By Lynn Venhaus
“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow, and oh so mellow”…Anyone?
I only recall Septembers with lots o’ activities and many good theater choices. Have we got them this week!
An Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece about celebrity and power, an American classic celebrating 75th anniversary, Disney wholesomeness, celebration of black women with the vocal gifts of Anita Jackson, and fresh young voices in St. Louis, capturing a time and place – shout out to Tre’von Griffith. And that’s just musicals. Drama from the great American playwrights Lillian Hellman opens, and a modern opera is offered, too.
Go See a Play!
“Bye Bye Birdie”
Ignite Theatre Company
Wednesday, Sept. 12
Bayless High School
Special Sensory Performance
“The Children’s Hour”
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
Sept. 7 – 16
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
What It’s About: Longtime friends Karen and Martha run a boarding school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumor about the two women, the rumor soon turns to scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done
Director: Barbara Mulligan
Cast: Jessica Johns Kelly, Nori Rhodes, Pepi Parshall, Patrick Ryan, Melanie Klug, Betsy Gasoske, Kaylee Ryan, Lydia Foss, Valletta Thurmon, Adrianna Misra, Sydney McClenning, Jesen Clendennen, Gracie Giles, Gentry Giles, Sophia Leritz and Christian Davis.
Of Note: Tickets are Adults $15, Seniors and Students $12, and are available at the door (cash or check). They do not take advanced reservations.
The Guild is a very old building, historic in fact, but because of this we are not wheelchair or handicap accessible. The Guild has a total of 31 steps.
Robert Stevens photo
“Crowns: The Gospel Musical”
The Black Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 23
Edison Theatre at Washington University
Box Office: (314) 534-3807
What It’s About: Crowns refers to hats worn by black women. Hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn.
Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales about everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functions.
Director: Linda Kennedy
Cast: Anita Jackson leads the cast as Mother Shaw, with Maureen Williams as Wanda, Amber Rose as Velma, Leah Stewart as Mabel, Eleanor Humphrey as Jeannette, Myke Andrews as The Man and Tyler White as Yolanda.
Of Note: Director Linda Kennedy says: “The mothers and grandmothers, women of the church, were the glue that held us all together. They helped to raise us and helped make us accountable for our actions. We feared them then but are so grateful to them now. One of the greatest gifts a child can receive is the opportunity to sit and listen to and learn from an elder.” Rounding out the behind the scenes team will be the stage manager, Tracy D. Holliway-Wiggins, set designer, Dunsi Dai, lighting by Joe Clapper, and costumes by Daryl Harris.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Sept. 5 – 30www.repstl.org
What It’s About: The incandescent Eva Perón’s rise from poverty to power electrified the world – and made her an iconic political celebrity. Winner of seven Tony Awards, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s tour-de-force musical revels in the glamour, charisma and controversy that defined the First Lady of Argentina. With its unforgettable anthem “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, “Evita” dazzles with pure passion.
Director: Rob Ruggiero, with music direction by Charlie Alterman and choreography by Gustavo Zajac.
Cast: Michelle Aravena (Eva Perón), Pepe Nufrio (Che), Sean MacLaughlin (Juan Perón), Nicolas Dávila (Augstín Magaldi/Ensemble), Shea Gomez (Perón’s Mistress/Ensemble).
Ensemble: Maria Bilbao, Nathaniel Burich, Ben Chavez, Samuel Druhora, Carmen Garcia, Esmeralda Garza, Samantha Gershman, Julie Hanson, Keith Hines, Jose Luaces, Ben Nordstrom, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, April Strelinger and Tim Wessel.
Eric Woolsey Photo
Next Generation Theatre Company
Aug. 31 – Sept. 9
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Florissant Civic Center Theatre
What It’s About: Disney’s Newsies tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged ‘newsies.’ When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right.
Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, “Newsies” features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots). Featuring the now classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe,” Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message that is perfect for the whole family.
Director: Joe Elvis Baker, who is also choreographer, with music direction by Meredith Todd.
Cast: Main characters – Jack Kelly – Matthew Riordan; Crutchie – Matthew Cox; Davey – Jack Erbs; Les – Max Slavik; Katherine Plumber – Leigha Stockton; Joseph Pulitzer – Joel Hackbarth; and Medda Larkin – Brenda Bass.
Newsies: Race – Andrew Maroney, Albert/Crutchie Understudy – Corey Fraine, Romeo – Braden Stille, Henry – DJ Wojciehowski, Finch – Isaiah Henry, Specs – Rebekah Side, Elmer – Conrad Powell, Mush – Joel Brown, Jo Jo – Mia Polittle, Buttons – Andrea Brown, Sniper – Justin Harris, Splasher – Jess Gerst, Spot Conlon – Kellen Green, Scab 1 – Cami Dummerth, Scab 2 – Hayden Rodgers, Scab 3 – Justin Harris, Trey Ball, Elise Brubaker, Sabrina Furman, Gabby Diebold, Nya Martin, Kate Shaefer, Sarah Burke, Logan Brown, Aiden Kelly, Rebecca Walthall
Nuns: Mica Tharp, Elise Brubaker, Caitlin Sauors, Mackenzie Baum
Bowery Beauties: Devon Shipley, Nya Martin, Kate Shaefer, MacKenzie Baum
Stages St. Louis
Sept. 7 – Oct. 7
Robert G. Reim Theatre
Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road
What It’s About: Romance, conflict, comedy and colorful characters set in 1906 in the Oklahoma territory.
Director: Michael Hamilton
Starring: Blake Price as Curly, Sarah Ellis as Laurey, Con O’Shea-Creel as Will Parker, David Sajewich as Jud Fry, Lucy Moon as Ado Annie, Matthew Curiano as Ali Hakim, Zoe Vonder Haar as Aunt Eller, John Flack as Andrew Carnes, Leah Berry as Bertie Cummings, Mark MacKillop as Slim, Christopher Deprophetis as Ike Skidmore and Steve Isom as Cord Elam.
Of Note: “Oh, what a beautiful musical! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless first collaboration was, in many ways, their most innovative. And while OKLAHOMA! completely changed the face of American musical theatre 75 years ago, it remains as fresh and vital today as it was then with its loving celebration of the American spirit. A stunning blend of drama, music, and dance, the exhilarating Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains such classics as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “Kansas City,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and the pulsating title tune, “Oklahoma!” A gold standard that set the bar for all great musicals that came after it.
Peter Wochniak Photo
STL Opera Collective
Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7-8
Kranzberg Arts Center
501 N. Grand
What It’s About: The secrets that have shaped a family’s relationships. Composer Jake Heggie’s deeply moving opera explores the emotional shrapnel, secrets and hard truths that take place over three decades in the life of a Broadway diva, who has long ignored her children, now adults, as she pursues her career. Her daughter is struggling with a failing marriage, and her son is facing the death of his partner. The libretto is by Gene Scheer. The beautiful score highlights the tangled emotions of this family as they come to grips with the secrets which have shaped their relationships.”
Cast: Stephanie Ruggles, Aleksander Dragojevic, Emily Truckenbrod, Curtis Moeller, Kurtis Shoemake
“VOICES: Sounds of America”
Sept. 6 – 9 for five performances
What It’s About: A musical montage of monologues and songs by Tre’von Griffith and Lauron Thompson-Cosby that aim to bridge the gap between young and old, educate and inspire. The showed inspired by youth in St. Louis bring to life issues of race, self-esteem, identity and body image.
Of Note: This is the finale of their second season. The company founded by creative duo, Tre’von “TreG” Griffith and Lauron “Linnae” Thompson-Cosby, will end this season the way their inaugural season began. VOICES, possesses a timeliness the duo felt was worth revisiting. Identity, self-esteem, social justice, family matters and community are just a few of the subject matters addressed in this musical montage created by Griffith and Cosby.
“VOICES is one of our cornerstone works. It’s a compilation of our personal experiences and data generated from workshops done with youth in St.Louis. The workshops conducted, over the course of six years focused on life in this city and the daily issues teens face. We used a lot of their opinion to structure the show,” Griffith said.
Griffith and Cosby will be starring in this show alongside a core of TLT’s ensemble members.
It was last produced in 2017, at the Marcelle Theater.
Of Note: For more information visit metrotix.com or kranzbergartsfoundation.org/events Tickets are also available at the door.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.