By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
When composer and music director Colin Healy first heard the story of wealthy
brothel madam and philanthropist Eliza Haycraft, he was intrigued. On Aug. 16,
“Madam,” the musical about this infamous St. Louisan that he wrote the book,
music and lyrics for, had its world premiere at the Bluff City Theatre in

Bluff City Theater commissioned the musical, where Healy has been the music director for the theater since 2017, and a branch of the Haycraft family is involved with BCT. Healy is artistic director of his own companies, Fly North Music and Fly North Theatricals.

“After one of the shows, they told me Eliza’s story. I was
fascinated ever since,” he said. “I said ‘Wow, that’s a musical.’ About a year
later, Joe Anderson, the artistic director, called me up and said in so many
words ‘Let’s make it a musical.’”

Rosemary Watts and Larissa White

Bluff City Theatre’s executive director wrote in his recent
blog: “Madam the musical is a totally new play we commissioned to end our 2019
season dedicated to the theme of The American Experience,” he said. “We follow
the story of a group of women who, for a variety of reasons found themselves
without the means to support themselves and turned to the only profession open
to women like them — prostitution. Madam Eliza Haycraft rose from obscurity to
become the richest woman in Missouri, much-loved by the general public, and a
major philanthropist with a special emphasis on Civil War widows and orphans. Yet,
despite the fact that her houses were well-frequented by the rich and powerful
men who ran the city, she was shut out of polite society.”   

“Madam introduces other characters who are historically
based on some of the remarkable women who defied the norm to claim their place
in the country at a time when they had few legitimate rights. One, an escaped
slave, disguised herself as a man to fight in the Union Army.  One is sister to Victoria Woodhull, candidate
for president in 1872,” he continued. “In addition to being a lesson in America
history, Healy’s musical is bright and lyrical. The cast is amazing. And you
can be among the first to see what is sure to be a hit.”

Healy’s score features St. Louis style jazz and blues, “Madam” is directed by Sydnie Grosberg -Ronga. The musical stars Rosemary Watts as Madam, Brett Ambler as The Benefactor, and Eileen Engel, Kimmie Kidd, Cameron Pille, Gracie Sartin and Larissa White as the ladies she protected.

There are only nine performances in Hannibal. Five are left
– Wednesday through Saturday. For tickets or more information, visit or call 573-719-3226. The show is sponsored by Harold
and Kathleen Haycraft.

The first-run weekend is over, and seeing it happen has been
something special.

“Realizing work on stage is quite literally turning something practically two-dimensional — many many sheets of paper — into something truly three-dimensional,” Healy said. “In any other aspect of life, suddenly perceiving a whole new dimension would be beyond life-altering. Well, that’s what realizing a work of theatre is and it hasn’t gotten old yet.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. Sydnie
Grosberg-Ronga, in addition to being an effective and incredible director, has
been an even better mentor, dramaturg, and sometimes-therapist,” he said. “Rosemary,
Lari, Cameron, Kimmie, Gracie, and Eileen have all been amazing to work with—
and as a millennial and member of the meme generation, I’d be remiss if I
didn’t say I’ve been a little starstruck getting to work with the Kazoo Kid — love
ya, Brett!”

Healy considers the musical a work in progress, but the
fact that Bluff City Theater encourages new and emerging work is music to his ears.

“What Joe Anderson is doing in Hannibal is remarkable. Bluff City Theatre is producing new and emerging work every year and filling houses with it. Go support them. They’re doing it right up there,” he said. The journey has been an interesting one, but it won’t end when the show does on Aug. 24. Plans are for his company, Fly North Theatricals, to perform “Madam” in St. Louis in 2020, from Jan. 10 to Feb. 2 at the .Zack Theater, 3224 Locust St.

Brett Ambler, Larissa White

And that is not the only plan, either.

“I’d love for it to someday reach a wider audience — whatever
that means. There are already plans for ‘Madam’ in the near future, so stay
tuned,” he said.

Not much is known about the real Eliza Haycraft, but this
much we do know. Haycraft, born in 1820, arrived in St. Louis from Callaway
County when she was 20, cast out by her parents. She had been seduced by a
lover. Destitute, she sold herself as a courtesan to support herself. When
prostitution was legal, for only a brief time, in St. Louis, she became owner
and manager of a brothel, doing well even though she couldn’t read or write. She
bought commercial and residential property and rented it back out. She was known
for helping the city’s poor, offering them help and financial aid.

In the last year of her life, the richest and most powerful men in St. Louis were hellbent on taking it all away from her, he said. She died in 1871, at age 51, leaving an estate valued at over a quarter million dollars. More than 5,000 people attended her funeral, and she was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Healy’s musical focuses on a dying Haycraft as the owner of
five brothels and the richest woman in St. Louis. She hates men. She once
empowered her employees by giving them the right to refuse service to anyone. She
had three simple rules: Respect, Consent and Pay Up Front. Then, the passage of
The Social Evils Act of 1870 made her business legitimate, but it also took
away her right to say “no.”

While based loosely on real events, the musical tells the fictionalized
story of her search for an heir to her sex empire while also taking a romp
through first-wave feminism and sexism in America at the time of
Reconstruction. It is told through the lens of Eliza’s courtesans.

“St. Louis had passed the Social Evils Ordinance, which
under the guise of legalizing prostitution actually served to deny the women
affected by it of many of the rights they had previously enjoyed. Eliza
Haycraft was a remarkable woman — a pragmatic feminist who mistrusted men,
especially those who used their positions of power to control the rights of
women, the poor and the marginalized. But she knew how to operate in a
male-dominated world. As she neared death, Eliza sought to purchase a burial
plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery, then the largest and most prestigious in the
city. The trustees of the cemetery, all clients of hers, attempted to block the
purchase until Haycraft countered by suggesting that she would take her case
directly to their wives.  They relented,”
Bluff City Theater blog said.

The poster design

Healy said he likes the show’s message.

“The show at its core is about the vulnerability of aging
and the power of ‘no’ — so for now, I just hope people like it and take away
something from it,” he said.
Bluff City Theater raved: “Audience attendance is already at a record for any
show we’ve produced here at Bluff City Theater…Don’t take our word for it — talk
to anyone who has seen the show so far. ‘Madam’ is one of the most exciting new
musicals to come along this decade.”

Healy has written five original musicals, including “The
Gringo,” which was the local headline act at the St. Louis Fringe Festival last
summer, and was the best-selling show in its history. Like “Madam,” it was
based on a real story.

Riley Dunn in “The Gringo”

He began writing “The Gringo” in 2013 after the wrongful
death of Miami teen Israel Hernandez at the hands of police. Healy had attended
high school with Hernandez, although they were not acquainted. He became
intrigued as details emerged in the fallout surrounding his death, especially
by the stark differences between their lives.

Healy moved to St. Louis during the Ferguson riots in
summer 2014. “The Gringo” then went in a different direction, instead of
confronting privilege but about fighting for your home.

“The Gringo” tells the story of art bringing together a
community facing injustice and rapid gentrification. On the morning of the
biggest art festival in Miami, a beloved local street artist is wrongfully
gunned down by police. Through the lens of a successful painter, her wannabe
lover, a drug dealer, his mule, and the white boy from out of town bearing
witness to it all, “The Gringo” is about what it means to fight for your home
in spite of it all.
Through its workshop and staged reading, a funding campaign raised enough to
record a full-length and fully orchestrated album.

“The Gringo”For the premiere of ‘The Gringo,” he also directed and was the music director. He always seems to be juggling multiple projects at once. For instance, he was contracted as the music director for “Into the Woods” this July at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA). He currently directs the Adagio Music Company at COCA and serves as the resident music director at East Central College in Union, Mo. where he has done five mainstream shows, plus his original musical “Forgottonia” last year.

Colin Healy

While living in his native South Florida, he composed
“Anthem,” which was presented in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 and 2011, and “Translation,”
which was part of the Florida Theatre Conference in 2015.

After graduating from South Broward High School in
Hollywood, Fla., he became the music director for the theater department.

Beginning at age 15, he was a touring singer/songwriter and
his work as a recording artist in the South Florida-based rock band, The
Republik, was recognized by Billboard and College Music Journal. He recorded
three full-length studio albums as a performer – Last Chance Planet, 2006; The
Unexpected Answer, 2010; and We Are the Wild Things, 2012, with the last one
recorded at the legendary Stratosphere Studios in New York and produced by
Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls. They received radio play nationwide.

In 2017, he established Fly North Music as a St.
Louis-based creative company that serves as the production house for his compositions.
He now has three components: Fly North Music, Fly North Studios, and Fly North

In early 2018, his private vocal studio had grown,
therefore Fly North Studios was born.

Then, after “The Gringo” was successful, he and his friend Bradley Rohlf decided to establish a new theater company, Fly North Theatricals this year.

They plan to promote education through performance by utilizing both their students and a local community of actors to create new, local, accessible, high-quality works of musical theatre, Healy said. “Neat, huh?”

His five original musicals have seen production at the
educational, community, and professional levels.

“Assassins” announcementFly North Theatricals is planning to present “Assassins”
next summer, July 4 – July 26, at the .Zack Theatre, 3224 Locust St., St. Louis,
with auditions set for Sept.16 and 17.

Fly North Theatricals said it will be a new take on Sondheim and Weidman’s classic where our nations’ most notorious assassins gather on stage to violently pursue a twisted American Dream.

“While many characters represent historical figures, our
vision for this cast requires performers that visually represent our local
community, not necessarily the real people being portrayed,” the audition
notice states.

Their website states: “A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, “Assassins” is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.”

For more information, visit www.flynorthmusic.comOur Questions with Colin Healy

Colin Healy on drums1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts? “I’ve never really done much else. I’ve played music since I was 5 and went to performing arts schools my whole life — not really a great background to go into medicine or finance.”

2. How would your friends describe you? “I don’t know. I annoy myself a lot but at least they don’t have to around me all the time. So, there’s that.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time? “I don’t understand the premise of this question.”

4. What is your current obsession? “I’m answering these questions from rehearsals for my new musical, ‘Madam!’ — so I guess that.”

5. What would people be surprised to find out about you? “People are always surprised to hear that I played baseball for 10 years, which I guess is playfully insulting? Like, why are you surprised?! Do I not strike you as the model of athleticism?! (OK, I get it.)”

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life? “My father passed away last month (July) so… that. That will certainly be informing a lot of my writing and teaching in the future (not that he didn’t when he was alive).”

7. Who do you admire most? “Angela Brandow and Bradley Rohlf and Stephen Sondheim and William Finn.”

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list? “Probably a bucket.”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis? “Eating all the food, drinking all the beer, and riding my bike (because you have to burn the calories somehow).”

10. What’s next? Shameless plug: My new theatre company, Fly North Theatricals, kicks off its inaugural season this January at the .ZACK. Stay tuned to our social media (@flynorththeatricals) for more information.

More about Colin Healy

Colin Healy, circa 2015

Age: 29
Birthplace: Hollywood, Fla.
Current location: St. Louis
Education: Studied acting and music education, with a focus in voice, at
Florida International University.
Day job: I’m a full-time music director, composer, and voice teacher.
First job: Waiter
First role: Pharaoh in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
Favorite roles/plays: “Man 1 in “Songs for a New World”
Dream role/play: George in “Sunday in the Park with George”
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Uhhh — I don’t know! I got a dog. He’s pretty
cool. Getting featured on the cover of RFT for “The Gringo” last year was
pretty neat. I make a pretty mean egg sandwich.
Favorite quote/words to live by: “Fail better.”
A song that makes you happy: Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”

By Lynn Venhaus Managing EditorFor something really different, check out the St. Louis Fringe Festival, which is taking over Grand Center the next four days. Check out what’s happening with a list of shows here.More collaborations are on stage through the ‘Lou and up the river. SATE and ERA have joined forces, along with Prison Performing Arts and Saint Louis University, for a fresh take on “Antigone.”Union Avenue Opera is premiering “Glory Denied,” and author Tom Cipullo will be here opening night for a talk-balk.In Hannibal, Bluff City Theatre will open the world premiere of Colin Healy’s musical, “Madam!” (Fly North Theatricals will stage it here in January at the .Zack.)

Shows continuing include “A Man of No Importance,” “Grease” and “Guys and Dolls.”

It may be the dog days of August, but you can cool off at a local theater — GO SEE A PLAY.

The seven “Antigones” Photo by Joey Rumpell“Antigone: Requiem per Patriarchus” SATE and ERA Aug. 14 – 31 (Wednesday – Saturday) at 8 p.m. The Chapel 6238 Alexander Drive, St Louis Tickets: Brown Paper or box office

What It’s About: For the third production of its Season of
Ritual, SATE is collaborating with ERA to co-produce Antigone: requiem per
Patriarchus; a fresh perspective on the Sophocles classic workshopped in a
collaboration between Saint Louis University Theatre and Prison Performing
Arts. Antigone explores themes of fidelity, citizenship, civil disobedience,
and the struggles and consequences the characters within the world of the play
encounter as a result of their choices

Director: Lucy Cashion

Starring: Alicen Moser, Ellie Schwetye, Laura Hulsey,
Miranda Jagels Félix, Natasha Toro, Taleesha Caturah and Victoria Thomas, with
Marcy Ann Wiegert providing live percussion accompaniment.

In 2017, Prison Performing Arts began a collaboration with
St. Louis University Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Lucy Cashion,
Assistant Professor of Theatre and ERA Artistic Director, and PPA Director of
Youth Programs and SATE Artistic Director Rachel Tibbetts, taught weekly
poetry, playwriting, and development workshops with PPA participants at Women’s
Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, Mo.

The group studied, explored, and wrote about the Ancient
Greek Princess Antigone. Antigone’s story of fighting civic law to obey divine
law became famous in the Classical Greek tragedy “Antigone,” which premiered in
Athens in 441 B.C. Since then, scholars, poets, and playwrights have written
their own translations, adaptations, and critiques of the Antigone story, each
from a different point of view. The continuation of this tradition resulted in
a new version of “Antigone,” which was performed in October 2017 by SLU theatre
majors in St. Louis and then with a performance by PPA participants at WERDCC
in March 2018. The collaboration now continues with this ERA/SATE co-production
in St. Louis.

 photography by Joey
Please call (314) 827-5760, email

Public relations photo shot on August 6, 2019 for the upcoming Union Avenue Opera production of Glory Denied.

“Glory Denied” Union Avenue Opera Aug. 16-17 and Aug. 23-24 at 8 p.m. Union Avenue Christian Church 733 Union at Enright 314-361-2881 What It’s About: America’s longest-held prisoner of war dreams of coming home. But home is a place he will not recognize. Follow the gut-wrenching saga of Col. Jim Thompson as he transitions from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the tree-lined streets of suburban America. This true story explores the unimaginable bravery asked of soldiers and the nature of home itself. It is a story of a nation divided and a country that changed significantly in the decade of his imprisonment. Of Note: The opera is sung in English with projected English text.

Each night following the performance, UAO will host an
intimate talk-back session with members of the artistic team and cast,
including special guest, Tom Cipullo, the composer and director Dean Anthony following
the opening night performance (Aug. 16).

Photo by ProPhotoSTL “Grease” Stages St. Louis July 19 – Aug 18 Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood

What It’s About: Welcome to Rydell High where Danny Zuko
and his gang of Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies rule the school! Bursting
with explosive energy and 1950’s nostalgia, “Grease” blends an irresistible mix
of adolescent angst and All-American teen spirit to create a high-octane,
pop-culture phenomenon.

Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Sam Harvey, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Morgan Cowling, Jessie Corbin,
Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, Frankie Thams, Julia Johanos, Lucy Moon and
Brooke Shapiro.

Photo by John Lamb“Guys and Dolls” Stray Dog Theatre Aug. 8 – 24 Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with additional performances at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 314-865-1995

What It’s About: “Guys & Dolls” takes us from the heart
of Depression-era Times Square, to the cafés of Havana, and into the sewers of
New York City to give us what some have called the perfect musical comedy. This
timeless tale follows ruthless gamblers, sexy nightclub performers, and the
hot-tempered law enforcers who keep them all in line.

Director: Gary F. Bell

Starring: Jayde Mitchell, Kevin O’Brien, Sarah Rae Womack, Angela Bubash, Mike Wells

“Madam!” Bluff City Theatre Aug. 15 – 24 Bluff City Theater, 212 Broadway, Hannibal, Mo

What It’s About: Eliza Haycraft is dying and hates men. She
is owner of five brothels and the richest woman in the city of St. Louis who
once empowered her employees by giving them the right to refuse service to
anyone, but while the passage of The Social Evils Act of 1870 made her business
legitimate, it also took away her right to say “no.”

“Madam!” is a new musical based loosely on real events that
tells the story of her search for an heir to her sex empire while also taking a
romp through first-wave feminism and sexism in America during Reconstruction
told through the lens of Eliza’s courtesans. The music, lyrics and book are by
Colin Healy.

Director: Sydnie Grosberg-Ronga

Starring: Eileen Engel, Kimmie Kidd, Larissa White, Rosemary Watts,

 “A Man of No Importance” R-S Theatrics Aug. 9 – 25 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. The Marcelle 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive in Grand Center

What It’s About: The show has music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics
by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, based on the 1994 Albert Finney
film, of the same title. It tells the story of an amateur theatre group in
Dublin and their leader, who is determined to stage a version of “Salome” at
his church, despite the objections of church authorities.
Director: Christina Rios
Starring: Mark Kelley, Kellen Green, Kent Coffel, Stephanie Merritt, Marshall
Jennings, Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Jodi Stockton, Dustin Allison, Michael B.
Perkins, Lindy Elliott, Nancy Nigh, Kay Love and Curtis Moeller

St. Louis Fringe Festival Aug. 13 – 18 Venues in Grand Grid Schedule PDF: “Adios Aliens” By LightsUp Productions Kranzberg Black Box Theatre Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

What It’s About: “Adios Aliens” is a work of fiction based
on non-fiction. While the names and characters are fictitious creations of the
author, the play is inspired by the real events pertaining to anti-immigrant
legislation and court judgment that occurred across small town America in the
years 2006-2007. They had real consequences for real people. Over the past 12
years the anti-immigrant sentiment has gained momentum, raising the threats
against the immigrant population.
“Adventures on the Horizon”
presented by Aspire Youth Performing Arts
.ZACK Theatre
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

​What It’s About: This performance will
showcase the dramatic and musical talents of youth in a scripted play, and in
musical /dance numbers.

Headline Act:
“Check In” by because why not? Theatre company
.Zack Theatre, 3224 S. Locust
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.
What It’s About: Allie and Danielle have been together 4 years, living a happy,
All America life with their son and Allie’s mother. But Allie’s a Dreamer, and
in the current political climate, her monthly government “Check In”
may be far less simple and safe than her family has come to expect. A new play
by Shannon Geier.

“Crawling with Monsters
presented by Latino Theater Initiatives
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

What It’s About: This is a multimedia stage documentary
that reveals what life is like inside the war-torn communities along the
US-Mexico border.

“Creatively Seeking”
presented by Sunday Jones, Mo, and Becky
The Olive Tree in the Grove
Aug. 15 at 8 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2 p.m.
What It’s About: “Creatively Seeking” is an investigation of how varied artists
access work and expression through examining their inner truths. Spend an hour
onstage with a painter, life coach, aerialist and photographer and participate
in creation. Firmly based in the concept that “we are the art”, these women
walk the walk and talk the talk to bring out the humanity in artistic
Debut Cabaret Favorites
presented by Debut Theatre Company
Kranzberg Arts Center Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at noon
Aug. 18 at noon

What It’s About: This all-kid company is coming back to the
fringe and will feature the talents of St Louis’ brightest up and coming stars
in a musical theatre cabaret.

An Improvised Musical Fairy Tale
303 Pop Up @ The .ZACK
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. 8/16/2019 @ 7:30pm

What It’s About: We get the audience’s favorite fairytale
or fable and improvise one, or two “Fragmented Fables” with our
musical accompaniment.
“I k(NO)w”
presented by Showgirl Awakening
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 15 at 7: 30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.
What It’s About: How do we know when we can’t “no”? Knocked flat
repeatedly by ulcerative colitis, veteran showgirl Kellita comes to know
herself through burlesque, and “NO’s” herself into autoimmune recovery. She
leaves her clothes on and lays her heart bare in this warm telling of her
unsettling partnership with her own powerful, eloquent, recalcitrant body.
Finding unexpected revelations in an airplane potty, a New Orleans nightclub,
and in a spacious room at SF General – sipping coconut water – Kellita begs the
question of her audience: in what ways do we force ourselves to digest the
indigestible?  And what happens when we
stop? With two decades of international burlesque performance under her shimmy
belt, this is Kellita’s first full-length autobiographical-storytelling show.
“I K(noW” focuses on mental, emotional and physical health in a way that’s not
just a storytelling device but also an interactive learning platform.

* “I K(no)W” is not a burlesque show *

What genre is it?

Think intimate-chat-with-a-friend meets TED Talk meets
secure attachment and autoimmume recovery lab.

What they’re saying about “I K(no)W” in San
Francisco: “There are shows that are engaging or entertaining. There are
shows that you talk about right after you see them but don’t ever think about
again. And then there are shows that start you thinking of everyone you can
send to see the show. Kellita engaged my heart, soul, gut and brain.  I K(no)W is a soul baring show.”
“InHERitance: the stories we carry”
presented by Byrd’s World – Heather “Byrd” Roberts
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.8/16/2019 @ 9:00pm

What It’s About: inHERitance is a response to the
historical, environmental, and familial influences along with a demonstration
in the quest for freedom.

“Lady Warrior”
presented by Good People Theater Company
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

What It’s About: Lady Warrior is a one-woman show about a
woman on a journey she creates with her own step system to find her voice and
Matthew Marcum Hymns & Oscillations
National Headline Act
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

“The closest thing to a breakout star that the American
performance sect has seen in decades.”  
-The New York Journal
“The Medicine Show”
presented by Ken Haller
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: In this 60-minute show of stories and
songs, cabaret singer and pediatrician looks at what captivated him about
medicine and the realization that being a doctor is not the same thing as being
a healer.
“My Infinite Sadness”
presented by Darrious Varner
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug 18 at 1:30 p.m.

What It’s About: When left alone in one’s own mind, who is
it that you are really talking to? Step into the subconscious of a person
suffering with Depression. See the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the
aches and pains that are living with mental illness. Playwright Darrious Varner
introduces you to a whole new view of Depression with My Infinite Sadness.
“Nora’s Numbers”
presented by Two Are We
Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theater
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.
What It’s About: This one-woman show tells the tale of Nora Petrowski, a recent
widow hobbled by a bunion. Ever the cheapskate, she keeps her husband’s ashes
in an old coffee pot. With her meager budget running out and in jeopardy of
losing her home, Nora starts raising money the only way she knows how—by
running an illegal BINGO den in her living room.  Written and directed by Analicia Kocher and
2015 St. Louis Fringe Meister, Panagiotis Papavlasopoulos.

“Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason”
presented by Poetic Storyteller Oba William King
303 Pop Up @ The .Zack
Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. Adults Only
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 3 p.m.

What It’s About: Interactive Storytelling. The fusion of
Spoken Word, Theatre, Poetry and the Traditional Art Form. It’s Storytelling

“Screaming at Optimum Pitch”
First Run Theatre
By Peg Flach
Directed by David Houghton
Cast: Kaitlyn Chotrow, Melanie Klug, Gwynneth Rausch, Nicole Gonnerman, Joshua
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: Optimum pitch. A tool that speech-language
pathologists use to determine a person’s natural voice is to speak as if in
polite agreement, “mm hmm.” Three generations tell their story.
“Secrets of the Bower House”
Chapter 1
.Zack Theatre
Aug. 15 at 9 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

What It’s About: “Secrets of Bower House” is a
collaborative production inspired by the concept of “home.” The work
challenges traditional forms of performance and invites you on an immersive
adventure through time, memory, fantasy, and absurdity.

And join us on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. for a free
InterPlay workshop before our show. InterPlay is an active, creative way to
unlock the wisdom of the body. Located at Artica’s outdoor installation space
across from .ZACK Theatre, 3225 Locust.
“Revival: A Southern Gothic Gospel Cabaret”
presented by The Q Collective
Kranzberg Black Box Theatre
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

is a storytelling adventure that blends candid storytelling with dynamic music.
Revival is the theatrical unpacking of writer Bobby Britton Jr’s Texas
upbringing, experience with the Southern Evangelical Church, and his time in
conversion therapy. Revival began in late 2017, after Bobby’s first show,
“Closed for Repairs,” returned from the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Since that time, Revival has featured the talents of many of Bobby’s friends
and classmates from the Theatre Education Masters Program at Emerson College.
Revival does not seek to preach or convert. Our only goal is to be honest.
“When Women Were Birds: An Integration of Female Voice and Gravity Defying
Inspired by a novel authored by Terry Tempest Williams
presented by St Louis Aerial Artistry
.Zack Theatre
Aug. 15 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 16 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at noon

“A Wild and Weird Sky in the Lou”
presented by SKY
303 Pop Up @ The .ZACK
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
What It’s About: Sky will be presenting three nights of some of her most
ambitiously weird and honest pieces to date at 2019’s St. Lou Fringe Festival,
located in the Grand Center Arts District. There will be her scarf, roses, some
water spillage, projections, and a chance to hear Sky talk about her work. It
will be an intimate, inclusive environment open to questions and lively
discussions about the challenges of creating art. Also, don’t forget to support
all your local artists and check out the impressive line-up of local talent at
this year’s one and only St Lou Fringe Festival!
“Politely Angry: An Hour of Socially Conscious Comedy”
presented by Krish Mohan
Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery
Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

What It’s About: Krish Mohan uses his quirky attitude and
charming personality to address some of our toughest issues using his unique
brand of comedy.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
One of the most versatile and lauded actors in St. Louis, John Flack is
spending his summer working at what he loves, adding another comedy, drama and
musical to his extensive repertoire.

He has been a member of Actors’ Equity, for 30 years,
“right here in St. Louis,” and is grateful to be working in the profession.

“My real dream is to continue to be cast in any professional theatre production that will have me so I can have a job doing what I love while working with people I adore.”

Currently appearing in the critically acclaimed “Indecent,”
presented by Max and Louie Productions, he will be in a satirical romp through
American history, “The Almost True and Truly Remarkable Adventures of Israel
Potter,” July 18 – 27 at Bluff City Theater in Hannibal, Mo. Rehearsals start
July 2.

Then, he’ll play the Captain of the Inquisition in “Man of
La Mancha” in September, his only musical with Stages St. Louis this summer.

“Man of La Mancha” runs Sept. 6 to Oct. 6 and concludes
Stages’ 33rd season, its final one before they move into a new
Performing Arts Center in Kirkwood.

Flack has been working with Stages since 1990, when he
played the title role in “Snoopy!”
Ever since, he’s demonstrated his musical versatility in both comedy and drama,
playing such roles as the Underling, the butler in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and
440-year-old Merlin in “Camelot.”

“I’ve been in about 65 (Stages musicals),” he said.

“I’m so grateful to Michael Hamilton and Jack Lane, and the
team at Stages, how they value the artists. Stages gives us Equity performers more
work weeks than any company in St. Louis in the summer. They make it possible
for us to get health insurance, and live and work here,” he said.

“Oklahoma” at Stages St. Louis 2018. Photo by Peter WochniakAnother benefit of being part of a company is the
friendships forged. For “Indecent,” he was fortunate to work with his longtime
friend, Ellen Isom, who choreographed the show. They’ve been friends since

“She is not only one of the absolute treasures of St. Louis
theater, but she’s first a terrific human being,” he said.

John has been active in several regional professional theaters, including The New Jewish Theatre, Upstream Theater, The Black Rep, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and the former HotCity.

As Saul Mortera in “New Jerusalem” at New Jewish Theatre, with Rob Riordan.He appeared in three shows at The Muny — “My One and Only” (2008) and “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Camelot” in 2009.

In 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Go! Magazine List named him Best St. Louis Stage Actor.

“Indecent” is one of his biggest challenges – and one of
the finest productions he’s been part of to date, he said.

John plays The Elder: Otto, and then as part of the
ensemble, he performs various characters Yekel, Peretz, Schildkraut, Immigrant,
Bartender, Judge McIntyre and older Asch.

“What a role!” he said about Otto.

But he has seven others too. “I am on stage the entire
time,” he said.

Making each character different as part of the ensemble is
the daunting task.

“That’s the biggest challenge. They are from different times,
and to make sure they have different dialects. The play spans 50 years,” he said.
“They are all old guys like me. That’s the one thing they have in common.”

When the characters speak their native language, they speak
perfect English, but when they speak a second or third language, they speak
English with an accent.

A fierce indictment of censorship as well as a celebration
of art and love, “Indecent” combines theater, music, dance and poetry to make
an impact in an era of chaos. Flack is among the seven actors and three
musicians who play roles that span continents and decades.

By Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel,
“Indecent” is the true story of a groundbreaking scandalous play and the
courageous artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. During its
2017 run on Broadway, it won

Sholem Asch’s drama, “God of Vengeance” debuted
on Broadway in 1923 at a time when waves of immigrants were changing the face
of America. A love story that celebrated Yiddish language and unconventional
passion, it was forced from the stage by a reactionary, fearful public.  Its fate, and that of the actors who
cherished it even as they confronted the horrors of the Nazi onslaught, are the
subject of “Indecent.”

“It’s a lovely script, beautifully written and poetic, and it’s very prescient for our time,” he said.

“Indecent” by Max and Louie ProductionsProducing Artistic Director Stellie Siteman issued a
statement: “As a proud member of St. Louis’ vibrant LGBTQ, Jewish, and Theatre
communities, I can think of no better play at this moment in time that
dramatizes a message of inclusion, tolerance and love. The belief in the power
of art is a clarion call to action.”

Joanne Gordon directed. Ron McGowan is the musical
director. Ellen Isom choreographed. Besides Flack, “Indecent” stars Alyssa
Avery, Zoe Farmingdale, Katie Karel, TJ Lancaster, Judi Mann, Kris Pineda and
Tim Schall.

“It’s a wonderful cast, really a delightful group. I love
working with these people,” John said. “And the music is tremendous.”

He is also a fan of the renovated Grandel, where the show
has been staged.

“It’s a great space, and we have a lot of positive energy
here,” he said.

John Flack won a St. Louis Circle Award as Don.

He has worked with Max and Louie Productions before, in Ken
Page’s original play, “Sublime Intimacy.” Page not only wrote it but directed
the show in 2015.

“Sublime Intimacy” was the tale of five friends who were elevated,
touched and changed by their love of a dancer and his dance overlaps,
intertwines and informs each other.

John won a St. Louis Theater Circle Award for playing Don,
an ex-Hollywood actor – Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama.

As Dan in “Next to Normal” He has been nominated
four times for St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, for two HotCity productions –
as Ned in “The Normal Heart” in 2014 (which also tied for Outstanding
Production of a Drama) and Charles Busch’s “The Divine Sister” in 2012, and as the
husband Dan in Insight Theatre Company’s “Next to Normal” musical in 2017.

With Eric Dean White in “The Normal Heart
 “Max and Louie
Productions like to present an eclectic mix,” he said. “Stellie and De love to
bring plays that they are passionate about to a St. Louis audience.”

 A mere few days
after “Indecent” closes June 30, he starts rehearsals on Tuesday, July 2 for “The
Almost True and Truly Remarkable Adventures of Israel Potter,” directed by
Herbie Barnes, at the Bluff City Theater in Hannibal, Mo.

He joins an ensemble cast featuring Donna Weinsting,
Jennelle Gilreath-Owens, Brian Kim and Eric Geller, all playing multiple
characters, while Erick Lindsey is Israel Potter.

Based on a novel by Herman Melville, who supposedly rescued
a tattered journal from the trash in 19th century London. Potter, a
simple farmer, is drafted into the fledgling Continental Army of the United
States of America on the eve of his wedding. He’s captured by the British,
imprisoned in England and then escapes, wanting only to return to his waiting
bride and a peaceful life in America. What ensues instead is a madcap series of
improbable events that thrusts him into one grand adventure after another,
preventing his return home.

The order this summer is drama, comedy then musical – more
memorable additions to the resume.

What’s best about building an acting career in St. Louis is
the variety of work.

As Clarence Darrow in “Never the Sinner” at New Jewish TheatreJohn said St. Louis is great for not pigeonholing an actor.
If you want to do comedy but have been mainly cast in dramas, you can. Unlike
other cities where you get typecast and they think you can only do one thing.

Lavonne Byers and John Flack in “The Divine Sister”

“We feel very lucky in St. Louis to work on different stages,” he said.

Here is our “Take Ten” Questionnaire with John Flack

1. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?

“Wait a minute… I had a choice? I don’t remember it that
way. In an early attempt at adulting, I tried three different career paths
outside of the arts. Each one ended in failure, disappointment, and heartache.
Then I needed a job, so I auditioned for a singing waiter gig on the old
Admiral riverboat. When that job ended, I auditioned for the next (Imaginary
Theatre Company at The Rep); and so-on and so-on. I’ve just been putting one
foot in front of the other, following my heart’s desire and staying a step
ahead of creditors ever since.”

2. How would your friends describe you?

“I don’t have financial wealth, but I am blessed with an
incredible wealth of dear friends and family. I don’t mean this to be glib or
cute; but I think one of the reasons I’ve been so fortunate in this regard is
because I was taught by my parents that what others think of me (or anything
else, really) is none of my business.”

3. How do you like to spend your spare time?

“I have a love/hate relationship with spare time. As a
free-lancer, empty space on my calendar is frightening to me, so I try to keep
as little open space as possible. When I do have spare time, I like to do
nothing. Take a break. Sit. Breath. Go on a hike with the dog. And, of course,

4. What is your current obsession?

“Dachshunds. And napping.”

5. What would people be surprised to find out about

“Considering my obsession, people might be very surprised
to learn that I like all dogs, not just Dachshunds. But I really, really like
wiener dogs.

6. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?

“Oh, no! Why are all of my “defining moments” so
embarrassing? I’m going through them in my mind, and I think they ought stay
there. I really don’t think any of them are appropriate for print. Let’s go out
for cocktails, and I’ll tell you one or two choice ‘moments’ off the record.”

7. Who do you admire most?

“Those who remain calm, kind, and dignified under difficult
circumstances large and small.” 

8. What is at the top of on your bucket list?

“Travel, travel, and more travel. Next up: The Eastern
Pacific rim next Spring. I can’t wait!”

9. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

“Eat. The restaurant scene in St. Louis is on fire. In
fact, it reminds me a lot of the theatre scene here in that there are so many
creative, energetic people doing what they love with a strong commitment to the
art and passion for excellence. Plus, I love food.”

10. What’s next? “The Almost True and Truly Remarkable
Adventures of Israel Potter” at Bluff City Theatre in Hannibal, Mo., then
“Man of La Mancha” at Stages St. Louis. I ask you, am I a lucky guy?

As Col. Pickering in Stages St. Louis’ “My Fair Lady” along with good friend Zoe Vonder Haar.MORE ABOUT JOHN FLACK:

Name: John Flack
Age: 56
Birthplace: St. Louis
Current location: St. Louis
Family: Married to Michael Marvaso
Education: Parkway West High School (for you curious STL locals), attended The
Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University
Day job: Equity Actor — which means I also have a list of side hustles the
length of my left arm
First job: Busboy at Le Soupcon, Famous-Barr
First role: Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Parkway West
Jr High. Did you happen to catch it?
Favorite roles/plays:  Snoopy in
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Parkway West Jr High and Scarecrow
in “The Wizard of Oz” Variety Club Theatre.

Dream role/play: Oh! So many! But my real dream is to continue to be cast in
any professional theatre productions that will have me so I can have a job
doing what I love while working with people I adore.
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Four Theatre Circle Award nominations, one award;
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama: Ken Page’s “Sublime
Intimacy”, Max & Louie. Judy Award 2018 – Best Actor in a Drama: Rabbi
Mortera, “New Jerusalem”, New Jewish Theatre. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
– Go! Magazine List 2015 – Best St. Louis Stage Actor. Riverfront Times 2007 –
Best Actor in a Play; Quentin, “After the Fall”, Muddy Waters

Favorite quote/words to live by: “Row, row, row your
boat, gently down the stream; Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a

A song that makes you happy: “Linus and Lucy” –
Vince Guaraldi Trio

John Flack in “Sublime Intimacy”Max and Louie Productions presents “Indecent” June
20-30 at The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, Missouri 63101.
Reserved seating is on sale at or by phone, 314-534-1111, or at
the box office an hour before showtime. Visit for
more information.