lens of history, we will
bring to life the elements of what it means to strive for social justice for
“others” when advocating within and outside of one’s own cultural
group. While many Germans who came to the Midwest were staunch defenders of a
“color-blind” democracy some immigrants set aside their values in
order to survive and be accepted during the period before and after the Civil
War. As is the case with most Americans there are often contradictions in our
beliefs often colliding and challenging us to clarify what is most important.
The German story is an important American story…where the ideal of Democracy brings
together unlikely and diverse champions.
“As You Like It” Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville June 21 – 30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Metcalf Theatre 618-650-2774 www.siue.edu
What It’s About: The theatrical and enchanting Shakespeare that you have come to expect from SIUE Summer Theater continues. This beloved romantic comedy moves from the magical Forest of Arden to the mysterious 1930’s Ozark forests, complete with original Old-Time Tunes. Our hero Rosalind, finding herself on the run from the evils of the city with her best friend Celia and her philosophical fool Touchstone, disguises herself as a young man and begins a journey of self-discovery. Falling in love and learning who you are by “acting the part” are the heart of this classic tale of romance and reconciliation.
Songwriters Summer Baer, Lisa Hinrichs, Lizzie Weber and Christopher Sears are featuring lots of Old Time music and original tunes inspired by the genre. Guitars, ukuleles, a cello and a fiddle, a couple of banjos, a cajon drum, rounded out with tambourine and washboard, will be performing the music.
Director: Ellie Schwetye Cast:
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg“Be More Chill” May 30-June 22 Thursday – Sunday, 8 p.m. New Line Theatre The Marcelle Theatre, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive www.newlinetheatre.org 314-534-1111 What It’s About: “The Breakfast Club” meets “Little Shop of Horrors” in the new sci-fi rock musical, “Be More Chill,” with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, based on the bestselling novel by New Vizzini. It’s a look at life in the digital age, exploring teen depression, bullying and other current issues through the comic lens of sci-fi films of the 50s, horror flicks of the 80s and the teen movies of the 90s.
Directors: Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music
direction by Nicolas Valdez
Starring: Jayde Mitchell (Jeremy), Dominic Dowdy-Windsor (Squip), Kevin Corpuz
(Michael), Zachary Allen Farmer (Jeremy’s Dad), Melissa Felps (Brooke), Evan
Fornachon (Rich), Isabel Cecilia Garcia (Jenna), Grace Langford (Christine),
Ian McCreary (Jake), and Laura Renfro (Chloe).
Of Note: “Be More Chill” made its world premiere at the Two
River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2015, it’s now being produced across
the country, and it just opened on Broadway in March. Received a Tony Award
nomination for music and lyrics.
“The Boy from Oz” May 31 – June 30 Stages St. Louis Robert G. Reim Theatre, Kirkwood Community Center 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwoodwww.stagesstlouis.org
What It’s About: Dazzling and hilarious as the legendary
Peter Allen himself, THE BOY FROM OZ follows the Australian singer-songwriter
from his humble beginnings performing in backcountry pubs to his international
stardom beside such Hollywood icons as Judy Garland and her daughter Liza
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: David Elder as Peter Allen, Sarah Ellis as Liza Minnelli, Zach
Trimmer as Greg Connell, Corinne Melancon as Marion Woolnough, Michele Ragusa
as Judy Garland, Brad Frenette as George Woolnough, Steve Isom as Dick
Woolnough, Erik Keiser as Chris Bell, Nic Thompson as Mark Herron, Ben Iken and
Simon Desilets as Young Peter, Lydia Ruth Dawson, Bryn Purvis and Madison
Tinder as Trio, Frankie Thams as Trick, Nathanial Burich as Dealer and Ashley
Chasteen as Alice. Ensemble includes Kari Ely and Caleb Dicke.
“The Caper on Aisle 6” Circus Flora June 7 – June 30 Big Top Tent in Grand Center (air-conditioned)www.circusflora.org What It’s About: A trip to the grocery store is a place of intrigue and excitement when an ancient and powerful substance, long thought to be gone from the Earth, is found in the unlikeliest of places: aisle six of the local grocery store. What secrets does aisle six hold, and what adventures will it set in motion?
Photo by Eric Woolsey“The Coronation of Poppea” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 9 – 28 Loretto-Hilton Center, 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644
What It’s About: The fight for the throne is never
dignified. Poppea will stop at nothing to become Empress, no matter who she has
to blackmail, betray, or kill. And Emperor Nero, who is infatuated with Poppea,
is not thinking with his head. Separately, they’re bad enough. Together, they
will turn Rome upside down. Sexy, bloodthirsty, and unapologetic, this opera is
the best kind of political thriller.
Of Note: The opera runs 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission and is
performed in English with English supertitles.
Jeremy Denis and Davóne Tines, with Michael Redding, “Fire Shut Up My Bones” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 15 – June 29 Loretto-Hilton Centerwww.experienceopera.com 314-961-0644
What It’s About: When Charles discovers that his cousin has
returned to his Louisiana hometown, he races home from college to confront his
past. Memories and shadows surround Charles as he strives to move beyond a
cycle of violence and forge a brave new path.
Of Note: Writers are Terence Blanchard, composer of OTSL’s sold-out hit “Champion,” teams up with screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”) for a haunting, powerful, and tender coming-of age story inspired by a memoir celebrated as “stunning” (Essence), “riveting” (Chicago Tribune), and “exquisite” (The New York Times). The opera runs approximately two hours and 25 minutes with one intermission and is performed in English with English supertitles.
Luke Steingruby as Hedwig“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”The Q CollectiveJune 20-22 and 27-298 p.m. evenings Thursday – Saturday, with additional 10:30 p.m. performance SaturdaysThe Monocle, 4510 Manchester in The Grovewww.eventbrite.com
What It’s About: John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s groundbreaking, Obie-winning Off-Broadway musical has the internationally ignored song stylist Hedwig Schmidt, herself, tells us her wild life story, as a fourth-wall smashing East German rock ‘n’ roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation. This outrageous and unexpectedly powerful story is dazzlingly performed by Hedwig (née Hansel) in the form of a rock gig/stand-up comedy backed by the hard-rocking band The Angry Inch. It’s a rocking ride, funny, touching, and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them an inch when they deserved a mile.Director: Jordan Woods with assistance by Camille Fensterman, music direction by Holly Barber
Starring: Luke Steingruby as Hedwig, Sarah Gene Dowling as Yitzhak
“Indecent”Max and Louie ProductionsJune 20-23, June 27-30Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Centerwww.maxandlouie.com
What It’s About: Winner of numerous awards including an acclaimed Tony-winning run on Broadway, “Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, is the true story of a groundbreaking scandalous play and the courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. Director: Joanne GordonStarring: Paul Cereghino – Actor, Zoe Farmingdale – Actor, John Flack – Actor, Katie Karel – Actor, TJ Lancaster – Lemml, the Stage Manager, Judi Mann – Actor, Tim Schall – Actor; ;Musicians Alyssa Avery, Kris Pineda, Jack Thieling
Photo by Phillip Hamer“Kinky Boots”The MunyJune 17-25, evenings at 8:15 p.m.www.muny.orgWhat It’s About: The owner of a failing shoe factory teams up with a drag queen to fill a niche market — high-heeled thigh-high boots for drag queens.Director: DB Bonds, recreating Jerry Mitchell’s direction, and choreographer Rusty Mowery recreating his choreography, with music direction by Ryan Fielding GarrettStarring: J. Harrison Ghee, Graham Scott Fleming, Taylor Louderman, Paul Whitty,
Leaving Iowa. Photo by John Lamb“Leaving Iowa” Act Inc. June 14-16, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., June 21-22, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Cener for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles www.actincstl.com
What’s It All About: Remember the family road trip? Sure
do! Mom, Dad and the kids all packed up in the car with maps and snacks. Road
games, billboards, gift shops and the ultimate rest stops and Motel 6. Giggles
and battles, smiles and tears. Those were the days! Columnist Don Browning decides
to bury his Dad’s ashes at the old family farm. When he discovers that the
homestead is now the site of a supermarket he embarks upon a journey of
reconciliation and discovery in his quest for the perfect resting place for Dad
in the middle of the USA. If you are interested in the perfect “staycation”
look no further. “Leaving Iowa” is a delightful postcard that will leave you
with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
“Love’s Labors Lost” May 31 – June 23 Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org
What It’s About” Belonging to Shakespeare’s “lyrical”
period, which also included Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the
play tells the story of the Princess of France and her ladies who arrive on a
diplomatic mission to Navarre only to be met by a young king and his lords who
have taken a vow not to see women. Affairs of state give way to affairs of the
heart as Shakespeare reveals with great humor and compassion the way our
culture sometimes doesn’t fully prepare us for the realities of love and
intimacy. A feast of language and theatrical virtuosity, Love’s Labors Lost
shimmers with all the passion and promise of a first kiss.
Director: Tom Ridgely
Starring: Philip Hernandez as Don Adriano de Armado, Bradley James Tejeda (Duc
de Biron), Kea Trevett (Princess of France), Sky Smith (King of Navarre),
Patrick Blindauer (Costard), Katy Keating (Nathaniel), Michael James Reed
(Forester/Marcadé), Jeffery Cummings (Boyet); Carl Howell (Dull), Carine
Montbertrand (Holofernes), Randolph (Moth), Laura Sohn (Rosaline), Molly Meyer
(Jaquenetta), Sam Jones (Longueville), Vivienne Claire Luthin (Maria), Kiah
McKirnan (Catherine), and Riz Moe (DuMaine).
“The Marriage of Figaro” May 25 – June 29 Opera Theatre of St. Louis Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Road on Webster University campuswww.opera-stl.org 314-961-0644
What It’s About: Mozart’s comedy masterpiece is about complicated life at court and how love should always prevail. The maid Susanna is determined to wed her fiancé, Figaro, while the Count is equally determined to add her to his list of conquests. But Susanna and Figaro won’t allow one self-entitled nobleman to ruin their happy ending! They each hatch their own plots to teach their master a lesson. What follows is a whirlwind day of romantic intrigue, cunning schemes, and uproarious fun. The opera runs three hours and ten minutes with one intermission and is sung in English with English supertitles. “The Miracle Worker” O’Fallon Theatre Works June 21-23 and 28-30 Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. O’Fallon Municipal Centre, 100 Main St., O’Fallon, Mo. 636-474-2732
What It’s About: The story of teacher Annie Sullivan’s
affect on Helen Keller, blind and deaf after a fever as a baby, which has left
her unable to communicate, frustrated and angry. Sullivan is able to get
through to her pupil and they form a bond.
“The Mueller Report: Read, Sing, Resist” Saturday, June 22, from 2 to 5 p.m. That Uppity Theatre Company Projects + Gallery 4733 McPherson in the Central West End Free event What It’s About: A diverse array of artists, activists, elected officials and community people will come together to participate in a free event to read excerpts and summaries of the Mueller Report and offer related commentary through song. The event will also include voter registration in partnership with St. Louis Voter Registration Group, refreshments, a selfie station and the debut performance by the St Louis chapter of Sing Out, Louise, a New York social activist group founded in 2017 that writes parodies with political commentary of iconic songs.
“Rigoletto” Opera Theatre of St. Louis June 1 – June 30 8 p.m. Loretto-Hilton Center 135 Edgar Roadwww.experienceopera.org 314-961-0644 What It’s About: Verdi’s powerful “Rigoletto” is a tale of innocence lost, wrenchingly poignant and all too human, presented in English with English supertitles. Rigoletto is a bitter court jester who serves the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous womanizer. Together, they are despised throughout the city. But alone, Rigoletto is all tenderness when it comes to his innocent young daughter, Gilda. Little does he know that an ominous curse is about to take its toll. When the Duke seduces Gilda, only to then abandon her, the enraged father swears vengeance.
“Singin’ in the Rain” Looking Glass Playhouse June 20-23 Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m 301 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon, Ill. www.lookingglassplayhouse.com
What It’s About: The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay in Singin’ in the Rain. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make Singin’ in the Rain the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.
“Sylvia” June 6 – 22 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Stray Dog Theatre Tower Grove Abbey 2336 Tennesseewww.straydogtheatre.org 314-865-1995
What It’s About: Greg brings home a dog he found in Central Park – or that has found him – bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her collar. She offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. To his wife Kate, however, Sylvia becomes a rival for affection. This touching comedy celebrates our love of man’s best friend.
Director: Gary F. BellStarring: Susie Lawrence, Kay Love, Tim Naegelin, Melissa Harlow
Photo by John Lamb
“Travels with My Aunt” Act Inc. June 22 and June 23, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Emerson Black Box Theatre J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles.www.actincstl.com
What It’s About: Retired bank manager, Henry Pulling’s life
is so quiet that he muses, “I found myself agreeably excited by my
mother’s funeral.” From that inauspicious beginning Henry finds his life
turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of his eccentric, Aunt Augusta. A cross between
“Auntie Mame” and Mata Hari, she spirits him around the globe
encountering all sorts of intoxicating characters and exhilarating adventures
along the way.
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.