By Lynn Venhaus

Local Spotlight: The Wall

Truck Centers is sponsoring the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial Wall in Troy, Ill.

It will be open to the public from Thursday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m. (opening ceremony 5:45 p.m.) until Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m., on the grounds of the TCI Training Center.  It will be accessible 24 hours a day with online name locator resources, and a locator booth will be available daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The traveling wall is an 80% scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It is 8′ tall, spans 360 ft. in length, and is the largest traveling tribute in the nation.

My friends in the Flagman’s Mission are placing American flags on the ground before the exhibit opens and will take them down Sunday. For more information or to volunteer, visit their Facebook page.

Joan Lipkin, 1989

On Stage: Reunion of first LGBTQ+ Theatre Performed in Missouri

One Night Only! Tonight from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum. It’s free.

Before there was Ellen or Will & Grace, there was “Some of My Best Friends Are,” the 1989 landmark production by Joan Lipkin and Tom Clear that was the first LGBTQ+ theatre done in Missouri.

It was also before marriage equality, the Missouri Sexual Misconduct Law was repealed or LGBTQ+ people could serve openly in the military. And in the midst of all this, the AIDS epidemic was raging.

Yet in the basement theatre of a United Church of Christ congregation, the St. Marcus on Russell, they put on a musical theatre revue that sold out every performance, attracted very diverse audiences and was voted Best Play of the Year by the Riverfront Times. By turns scathingly funny and poignant, it changed the cultural landscape in St Louis.

They will perform some of the original numbers and scenes. Members of the original cast expected to be on hand include Kate Durbin, Bill Ebbesmeyer, Terry Meddows, Steve Milloy, Mary Schnitzler, and Christy Simmons. Larry Pressgrove is music director, and Joan will emcee.

Happy Hour starts at 5:30 p.m. and the stage comes alive at 6:30 p.m., with songs, skits, and some reminiscing by both cast and audience.

Here’s a piece with Joan in St Louis Magazine:

Amy Schumer

TV: Inside Amy Schumer

Tonight is the Season 5 premiere of the comedian’s award-winning show (9 p.m. Comedy Central and Paramount +). There haven’t been new episodes since 2016. Tonight, Ellie Kemper, Olivia Munn and Jesse Williams are among the guest stars in this blend of sketch comedy,vignettes, stand-up and man-on-the-street interviews. Here’s the trailer:

Playlist: Day-O!

In 1955, Harry Belafonte recorded “Day-O” (Banana Boat Song). This Jamaican folk song became his signature song, and is an example of popular calypso music at the time. It hwas been covered many times, and is featured in a very funny sequence in Tim Burton’s movie “Beetlejuice.”

On This Day in St. Louis

Eighteen years ago today, Jimmy Edmonds hit that 12th inning home run to put the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the first time since 1987!

What a shot! What a game!

Of course, we were then swept by the Boston Red Sox. Getting that postseason monkey off their back. But after ’04 we had some very good years, including World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.


Word: HUAC

On this date in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee began nine days of hearings into alleged Communist propaganda and influence in the Hollywood motion picture industry.

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Pastor Martin Niemoller, Dachau, 1944

In what is sure to be a highlight of the St Louis cultural season, That Uppity Theatre Company in collaboration with the Missouri History Museum will present a free musical reunion of Joan Lipkin and Tom Clear’s “Some of My Best Friends Are…”[SOMBFA] on Thursday Oct 20, 2022, from 6:30-8:00 pm. The event is part of the Missouri History Museum’s Thursday Nights at the Museum series and the organization’s Gateway to Pride Initiative which seeks to collect and preserve St. Louis’s LGBTQ+ history. The initiative includes a digital exhibit which launched in 2021, and a major special exhibit on LGBTQ+ history opening in June 2024.

Enjoy a happy-hour, resource tables and activities beginning at 5:30 pm. There will be many organizations with community tabling, including Metro Trans Umbrella Group, PFLAG, Black Pride, Pride St. Louis, SQSH, and TransParent, and there will be performances by CHARIS and the Black Tulip Chorale. Light appetizers and drinks will be available for purchase until 7:00 pm, and the Missouri History Museum’s exhibits are open until 8:00 pm.

 ““Some of My Best Friends Are…”is a notable part of St. Louis LGBTQ+ history, is included in our Gateway to Pride digital exhibit and will certainly be incorporated into our major special exhibit on LGBTQ+ history opening in 2024,” said Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity for the Missouri Historical Society, which operates the Missouri History Museum. “The Missouri History Museum is delighted to host this special program reuniting much of the original cast and crew of this theatrical work which was the first of its kind in Missouri.”

Hailed groundbreaking in 1989 as the first piece of LGBTQ+ theatre ever done in Missouri, SOMBFA sold out every performance at the St Marcus Theatre in St Louis and was voted Best Play of the Year by the Riverfront Times Readers Poll. 

A collaboration between composer and lyricist Tom Clear and playwright, director and producer Joan Lipkin, and subtitled: A Musical Revue for People of All Preferences, SOMFBA chronicled the saga of Frank and Sheila, a heterosexual couple trying to make their way through a bigoted gay world. It also featured other sketches and lauded musical numbers. 

“A lot of us were young rural Missourians – from towns like Willard, Poplar Bluff, Cooter, and Potosi – living in Cape Girardeau in the fall of 1989 when we heard about a hip new gay musical revue called “Some of My Best Friends Are…”,” said Rodney Wilson, retired Mehlville High School history teacher, longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ students and teachers, and founder of LGBTQ+ History Month USA. “I wasn’t out to many in October 1989 and our two hour caravan to Joan Lipkin’s splendid (and now historic) “Some of My Best Friends Are…”was my first experience with live queer culture. I’ll never forget how comfortable and safe I felt to be in a theater of mostly LGBTQ folks watching a stage of stories – funny, provocative, and poignant – about people like me.”

The reunion will bring together most of the original cast including Kate Durbin, Bill Ebbesmeyer, Terry Meddows, Steve Milloy, Mary Schnitzler, Christy Simmons and Jonas Moses. Many have described their time with the show as foundational for their professional careers and personal lives. 

Music director Larry Pressgrove is coming in from New York to direct the reunion which Joan Lipkin will emcee.

““Some of My Best Friends Are…” figures significantly in my career,” said Pressgrove. “Prior to SOMBFA, I had been working as music director and arranger at St. Louis’ Metro Theatre Company. This was my first test to see if the process I had developed would work on a bigger project.”

“In addition, I had only been out of the closet a few years,” said Pressgrove. “This would be my first time working on openly gay material that directly spoke about my life. I borrowed some of Joan’s confidence and dove into the project. It was life changing for me. It really increased my pride in myself as a gay man and showed me that Gay people needed to have our stories told. SOMBFA remains one of the favorite projects of my career because it was so connected to me personally and meant so much to the people who saw it.”

Since his work with SOMBFA, Pressgrove has served as a music director, conductor and orchestrator on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national tours. He has composed, arranged, and worked as a vocal coach and educator in numerous award-winning productions and programs.

The original production of “Some of My Best Friends Are…”  was also the site of political and community organizing and is credited with helping to overturn Missouri’s Sexual Misconduct Law. 

The museum event will offer audience members the chance to ask questions and share their own memories.

“For many of us, “Friends” remains one of our pivotal cultural and personal experiences, despite going on to do a lot of other interesting and productive work,” said Lipkin. “We are grateful to the museum and thrilled to come together in this free offering as a gift to the community and a reminder of what is possible in challenging times.”

This event is made possible in part by funding from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, AARP and the Missouri History Museum. 

Metro Theater Company (MTC), St. Louis’s premiere professional theater for youth and families, continues to expand its artistic footprint into the living rooms of families in St. Louis and across the world with the presentation of two more digital streaming productions this summer, including Early Days — Stories of the Pandemic Digital Archive: A St. Louis COVID-19 Digital Play (live streamed July 29 at 6:30 p.m.) and the virtual premiere of A Kids Play About Racism (available August 1-2).
Both productions are collaborations on the local and national level, and are part of Metro Theater Company’s ongoing efforts and mission to create productions that respect young people’s intelligence, tell compelling stories, stimulate curiosity and provoke thoughtful reflection, even as the St. Louis community adapts to the pandemic.

Early Days — Stories of the Pandemic Digital Archive: A St. Louis COVID-19 Digital PlayWednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m.FreeLive-streamed at https://www.metroplays.org or MTC’s Facebook page,
This short play, written by MTC Producing Associate John Wolbers, is part of Metro Theater Company’s partnership with the Missouri Historical Society to document our region’s experiences with the historic COVID-19 pandemic from the unique perspectives of submissions from people of all backgrounds. Together, the two organizations have created an original 15-minute play set against the backdrop of a teen’s now-Zoom call birthday celebration, as a fictional St. Louis family navigates the changes, perspectives, emotions, and hopes we all shared in March as our lives began to change. MTC Artistic Director Julia Flood directs. The cast for this live-streamed story of courage and resilience features actors, Jacqueline ThompsonNicholas Kryah, and Teens Make History Apprentice Madeline Emke. A Q&A follows the performance.
Teens Make History is a work-based learning program for local high school students. Through long-term, paid apprenticeships in exhibitions and museum theatre, the program aims to build key professional skills and give students the confidence they need to succeed. For more information or to learn how you can support this program, please visit
The COVID-19 Memory Project was launched by Metro Theater Company in March 2020 to further connect the St. Louis community through storytelling during this time of social distancing. As COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, play, learn, and connect, MTC encouraged community members to share their experiences, emotions, and hopes. This repository of experiences from young people and families are being adapted into a series of virtual performances, with an ultimate goal of translating these stories into a live performance when such performances can resume. Stories from the Memory Project were incorporated in the Arts United STL virtual fundraiser. This Zoom play is the next installment of new work created through the Memory Project. To submit a story, please visit

A Kids Play About RacismSaturday & Sunday, August 1 & 2
Free Streaming at Broadway on Demand,
Metro Theater Company joins a groundbreaking collaboration among 37 Theatres for Young Audiences across the United States, led by the lead producing team of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, to present the virtual premiere of A Kids Play About Racism, a theatrical adaptation of Jelani Memory’s A Kids Book About Racism. Premiering August 1 and 2 on the streaming platform Broadway On Demand, the new work is adapted and directed by award-winning director and TYA artist Khalia Davis and will be brought to life by an entirely Black and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) cast and creative team from across the United States. A Kids Play About Racism utilizes theatre to offer young children and families a way to engage in meaningful conversation about race. As part of the production, educational materials developed by Seattle Children’s Theatre in collaboration with the Northwest African American Museum will extend the experience and enhance age-appropriate engagement. All 37 partnering theatres are members of Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), the national organization representing the field of theatre for children and family audiences. The streaming of A Kids Play About Racism is accompanied by interviews and educational videos.
The scale and breadth of this co-production has been made possible in part through the network cultivated by TYA/USA, which connects organizations and artists across the country focused on theatre for young people and families. Through the last few months, TYA/USA has offered a range of programming to provide deep connections and resource sharing in response to COVID-19. Through this network, TYA theatres across the country have been able to come together to find ways to support each other and their audiences through new and innovative collaboration models.
A Kids Play About Racism is adapted and directed by Khalia Davis, with music composed by Justin Ellington and Costume Design by Ron McCann (California). It will be performed by Davied Morales (California), Angel Adedokun (California), Moses Goods (Hawaii), Rapheal Hamilton (Arizona), Isaiah Harris (Texas), Jessenia Ingram (Georgia), and Regan Sims (New York).
The work is produced by Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Alliance Theatre, in partnership with Adventure Theatre MTC, Arts on the Horizon, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Children’s Theater of Madison, Children’s Theatre Company, Childsplay, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Coterie Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dare to Dream Theatre, Des Moines Performing Arts, Filament Theatre, First Stage, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Imagination Stage, The Kennedy Center, Magik Theatre, Metro Theater Company, Nashville Children’s Theatre, New York City Children’s Theater, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Pink Umbrella Theater Company, ReNew Productions, Rose Theater, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Growing Stage – The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, The Gottabees, The Open Eye Theater, TheatreWorksUSA, Trike Theatre, Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University, and Orpheum Theatre Group.

The favorable response to the inaugural production of “Your Immigration Stories, Mine and Ours,” means that more will be planned, said Joan Lipkin of That Uppity Theatre Company.

“W had a wonderful response to the We Immigrants project,” Lipkin said. It took place April 28 at the Missouri History Museum.Lipkin, who is the producing artistic director, said Playback NOW! St. Louis, a project of That Uppity Theatre Company, shared facts about immigration and profiles of famous immigrants, and re-enacted the stories of several immigrants living in St. Louis to a sold out and diverse crowd.

Lipkin said they were excited about what audience members and storytellers said:

“Thanks so much for the wonderful experience! It was amazing!” –Shreya Ahuja, storyteller

“Joan, I had a good time, and enjoyed the show so much. You and the actors are doing a fantastic job! I love that they’re so approachable and friendly.”–Margarita Sanchez, storyteller

“Honestly, the best part is seeing the actors and how they seamlessly flow between the different parts! Too too cool!!! :-)” — Junior Lara, storyteller

“I laughed, I cried, I thought– it was memorable. Loved the cast, the songs, the topic, and especially the stories from the immigrants. I learned a lot and you opened more of my heart. Thank you!!!” — Lori Schmoll, audience

“So glad I made it today. It was an excellent event with such talented people. The story from the young student from China brought me to tears. The strength, fortitude and sacrifice these immigrants make to seek freedom and make a better life was astonishing to hear.” –Jan Brodsky, audience

“Wonderful show. Bringing to life, with humor, stories about the immigrant experience. Next time there’s a showing ….go….” –Peter Barg, audience

“That Uppity Theatre [Company] presented an inspiring storytelling Playback Theatre production, with St. Louisans from India, China, Mexico and the Dominican Republic sharing their personal immigration stories. Now, more than ever before, each immigrant’s story of searching for freedom and striving for opportunity keeps us grounded in what makes us a great nation. Thanks to Joan Lipkin, for her vision and creative voice!” — Anne Taussig, volunteerSt. Louis Public Radio also featured a very nice story about the event:

“We want to continue to uplift and support the voices and presence of our immigrant sisters and brothers with We Immigrants and productions like “Your Immigration Stories, Mine and Ours,” she said.

The Sunday audience at production.

Missouri History Museum Kicks Off Closing Month of Muny Memories Exhibit with a World Record AttemptSt. Louis — The Missouri History Museum’s current special exhibit Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage closes on Sunday, June 2, 2019 and to commemorate the occasion, the Museum is inviting the public to participate in an attempt to set the record for the World’s Largest Modern Jazz Dance Class.On Saturday, May 4, 2019, more than 600 people will gather to shimmy, shake, and chasse their way into history during a dance lesson taught by Muny Artistic Associate and choreographer, Michael Baxter.“For the past 9 months our Muny Memories exhibit has taken visitors “backstage” to discover the history of the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre,” said Tami Goldman, tourism and special projects manager for the Missouri Historical Society. “This is an exhibit closing like never before. We wanted to do something big to kick off the last month of the exhibit run and before the start of The Muny’s 101st season. What could be bigger than the World’s Largest Dance Class?”Dancers of all ages and abilities are invited to register for the class, which will be about 45 minutes in length and take place, rain or shine, on the lawn in front of the Missouri History Museum. Tickets are $7 per person and include a commemorative T-shirt. Participants must register in advance. Interested parties are encouraged to “bust a move” as the event is expected to sell out quickly.Event check-in begins at 7:30 am that day with the lesson starting at 9 am. Between check-in and the start of class, participants will have exclusive access to the Muny Memories exhibit.The World-Record Attempt at the Largest Dance Class is being held in partnership with The Muny. For more information or for event registration visit: Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage is open June 9, 2018, through June 2, 2019, at the Missouri History Museum. Admission is free.The Muny’s 101st season begins June 10, 2019. For more information visit

The Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage Exhibit now through June 2About Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage: The Muny celebrated its centennial season in 2018. To commemorate this milestone, another Forest Park Landmark is recreating 100 seasons of Muny magic. The Missouri History Museum shines a spotlight on the oldest and largest continuously operating outdoor-theatre in the United States in Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage. This 6,000-square-foot exhibit examines the history of The Muny through approximately 130 artifacts, including 10 costumes and 87 props from favorite Muny shows. Muny memories come to life through interactive media, oral histories from Muny stars and staff, and opportunities to learn a dance step or two

The St. Louis arts community has teamed up to promote voter awareness and registration through the “Dance the Vote” campaign. The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum’s MacDermott Grand Hall in Forest Park, with a free Michael Jackson community dance piece to be taught at 1 p.m. on the outdoor steps
This project brings together local artists who seek to make a difference during this election season by getting people registered to vote before the Oct. 10 Missouri voter registration deadline for the upcoming Nov. 6 General Election, and committed to voting on election day.
The “Dance to Vote” campaign raises public awareness on the themes of voting and civic
engagement featuring local choreographers and dancers from Ashleyliane Dance Company,
Karlovsky and Company Dance, Beyond Measure Dance Theater, SkyStone Contemporary Ballet,
Washington University Dance Theatre, Imagine Dance Project, Las Rumberas, Madco 2, KYPEKuumba Youth Performance Ensemble, Better Family Life and more.

Joining the lineup of various dance companies will be spoken word artists, poets and singers
including Pam Garvey, Susan Spit-Fire Lively, Roseann Weiss, John Blair, MK Stallings, Ana
Jennings, Sahara “Sista Sols” Scott, and Kim Furlow, among others. Voter registration will be
provided at the event in partnership with St. Louis Voter Registration Group.
The formal program in the Missouri History Museum’s MacDermott Grand Hall at 2 p.m. will be
preceded by a free community dance piece to music by Michael Jackson to be taught at 1 p.m. on
the steps of the Museum.
“The Missouri History Museum is thrilled to be a part of this effort to raise citizen awareness
and get people to the polls. The history of our region and country is made up of choices that
were made at the polls, as well as the struggle to be included in those choices,” said Emily
Underwood director of community programs for the Missouri Historical Society. “Regardless of which candidates you support, voting is an important way to play a part in the continuing story
of our community.”
The event will also offer free ice cream and an all ages selfie station where attendees can take
photos with signage that documents their commitment to voting.
The project is spearheaded by theatre artist and social activist Joan Lipkin, Artistic Director of
That Uppity Theatre Company and Ashley Tate, Artistic Director of Ashleyliane Dance Company.
The choreography will be based on various themes of the voting experience, including the
experience of African Americans, women, Latinx and people with disabilities around voting,
voting rights, voter suppression, voting in other countries, among other themes.
“As this is arguably one of the most important elections of our lifetime, we have to come
together as artists to offer our talents, vision, and passion to actively participate in promoting
voting and voter registration. The range of participating artists reflects much of the diversity in
the St Louis community and offers creative and exciting perspectives on why voting is crucial
and a precious right,” said Joan Lipkin, Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company.
Only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population turned up for the 2014 midterm elections,
according to numbers from the United States Election Project, run by Dr. Michael McDonald at
the University of Florida, which marks the 2014 midterms as having the lowest turnout since
WWII. In 2016, eligible voter turnout was just over 58 percent. In both instances, a low number
of voters have been determining the fate of the nation. We are now in the lead-up to the 2018
midterms, and communities face a number of obstacles to increased voter turnout.
Previous performances of “Dance the Vote” include outside Vintage Vinyl in the Delmar Loop,
St. Louis Black Pride and Left Bank Books.
The first midterm election edition “Dance the Vote” performance will take place on Saturday,
Oct. 6 from 2-5 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Non-partisan voter
registration opportunities will be available on location to interested voters. Performances will be
held within a three-hour time slot and each piece will be performed more than once.
“Dance the Vote provides an opportunity to showcase the skills of St. Louis choreographers and
dancers in service of community involvement. We are excited to create pieces tied to the history
of voting to remind the community how important it is to exercise this fundamental right,” said
Ashley Tate, Artistic Director of Ashleyliane Dance Company who is co-chairing Dance the Vote.
Featured image is photo of Ashley Tate.