The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) is holding a first of its kind Prop Sale June 26 – 28, 2024 at the Lemp Brewery Warehouse (3500 Lemp Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118).

For over 50 years The Rep has procured its collection of theatrical props, and with over 16,000 square feet of prop storage stuffed to the rafters, it is time for items to find new loving homes so the theater can make room for new and exciting acquisitions.

The Rep’s Prop Sale is perfect for antique aficionados, theater history fans, and those looking for the next conversation piece for their home. Everything from pink flamingos to carousel horses, jukeboxes, Singer sewing machines, HUNDREDS of chairs, a 5-piece cheetah luggage set, even a prop Tommy Gun in a violin case and so much more are available at can’t beat it prices. 

Own a part of theatre history and find the one thing you never knew you always wanted!  

Located at the Lemp Brewery Warehouse spaces (3500 Lemp Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118), the Prop Sale is open to the public the following dates and times:

Wednesday, June 26, 12 – 7pm
Thursday, June 27, 12 – 7pm
Friday, June 28, 8am – 3pm
Saturday, June 29, 8am – 3pm

All sales are final and sold in “as is” condition.  Payment by cash or credit card preferred.  All sales are cash and carry, items will not be held for pickup without full payment and must be removed from the warehouse the day of purchase. 

For further questions, please contact The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Props Department at props@repstl.org.

By Lynn Venhaus

Throughout a long and illustrious career as a professional actor and director, Alan Knoll has been a steady and appreciated presence in St. Louis regional productions. This year, he’s as busy as ever, appearing as flawed dads in two plays — “We All Fall Down” and “August: Osage County,” and directing an acclaimed drama — “Red” — later this summer.

Knoll estimates he has been in more than 150 productions, with his current turn as Saul Stein, a retired history professor, in “We All Fall Down,” now playing at New Jewish Theatre through June 16.

“It appears to be around my 153rd show since I started acting ‘professionally’ right after college. That doesn’t include the many shows I did at St. Mary’s High School, St. Louis University, and all those little gigs I took right out of school that didn’t pay a little something,” he said.

The parts of Saul Stein and Charlie Aiken Sr. this year have been enriching, he said. He has moved easily between comedic and dramatic parts, with occasional forays into musicals.

“This is the year of the family dramedy for me, for sure. Playing Saul Stein in ‘We All Fall Down’ at the New Jewish Theatre took me down an unexpected road of reflecting on my own dad and what he went through at the end of his life. Playing Charlie Aiken in ;August: Osage County” gave me the opportunity to reflect on my successes and failures in raising my wonderful son,” he said.

Alan plays retired history professor Saul Stein in “We All Fall Down,” with Jenni Ryan (back) and Bridgette Bassa (right). Photo by Jon Gitchoff.

The New Jewish Theatre’s production will be its first in St. Louis, after it made its debut in 2020 at Boston’s Huntington Theatre. It illustrates the joys and heartaches of growing older, growing up, and growing to understand the value of tradition.

Mindy Shaw plays Saul’s wife Linda, a brilliant but dramatic matriarch, who wanted to bring her secular family together for their first-ever Passover seder. But as the night continues, the occasion goes from funny to poignant. The play reminds us how culture, personal identity, and family are intricately woven.

“Even with my next project, directing “Red” for the New Jewish Theatre, the play has that father-son dynamic. It brings up strong memories of me as both the son and the father,” he said.

A bonus of being in family-centered plays is the connections you make, he noted.

“The secret no one tells you about acting is every time you do a show you gain a family.  And when that show is about a family, those gained relationships can be even more intense,” he said.

As God.

He last appeared on the Wool Studio Theatre in 2018, playing the Almighty in “An Act of God.”

Knoll has worked with multiple companies in St. Louis, including The Black Rep, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Upstream Theater and Imaginary Theatre Company, and the defunct Insight Theater Company, Dramatic License Productions, HotCity Theatre, Muddy Waters Theatre Company and Theater Factory..

He has also worked extensively over the years at Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, which is one of Missouri’s oldest professional regional theatres, and about 160 miles from St. Louis. His wife of 26 years, Laurie McConnell, became the marketing director there in 2023, and they moved from their Dogtown neighborhood to the quaint village of Arrow Rock.

He received Kevin Kline Award acting nominations for “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Conversations with My Father.” Besides acting, he has been nominated for directing Neil Simon’s autobiographical comedies “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound” at New Jewish Theatre by the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

He has also appeared in several films, including as a prison warden in 2023’s “Penitentia,” and in the 1998 mini-series “A Will of Their Own” as a reporter, which was shot in St. Louis.

Despite his busy schedule, he graciously gave us his time to answer our Take Ten questionnaire.

With Steve Isom in “Wittenberg” at Upstream Theater.

Take Ten Q&A

1. What is special about your latest project?

“Lila Rose Kaplan’s family comedy/drama is just great. I didn’t realize it would be so special to me, but in rehearsing it, it has become a role that is very close to my heart. It has made me reflect on my own dad and what he was going through toward the end of his life.”

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

“It was the only thing I felt comfortable doing! As a kid, I was pretty lonely and isolated, not very happy at all. At St. Mary’s High School, I met Rich Contini, the drama teacher, which changed the trajectory of my life. That continued at SLU under the guidance of Alan Hanson, Robert Butler and Wayne Loui.”

3. How would your friends describe you?  

“What friends?
I guess as an easy-going nice guy. I hope so anyway. I have a sense of fairness and I make them laugh. Also, if you need to know who won Best Supporting Actor in 1942, I’m faster than Google.”

Alan Knoll as the U.S. president in “November” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio.

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

“What is this spare time you speak of? Reading, watching old movies, finding a streaming show for us to become obsessed with, walking our rescue pooch, Truman.”

5. What is your current obsession?

“Abbott Elementary and running from cicadas.” 

6. What would people be surprised to find out about you?

“I’m very shy.”

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

“Marrying the best girl in the world, Laurie McConnell.”

8. Who do you admire most? 

“I would have to say my wife, Laurie McConnell. She’s amazingly talented and so sweet to everyone. She always becomes a rockstar at whatever she does, whether it’s in her radio career, her acting career or her marketing career. I don’t know how she does it.”

9. What is at the top of your bucket list? 

“Travel, because I have done very little of it. Touring the UK (or whatever it’s called since Brexit) is a dream of mine.”

Alan and wife Laurie McConnell. Provided photo.

10. How were you affected by the pandemic years, and anything you would like to share about what got you through and any lesson learned during the isolation periods? Any reflections on how the arts were affected? And what it means to move forward?

“2020 was scheduled to be one of my best years.   I had acting and directing gigs lined up all over the place.  None of that happened.  Of course, this nothing compared to the millions who lost their lives.

Laurie and I got through it by teaching ourselves to cook and visiting with our neighbors over the fence in the back yard.  6 feet apart of course.  It reminded us of our inter-connectedness and how we’re not in this alone.

The St Louis arts scene was terribly affected.  All the theatres shut down and some never came back. Patrons got out of the habit ongoing to the the theatre and we’re still trying to fix that.”


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

This is my hometown, but now that I don’t live here, it’s fun to see the city and all it has to offer with fresh eyes.  Forest Park, Ted Drewes, hanging out with my son in the Bevo neighborhood, Imo’s pizza, smelling the hops emanating from the brewery where my Dad worked for forty years.  I love my hometown and the Cardinals…….even this year!


12. What’s next?

“Directing “Red” for the New Jewish Theatre, then performing in “Noises Off” at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, then a long nap.”

Playing a priest in “Flanagan’s Wake” at the Playhouse at Westport. The run was cut short by the pandemic shutdown in March 2020.

More About Alan Knoll

Name: Alan Vincent Stephen Knoll
Age: My wife Laurie says I act like I’m 12
Birthplace: St Louis
Current location: Home base, Arrow Rock, Mo.  Currently working in St Louis.
Family: Laurie McConnell & Ben Knoll
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Saint Louis University
Day job: Dog walker (just mine….unpaid)
First job:  Dishwasher at Al Smith’s restaurant on Grand, 7 Meramec in South St Louis
First play or movie you were involved in or made: My first play was the Caine Mutiny Court Martial.  I was a sophomore in high school.
Dream job/opportunity: I really want to play Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”
Awards/Honors/Achievements: The late, great Riverfront Times named me Best Actor as George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
A Woody award as a best supporting actor for the Black Rep’s “Intimate Apparel.” A Piglet Award for directing “Putnam County Spelling Bee” for St. Louis University.
Being enough of a working actor to earn a pension from Actor’s Equity.
Favorite quote/words to live by: Dying is easy, Comedy is hard — Edmund Gwenn
A song that makes you happy: “Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones

The ensemble cast of The Rep’s “August: Osage County.” Alan is in the foreground, center.

By Lynn Venhaus

Described as a cultural shaper and visionary creator, Kate Bergstrom assumes the role of Augustin Family Artistic Director at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis beginning May 13.

While she is new to St. Louis, theatergoers are familiar with her work, as she directed “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” at Christmastime, for which she was nominated for best director by the St. Louis Theater Circle. She also directed “The 39 Steps” in 2022.

“The unwaveringly beautiful and crucial component of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is, of course, St. Louis! I am honored and humbled to return to this wonderful community in this role to celebrate – through excellent, engaging, and relevant storytelling – this beloved region,” Bergstrom said.

Her appointment follows a six-month nationwide search after Hana S. Sharif’s departure last summer. Sharif stepped down after five years in the role and moved on to The Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., to serve as artistic director there.

Bergstrom becomes the eighth artistic director in The Rep’s 58-year history. The region’s premiere theater was founded in 1966 and made its home at the Webster University’s Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts.

Kate Bergstrom. Photo by Antonio T. Harris

After a bombshell announcement last fall that The Rep season was in jeopardy and they needed to cover a $2.5 million budget shortfall to continue, community support came through in an organized “Rally for the Rep” multi-year fundraising campaign.

People had cited dwindling ticket sales, season subscribers not renewing, employee turnover, shows in several different venues, and eroding community support as factors that led to the predicament, in addition to challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Managing Director Danny Williams acknowledged the need for better communication and consistency in programming.

“We had to change. We are listening to what people are saying. Some of the shows were not up to the Rep’s standards,” he said last October.. “We are committed to programming for St. Louis audiences.”

Williams became managing director in January 2022 when Mark Bernstein retired after 32 years in that role. He had served as senior director of finance and administration at New York’s Public Theater.

The Rep was able to complete the 2023-2024 season because of the Rally success. A Holiday Benefit Experience that featured St. Louis alumnus John Goodman raised more than $150,000.

Williams announced in January that 80% of the goal had been reached to fund the second half, productions “Moby Dick” and “August: Osage County.”

At that time, Williams said the goal was to ensure continuing to bring world-class, adventurous new works and beloved classics to their stage as they approach their 60th anniversary.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we’ve received from the St. Louis community, he said. “While our first big hurdle is behind us, the need for continued support remains as we build a sustainable future for The Rep to inspire generations and ensure the arts thrive in our beloved city.”

Williams cited the need to build a stable future amid an industry undergoing radical change.

The Rep exterior. File photo.

“We are working to build a model that responds to today’s cultural landscape so that we remain an anchoring cultural force for St. Louis, using the transformative power of the arts to build bridges in our region and beyond,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Rep stated: “With her appointment, Bergstrom brings a passionate energy for The Rep’s next chapter that builds on the theater’s success as a vital, celebrated, cultural cornerstone of St. Louis.”

Bergstrom said she considers The Rep more than a theater.

“It serves as a critical cultural heart in St. Louis by elevating and expanding the capacity for the extraordinary in us all. I’m excited to set down roots and galvanize transcendent work, using my skills and experiences to foster engagement that uplifts and world-class storytelling that is both tremendously entertaining and vital,” she said.

Williams said he looked forward to partnering with Kate to realize this new chapter.

“Kate is a bold and generous leader, who works with a heart-forward approach to center an artistic vision that will bring out the best in The Rep. At this critical juncture in the organization, her passion, energy, and commitment to St. Louis makes her an inspired choice to ensure a vibrant future for the theatre,” he said.

To conduct the search, The Rep engaged Arts Consulting Group. From a field of many applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences, the committee narrowed down the search to three extremely qualified candidates.

Each candidate participated in Zoom interviews and full-day in-person meetings, during which The Rep staff were encouraged to meet and ask questions with the potential candidates. The process took six months and included Rep staff and leadership, along with a search committee of arts leaders and community stakeholders led by Board Vice President Ann Cady Scott, the board of directors and independent search firm ACG.

“The Rep has a long-storied history of inspiring and thoughtful leaders, and we are thrilled to pass the torch of leadership to Kate Bergstrom,” said Brian Clevinger, The Rep’s Board President. “Kate’s It’s a Wonderful Life was an electrifying production that brought out the best in our local talent and inspired joy throughout St. Louis. We look forward to her work in deepening The Rep’s impact on its stages and in the community.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play” at The Rep.

New Season

The Rep’s 2024-2025 season, which kicks off in September with the suspense thriller “Dial M for Murder,” was programmed by Williams and the current artistic team. Bergstrom will lead the selection of the Steve Woolf Studio Series this season.

Bergstrom said she will continue to deepen her relationship with St. Louis and the local arts community by actively listening to audiences as crucial collaborators to bring about a vision and strategic plan for the 25/26 season and beyond.

“We have the grand opportunity ahead to celebrate the power of extraordinary togetherness in this beloved region during a divisive time. By bridging the differences that make us unique and the undergirding humanity that unites us all, The Rep looks to spark joy, discovery, and that extraordinary togetherness towards a thriving St. Louis and beyond. I’m ready to infuse care, love for this community and a clear, heart-forward vision of excellence into the Rep for years to come,” she said.

Williams said, in announcing that “August: Osage County” was a go thanks to completing the fundraising, that the season had rallied their staff, board, volunteers, artists, and community to keep the magic of live theatre alive at The Rep.

“We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received from the St. Louis community. It is their belief in our 57 years of work and dedication to the arts that propels us forward and allows us to continue to bring world-class theatrical experiences to our stages,” he said.

Next year’s season is:  Dial M for Murder Sept.18 – Oct. 13; the holiday musical “Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” in partnership with Stages St. Louis on Dec. 4 – 22; Lynn Nottage’s Tony-nominated comedy, “Clyde’s,” Feb. 5 – March 2, 2025; the retelling of “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood,” March 19 – April 13, 2025, all performed at the Loretto-Hilton Center, in the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre on the campus of Webster University.  Tickets are on sale now. Visit www.repstl.org for details and follow @repstl.

In December 2023, The Rep was named a Missouri Historical Theatre, which is awarded to theaters that contribute to tourism in Missouri, promote arts in its community and throughout Missouri, and has been operational for a minimum of 50 years.

Kate Bergstrom. Photo by Antonio T. Harris

About Bergstrom

Born in California, Bergstrom holds an MFA in directing from Brown University and a BA in Directing and Acting from UCLA. She will move here from New York. with her husband Mike and their dog Crispy.

Among her credits are directing at regional theaters across the country, which belong to the League of Resident Theatres, including the Marin Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Trinity Repertory Company and more.

As a festival director, she programmed the Big Eddy Film Festival in Upstate New York where her responsibilities included fundraising, audience and community development and partnership building.

This grew from her tenure as Founder and Producing Artistic Director of On The Verge, a festival premiering female and LGTBQIA writers in Santa Barbara, Calif.

As a performance coach and account manager at Stand and Deliver, she has worked with dozens of large corporate clients such as Google, Genentech, and Cisco co-leading multi-day programs and long-term adviserships toward improving external and internal organizational communication.

The Rep interior, File photo.

 The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) announced its 2024-2025 season on March 21, which includes four world-class productions all taking place at the Loretto-Hilton Center, in the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre on the campus of Webster University.

Curated to provide unique experiences for the full spectrum of the St. Louis community, the 2024-25 season includes mystery, comedy, thrilling storytelling and a holiday musical for all to enjoy.

The Rep’s 2024-25 Season kicks off with Frederick Knott’s suspense thriller Dial “M” for Murder September 18 – October 13, 2024.Featuring an exclusively local St. Louis cast,  audiences will be at the edge of their seats as they delve into the deception and betrayal of this timeless classic.

Next up to celebrate the holiday season, Million Dollar Quartet Christmas brings together  Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in a holiday jam session that will have audiences toasting the season December 4 – 22, 2024. A collaboration with STAGES St. Louis, this production combines two powerhouse performing arts organizations on one stage and is the first production of the musical to be performed in St. Louis.

At the top of 2025 comes the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s Tony-nominated comedy, Clyde’s, February 5 – March 2, 2025.  Named the most produced play of 2023, a truck stop sandwich shop becomes the unexpected stage for redemption, second chances and the quest for the perfect sandwich.

To close out the Mainstage season from the adaptor of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express comes Ken Ludwig’s up-roaring retelling of Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood, March 19 – April 13, 2025.

Akin to The Rep’s recent productions of Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Pride and Prejudice, Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood’s expansive storytelling will have audiences swept away as the charismatic outlaw battles a power-hungry prince for the soul of England.

“Following a banner year filled with critically acclaimed productions and a tremendous outpouring of support from the community, we look forward to continuing the momentum of artistic excellence that creates memorable theatrical experiences for all of our patrons in our upcoming 58th Anniversary season,” said Danny Williams, Managing Director. “

We received valuable feedback this past season and have diligently devised innovative and sustainable action steps to meet the needs of the theatre and our cherished community. This exciting season is a reflection of those needs, which presents an opportunity to produce a wide array of offerings to delight and challenge our valued patrons as well as welcome new and old audiences to the theatre to position it as an enduring institution for the St. Louis community.”

Looking ahead, The Rep is excited to introduce its new Augustin Family Artistic Director later this spring and the much anticipated Steve Woolf Studio Series taking place in the Emerson Studio Theatre will be announced later this summer.

The Rep will also continue to offer its Learning and Community Engagement (LACE) programs that provide people of all ages opportunities to deeply engage with the art they see on stage through immersive in-classroom and extracurricular learning opportunities, public forums for civic discourse, and opportunities to participate in the artmaking process.

Programs include the Story 2 Stage Festival which features student written and produced plays, the Imaginary Theatre Company (ITC) public performance in Spring 2025 and Camp Rep, where students over the summer receive a two week immersion in all things theatre culminating with a family showcase.

Find a full schedule of the 2024-25 season programs below. Subscriber renewals begin today with new subscription purchases available April 15, 2024. The Rep offers the Classic Mainstage subscription for all four productions, a Red Carpet Exclusive subscription to attend Opening Night, and a Flex Pass subscription which allows patrons to pick and choose what shows to see.

Single tickets will go on sale later this summer. For more information and to purchase a subscription, visit www.repstl.org or call the Box Office, Monday – Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at (314) 968-4925. The Rep Box Office will also be available for in-person support at the Loretto-Hilton Center, Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 2024-25 Season

For tickets, accessibility, and visitor information, visit repstl.org.

Dial “M” for Murder
Sept 18 – Oct 13, 2024
By Frederick Knott

Step into the shadows of a meticulously planned murder. In the elegant home of Tony and Margot Wendice, a sinister game of cat and mouse unfolds. Tony, a calculating mastermind, plots to kill his wife for her inheritance, fueled by revenge and greed. When his perfect plan spirals into chaos, a web of lies and deceit is spun, threatening to ensnare the innocent. Join the relentless Inspector Hubbard as he unravels the twisted truth. Will Tony’s trap hold, or will justice be served? Experience the suspense and intrigue of Dial “M” for Murder, a play that will leave you breathless until the final curtain falls. 

Major Production Sponsor – Ann Cady Scott

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas
Presented in partnership with STAGES St. Louis
Dec 4 – Dec 22, 2024
Book by Colin Ascott

ARE YOU READY TO ROCK? Around the Christmas tree, that is! Million Dollar Quartet Christmas brings Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins back together for a festive jam session that will have you jingling ALL the way! In the decked-out Sun Records studio, filled to the brim with Christmas cheer and enough musical talent to power a city grid, these legendary musicians blend their chart-topping hits with seasonal cheer. Get ready for a holly jolly journey through this iconic rock n’ roll musical! 

Clyde’s
Feb 5 – Mar 2, 2025
By Lynn Nottage 

From two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage comes the Tony-nominated-play, Clyde’s. In a small run-down sandwich joint, ex-cons endure Clyde’s fiery critiques and a scorching kitchen. Yet, when a mystic chef throws down the gauntlet—craft the ultimate sandwich—the team ignites with newfound zeal. Fueled by this savory challenge, they transform their past into a recipe for triumphant fresh starts. Join this spirited culinary quest where second chances are as vibrant as the flavors sizzling in the pan! 

Major Production Sponsor – Whitaker Foundation

Ken Ludwig’s Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Mar 19 – April 13, 2025
By Ken Ludwig

Join the Merry Rebellion! Ken Ludwig’s Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood is a riotous romp through the enchanted forest, where Robin and his lively band of outlaws plot to outwit a greedy prince. Filled with daring escapades, mischievous humor, and a dash of romance, this timeless tale of justice and camaraderie is a swashbuckling adventure the whole family will cheer for! 

Major Production Sponsor – The Leading Ladies of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis 

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ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE OF ST. LOUIS

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) is the region’s premiere theatre for compelling, award-winning theatrical experiences that entertain, engage, and illuminate audiences’ shared humanity. Founded in 1966, for more than five decades The Rep has sustained and built upon its commitment to artistic excellence by creating, developing, and curating adventurous new works and beloved classics from the most exciting emerging and established American voices. The Rep builds bridges within the St. Louis community and beyond by offering productions that allow audiences to see themselves and the stories that matter to them represented on stage, through the organization’s robust community engagement programs, and across its educational initiatives.

The Rep welcomes audiences with inspiring and expansive productions at several inviting stages across St. Louis including the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts and other venues around the St. Louis area. A thought leader in the national theatre landscape, The Rep is a dedicated partner with arts organizations in St. Louis and across the country, expanding audiences’ appreciation and understanding of the world through theatre. In December 2023, The Rep was named a Missouri Historical Theatre, which is awarded to theaters that contribute to tourism in Missouri, promote arts in its community and throughout Missouri, and has been operational for a minimum of 50 years. For more information, please visit repstl.org and follow @repstl.

By Lynn Venhaus

Mesmerizingly crafted, “Moby Dick” is an astonishing triumph of sound and fury.

Through its hybrid expressionist storytelling involving aerials, acrobatics, dance, visual artistry and dramatic encounters, the aesthetically innovative staging is extraordinary.

This brilliant vision by director David Catlin, who adapted the 1851 novel by Herman Melville, has been executed fluidly with bold intentions. He has stripped an unwieldy story down to essentials — although it still takes 3 hours with 2 intermissions to tell this three act masterpiece.

Catlin immerses us as green hands on the Pequod whaling ship – you will feel as if you are on the voyage on the treacherous high seas around the world.

Perhaps comparable to a Cirque du Soleil experience, it is unlikely that you have seen anything like it, unless you were privy to its landmark 2015 debut at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, where it was developed and mounted.

The Fates, Photo by Liz Lauren

Catlin, a longtime ensemble member, is not the only one involved in The Rep’s stunning and at times, jaw-dropping, production. An outstanding Christopher Donahue, who originated the role of Captain Ahab there, returns as the maritime officer obsessed with revenge against the great white sperm whale who bit his leg off.

A sparse high concept set designed by Courtney O’Neill, aided by assistant designer Catalina Nino, yields to an epic sea adventure that at its core is a battle between fate and free will, as Ahab goes mad in his maniacal quest while his first mate Starbuck believes that our choices fulfill our destiny.

This isn’t your English class study guide, rather a living work of art, composed stylistically with dynamic imagery and movement that creates an unrivaled seafaring adventure.

The now iconic Ishmael is the first sailor we encounter, a philosophical narrator who has worked on a merchant vessel. This time, he signs up for the Pequod, leaving Nantucket. This sea hunt is for whale oil and the byproducts used in the 19th century – the appeal of a comfortable lifestyle was at odds with the messy and grimy business of whale hunting.

Ishmael and Queequeg. Photo by Liz Lauren.

At a crowded inn, he is forced to share a room with a distinctively tattooed Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg, and that comical situation cements a friendship between the men. Muscular Kevin Aoussou is an imposing and regal Queequeg.

Walter Owen Briggs conveys Ishmael’s curious nature and sense of wonder, while looking at developments sensibly. He struggles with Ahab’s recklessness and the looming doom.

The Fates and the sailors. Photo by Liz Lauren

Ahab’s single-mindedness is his tragic flaw, and it will consume him. As the men resist, he pushes harder. He has tough altercations with brave first mate Starbuck, a fierce and agile Felipe Carrasco, that are intense and frightening.

The ensemble offers personal portraits to help identify them as crew members, and their instincts are finely tuned. In supporting roles are original castmates Micah Figueroa as Cabaco and Captain of New Bedford whaleship and Raymond Fox as Stubb as well as Captains Boomer and Gardiner, joining Julian Hester as Bulkington.

They indicate the physical aspects of their struggles with precise movements by acrobatic choreographer Sylvia Hernandez-Distasi, a founder and artistic director of The Actors Gymnasium in Chicago. She impresses with dazzling derring-do.

Three women portray the Fates – Maggie Kettering, Ayana Strutz and Bethany Thomas – and they swirl in and out, like spirits. They also present themselves as images of loved ones left behind, and townspeople in the villages.

The dexterity and physical stamina required of these performers is remarkable, and not unnoticed.

Kevin Aoussou. Photo by Liz Lauren

Costume designer Carolyn “Sully” Ratke and associate designer Stephanie Gluggish have fashioned ethereal garb for the mystical spirits, and an interesting wardrobe to create a human metaphor for Moby Dick and other whales. The other costumes are period-appropriate.

The squalls, the hunt, and the insurmountable typhoon are thrillingly staged as spectacles, diving deep into the life-or-death danger. The technology used is next-level and breathtaking, especially what Rigging Designer Isaac Schoepp has created.

(Kudos to the stagehands who participated in the curtain call, deserving a major standing ovation for their efforts), Bravo!

Lighting designer William C. Kirkham, and assistant designer Madeleine Reid, along with sound designer Rick Sims and associate sound designer Forrest Gregor, have recreated an atmospheric ocean tableau — thunderstorms, eerie nighttime shadows, blazing sun daylight, fire, the mysterious echoes of the high seas and the relentless waves.

They have captured dreamlike sequences as well as nightmares through aural and visual techniques, and Sims’ music compositions add texture.

A sequence of staggering beauty is when lanterns lit with whale oil illuminate the night sky, as they rise and seemingly float away, like fireflies.

Photo by Liz Lauren

Moments of non-traditional storytelling are effective bridging the gap between the classic text and a new way to look at a staged presentation. However, the everlasting human condition commentary is not overshadowed by the production’s technical mastery.

Now, this show can be a challenge to navigate, particularly if you have never read “Moby Dick” or only made it through a few pages – it is not an easily digested drama. But stick with it, let the experience sweep you away, and you will be rewarded handsomely. (And you may want to read some Cliff Notes or Wikipedia information beforehand).

It’s exciting to watch something so significantly singular swing for the fences and achieve a greatness that people will be talking about for years.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents “Moby Dick,” adapted from the book by Herman Melville and directed by David Catlin of the Lookingglass Theatre Company through Feb. 25. Performances take place on the main stage of the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: www.repstl.org.

Christopher Donahue as Captain Ahab. Liz Lauren photo.

Event at Loretto-Hilton Center Will Honor Outstanding Work in Local Professional Theater in 2023

ST. LOUIS, February 2, 2024 – The Muny, The New Jewish Theatre, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) and Stages St. Louis each garnered at least 19 nominations for the 11th annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, with The Muny’s 26 nominations leading all companies. The annual gala will take place on Monday, March 25, 2024 at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, 130 Edgar Road on the campus of Webster University, home of The Rep.

“Clue,” at Stages St. Louis, and The New Jewish Theatre’s production of “Into the Woods” each garnered 11 nominations to lead all shows in nominations.

Tickets at $23 apiece ($20 plus a $3 processing fee) are available at The Rep’s web site www.repstl.org ticket link. The Rep’s box office number is 314-968-4925. Tickets will also be available at The Rep’s box office one hour before the ceremony, which will start at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a one-hour ‘Happy Hour,’ with beverages and snacks available for purchase.

Nominees in 33 categories will vie for honors covering comedies, dramas, musicals and operas produced by local professional theater and opera companies in the calendar year 2023. Approximately 100 productions have been considered for nominations for this year’s event.

The eighth annual award ceremony, which was to have been held at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University, was cancelled in February 2020 due to the escalating number of cases of COVID-19. Instead, that event, honoring outstanding local theater productions for the year 2019, was held virtually in a highly polished presentation produced by HEC Media and streamed on HEC’s YouTube channel and web site.

A ninth annual ceremony similarly was streamed on HEC Media for the combined years of 2020 and 2021, before the gala returned to the Loretto-Hilton in 2023 for the 10th annual awards.

The nominees for the 11th annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are:

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role 
Rae Davis, “Merry Wives,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
Diana DeGarmo, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Ricki Franklin, “Twelfth Night,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
Christina Rios, “Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
Zoe Vonder Haar, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role 
Chuck Brinkley, “Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
Charlie Franklin, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Nick Freed, “The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre
Bryce A. Miller, “The Nerd,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Chuck Winning, “The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre

Outstanding Performer in a Comedy, Female or Non-Binary Role 
Colleen Backer, “Outside Mullingar,” West End Players Guild
Mara Bollini, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Stray Dog Theatre
Sarah Burke, “Grand Horizons,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Teresa Doggett, “The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre
Leslie Wobbe, “Walter Cronkite Is Dead,” West End Players Guild

Outstanding Performer in a Comedy, Male or Non-Binary Role 
Jacob Flekier, “Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
Joneal Joplin, “Grand Horizons,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Ryan Lawson-Maeske, “The Nerd,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Jason Meyers, “Outside Mullingar,” West End Players Guild
Mark Price, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play 
Anshuman Bhatia, “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Jayson M. Lawshee, “Skeleton Crew,” The Black Rep
Jason Lynch, “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sean M. Savoie, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Christina Watanabe, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Sound Design 
G. Clausen, “Twisted Melodies,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Charles Coes and Nathan A. Roberts, “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Michael Costagliola, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Beef Gratz, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Amanda Werre, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play |
Daryl Harris, “Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep
Liz Henning, “The Lion in Winter,” The Midnight Company
Brad Musgrove, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Michele Friedman Siler, “The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
Fabio Toblini, “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Play 
Nina Ball, “Confederates,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
An-Lin Dauber, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Regina Garcia, “Twelfth Night,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
Tim Mackabee, “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Lee Savage, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role 
Nicole Angeli, “Mindgame,” Albion Theatre
Velma Austin, “Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep
Rhiannon Creighton, “Doubt: A Parable,” Prism Theatre Company
Kelly Howe, “See You in a Minute,” Contraband Theatre
Mindy Shaw, “The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role 
Isaiah Di Lorenzo, “Bitter Fruit,” Upstream Theater
Michael James Reed, “Uncle Vanya,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Chauncy Thomas, “Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep
David Wassilak, “The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
John Wolbers, “The Lion in Winter,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Performer in a Drama, Female or Non-Binary Role 
Lavonne Byers, “The Lion in Winter,” The Midnight Company
Kate Durbin, “Doubt: A Parable,” Prism Theatre Company
Ricki Franklin, “See You in a Minute,” Contraband Theatre
Michelle Hand, “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Max & Louie Productions
Naima Randolph, “Suddenly Last Summer,” Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis

Outstanding Performer in a Drama, Male or Non-Binary Role 
John Contini, “Barrymore,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Ron Himes, “Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep
Dustin Lane Petrillo, “The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
Reginald Pierre, “One Night in the Many Deaths of Sonny Liston,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
John Pierson, “Uncle Vanya,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding New Play 
“Action,” by Colin McLaughlin, Action Art Collaborative
“In Bloom,” by Gwyneth Strope, The Tesseract Theatre Company
“One Night in the Many Deaths of Sonny Liston,” by J B Heaps, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
“The Privilege of Being Second,” by David Nonemaker and Eric Satterfield, Prison Performing Arts
“See You in a Minute,” by Jacob Juntunen, Contraband Theatre 

Outstanding Achievement in Opera 
Janai Brugger, “Susannah,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Teresa Doggett, “Don Pasquale,” Union Avenue Opera
Gemma New, “Susannah,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Murrella Parton, “Cosi fan tutte,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Patricia Racette, “Susannah,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Brandie Inez Sutton as Treemonisha and the chorus of “Treemonisha” by Scott Joplin, reimagined by composer Damien Sneed and librettist Karen Chilton. Photo © Eric Woolsey

Outstanding Production of an Opera 
“Don Pasquale,” Union Avenue Opera
“Ragtime,” Union Avenue Opera
“Susannah,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
“Treemonisha,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
“The Turn of the Screw,” Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding Musical Director 
Charlie Alterman, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” The Muny
Colin Healy, “Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
James Moore, “West Side Story,” The Muny
Larry D. Pry, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
David Sonneborn, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Choreographer 
Denis Jones, “Sister Act,” The Muny
Maggie Nold, “Kinky Boots,” The Tesseract Theatre Company
Patrick O’Neill, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Josh Rhodes, “Chess,” The Muny
Heather Beal, Robert Crenshaw, Vivian Watt, “Eubie!,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role 
Jackie Burns, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” The Muny
Jerusha Cavazos, “West Side Story,” The Muny
Diana DeGarmo, “Aida,” Stages St. Louis
Kristen Joy Lintvedt, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
Taylor Louderman, “Chess,” The Muny

Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role 
Jonathan Hey, “Into the Woods,” Stray Dog Theatre
Phil Leveling, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
Ken Page, “West Side Story,” The Muny
Jeremy Sevelovitz, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Stages St. Louis
Jarrod Spector, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” The Muny

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical 
Herrick Goldman, “Aida,” Stages St. Louis
Jesse Klug, “Q Brothers Christmas Carol,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
Jayson M. Lawshee, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
Jason Lyons, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Sean M. Savoie, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical 
Ann Beyersdorfer, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Edward E. Haynes, Jr., “Chess,” The Muny
Rob Lippert, “Godspell,” Stray Dog Theatre
Kristen Robinson, “Little Shop of Horrors,” The Muny
C. Otis Sweeney, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical 
Leon Dobkowski, “Little Shop of Horrors,” The Muny
Eileen Engel and Sarah Gene Dowling, “Into the Woods,” Stray Dog Theatre
Robin McGee, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Brad Musgrove, “Aida,” Stages St. Louis
Marc. W. Vital III, “Eubie!,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Performer in a Musical, Female or Non-Binary Role 
De-Rance Blaylock, “Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
Melissa Felps, “The Mad Ones,” The Tesseract Theatre Company
Bryonha Marie, “Sister Act,” The Muny
Sara Sheperd, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” The Muny
Molly Wennstrom, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Performer in a Musical, Male or Non-Binary Role 
Tie`lere Cheatem, “Kinky Boots,” The Tesseract Theatre Company
Ben Crawford, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Robin de Jesus, “Little Shop of Horrors,” The Muny
Kevin O’Brien, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
John Riddle, “Chess,” The Muny

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy 
“Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre
“The Brechtfast Club,” ERA
“Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
“Clue,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama 
“Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep
“The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Lehman Trilogy,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Lion in Winter,” The Midnight Company

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical 
“Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
“Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
“Million Dollar Quartet,” Stages St. Louis
“Q Brothers Christmas Carol,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Outstanding Director of a Comedy 
Gary Wayne Barker, “The Nerd,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Steve Bebout, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
Alan Knoll, “Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
Suki Peters, “The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre
Hana S. Sharif, “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Director of a Drama 
Kate Bergstrom, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Carey Perloff, “The Lehman Trilogy,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Annamaria Pileggi, “Uncle Vanya,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Rebekah Scallet, “The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
Jacqueline Thompson, “Death of a Salesman,” The Black Rep

Outstanding Director of a Musical 
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” The Muny
Brian McKinley, “Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
Robert Quinlan, “Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
Josh Rhodes, “Chess,” The Muny
John Tartaglia, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny

Outstanding Production of a Comedy 

“Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Birthday Party,” Albion Theatre
“Broadway Bound,” The New Jewish Theatre
“Clue,” Stages St. Louis
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Drama 
“Death of a Salesman” The Black Rep
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Immigrant,” The New Jewish Theatre
“The Lehman Trilogy,” The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“Uncle Vanya,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding Production of a Musical 
“Aida,” Stages St. Louis
“Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
“Into the Woods,” The New Jewish Theatre
“Million Dollar Quartet,” Stages St. Louis
“West Side Story,” The Muny

The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor outstanding achievement in St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.

Members of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Chas Adams (PopLifeSTL.com and KDHX ); Steve Allen (stagedoorstl.com); Mark Bretz (Ladue News); Tina Farmer (The Riverfront Times); Michelle Kenyon (snoopstheatrethoughts.com and KDHX); Gerry Kowarsky (Two on the Aisle, HEC Media); Chuck Lavazzi (KDHX); Rob Levy (Broadwayworld.com); James Lindhorst (Broadwayworld.com);  Lynn Venhaus (PopLifeSTL.com); and Bob Wilcox (Two on the Aisle, HEC Media). Eric Kenyon, director of The Chapel venue, is group administrator.

For more information, contact stltheatercircle@sbcglobal.net or ‘like’ the St. Louis Theater Circle on Facebook.

By Lynn Venhaus

It’s that down-to-the-wire time where I write about the year that was in local theater. It’s my annual opportunity to celebrate theater, to encourage artists to be artful, and to give some virtual bouquets to people doing outstanding work.

When media folks publish lists at year’s end of their favorite things in arts and entertainment, I admire the succinct way they make their cases. Good, quick reads. And I do that for my best films of the year lists for KTRS (Dec. 29) and Webster-Kirkwood Times (Jan. 5). But when it comes to regional theater, that’s not how I roll.

Call me fastidious, but I prefer to be thorough. Hence, the Lotties (Lynn’s Love of Theatre Awards), which usually arrive sometime in January, and get really specific (some call it ‘give everyone a trophy,’ I refer to it as “these are my opinions, and I’d like to recognize these people.”) Besides “Lotties” implies “a lot,” as in largesse.

I do start assembling this in December – and on my lovely train trip home from the holidays in the west, I mulled over my choices while observing the beautiful topography of New Mexico from Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. As relaxing as that was, it was short-lived, because 2024 was not on pause.

The Lehman Trilogy at The Rep

But looking back is necessary. It’s time for the victory lap on a truly outstanding 2023, which started strong, morphed into an exciting summer, and finished with some of the companies’ best works. I know there are struggles post-pandemic — the world is not the same, and neither are we, nor the arts. Yet, if I had to describe the year in two words, I’d use “moving” and “meaningful.”

To put awards timing in perspective, the Grammys and Screen Actors Guild are in February and Oscars wind up film awards in March. As a grateful longtime local reviewer, I consider awards seasons a way to get through a dreary winter, a time to shed light on people doing good work, and a terrific reason to get together.

The St. Louis Theater Circle’s annual awards will be March 25 at the Loretto-Hilton Center at Webster University. More details will be forthcoming Friday (including ticket link) because that’s when my colleagues in the Circle will announce our awards nominations in 33 categories. Jim Lindhorst and Michelle Kenyon will be on KWMU (90.7 FM) at 12:30 p.m., and our group releases our press release at 1 p.m. (stay tuned here, on social media, and the Circle’s Facebook page). We’re working hard on the show, as a collective we founded in 2012.

So, what were the takeaways of 2023 on local stages? For me, in these dark times, theater continues to be a beacon of light.

Spencer Kruse and Jacob Flekier in “Broadway Bound”

When I’m focused on live theater, I forget about the soul-crushing Twilight Zone episode that’s on an endless loop when I wake up – that bad people are not accountable, facts are dismissed so cavalierly and belligerently, manners have disappeared, science is mocked in favor of personal agendas, while outrage and cultural wars spread, and uncertainty, anxiety, isolation and fear– aaarrrrggghh.

I learned last year, because of two serious sudden life-threatening emergencies, that if you don’t pay attention to your health, consequences are dire. (Much gratitude for the tremendous selfless health care professionals in this town, city ambulance EMTs, and those who donate blood.)

Live theater has always been a source of salvation, of rejoicing, of awe and wonder, of communal laughter, and ultimately, feeling something. And when it clicks, connection. I hear from professional movers and shakers that people want escape, especially after the tough several-year slog through a global pandemic and ongoing political chaos.

Obviously, elevated endorphins are a good thing. But for emotional wallops, those hard-hitting, thought-provoking works that stick with you, and the performers who impress because they rise to the occasion, are unforgettable. Hooray for the fearless and adventurous artists who try new things, raise the bar, and collaborate in the best way possible. Oh, how I admire the many talents and supremely gifted people in this regional theater community.

Sometimes, by virtue of writing for several different publications from home, as an independent contractor, I get stuck, for it is easy to sink into despair when it is cold and gray outside, when a chill goes right through your bones, and daylight dims.

There is nothing better than sharing an experience, re-affirming that we’re not alone, understanding that human decency is noble, and realizing that even though we may be broken, we can still find solace in beautiful small moments.

Like soaring vocals, funny people showing off their quippy comic timing, and the artisans crafting stunning costumes, sets, lighting, and moods. Seeing what people can create and the inspirations behind it – always enriching.

The 145s

Theater helps us discover the good in people, reflect on our common and unique human condition, shows triumph over adversity, and offers more understanding. With hope, maybe we can somehow make a difference in the smallest of ways.

The last five years have been exhausting and overwhelming. In December, I officially became a published author. I wrote a chapter about my journey in a woman’s anthology book, “Ageless Glamour Girls: Reflections on Aging,” that is currently a bestseller on Amazon. I joined 13 women over age 50 in sharing lessons we’ve learned. My chapter: “You Are Not Alone: Dealing with Grief and Loss.”

I am grateful to all the angels sent my way to remind me that a sense of purpose is the very best reason to live. And that spring is six weeks away. I look forward to humming happy tunes. And so we beat on…

If you are out and about, say hey. Few things I like better than talking about theater and seeing people do something they love to do.

Warning: This article is long. It might be comparable to William Goldman’s book assessing the 1967-68 Broadway season, “The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway,” which was published in 1969 (an example of my drama geek youth if I was reading that book when I was 14).

And if you feel like celebrating, join us for the St Louis Theater Circle Awards on March 25. It has always been a great night to enjoy everyone’s company, celebrate the past year’s accomplishments, and look ahead to ’24 – and spring will have arrived!

Into the Woods at New Jewish Theatre

This Year’s Awards

Clearly, there is a big hole here in that I did not see “Death of a Salesman” at the Black Rep because I was in the hospital (that pesky internal bleeding incident from outpatient surgery), twice, and then at home recovering. I know I missed a great one.

Because of scheduling issues in my busiest periods as a working journalist, I’ve missed a few, but overall, I attended at least 72 eligible shows, not including one-acts at festivals (was at some of Fringe, and all of Tesseract and LaBute), touring and school productions. Hope to get to as much as possible this new year (but it’s hard when they’re all lumped together opening same weekend).
Here’s my assessments on 2023 output. Gushing will ensue.

Production of the Year: “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play” at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The Rep gets the honor, rebounding in spectacular fashion after what I considered their worst show “Side by Side by Sondheim,” last February, to end the year on a glorious high note, with the “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play.”

Overflowing with cheer and kindness, the crisp and polished production was more than a performance – it was a change in direction and a celebration of community.

It’s A Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play at The Rep

Everything about this show gleamed – the company of all local performers and the nostalgic setting of KSTL’s studio harkened back to the Golden Age of Radio.

This play-within-a-play was a savvy adaptation by Joe Landry, reworking his play that modified the movie that’s now a holiday staple. The twist to the timeless tale is that it’s being performed by characters who work at the radio station.

Opening night Dec. 3 also was a statement, and people eagerly responded with enthusiastic applause.

After The Rep went public with their financial woes in mid-October, starting a “Rally for the Rep!” campaign to raise $2.5 million to continue the 57-year-old regional professional theater in the new year, handwringing and finger-pointing occurred. But goodwill flourished too.

A Dec. 17 benefit, an online auction, and other fundraising efforts helped. This production was the first opportunity for The Rep to welcome patrons back to the Loretto-Hilton Center since the news broke, and a merry mood was evident.

It warmed the heart. And perhaps was an omen for the future.

“The Birthday Party” at Albion Theatre

Companies of the Year: The Muny (large) and Albion Theatre (small)

I have professionally reviewed Muny shows since 2009, first for the Belleville News-Democrat, until 2017 when the parent company went in a different direction, and now continue on my website, www.PopLifeSTL.com in addition to mentions on KTRS with Jennifer Blome and Wendy Wiese, and our PopLifeSTL podcast. But I’ve been attending since my grandmother took me to “Flower Drum Song” in 1965, when I was 10. Life-changing.

The 105th season was the best one yet. Each sterling production was technically outstanding, enormously entertaining, and the audience leaned into the premieres with gusto (“Beautiful,” “Chess,” “Rent” and “Sister Act.”). In addition, the enduring “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “West Side Story,” and “Little Shop of Horrors” really did deliver all the feels. I was impressed with the sheer magnitude and artistic daring of each show.

Believe. Longing. Belonging. Overcoming. Those were the themes. It was a seven-show arc of uncommon grace – a genuine depth of feeling in each well-executed one. In every performance, there was a palpable sense of yearning – a future Hall of Fame talent finding her voice, outsiders opening their hearts in a timeless fairy tale classic, of high-stakes gamesmanship and personal cost in a political arena, star-crossed lovers clinging to a dream, unearthing your worth and wish fulfillment in a flower shop, discovering love and nurturing friendship in a bleak place, and using your gifts to foster community.

That big sprawling Muny family made it look effortless when it wasn’t at all – a massive team of creatives, performers and technicians crafting the magic we demand from our musical theater under the stars. Nobody does what they do, and that “alone in its greatness” tagline from my teenage years still stands. We expect a lot from this cultural institution – and they delivered at a very high level.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at The Muny

Albion Theatre was in its second season last year, and produced superb works: “The Birthday Party,” “Absent Friends” and “Mindgame,” all very clever, all home runs.

You never know what awaits you in the Kranzberg Black Box when Albion is putting on a show, but British-born founder and artistic director Robert Ashton guarantees an intriguing premise, a dandy ensemble and a thoughtfully put-together play. The company’s niche is exploring the long and rich history of playwriting in Britain — with forays into Ireland, and even with UK ancestors (maternal great-grandfather from Manchester, England, and great-grandmother from Glasgow, Scotland), I am continually fascinated by the culture and how much detail he puts into each production.

Joe Hanrahan of The Midnight Company

Artist of the Year: Joe Hanrahan

Playwright, actor, producer, director – a man of many hats who is constantly pushing himself and his The Midnight Company with new endeavors. He started a hybrid of cabaret and theater with Jim Dolan at the Blue Strawberry, and Kelly Howe, as Linda Ronstadt, sold out multiple shows of “Just One Look,” a career retrospective, with the 13th show at the City Winery last November.

He continues to explore those new avenues, produced a fun reading of “The Humans of St. Louis” at last summer’s Fringe Festival (which I hope they develop further). He mounted an impressive full-scale “The Lion in Winter” with some of the best actors in town, revived a past production, “The Years,” with a fresh ensemble, and starred in a one-man show, the heartfelt and gut-punching “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.”

A true original is the best compliment I can give, whether he’s working on one of his own scripts, or collaborating with another company. He’s so prolific that I think people take his output for granted. Standing O.

Producers of the Year: Taylor Gruenloh and Rebekah Scallet

Taylor Gruenloh, along with his right-hand team of Brittanie Gunn and Kevin Corpuz, expanded Tesseract Theatre Company’s reach this year, producing such bold musicals as “The Last Five Years,” “The Mad Ones,” and “Kinky Boots,” along with a contemporary hybrid, “Welcome to Arroyo’s.”

His pivot a couple years ago to a new play festival was very engaging this summer, with “In Bloom” by Gwyneth Strope and “Red Curtain Rivalry” by Amy Lytle, who was in attendance.

Whatever he chooses to do, you know it will be different and enlightening, and he’s unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. I can’t wait to see the complex Tony winner “The Inheritance” this spring.

Taylor has decided to step down as artistic director after founding the company in 2010, but Gunn and Corpuz will continue to manage the company and take it in new directions. He is a playwright, and currently an assistant professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and teaching at Webster University. He won’t be fading away any time soon.

Rebekah Scallet. The woman’s got game. In her first full season as artistic director of the New Jewish Theatre, she wowed us with her confident and eclectic picks last year: “Broadway Bound,” “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Gloria: A Life,” “The Immigrant” and “Into the Woods.” Each one was a crown jewel in her cap. Strong casts, excellent material, and superb technical acumen combined for thrilling theater. She perceptively directed a magnificent “The Immigrant,” which was so very timely.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” on national tour with Richard Thomas and Yaegel T. Welch

Touring Production of the Year: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” The Fox.

I was fortunate to see the riveting Aaron Sorkin-scripted production starring Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch at a sold-out Shubert Theatre on Broadway in May 2019. The audience’s thunderous ovation was one of the loudest and longest that I ever took part in, and I consider that production one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. Could the touring show headed by Richard Thomas even come close? Yes, it did, and was just as powerful and emotional. Bravo.

(Runner-Up: “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” They raised the roof and we responded. This is based on new touring shows, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include the “Come From Away” tour that stopped here for a weekend last fall. It was a profound experience, like God walking through the room. Vibrant, moving, relatable. Tears streamed down my face. I don’t think I was alone.)

My Ten Favorite A&E Things of 2023
(Most of these took place in the summer. Hmmm…)

  1. Barbenheimer at the movie theaters
  2. The delightful 145s Musical Improv Troupe — see them at The Improv Shop. One of the best Saturday nights you can ever have.
  3. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra playing “The Princess Bride” score with the movie at Stifel, and the audience anticipating and cheering for their favorite lines.
  4. The outstanding youth productions I saw last summer:
    “Grease” by Ignite Theatre Company
    “Sweeney Todd” by Debut Theatre Company
    “Bare: A Pop Opera” by Gateway Center for the Performing Arts

Inventively staged, tight ensembles, imaginative touches, strong music direction. Very impressive. Those kids seemed so poised and polished! Keep an eye out for Jordan Thompson, who played both Danny Zuko and Sweeney Todd. Wow, just wow.

Amneris’ wedding gown designed by Brad Musgrove for “Aida” at Stages St Louis

5. St Louis Shakespeare Festival’s touring production of “Merry Wives.” Sitting in Tower Grove Park with my peeps Carl “The Intern” Middleman (poplifestl podcast co-host) and Chas Adams (poplifestl.com reviewer) on a pleasant August night (!) to see those sparks fly with the intrepid traveling troupe of Michelle Hand, Joel Moses, Carl Overly Jr., Rae Davis, Mitchell Henry-Eagles, and Christina Yancy, directed by Suki Peters.

6. “Ragtime” at Union Avenue Opera. Those voices! Talk about a wall of sound! 49 people were part of that endeavor. This event was as hard-hitting as ever.

7. Costume Designer Brad Musgrove’s wedding gown for Amneris (Diana DeGarmo) in “Aida” at Stages St. Louis.

8. Sarah Gene Dowling’s wig design in “Into the Woods” at Stray Dog Theatre

9. Remarkable rigged sets to collapse dramatically: Rob Lippert for “Godspell” at Stray Dog Theatre and Jim Robert, for “Grand Horizons” at Moonstone Theatre Company.

10. Puppet Designer John Ortiz for Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Muny, and Nicholas Ward as The Voice and Travis Patton as the Manipulator.

TJ Staten Jr. in “It’s a Wonderful Life’

THE MVPs
(must have been in two or more shows this year, not a rookie, and whose presence made a difference)

Bridgette Bassa
Sarajane Clark
Kevin Corpuz
Rae Davis
Ricki Franklin
Joseph Garner
Marshall Jennings
Ryan Lawson-Maeske
Debby Lennon
Kevin O’Brien
Jane Paradise
Reginald Pierre
Michael James Reed
Sean Seifert
Ron Strawbridge

ONES TO WATCH

DeAnte Bryant
Hannah de Oliveira
Evann DeBose
Joey File
Nick Freed
Lindsey Grojean
Alexander Huber
Drew Mizell
Kenya Nash
TJ Staten Jr.
James Stevens
Claire Wenzel (now Coffey)

J’Kobe Wallace and DeAnte Bryant in “Eubie!” at The Black Rep

DYNAMIC DUOS and TERRIFIC TRIOS

Brian Slaten and Jessika D. Williams in “Gruesome Playground Injuries”
Alicia Reve Like and Eric J. Conners in “The Light,” The Black Rep
Chuck Winning and Nick Freed in “The Birthday Party” and “Mindgame,” Albion Theatre
J’Kobe Wallace and DeAnte Bryant in “Eubie!” The Black Rep
Jason Meyers and Colleen Backer in “Outside Mullingar,” West End Players Guild
Jacob Flekier and Spencer Kruse in “Broadway Bound,” New Jewish Theatre
Joel Moses and John Wolbers in “The Lion in Winter,” The Midnight Company
John Contini and Alexander Huber in “Barrymore,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Joneal Joplin and Jared Joplin in “Grand Horizons,” Moonstone Theatre Company
Leslie Wobbe and Kate Durbin in “Walter Cronkite Is Dead,” West End Players Guild
Kevin Corpuz and Grace Langford in “The Last Five Years,” Tesseract Theatre Company
Kelvin Moon Loh and Eric Jordan Young in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
Vincent Klemski and Lincoln Clauss in “Rent,” The Muny
Terrance Johnson (replacement for Evan Tyron Martin in early performances) and Adrian Vallegas in “Rent,” The Muny
Kimmie Kidd, Ebony Easter and Adrienne Spann as The Radio, “Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
Kennedy Holmes, Taylor Marie Daniel, and Stephanie Gomerez as The Urchins in “Little Shop of Horrors,” The Muny
Rob Colletti, Brandon Espinoza and Darron Hayes as the goons in “Sister Act,” The Muny

De-Rance Blaylock in “Caroline, or Change” at Fly North Theatricals

BRINGING THE HOUSE DOWN

(Best Musical Numbers)

  1. De-Rance Blaylock singing “Lot’s Wife” in “Caroline, or Change” at Fly North Theatricals
  2. John Riddle singing “Anthem” in “Chess” at The Muny
  3. Ben Crawford singing “If I Can’t Love Her” in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” at The Muny
  4. John Battagliese and Mike Schwitter as The Righteous Brothers singing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at The Muny
  5. Lindsey Grojean singing “If I Can’t Have You” in “Saturday Night Fever” at Stray Dog Theatre
  6. The cast of “Rent” in “Seasons of Love,” especially Anastacia McKleskey, at The Muny
  7. Kevin O’Brien and Phil Leveling in “No More” in “Into the Woods” at New Jewish Theatre
  8. Meredith Aleigha Wells as Sister Mary Robert singing “The Life I Never Led,” Sister Act, The Muny
  9. Christian Douglas singing “Maria” in “West Side Story” at The Muny
  10. The extended curtain call for “Million Dollar Quartet” at Stages St. Louis with Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash), Jeremy Sevelovitz (Carl Perkins), Brady Wease (Jerry Lee Lewis), and Edward La Cardo (Elvis).
Meredith Aleigha Wells in “Sister Act” at The Muny


BEST YOUTH PERFORMERS

  1. Zoe Klevorn “Caroline, or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
  2. Rosario Rios-Kelly “In Bloom,” Tesseract Theatre Company
  3. Michael Hobin “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” The Muny
  4. Cameron Hadley, “Caroline or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
  5. Malachi Borum, “Caroline or Change,” Fly North Theatricals
  6. Riley Carter Adams “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Max & Louie Productions
  7. Jada Little “The Piano Lesson,” Encore! Theatre Group
  8. Vaida Gruenloh “In Bloom,” Tesseract Theatre Company
  9. Tommy Pepper “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You,” Stray Dog Theatre
“Feminine Energy” by Myra L. Gary at Mustard Seed Theatre

BEST NEW PLAYS

  1. “One Night in the Many Deaths of Sonny Liston,” LaBute New Theatre Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  2. “Safe Space,” LaBute New Theatre Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  3. “This Palpable Gross Play,” SATE
  4. “See You in a Minute,” Contraband Theatre
  5. “In Bloom,” New Play Festival, Tesseract Theater Company
  6. “The Game’s Afoot,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Shake in the Streets
  7. “Feminine Energy,” Mustard Seed Theatre
  8. “From the Garden,” Wee Laddie Theatrics

“Clue” at Stages St Louis

BEST COMEDY PRODUCTIONS

  1. Clue – Stages St. Louis
  2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Stray Dog Theatre
  3. The Birthday Party – Albion Theatre
  4. Gruesome Playground Injuries – The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  5. Broadway Bound – New Jewish Theatre
  6. Merry Wives – St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Touring Company
  7. This Palpable Gross Play – SATE
  8. Outside Mullingar – West End Players Guild
  9. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – St Louis Shakespeare
  10. Murder on the Orient Express – The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
“The Immigrant” at New Jewish Theatare

BEST DRAMA PRODUCTIONS

  1. It’s A Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play – The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  2. The Immigrant – New Jewish Theatre
  3. The Lion in Winter – The Midnight Company
  4. Uncle Vanya – St Louis Actors’ Studio
  5. The Lehman Trilogy – The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  6. Skeleton Crew – The Black Repertory Theatre of St Louis
  7. What the Constitution Means to Me – Max and Louie Productions
  8. Mindgame – Albion Theatre
  9. Doubt: A Parable – Prism Theatre Company
  10. Gloria: A Life – New Jewish Theatre
“Million Dollar Quartet” at Stages St Louis

BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTIONS

  1. Caroline, or Change – Fly North Theatricals
  2. West Side Story – The Muny
  3. Into the Woods – New Jewish Theatre
  4. Eubie! – The Black Rep
  5. Million Dollar Quartet – Stages St. Louis
  6. Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast – The Muny
  7. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical– The Muny
  8. Chess – The Muny
  9. Q Brothers A Christmas Carol – St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  10. Kinky Boots – Tesseract Theatre Company
Ricki Franklin and Cassidy Flynn in “Twelfth Night” at St Louis Shakespeare Festival

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  1. Ricki Franklin, Twelfth Night, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
  2. Claire Wenzel, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stray Dog Theatre
  3. Zoe Vonder Haar, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  4. Annalise Webb, Absent Friends, Albion Theatre
  5. Rae Davis, “Merry Wives,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival
  6. Anna Langdon, Absent Friends, Albion Theatre
  7. Bridgette Bassa, “The Nerd” and “Grand Horizons,” Moonstone Theatre Company
  8. Diana DeGarmo, “Clue,” Stages St. Louis
  9. Alexander Huber, in two roles – as girl and Madeleine, in “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” Stray Dog Theatre (the roles are female but gender-fluid)
  10. Kristen Strom, “This Palpable Gross Play,” SATE
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” at Stray Dog Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  1. Chuck Winning, The Birthday Party, Albion Theatre
  2. Nick Freed, The Birthday Party, Albion Theatre
  3. Stephen Henley, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stray Dog Theatre
  4. Bryce A Miller, The Nerd, Moonstone Theatre Company
  5. Chuck Brinkley, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
  6. Cassidy Flynn, Twelfth Night, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and Grand Horizons, Moonstone
  7. Charlie Franklin, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  8. Bob Harvey, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
Colleen Backer and Jason Meyers in “Outside Mullingar” at West End Players Guild

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  1. Mara Bollini, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stray Dog Theatre
  2. Colleen Backer, Outside Mullingar, West End Players Guild
  3. Jessika D. Williams, Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  4. Teresa Doggett, The Birthday Party, Albion Theatre
  5. Leslie Wobbe, Walter Cronkite Is Dead, West End Players Guild
  6. Sarajane Clark, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Stray Dog Theatre
  7. Sarajane Clark, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Stray Dog Theatre
  8. Nicole Angeli, Absent Friends, Albion Theatre
  9. Jane Paradise, Safe Space, LaBute New Theatre Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  1. Mark Price, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  2. Ryan Lawson-Maeske, The Nerd, Moonstone Theatre Company
  3. Stephen Peirick, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stray Dog Theatre
  4. Brian Slaten, Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Rep
  5. Jacob Flekier, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
  6. Jason Meyers, Outside Mullingar, West End Players Guild
  7. Armando Duran, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  8. Joneal Joplin, Grand Horizons, Moonstone Theatre Company
  9. Ted Drury, The Birthday Party, Albion Theatre
  10. Reginald Pierre, Safe Space, LaBute New Theatre Festival, St Louis Actors’ Studio
Michelle Hand and Riley Carter Adams in “What the Constitution Means to Me” at Max & Louie Productions

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  1. Bryn McLaughlin, Uncle Vanya, St Louis Actors’ Studio
  2. Rae Davis, Feminine Energy, Mustard Seed Theatre
  3. Mindy Shaw, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  4. Rhiannon Creighton, Doubt, Prism Theatre Company
  5. Ashley Bauman, The Years, The Midnight Company
  6. Nicole Angeli, Mindgame, Albion Theatre Company
  7. Kelly Howe, See You in a Minute, Contraband Theatre Company

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  1. Michael James Reed, Uncle Vanya, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  2. David Wassilak, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Bradley Tejada, Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams Festival
  4. Joey File, The Years, Midnight Company
  5. John Wolbers, The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  6. Joel Moses, The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  7. Joseph Garner, See You in a Minute, Contraband Theatre
  8. Brian McKinley, Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
Alicia Reve Like and Eric J. Conners in “The Light” at The Black Rep

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  1. Alicia Reve Like, The Light, The Black Rep
  2. Michelle Hand, What the Constitution Means to Me, Max & Louie Productions
  3. Lavonne Byers, The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  4. Naima Randolph, Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams Festival
  5. Kate Durbin, Doubt, Prism Theatre Company
  6. Ricki Franklin, See You in a Minute, Contraband Theatre Company
  7. Velma Austin, Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
  8. Jenni Ryan, Gloria: A Life, New Jewish Theatre
  9. Tiffany Oglesby, Confederates, The Rep
  10. Erin Rene Roberts, Feminine Energy, Mustard Seed Theatre
Will Bonfiglio in “Every Brilliant Thing” at New Jewish Theatre

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  1. Dustin Lane Petrillo, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  2. John Contini, Barrymore, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  3. John Pierson, Uncle Vanya, St Louis Actors’ Studio
  4. Will Bonfiglio, Every Brilliant Thing, New Jewish Theatre
  5. Reginald Pierre, One Night in the Many Deaths of Sonny Liston, LaBute New Theatre Festival, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  6. Nick Freed, Mindgame, Albion Theatre
  7. Chuck Winning, Mindgame, Albion Theatre
  8. Kelvin Roston Jr, Twisted Melodies, The Rep
  9. Olajuwon Davis, Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
  10. Xavier Scott Evans, Confederates, The Rep
Kimmie Kidd-Booker in “9” at New Line Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

  1. Diana DeGarmo, Aida, Stages St. Louis
  2. Taylor Louderman, Chess, The Muny
  3. Kimmie Kidd-Booker, 9, New Line Theatre
  4. Jenelle Gilreath Owens, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  5. Jerusha Cavazos, West Side Story, The Muny
  6. Katie Geraghty, Sister Act, The Muny
  7. Jackie Burns, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, The Muny
  8. Sarah Gene Dowling, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  9. Kristen Joy Lintvedt, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  10. Jenny Mollet, Aida, Stages St. Louis
  11. Marlee Wenski, Jesus and Johnny Appleweed’s Holy Rollin’ Family Christmas, New Line Theatre
  12. Grace Langford, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

  1. Jarrod Spector, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, The Muny
  2. Phil Leveling, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Duane Foster, Caroline or Change, Fly North Theatricals
  4. Ken Page, West Side Story, The Muny
  5. Jon Hey, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  6. Ryan Vasquez, Little Shop of Horrors, The Muny
  7. Albert Jennings, Aida, Stages St Louis
  8. Jeremy Sevelovitz, Million Dollar Quartet, Stages St Louis
  9. Adrian Villegas, Rent, The Muny
  10. Drew Mizell, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  11. James T. Lane, Sister Act, The Muny
  12. Claybourne Elder, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

  1. De-Rance Blaylock, Caroline or Change, Fly North Theatricals
  2. Sara Sheperd, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, The Muny
  3. Molly Wennstrom, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  4. Bryonha Marie, Sister Act, The Muny
  5. Melissa Felps, The Mad Ones, Tesseract Theatre Company
  6. Ashley Blanchet, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  7. Guinevere Govea, Spells of the Sea, Metro Theatre Company
  8. Jessica Vosk, Chess, The Muny
Jane Paradise and Reginald Pierre in “Safe Space” at LaBute New Theatre Festival, St Louis Actors’ Studio

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (Male or NonBinary)

  1. John Riddle, Chess, The Muny
  2. Tielere Cheatem, in the role of Lola, Kinky Boots, Tesseract Theatre Company
  3. Ben Crawford, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  4. Robin De Jesus, Little Shop of Horrors, The Muny
  5. Drew Mizell, Saturday Night Fever, Stray Dog Theatre
  6. Kevin O’Brien, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  7. Christian Douglas, West Side Story, The Muny
  8. Garrett Young, Q Brothers Christmas Carol, St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  9. Cole Guttman, 9, New Line Theatre
Joe Hanrahan and Lavonne Byers in “The Lion in Winter”

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY

  1. Clue, Stages St. Louis
  2. The Birthday Party, Albion Theatre
  3. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Stray Dog Theatre
  4. Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
  5. The Brechtfast Club, ERA
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, St Louis Shakespeare
  7. This Palpable Gross Play, SATE
  8. Absent Friends, Albion
  9. Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  10. Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Stray Dog Theatre
The Brechtfast Club at ERA

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A DRAMA

  1. It’s A Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play, The Rep
  2. The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Uncle Vanya, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  4. The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  5. The Lehman Trilogy, The Rep
  6. Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
  7. Wrens, Prism Theatre Company
  8. Doubt: A Parable, Prism Theatre Company
  9. Feminine Energy, Mustard Seed Theatre

BEST ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL

  1. Caroline, or Change, Fly North Theatricals
  2. Eubie! The Black Rep
  3. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  4. Million Dollar Quartet, Stages St Louis
  5. Q Brothers Christmas Carol, St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  6. West Side Story, The Muny
  7. Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  8. Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  9. Spells of the Sea, Metro Theatre Company
  10. Rent, The Muny
    (tie) Sister Act, The Muny
Jessika D. Williams and Brian Slaten in “Gruesome Playground Injuries” at The Rep

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A COMEDY

  1. Sean M. Savoie, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  2. Anshuman Bhatia, Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Rep
  3. Jason Lynch, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  4. John Wylie, Twelfth Night, St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  5. Erik Kuhn, This Palpable Gross Play, SATE

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A DRAMA

  1. Christina Watanabe, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Rep
  2. Xavier Pierce, Twisted Melodies, The Rep
  3. Matthew McCarthy, Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams Festival
  4. Jayson M. Lawshee, Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
  5. Eric Wennlund, Mindgame, Albion Theatre
“Chess” at The Muny

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A MUSICAL

  1. Rob Denton, Chess, The Muny
  2. Sean M Savoie, Million Dollar Quartet, Stages St. Louis
  3. Herrick Goldman, Aida, Stages St. Louis
  4. Jesse Klug, Q Brothers Christmas Carol, St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  5. Jayson M Lawshee, Spells of the Sea, Metro Theatre Company
  6. Jasmine Williams, Eubie!, The Black Rep
  7. Heather Gilbert, Rent, The Muny

BEST VISUAL PROJECTIONS

  1. Alex Bosco Koch, Chess, The Muny
  2. Michael Salvatore Commendatore, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  3. Kylee Loera, Beautiful The Carol King Musical, The Muny
“Murder on the Orient Express” at The Rep


BEST SOUND DESIGN IN A COMEDY

  1. Beef Gratz, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  2. Kareem Deames, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre

BEST SOUND DESIGN IN A DRAMA

  1. Michael Costagliola, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Rep
  2. Kareem Deames, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  3. G Glausen, Twisted Melodies, The Rep
  4. Jacob Baxley, Mindgame, Albion Theatre

SPECIAL MENTIONS
Amanda Werre, Sound Design, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
Erik Kuhn, Fight Coordinator, Mind Game, Albion Theatre
Terrance Johnson, who filled in for Evan Tyron Martin as Tom Collins in the early performances of “Rent” at The Muny when Martin had COVID
Fleur de Noise, a special segment in “The Game’s Afoot,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s Shake in the Streets

“Eubie!” at The Black Rep

BEST COSTUME DESIGN IN A COMEDY

  1. Brad Musgrove, Clue, Stages St. Louis
  2. Olivia Radle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, St Louis Shakespeare
  3. Fabio Toblini, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  4. Michelle Friedman Siler, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
  5. Colleen Michelson and Sarah Gene Dowling (wigs), Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Stray Dog Theatre

BEST COSTUME DESIGN IN A DRAMA

  1. Liz Henning, The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  2. Michelle Friedman Siler, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  3. An-Lin Dauber, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Rep
  4. Sam Hayes, Wrens, Prism Theatre Company
  5. Teresa Doggett, Uncle Vanya, St Louis Actors’ Studio
“Kinky Boots” at Tesseract Theatre Company

BEST COSTUME DESIGN IN A MUSICAL

  1. Robin McGee, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  2. Eileen Engel and Sarah Gene Dowling (wigs), Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  3. Brad Musgrove, Aida, Stages St Louis
  4. Marc W. Vital III, Eubie!, The Black Rep
  5. Michelle Friedman Siler, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  6. Zachary Phelps, Kinky Boots, Tesseract Theatre
  7. Leon Dobkowski, Sister Act, The Muny
“Skeleton Crew” at The Black Rep

BEST SCENIC DESIGN IN A DRAMA

  1. An-Lin Dauber, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Rep
  2. Sara Brown, The Lehman Trilogy, The Rep
  3. Nina Ball, Confederates, The Rep
  4. Margery and Peter Spack, Skeleton Crew, The Black Rep
  5. Matt Stuckel, Doubt, Prism Theatre Company
  6. (tie) James Wolk, Suddenly Last Summer

BEST SCENIC DESIGN IN A COMEDY

  1. Tim Macabee, Murder on the Orient Express, The Rep
  2. Lee Savage, Clue, Stages St Louis
  3. Dunsi Dai, Grand Horizons, Moonstone Theatre Company
  4. Margery and Peter Spack, Broadway Bound, New Jewish Theatre
  5. Ellie Schwetye and Lucy Cashion, This Palpable Gross Play, SATE
  6. Scott Neale, “The Game’s Afoot, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

BEST SCENIC DESIGN IN A MUSICAL

  1. Edward E Haynes Jr., Chess, The Muny
  2. Rob Lippert, Godspell, Stray Dog Theatre
  3. Ann Beyersdorfer, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  4. C. Otis Sweezey, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  5. Adam Koch, Million Dollar Quartet, Stages St Louis
  6. Kristen Robinson, Little Shop of Horrors, The Muny
  7. Tim Jones, Eubie! The Black Rep
  8. Margery and Peter Spack, Spells of the Sea, Metro Theatre Company
  9. Ryan Douglass, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, The Muny

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

  1. Patrick O’Neill, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
  2. Heather Beal, Robert Crenshaw and Vivian Watt, Eubie! The Black Rep
  3. Mike Hodges, Saturday Night Fever, Stray Dog Theatre
  4. Steph Paul, Q Brothers Christmas Carol, St Louis Shakespeare Festival
  5. Maggie Nold, Kinky Boots, Tesseract Theatre Company
  6. Parker Esse, West Side Story, The Muny (original choreography reproduced)
  7. Denis Jones, Sister Act, The Muny
  8. Luis Salgado, Aida, Stages St. Louis
  9. Patricia Wilcox, Beautiful, The Muny
  10. Tyler White, Go, Dog, Go!, Metro Theater Company
“Saturday Night Fever” at Stray Dog Theatre

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR

  1. Colin Healy, Caroline or Change, Fly North Theatricals
  2. James Moore, West Side Story, The Muny
  3. Larry D. Pry, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  4. Charlie Alterman, Beautiful the Carole King Musical, The Muny
  5. Leah Schultz, Saturday Night Fever, Stray Dog Theatre
  6. David Sonneborn, Million Dollar Quartet, Stages St. Louis
  7. Jason DeBord and Michael Horsley, Chess, The Muny
  8. Leah Schultz, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR OF A COMEDY

  1. Steve Bebout, Clue. Stages
  2. Alan Knoll, Broadway Bound, New Jewish
  3. Suki Peters, The Birthday Party, Albion
  4. Christina Rios, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, St Lous Shakespeare
  5. Lucy Cashion, The Brechtfast Club, ERA
  6. Becks Redman, Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Rep
  7. Gary Wayne Barker, The Nerd, Moonstone Theatre Company
“Uncle Vanya” at St Louis Actors’ Studio

BEST DIRECTOR OF A DRAMA

  1. Kate Bergstrom, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Rep
  2. Carey Perloff, The Lehman Trilogy, The Rep
  3. Rebeka Scallet, The Immigrant, New Jewish Theatre
  4. Annamaria Pileggi, Uncle Vanya, St Louis Actors’ Studio
  5. Tom Kopp, The Lion in Winter, The Midnight Company
  6. Gary F. Bell, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Stray Dog Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL

  1. John Tartaglia, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The Muny
  2. Robert Quinlan, Into the Woods, New Jewish Theatre
  3. Josh Rhodes, Chess, The Muny
  4. Brian McKinley, Caroline or Change, Fly North Theatricals
  5. Justin Been, Into the Woods, Stray Dog Theatre
  6. Rob Ruggiero, West Side Story, The Muny

Photos by Jon Gitchoff, Philip Hamer, Julia Merkle, Patrick Huber, Joey Rumpell.

“Little Shop of Horrors” at The Muny
“West Side Story” at The Muny

Theatre creates new production of a holiday classic, cancels two productions, amid $2.5M budget shortfall 

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis today announced that it needs significant support from the St. Louis community by the end of 2023 to continue its programming in the second half of the 2023-2024 season, which kicked off last month with a widely-acclaimed production of “The Lehman Trilogy.”

In response to a projected $2.5M budget shortfall facing the theatre, similar to financial challenges facing theatres across the country, The Rep has streamlined its season, replacing its annual holiday spectacular, “A Christmas Carol,” with an adaptation of the beloved holiday film “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” and canceling the previously announced productions of “The Lion” and “The Greatest Love for Whitney: A Tribute to Whitney Houston.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will feature local actors and crew members who were originally scheduled to perform and work on A Christmas Carol. To address the budget shortfall, The Rep is also launching a “Rally for The Rep” campaign to
encourage the St. Louis community to support the theatre.

“The theatre is at an inflection point, and we need to raise $2.5M through ticket sales and philanthropy by the end of 2023 to continue to produce works in the second half of our season. The St. Louis community has sustained us for nearly six decades, and now more than ever, we need them to invest in our future. Although we are calling on the community for support as we are cutting back this season, The Rep is dedicated to honor our longstanding commitment to bringing St. Louis audiences world-class theatrical experiences from the most exciting emerging and established voices in American theatre,” said Danny Williams, Managing Director of The
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

“The slower-than-hoped-for return of audiences following the pandemic exacerbated financial challenges and necessitated that we make these significant and difficult changes. We need patrons to bring friends and family and show support in any way that they can to help us ensure that the productions we have planned in 2024 can happen.”

In the past decade, theater companies across the country have seen major shifts in their business models, and The Rep was no longer able to respond to these shifts in an effective manner. The Rep’s decision to update the 2023-2024 season comes at a time when theaters across the country are facing financial hardships, due in part to the Coronavirus pandemic. Since 2020, audience attendance at theaters has significantly declined, and the number of shows produced nationwide has decreased by 41%, according to a study conducted by Jacobson Consulting Applications, Inc.

The Lehman Trilogy. Photo by Phillip Hamer

While The Rep’s critically acclaimed productions of “The Lehman Trilogy” and “Twisted Melodies” far exceeded the national trends for attendance, the gaps still remain, and crucial community investment is needed to fully mount the 2023-2024 Season. The Rep plans to bring world-class, adventurous new works and beloved classics to its stages at the Loretto-Hilton Center in the second half of its 2024 season but needs to raise $2.5M throughits “Rally for The Rep” campaign to do so.

Currently scheduled for 2024 is Lookingglass Theatre Company’s adaptation of Moby Dick in February and Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, which begins performances in March 2024.

The Rep is reaching out directly to season subscribers and current ticket holders regarding all changes.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.repstl.org or call the Box Office, Monday – Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at (314) 968-4925. The Rep Box Office will also be available for in-person support at the Loretto-Hilton Center, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays
from 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


NEW: HOLIDAY PRESENTATION
It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
The beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast!
December 1 – December 23
Loretto-Hilton Center
Made possible with support by The Berges Family Foundation
Adapted by Joe Landry

It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern Engage your imagination in the world of vintage radio broadcasting as you rediscover the magic of the holiday season with It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play. Experience the
Golden Age of Radio through this classic holiday film reimaged as a live radio performance. Bear witness to this timeliness holiday story that explores the life of George Bailey, a compassionate and selfless man, standing on the brink of despair, when an angel named
Clarence is sent down to Earth to teach George the power of kindness, the importance of family and friends, and the realization that each life, no matter how ordinary it may seem, is truly wonderful.

“Evita” at the Rep

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE OF ST. LOUIS
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) is the region’s premiere theatre for compelling, award-winning theatrical experiences that entertain, engage, and illuminate audiences’ shared humanity. Founded in 1966, for more than five decades The Rep has sustained and built upon its commitment to artistic excellence by creating, developing, and curating adventurous new works and beloved classics from the most exciting emerging and established American voices.

The Rep builds bridges within the St. Louis community and beyond by offering productions that allow audiences to see themselves and the stories that matter to them represented on stage, through the organization’s robust community engagement programs, and across its educational initiatives.

The Rep welcomes audiences with inspiring and expansive productions at several inviting stages across St. Louis including the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts and other venues around the St. Louis area. A thought leader in the national theatre landscape, The Rep is a dedicated partner with arts organizations in St. Louis and across the country, expanding audiences’ appreciation and understanding of the world through theatre. For more information, please visit repstl.org and follow @repstl.

The Loretto-Hilton Center at Webster University is The Rep’s home.

By Lynn Venhaus

Singer-actor Kelvin Roston Jr. is a man on a mission, and he pours his heart and soul into a revealing portrait of soul singer Donny Hathaway.

However, his haunting one-man show “Twisted Melodies” is more than a bravura performance – he shines the spotlight on complicated mental health issues to lead us to further understanding.

Sure, you’ve heard Hathaway’s music – at least every holiday season “This Christmas” is playing in stores, on car radios, and at home. His signature cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” is considered one of his finest, as is John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” and his duet with Roberta Flack on “Where Is the Love?” won a Grammy Award in 1973.

The audience acknowledged familiarity with his first hit, “The Ghetto,” from his album debut “Everything Is Everything” in 1970 as soon as it played. After all, Hathaway was born in St. Louis on Oct. 1, 1945, and has a deep fan base here.

Hathaway was raised by his grandmother Martha Pitts, a professional gospel singer, in the Carr Square housing project. He graduated from Vashon High School in 1963, and earned a fine arts scholarship to Howard University, where he majored in music theory.

Because of his illustrious career and enduring impact, he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2013. His star is located at 6165 Delmar Blvd. in University City.

But what was happening behind the music is a tragic story that silenced his expressive voice. The gifted musician and songwriter suffered from mental illness. At age 33, he plunged to his death from an Essex Hotel window in Chicago on Jan. 13, 1979.

Kelvin Roston. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

This captivating, mournful story takes place on that fateful day inside Hathaway’s hotel room — and inside his head – as he battled demons his adult life. A paranoid schizophrenic, he wasn’t keen on keeping up with a rigorous prescription medicine route, and therefore, his behavior became increasingly erratic.

In a devastating scene, he described all the unpleasant side effects of the pills he was prescribed. Those who loved him could not help.

Roston conveys both Hathaway’s talent and his torment in a heartfelt and heartbreaking performance, displaying his expert musicianship and his powerful voice. He deeply feels the music.

Roston, who is also from St. Louis but currently based in Chicago, began shaping the play when he was an intern at the Black Rep. Caring so passionately about this man and his music, he brought this personal story to the Black Rep in 2016 – and was nominated for a St. Louis Theater Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama. Since the world premiere in 2015 in Chicago, he has taken his show across the country.

Roston, who attended Cardinal Ritter High School, recently won a Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for Best Actor for his performance as “King Hedley II,” August Wilson’s play staged at The Court Theatre.

In his courageous portrayal, Roston brings out Hathaway’s caring, vulnerable personality by reminiscing about his childhood, college years, collaboration with Flack, meeting his wife, and the love for his daughter.

He also flips quickly to indicate a darker force, an all-consuming inner turmoil, as he is convinced someone is stealing his music by hooking up his brain to a machine.

As he struggles to maintain sanity, we hear discordant sounds, the lights become harsher, and visuals distort. Projection designer Mike Tutaj provides different images on the hotel room walls. Xavier Pierce’s lighting and G Clausen’s sound design add to the heightened emotions.

Set designer Tim Mackabee’s accurate depiction of a tastefully appointed hotel room 44 years ago can appear spacious, then claustrophobic, almost like a prison, while Roston is presenting composing at his keyboard normally, then switching to the terror of Hathaway’s reality.

Roston as Donny Hathaway. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

Throughout the 90 minutes, while music was integrated into the script, Roston’s focus on the disease’s effects is hard-hitting, robbing Hathaway of everything he valued.

This show speaks volumes in a sincere, direct way, and illuminates a crippling disease and urgent health care crisis. It is a public service announcement as much as an entertaining, thoughtful show.

Director Reggie D. White has emphasized both in this presentation, and he has seamlessly incorporated the technical elements so we could be moved not only by Hathaway’s brilliance as a major R&B talent, but also his hellish psychological state.

On opening night Oct. 6, Hathaway’s youngest daughter, Donnita, came on stage afterwards to talk about her father, and commend Roston’s work. She was 2 years old when her father died.

The Rep is partnering with Donnita’s Donny Hathaway Legacy Project that advocates for holistic mental health and emotional health-related education and resources. The Rep has pledged to partner its onstage work with a necessary offstage issue.

She had said earlier: “I’m in awe of how much care and delicacy the brilliant Kelvin Roston takes in his role as my father while staying true to highlighting mental health issues during this fateful night and balancing the scales by taking us down memory lane by infusing the classic musical catalog that Donny Hathaway left us. I am thrilled that Twisted Melodies is coming to The Rep, a place that both Kelvin Roston and the late Donny Hathaway could call home.”

Post-show discussions are set for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 2 p. m.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents “Twisted Melodies” Oct. 4 -22 at the Catherine B. Berges Theatre at COCA, 6880 Washington Avenue. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: www.repstl.org

The Rep Box Office is available for in-person support at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Rd., Webster Groves, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m, and 2 hours before curtain.

Sharif Ends Five Year Tenure at The Rep After  Shepherding the Theatre Through the Pandemic

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) has announced that Hana Sharif is stepping down as its Augustin Family Artistic Director after a five-year tenure leading the top regional theatre and advancing its legacy of artistic excellence to become Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Danny Williams, Managing Director, who has worked closely with Sharif since being appointed to his position last year, will work in partnership with The Rep’s Board of Directors and Associate Artistic Directors Becks Redman and Reggie D. White, to oversee the success of the highly anticipated 2023–24 season and put in place a search for the theatre’s next artistic director.  

Arena Stage is a Tony Award-winning national center that helped launch the regional theater movement and continues to produce and present diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists in the country. It is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of students through its work in the community. Sharif will leave her role at The Rep in June 2023. 

“Under Hana’s leadership The Rep has made significant strides to ensure that we remain a vital, twenty-first century arts organization that serves all St. Louisans by increasing access to the best emerging and established voices in the American theatre and building bridges across the region,” said Danny Williams, Managing Director. “We thank Hana for moving The Rep forward with her innovative vision that meets the needs of our community and upholds the high standards of artistic excellence which are a hallmark of our productions. Building upon the strong foundation she put in place, we are excited for the reimagined upcoming season that Hana curated, which will continue to offer the full spectrum of St. Louis audiences opportunities to connect, engage, and be thoroughly entertained at The Rep.” 

The Rep’s 2023–24 season, led by titles such as Ben Power’s adaptation of Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy; Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, and The Greatest Love for Whitney: A Tribute to Whitney Houston created by Mark Clements, includes a mix of world-class  

self-produced productions alongside co-produced and presented theater works, reimagining the theatre’s programming in order to create a sustainable model on which to build towards the future. 

“Over the past five years Hana has brought forth a strong vision for The Rep that showed us what a top regional theatre’s role could and should be within the community, producing and directing critically-acclaimed new works and classics; reaffirming the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and boldly navigating us through the challenges of the pandemic,” said Gwen Middeke, President of the Board of Directors of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “We are so grateful to Hana for the immense contributions she has made to The Rep and feel confident that her close collaborator and our brilliant Managing Director Danny Williams will continue to expertly steer the organization forward during this time of transition while we undertake a national search for a new creative partner who will enrich and inspire our community.” 

Pride and Prejudice

As Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Sharif shepherded the organization through a cultural transformation following the retirement of long-time Artistic Director Steven Woolf. Her directorial debut at The Rep was with an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, which was the highest grossing show in the company’s history. She expanded the theatre’s commitment to producing world premieres each season, including Somi Kakoma’s Dreaming Zenzile, Kirsten Greenidge’s Feeding Beatrice, Steph Del Rosso’s The Gradient, and Madhuri Shekar’s House of Joy. Each of the shows she directed are top grossing shows in The Rep’s history including her production of Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express which recently finished The Rep’s 2022/23 season to rave reviews.  

Among other firsts to her credit, Sharif diversified The Rep’s programming to reflect the region’s spectrum of genre, thought, form, and culture, including its first all-Femme design team for Steph Del Rosso’s The Gradient. She introduced a new annual tradition to the St. Louis community in 2021 with a magical version of the beloved holiday spectacular A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and adapted by Michael Wilson, which will continue, now in its third year, as part of the theatre’s next season. 

She piloted a range of new programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a drive-through illuminated puppet experience (The Snowy Day: A Glowy Snowy Experience based on the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, in partnership with StoneLion Puppet Theatre)and a virtual theatrical series that brought together famous local chefs, mixologists, local bands, and media personalities (Cooking, Carols, and Cocktails). In service of the civic life of the community, she launched REPresent STL, a conversation series focused on highlighting and unpacking the issues that matter most to the residents of the Greater St. Louis region. Sharif also created cultural and civic partnerships connected to themes in the performance season, including collaborations with Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis for AIDS and HIV awareness and with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition to creatively share new voter regulations with St. Louisans. 

Additionally, while at The Rep and at the height of the pandemic, Sharif partnered with other regional arts administrators at Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, and the Public Theater in New York to commission short plays from writers struggling financially during the global shutdown. The coalition created Play at Home, a website that offered theatres new plays of 10-minutes in length or less, intended to be performed at home, over video conferencing platforms.  

It has been one of the great honors of my life to lead The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and to build upon the incredible legacy of artistic excellence over the last five years,” said Hana Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director. “I have forged deeply meaningful friendships, collaborations, and artistic partnerships in this beautiful community, and will miss the indomitable spirit of St. Louis. This move is not a decision that I took lightly, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. I believe in the transformative power of the arts to uplift our shared humanity and I cherish the opportunity I’ve had to bring The Rep’s new and existing audiences theatrical experiences that have forged and deepened connections across the region. Advancing this work that we embarked on together, I am confident that the future of The Rep is in strong, capable hands with Danny Williams, my longtime friend and a trusted colleague, who will continue to move forward initiatives that reinforce The Rep’s role as an industry thought leader and a home to the most exciting American voices.” 

The Rep is beginning to assemble a Transition and Search Committee that will plan next steps to find and hire a new artistic director and will announce additional details in the coming months. 

A Christmas Carol Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson

ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE OF ST. LOUIS 

The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Rep presents innovative and compelling productions with something for everyone on its stages. The Rep delivers creative and thought-provoking theatrical experiences at two adaptable and intimate stages across St. Louis: the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts and the Catherine B. Berges Theatre at COCA. With creative and thought-provoking performances, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres, and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. For more information, please visit repstl.org