Archive for March, 2013

“And The Award Goes To…” Most Oft Five Words Heard At The Inaugural St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

March 20, 2013
Judy Newmark and Mark Bretz open the ceremonies at the inaugural St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

Judy Newmark and Mark Bretz open the ceremonies at the inaugural St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

It was a fun evening for all- even the nominees who didn’t hear their name mentioned after those five words- “and the award goes to…” It was a chance for the theater community to gather, party and even (just a little, I hope) appreciate the local theater critics. Despite what we occasionally (but not often) feel compelled to say, we love our local actors, directors, tech folks and everyone who has a hand in producing excellent presentations on the stages around St. Louis.

With the decline of the Kevin Klines, we decided to gather several months ago and at least try to honor local theatre with as little effort as possible and for a minimal fee for everyone who wanted to attend (including the critics- who ponied up their $10 to get in). If what everyone was saying throughout the evening and at the “largest cast party in town” afterwards, this first try was a huge success.

theater circle logo 2013-01-19 at 7.03.59 AMFirst we must thank Judy Newmark and Mark Bretz for hatching the idea. Also, Eleanor Mullin for coordinating all the particulars along the way and to Lisa Caplan for guiding us through a smooth evening at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre. Carol Schmidt for providing the music for the event and Gabe Hartwig for creating the official St. Louis Theater Circle logo additionally deserve our praise. And, of course, my fellow critics who amazed as co-masters of ceremonies throughout the evening. They are Andrea Braun, Mark Bretz, Robert Cohn, Chris Gibson (who unfortunately could not make the ceremony), Harry Hamm, Gerry Kowarsky, Chuck Lavazzi, Judith Newmark, Andrea Torrence, Lynn Venhaus and Bob Wilcox.

Antonio Rodriguez accepts his award for "Best Supporting Actor In A Comedy."

Antonio Rodriguez accepts his award for “Best Supporting Actor In A Comedy.”

For those who missed the festivities, here’s a list of the award recipients:

– Outstanding Ensemble In A Comedy- “Jacob and Jack”- New Jewish Theatre

-Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy- (tie) Teresa Doggett- “Season’s Greetings”- St. Louis Actors’ Studio and Kirsten Wylder- “The Divine Sister”- HotCity Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy- Antonio Rodriguez- “The Violet Hour”- Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy- Meghan Maguire- “Talley’s Folly”- New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy- Greg Fenner- “Fully Committed”- Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Director Of A Comedy- Paul Mason Barnes- “The Comedy of Errors”- Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Production Of A Comedy- “The Comedy of Errors”- The Rep

Outstanding Ensemble In A Drama- “Clybourne Park”- The Rep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama- Laura Kyro- “Angels In America”- Stray Dog Theatre

Meghan Maguire accepts her "Best Actress In A Comedy" Award from yours truly.

Meghan Maguire accepts her “Best Actress In A Comedy” Award from yours truly.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama- David Wassilak- “Angels In America”- Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Actress In A Drama- (tie) Nancy Bell- “Clybourne Park”- The Rep and Patrese D. McClain- “No Child…”- The Black Rep

Outstanding Actor In A Drama- Michael Scott Rash- “9 Circles”- R-S Theatrics

Outstanding Director Of A Drama- Timothy Near- “Clybourne Park”- The Rep

Teresa Doggett charmed us as she took the award for "Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy" (in a tie with Kirsten Wylder).

Teresa Doggett charmed us as she took the award for “Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy” (in a tie with Kirsten Wylder).

Outstanding Production Of A Drama- “Clybourne Park”- The Rep

Outstanding New Play- Ayad Akhtar- “The Invisible Hand”- The Rep

Outstanding Set Design Of A Play- Scott Neale- “Clybourne Park”- The Rep

Outstanding Costume Design Of A Play- Margaret E. Weedon- “The Comedy Of Errors”- The Rep

Outstanding Lighting Design Of A Play- (3-way tie) Steve Carmichael- “The Hairy Ape”- Upstream Theater, Nathan Schroeder- “Talley’s Folly”- New Jewish Theatre and Michael Sullivan- “Way To Heaven”- New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design Of A Play- Robin Weatherall- “Way To Heaven”- New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Set Design Of A Musical- Adrian Jones- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Outstanding Costume Design Of A Musical- Alejo Vietti- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Outstanding Lighting Design Of A Musical- John Lasiter- “Sunday In The Park With George- The Rep

Outstanding Musical Direction- (tie) Stephen Lord- “Sweeney Todd”- Opera Theatre of St. Louis and F. Wade Russo- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Outstanding Choreographer- Dana Lewis- “My One And Only”- Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Ensemble In A Musical- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Musical- Anna Skidis- “Spring Awakening”- Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Musical- Dean Christopher- “Chicago”- The Muny

Outstanding Actress In A Musical- Jennifer Theby- “Urinetown-The Musical”- Stray Dog Theatre

Steve Woolf accepts one of multiple awards for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Steve Woolf accepts one of multiple awards for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Outstanding Actor In A Musical- (tie) Ron Bohmer- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep and Rod Gilfry- “Sweeney Todd”- Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Director Of A Musical- Rob Ruggiero- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Outstanding Production Of A Musical- “Sunday In The Park With George”- The Rep

Steve Woolf, Artistic Director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis climbed those steps to the stage a lot as he accepted for himself and folks from his productions that could not make the ceremony. He described “Sunday In The Park With George” as their landmark production and I believe most of the reviewers and

Anna Skidis basks in the glow of congratulations in the lobby after the ceremony for her award for "Best Supporting Actor In A Musical."

Anna Skidis basks in the glow of congratulations in the lobby after the ceremony for her award for “Best Supporting Actress In A Musical.”

probably the audiences who saw it would have to agree. But other than the Reps’ sweep in many categories, the awards also went to many other deserving people and theatre companies as well. We, as the critics who painstakingly went through the processes of voting to reach the final tabulations were very pleased with the diversity of our final nominees. We, of course, did not know the results as they were tabulated by individuals not involved in St. Louis theatre including lawyers and accounting firms. So we had some jaw-dropping moments along with the rest of the crowd a this first-ever St. Louis Theater Circle Awards program.

We hope you all had fun. We anticipate another ceremony next year and, hopefully, many years after that. Keep attending the local live theatre scene in St. Louis. I’ve noticed a significant upswing in the audiences in most houses around the area and everyone is having a good time. Join the crowd and consider season tickets to whoever is providing you with the most fun for your price of admission. You know you can’t go wrong with an investment in the theatre.

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Two Lovely Ladies Lead The Way Through A Sprightly Production of “As You Like It” At St. Louis Shakespeare

March 20, 2013
Maggie Murphy and Betsy Bowman star as the go-for-broke cousins in "As You Like It" at St. Louis Shakespeare.

Maggie Murphy and Betsy Bowman star as the go-for-broke cousins in “As You Like It” at St. Louis Shakespeare.

The silly nonsense that Shakespeare gave us in “As You Like It” translates as pure fun and magic in the hands of director Brian A. Peters and his lively cast in the St. Louis Shakespeare production. In the Court of Duke Frederick and in the Forest of Arden, the cast plays it for laughs and with the tongue-in-cheek fervor that the Bard had intended.

Those two lovely ladies I alluded to in the banner are Betsy Bowman and Maggie Murphy. A more charming pair couldn’t be found. Miss Bowman is a delightful and witty spitfire as Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior She decides to disguise herself as a boy, Ganymede, to go in search of her father in the forest where he has been banished and dwells with his own merry band including the court jester, Touchstone. Maggie Murphy is equally wondrous as Celia, daughter of Duke Frederick. Cousins and BFF’s, she decides to travel with Rosalind disguised as her alter ego’s sister, Aliena. Robert Ashton is marvelous as both Dukes with differing dispositions.

Aaron Dodd, Betsy Bowman and Maggie Murphy in St. Louis Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

Aaron Dodd, Betsy Bowman and Robert Ashton in St. Louis Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

Aaron Dodd matches the young ladies step for step as Orlando, son of Sir Rowland, Duke Frederick’s arch enemy. When the Duke finds out about this, he bans him from the kingdom and he and his servant Adam (played with panache by Steve Wozniak) set off to- where else- the Forest of Aden. In the forest we’re introduced to a silver-tongued Jacques (Christopher LaBanca) who gets to bring the famous “seven stages of man” speech to us, the funny philosopher Touchstone- played with flair by Tim Callahan, Tasha Zebrowski as the hellcat Phoebe, Michael Pierce as the love-sick Silvius, Elizabeth Breed as the bawdy Audrey and a score of other lords, shepherds and reprobates filling the play with humor and wild, implausible plot lines.

Of course, as you might suspect, it all winds up with a happy ending and four typical Shakespearean weddings. Could you ever doubt it?

Betsy Bowman, Robert Ashton and Maggie Murphy in "As You Like It" at St. Louis Shakespeare.

Betsy Bowman, Robert Ashton and Maggie Murphy in “As You Like It” at St. Louis Shakespeare.

With the “if I can’t marry you, I’ll marry YOU” mentality and even a couple of adorable goats (smaller than life hand puppets but real scene-stealers), this is a wonderful interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most light-hearted comedies. The simple yet effective Cristie Johnston set design works into the whole scheme of things with just the right touch of fun and fantasy. Beth Ashby’s costumes and the Jaime Zayas lighting design also add to the feel of the production.

Presenting this one on the stage at DeSmet High School in Creve Coeur, St. Louis Shakespeare transforms us to a very special place in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” Contact them at 314-361-5664 or at info@stlshakespeare.org for tickets or more information. “As You Like It” runs through March 24th.

Stunning Set Gives Audience A Film Noir Feel As “Double Indemnity” Closes The Rep Season

March 18, 2013
Intense lighting (including footlights) enhance the noir feel of "Double Indemnity" at the Rep. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Intense lighting (including footlights) enhance the noir feel of “Double Indemnity” at the Rep. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Fog-like smoke swirls around the set of “Double Indemnity” as the audience walks into the theatre for this season finale at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. The magnificent Paul Shortt set design puts you in the mood before the play begins. Stark gray buildings highlighted by ornamental steel window treatments are then enhanced by the moody feel of the James Sale lighting design. Once the play gets rolling, so does the set. It glides smoothly from the aft of a ship to  the Nirlinger’s front room to Walter Huff’s home to his office to a car to the back of a train and various other locations as the actors transition through the smoothest set changes you’ll ever see. It’s stunning to see and even more exciting to watch as we travel through the world of “Double Indemnity.”

Joy Farmer-Clary, Kevin Cutts and Gardner Reed have an uneasy family meeting in the Rep's "Double Indemnity." Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Joy Farmer-Clary, Kevin Cutts and Gardner Reed have an uneasy family meeting in the Rep’s “Double Indemnity.” Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Based on James M. Cain’s novel the story centers on an insurance man who stumbles into a situation he can’t resist which leads to events he can no longer control. Of course, a woman is involved and she convinces him to write a policy on her husband that pays double for death via train accident (this all takes place in 1937, so that may not be as far-fetched as it sounds today). We find the woman is using him, two-timing him and her stepdaughter steps into the mess while his boss begins to smell a rat as well. So, the best laid plans begin to fall apart. It all makes for a good read in the original novel and- though altered to fit the Hollywood model- the movie turned out very well too.

David Christopher Wells and Michael Sean McGuinness trade theories on the murder in "Double Indemnity" at the Rep. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

David Christopher Wells and Michael Sean McGuinness trade theories on the murder in “Double Indemnity” at the Rep. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Unfortunately, the new script by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright doesn’t hold up to either earlier work and film noir becomes stage no. Even some of the movies of that era are a bit laughable by today’s standards, but they work. During this performance, there were several instances where the audience laughed at some of the dialogue and situations that unfolded. To paraphrase Tom Hanks, “there’s no laughing at film noir!” So writers and director Michael Evan Haney had to make the decision to either treat it as homage or treat it as satire. It came out as

a mixture and that just didn’t work. Director Haney, though hampered with the script, handles the direction well- playing it with a keen eye for noir mystique. He is particularly adept at almost choreographing his actors around those multiple set changes.

The actors give it their all. David Christopher Wells plays it straight with a bit of a mumble and a fast delivery (sometimes too fast as we miss a line or two- especially when he has his back to us). But his Walter Huff captures the essence of those film noir greats. As the femme fatale, Phyllis Nirlinger, Gardner Reed could have smoldered a bit more as she came off more bossy and desperate. Joy Farmer-Clary as the devious daughter, Lola, had no trouble with the smolder- she played it to the hilt. And Michael Sean McGuinness is blustery as Walter’s boss who finally gets to the bottom of the “something doesn’t smell right” case of the husband who winds up dead on the railroad tracks.

Gardner Reed silhouetted in the outstanding set and lighting design at the Rep's "Double Indemnity." Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Gardner Reed silhouetted in the outstanding set and lighting design at the Rep’s “Double Indemnity.” Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

As that husband, Kevin Cutts does a fine job as does Carrie Vaughan as an associate and Eddie Boroevich in multiple roles including the headstrong boyfriend of Lola. There was only one glaring error in the wonderful costume design of David Kay Mickelsen- that being the flats worn by Phyllis. Gardner Reed may have had a foot problem, but otherwise, no respectable film noir vamp wears anything but heels- and mules with heels when in a dressing gown.

Doing some background work on the play, it looks like it started out as two acts and has now been trimmed to a more workable long one-act. There still needs to be some trimming done, however to make it more like a true noir or go the other way as they did with the musical, “City Of Angels” which played it for laughs.

It’s hard not to recommend the play, however, for the spectacular set and execution of the scene changes and the whole atmosphere it creates as well as fine work by the cast. “Double Indemnity” plays at the Rep Mainstage through April 7th. Call them at 314-968-4925 or contact the Rep at http://www.repstl.org for tickets or more information.

 

It’s Here! The St. Louis Theater Circle Awards Should Be Fun And More Fun Followed By A Little More Fun

March 18, 2013

theater circle logo 2013-01-19 at 7.03.59 AMThis is it- tonight’s the night. We’ve got a lot of folks already coming but we welcome those last minute “deciders” who realize they just can’t miss this event. We had our rehearsal on a rainy and cold St. Patrick’s Day and it looks like we won’t be tripping over each other as we present the inaugural St. Louis Theater Circle Awards. The Florissant Civic Center Theater is a beautiful venue and, with food and drink before and more drink after, how can this party not be fun! Listed below are all the particulars including a list of the nominees- so join us tonight for the biggest cast party in St. Louis theater.

Performances by local professional theater companies, ranging in size from The Muny and its productions in the 11,000-seat Forest Park amphitheater to small companies performing in modest venues around the area, will be recognized at the inaugural St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

Date and location for the event have been changed.  The ceremony will now take place on Monday, March 18, 2013 at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre in the James J. Eagan Civic Center, which is located at the intersection of Parker Road and Waterford Drive in Florissant.  The event will celebrate theatrical achievements in the year 2012 in local professional theater as recognized by the St.  Louis Theater Circle, a new organization comprised of area reviewers.

Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C., honor their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.  Because of potential legal issues, the name of the awards has been changed to the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

Tickets to the event will be $10 apiece, payable in cash or check at the door on the night of the ceremony or in advance by mailing payment by check to St. Louis Theater Circle, 7162 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63130.  Reservations can be made in advance (and then paid for at the box office on the night of the event) by contacting stltheatercircle@sbcglobal.net.

Additionally, With Love Catering, which services a number of theaters locally including The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Stages St. Louis, will cater the event, offering food and drinks available on a cash basis.  Tickets for a special pre-dinner buffet also will be sold for $15 apiece, which includes one drink along with a buffet.  Buffet tickets may be reserved in advance or paid for in advance at the same addresses as above.

The buffet will feature assorted fresh fruits, cheeses and flat breads; buffalo chicken won ton cups; baked brie in phyllo with cranberries, apples and pecans; smoked chicken and Colby quesadillas, tequila lime sour cream; pulled pork sliders with crispy onion straws; and billy goat potato chips with green onion dip.

The box office will open at 6 p.m. and the ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.  The pre-event buffet will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m.  A post-ceremony celebration will take place following the event until 11:30 p.m.

Additionally, well-known pianist Carol Schmidt will provide musical accompaniment throughout the presentation.

The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor St. Louis professional theater.  While various reviewers may also cover professional touring shows at The Fox and the Peabody Opera House as well as selected community and college productions, The St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are designed to focus attention on dozens of area theater companies which showcase the artistic efforts of actors, directors and technical artists in the metropolitan area.

“We are delighted that Mayor Thomas Schneider and the City of Florissant have made the Florissant Civic Center Theatre available for this inaugural event,” said Judith Newmark, theater critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.  “Our goal is to recognize and celebrate artistic accomplishments on the professional scene in the 2012 calendar year.”

Nominations for The St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are divided into categories for musicals, dramas and comedies.  Approximately 100 local professional theatrical productions were presented in the St. Louis area in 2012.

The nominees for the 2012 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards are:

NOMINEES FOR MUSICALS

Outstanding Production

  • Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis
  • Chicago, The Muny
  • Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Sunday in the Park with George, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
  • Sweeney Todd, Opera Theatre Saint Louis

Outstanding Director

  • Justin Been, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Michael Hamilton, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis
  • Denis Jones, Chicago, The Muny
  • Scott Miller, High Fidelity, New Line Theatre
  • Rob Ruggiero, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep

Outstanding Actor

  • Ron Bohmer, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep
  • Ryan Foizey, Cry-Baby, New Line Theatre
  • Rod Gilfry, Sweeney Todd, Opera Theatre
  • Antonio Rodriguez, Urinetown, Stray Dog Theatre
  • John Sparger, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Actress

  • Erin Davie, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep
  • Natascia Diaz, Chicago, The Muny
  • Tari Kelly, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Muny
  • Jennifer Theby, Urinetown, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Karen Ziemba, Sweeney Todd, Opera Theatre Saint Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actor

  • Dean Christopher, Chicago, The Muny
  • Mike Dowdy, Cry-Baby, New Line Theatre
  • Zachary Allen Farmer, High Fidelity, New Line
  • Ryan Foizey, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Steve Isom, My One and Only, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actress

  • Terrie Carolan, Cry-Baby, New Line Theatre
  • Beth Leavel, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Muny
  • Susanne Menzer, Sweeney Todd, Opera Theatre Saint Louis
  • Deborah Sharn, Urinetown, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Anna Skidis, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Acting Ensemble

  • Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis
  • Chicago, The Muny
  • High Fidelity, New Line Theatre
  • Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep
  • Urinetown, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Set Design

  • David Blake, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Adrian Jones, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep
  • Scott L. Schoonover, High Fidelity, New Line Theatre
  • Michael Schweikardt, The King and I, The Muny
  • James Wolk, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Costume Design

  • Lou Bird, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis
  • Brad Musgrove, My One and Only, Stages St. Louis
  • Alexandra Scibetta Quigley, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Alejo Vietti, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep

Outstanding Lighting Design

  • Tyler Duenow, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Seth Jackson, Chicago, The Muny
  • John Lasiter, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep
  • Matthew McCarthy, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Choreography

  • Robin Michelle Berger, Cry-Baby, New Line Theatre
  • Denis Jones, Chicago, The Muny
  • Dana Lewis, My One and Only, Stages St. Louis
  • Lara Teeter, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Muny
  • Chris Bailey, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Muny

Outstanding Musical Direction

  • Lisa Campbell Albert, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Stages St. Louis
  • Stephen Lord, Sweeney Todd, Opera Theatre Saint Louis
  • Chris Petersen, Spring Awakening, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Justin Smolik, High Fidelity, New Line Theatre
  • F. Wade Russo, Sunday in the Park with George, The Rep

NOMINEES FOR DRAMAS

Outstanding Production

  • Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Clybourne Park, The Rep
  • Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, St. Louis Black Repertory Company
  • The Hairy Ape, Upstream Theater

Outstanding Director

  • Gary Bell, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Deanna Jent, Going to See the Elephant, Mustard Seed Theatre
  • Timothy Near, Clybourne Park, The Rep
  • Ed Smith, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Black Rep
  • Milton Zoth, Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding Actor

  • John Hickok, The Invisible Hand, The Rep
  • Michael Scott Rash, 9 Circles, R-S Theatrics
  • Michael James Reed, A Steady Rain, The Rep
  • Ben Watts, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • B Weller, Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Outstanding Actress

  • Nancy Bell, Clybourne Park, The Rep
  • Rachel Fenton, Oleanna, HotCity Theatre
  • Rachel Hanks, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Patrese McClain, No Child, The Black Rep
  • Kirsten Wylder, Bug, Muddy Waters Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor

  • Larry Dell, Killer Joe, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Greg Fenner, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Terry Meddows, Way to Heaven, New Jewish Theatre
  • Joshua Thomas, Othello, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  • David Wassilak, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actress

  • Teresa Doggett, Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Rachel Fenton, Killer Joe, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Laura Kyro, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Elizabeth Ann Townsend, The Maids, Upstream Theater
  • Kelley Weber, Lost in Yonkers, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Acting Ensemble

  • Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Clybourne Park, The Rep
  • Going to See the Elephant, Mustard Seed Theatre
  • Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • The Hairy Ape, Upstream Theater

NOMINEES FOR COMEDIES

Outstanding Production

  • Jacob and Jack, New Jewish Theatre
  • The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • The Foreigner, The Rep
  • The Violet Hour, Max & Louie Productions

Outstanding Director

  • Paul Mason Barnes, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • Edward Coffield, Jacob and Jack, New Jewish Theatre
  • Suki Peters, The Compleat Wks of Wm Shkspr (Abridged), St. Louis Shakespeare
  • Marty Stanberry, The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • Edward Stern, The Foreigner, The Rep

Outstanding Actor

  • Ryan DeLuca, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Rep
  • Greg Fenner, Fully Committed, Stray Dog Theatre
  • John Flack, The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • Bobby Miller, Jacob and Jack, New Jewish Theatre
  • John Scherer, The Foreigner, The Rep

Outstanding Actress

  • Emily Baker, Season’s Greetings, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Sarah Cannon, Dinner with Friends, Dramatic License Productions
  • Tarah Flanagan, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • Meghan Maguire, Talley’s Folly, New Jewish Theatre
  • Carol Schultz, The Foreigner, The Rep

Outstanding Supporting Actor

  • Matthew Galbreath, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Black Rep
  • Chopper Leifheit, The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • Casey Predovic, The Foreigner, The Rep
  • Antonio Rodriguez, The Violet Hour, Max & Louie Productions
  • Lenny Wolpe, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep

Outstanding Supporting Actress

  • Sarajane Alverson, Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs, West End Players Guild
  • Lavonne Byers, The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • Teresa Doggett, Season’s Greetings, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Shanara Gabrielle, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • Kirsten Wylder, The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre

Outstanding Acting Ensemble

  • Jacob and Jack, New Jewish Theatre
  • The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • The Divine Sister, HotCity Theatre
  • The Foreigner, The Rep
  • The Violet Hour, Max & Louie Productions

COMEDIES and DRAMAS

Outstanding Set Design

  • Jason Coale, The Maids, Upstream Theater
  • Dunsi Dai, Imaginary Jesus, Mustard Seed Theatre
  • Scott Neale, Clybourne Park, The Rep
  • Erik Paulson, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep
  • John Stark, Way to Heaven, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design

  • Felia Katherine Davenport, Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Sarita Fellows, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Black Rep
  • Daryl Harris, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Black Rep
  • Alexandra Scibetta Quigley, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Margaret E. Weedon, The Comedy of Errors, The Rep

Outstanding Lighting Design

  • Steve Carmichael, The Hairy Ape, Upstream Theater
  • Tyler Duenow, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Phil Monat, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Rep
  • Nathan Schroeder, Talley’s Folly, New Jewish Theatre
  • Michael Sullivan, Way to Heaven, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

  • Justin Been, Angels in America, Stray Dog Theatre
  • Zoe Sullivan, Going to See the Elephant, Mustard Seed Theatre
  • Rusty Wandall, A Steady Rain, The Rep
  • Robin Weatherall, Good, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
  • Robin Weatherall, Way to Heaven, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding New Play

  • Imaginary Jesus, Deanna Jent, Mustard Seed Theatre
  • Stupefy! The 90-Minute Harry Potter Live!, Jaysen Cryer, Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre
  • The Invisible Hand, Ayad Akhtar, The Rep
  • The New World, Nancy Bell, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
  • Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs, Stephen Peirick, West End Players Guild.

Founding members of the St. Louis Theater Circle include Steve Allen, Stagedoorstl.com; Andrea Braun, The Vital Voice and Playback; Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; Chris Gibson, Broadwayworld.com; Harry Hamm, KMOX; Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle, HEC-TV; Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX; Eleanor Mullin, local actress and arts supporter, who is the group’s administrator; Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Andrea Torrence, Stlouistheatresnob.com; Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat; and Bob Wilcox, Two on the Aisle and Town & Style.

For more information, contact stltheatercircle@sbcglobal.net or 314-838-9371.

 

Actors Take A Back Seat To The Wonderful Mechanicals As The Fox Brings “War Horse” To Our Town

March 15, 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.32.47 AMThe old theater adage is “don’t work with children or animals.” In this case, the creations of the Handspring Puppet Company makes that doubly true when working with mechanical animals. It doesn’t take long for the audience to get swept up in the beauty and pageantry of the magnificent horses in the moving piece, “War Horse.” Though originally written as a children’s book, this epic tale of love and devotion gets a bit too intense for the younger set as war, cruelty to animals (and humans) and a lot of blood and horror are all part of the story. Fortunately the play is epic due to the puppetry and special effects more than the story line and it’s just right for the older theatre goer.

Alex Morf leads the way as Albert, a young man who takes to a young foal that his father, in a drunken stupor, has bid too highly on at an auction and brings home. Brian Keane as the tyrannical father and Angela Reed as the mother bicker about the foolish purchase and how the rent will be paid while Albert sees nothing but the young horse he has called Joey. At the insistence of his father, Albert trains Joey to pull a plow even though he is truly a thoroughbred. This comes in handy for the grown up horse after he is “drafted” by the British army in the Great War and makes himself useful by pulling artillery. Even when captured by the Germans, Joey saves himself from the front lines in similar fashion.

Original music is by Adrian Sutton and the “song maker” is John Tams, wonderfully performed throughout by Nathan Koci and John Milosich. But the real stars on stage are the wonderful “manipulators” who handle the horses throughout the story. Although you see two pair of feet under the intricate horse frames made of various materials and see the man always alongside the horse creating the head movements, you soon get lost in the magic of what these creatures can actually do as they work their way into our hearts and minds. Toby Sedgwick is given credit for the movement and horse “choreography” and his work is outstanding. The movements as they shake their heads or tails, take a bucket of oats and even the realistic horse snorts and whinnies are right on the mark. And Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones are the masterminds behind the creation of these magnificent beasts.

A swath of material hanging over the backstage area becomes the background for projections to indicate location, time and other material necessary to moving the story along. The sounds, lights and other special effects are nothing short of remarkable. The transition of Joey from foal to horse is simply incredible, for instance, as is the slow motion death of the captain who is riding Joey into battle (told you it wasn’t really for the kids). So “War Horse” becomes more a spectacle than a play. The story is fine and you can see where it would appeal to a younger set but the thing about this play is the sheer genius of the puppets and how real they become to an audience. So it’s a judgement call on bringing the children. The older ones will find it fascinating and probably appreciate the magic that happens while the younger ones may just get frightened by the story and the blasts of lights and gunfire.

“War Horse” is truly a wonder to behold. It’s a definite tissue moment at the finale as tears well up- even at the end of the startling first act finale. It’s a theatrical event that you won’t want to miss, however and one you may not believe until you actually see it. “War Horse” plays at the Fox Theatre through March 24th. Call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 for tickets.

 

 

 

 

Despite Good Work From Cast And Director, “Day Of The Dog” Is A Kernel Of An Idea That Never Fully Pops

March 11, 2013
Steve Isom, Tamara Kenny and Jason Grubbe discus "the dog" and other problems in STLAS' production of "Day Of The Dog." Photo: John Lamb

Steve Isom, Tamara Kenny and Jason Grubbe discus “the dog” and other problems in STLAS’ production of “Day Of The Dog.” Photo: John Lamb

St. Louis Actors’ Studio gives us another World Premiere but Daniel Damiano’s script simmers but never boils as “Day Of The Dog” gets wordy and overly melodramatic as it tells the story of a rocky family dynamic with a problematic dog at the center. The characters rebound after a rough exposition but it never really gets rolling. There’s plenty of laughs and a lot to identify with for any pet owner, just needs a bit of tidying up.

Steve Isom is strong as the beleaguered Paul who we learn had aspirations as a chef but came close to poisoning a patron in his first job after culinary school and settled into his father’s accounting business. He is emotionally charged as his frustration builds realizing that his marriage is more to blame for his bandaged wrists from the dog attack that sent him to the emergency room. Tamara Kenny also shines as the almost stoic wife who got the dog from a shelter without consulting husband or daughter. As a result, both are frightened to death of the dog’s vicious nature. She builds Julianne’s character to a controlled frenzy as she and Paul both realize what has happened to their family.

Jason Grubbe, the "canine relationship specialist," stares down Tamara Kenny's Julianne during "Day Of The Dog" at STLAS. Photo: John Lamb

Jason Grubbe, the “canine relationship specialist,” stares down Tamara Kenny’s Julianne as Steve Isom’s Paul looks on during “Day Of The Dog” at STLAS. Photo: John Lamb

Jason Grubbe steals the accolades as the infamous “canine relations specialist,” Vadislav. Much more than a dog whisperer, he controls the off-stage dog’s barking in the opening scene with a wave of his hand and then later cures the dog’s unruly tendencies in a matter of minutes as he “explains” the family problems to the dog- again off-stage. His odd, intrusive nature makes him more of a marriage counselor than a dog specialist as he asks probing, direct questions that make the couple uncomfortable but eventually draws out their animosity and fears that leads to a somewhat successful conclusion to their problem as well as the dogs. His frequent trips to the bathroom and off-putting requests for such things as a tuna fish sandwich lead you to believe he’s wise with all sorts of animals- including the human kind.

Tamara Kenny pleads with Steve Isom for a little attention during STLAS's production of "Day Of The Dog." Photo: John Lamb

Tamara Kenny pleads with Steve Isom for a little attention during STLAS’s production of “Day Of The Dog.” Photo: John Lamb

Despite some problems with lines on the evening I saw the play, Milton Zoth has directed his cast with a deft hand. The slight hesitancy at times- especially in the first act- may have been from the fact that the playwright was on hand for the preview and opening night. He may have changed the script slightly after those performances which will occasionally throw an actor’s rhythm slightly off. But the real problem still lies with the burdens in that script. As I said, it seems a bit wordy and the layers peel off in the second act a bit too melodramatically. A lot of ground is covered with too much repeated information and some that we see coming a mile away. This doesn’t indicate that it’s a bad script- just one in need of a bit more doctoring. I think the idea is there but needs some smoothing out. The premise is great and the characters are dynamic as the dog’s problems seem to stem from the family problems rather than the other way around.

The Cristie Johnston set design is perfect for the feng shui philosophy of Julianne’s interior design persona and Jonathan Zelezniak’s lights enhance that set beautifully. Director Milt Zoth also delivered the effective sound design. All in all, it’s a capable production with three wonderful actors and excellent direction that suffer from a script that’s just a few rewrites away from being stage-worthy. It’s always great to see a World Premiere, however and this one’s worth it for that. The laughs are there and any pet owner can truly identify with the basic premise. So give them a call at 314-458-2978 or contact St. Louis Actor’s Studio at http://www.stlas.org for tickets or more information. “Day Of The Dog” runs through March 24th.

Sultry, Steamy and Sly- “Venus In Fur” Mixes Humor And Eroticism In A Wicked Blend At The Rep Studio

March 9, 2013
Sarah Nedwek as Vanda and Jay Stratton as Thomas during an intense "audition." Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sarah Nedwek as Vanda and Jay Stratton as Thomas during an intense “audition.” Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The David Ives comedy, “Venus In Fur,” hits home with a theater crowd as it involves an audition where things go off center and very surreal. It’s the final production of the season at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Studio Theatre. Thomas, the playwright and director, is about to pack up and go home after a harrowing day of auditions where no woman seems right (or intelligent enough) to grasp what he wants in a female lead. Enter Vanda- late and soaked from the tremendous thunderstorm we hear outside this small, stuffy studio. She drops her raincoat to reveal fishnet stockings, a black corset and push-up bra- appropriate dress for this adaptation of a classic German erotic novel- or so she believes.

She appears to be just another in the long line of “Valley Girls” he’s already seen with her abusive language and apparent failure to grasp the nature of the original novel or his play. Her oversized bag of costumes seems to say otherwise, however, and when she starts in on the dialogue (without really referring to the script in her hand), she takes on a different persona and Thomas becomes hooked.

Sarah Nedwek poses as "Venus In Fur" for the Rep Studio Production. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sarah Nedwek poses as “Venus In Fur” for the Rep Studio Production. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

From there it becomes a back and forth battle for control of the characters- both fictional and real- as Vanda moves in and out of character and we’re never sure who she is or what is real. She not only has mastered the script and the fictional Vanda (they share the same name), but her personal musings about Thomas start to give him and the audience the creeps. Who is this woman? And what is her real purpose in coming to this audition? The entire process starts to take on surreal aspects and we become lost in two different plots that intertwine as well as intrigue.

Sarah Nedwek simply bowls us over with her “split” personality. She is ditzy and devious as the real Vanda and then transforms into astute and articulate as the fictional Vanda while this almost classical script unfolds under her powerful and erotic interpretation. Her split second moves from one to the other in the middle of the readings are jolting, hilarious and simply magnificent. This is one of the finest performances we’ve seen on stage in some time. Jay Stratton matches her intensity as the playwright who goes from a cold reading to ramping up his act to match her dizzying performance. This cat and mouse game becomes all the more intense at play’s end when gender-bending performances come into the picture and those lines of reality and fiction become even more blurred.

Sarah Nedwek and Jay Stratton in the Rep Studio production of "Venus In Fur." Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sarah Nedwek and Jay Stratton in the Rep Studio production of “Venus In Fur.” Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Seth Gordon has directed with just as much intensity. The comic portrayals are right on the mark and then he blows us away with the unexpected. He even predicts the provocative final moments as an unusual and seemingly out of character moment involving Vanda’s sensuous change to more seductive footwear starts off with a classic, humorous misunderstanding. Although the play may be a bit longer than needed, it slowly opens and lures us into this strangely erotic dance of love, submission and betrayal.

The Jason Coale set design is straightforward and highly functional in the space that divides the audience into two sides. Seth Jackson’s lights are perfect as Vanda has a hand in creating the proper moods via a circuit breaker box on the wall. The costumes of David Kay Mickelsen are very effective including the “grab bag” that Vonda pulls out of her tote to create moods. And, of course, her seductive “under the raincoat” outfit gives us a perfect look at just what she has in store. As usual, the Rusty Wandall sound design is the perfect addition to the play. The rain storm that continually brews outside reacts just as a real rainstorm does- moments of intensity followed by gentle, subtle sounds that make us aware it’s still there while we get caught up in the story.

“Venus In Fur” was nominated for a Tony Award and Nina Arianda won the Tony as Best Actress as Vanda. Our Vanda, Sarah Nedwek, probably became an early contender for next year’s St. Louis Theater Critics Circle award with this brilliant performance. Call the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis at 314-968-4925 or contact them at http://www.repstl.org for tickets or more information on “Venus In Fur.” It runs at the Studio through March 24th.

“Boeing, Boeing” At Dramatic License Brings Back Comedies Of The Silly ’60’s

March 4, 2013

 

John Reidy, Emily Baker, Chad Morris and Deanna Mazdra try to sort out the complications of "Boeing, Boeing" at Dramatic License Productions. Photo: John Lamb

John Reidy, Emily Baker, Chad Morris and Natasha Toro try to sort out the complications of “Boeing, Boeing” at Dramatic License Productions. Photo: John Lamb

Recently revived on Broadway, “Boeing, Boeing” is a throw-back to the bedroom farces of the 1960’s that kept the Barn and Plantation Dinner Theatre in business in our town for some time. Silly to be sure and perhaps a bit longer than need be, but in the hands of the great team at Dramatic License Productions, it’s well worth seeing. The incredible cast makes these larger-than-life characters appealing as they just have fun with the somewhat dated material.

They keep it set in the 1060’s which allows for the “politically incorrect” dialogue and situations and makes the play what it is- a sexual romp with a playboy, his friend, a sassy maid and three airline hostesses. Need I say more? Playwright Marc Camoletti sets up an impossible situation and somehow manages to make it all end well. DLP director, Brad Schwartz plays it to the hilt and gets great comedic performances from all of his actors. And a sold out house on the night I saw it could not have been more appreciative.

John Reidy, Kim Furlow, Chad Morris and Deanna Mazdra deep in the throes of confusion in the Dramatic License Production of "Boeing, Boeing." Photo: John Lamb

John Reidy, Kim Furlow, Chad Morris and Deanna Mazdra deep in the throes of confusion in the Dramatic License Production of “Boeing, Boeing.” Photo: John Lamb

Chad Morris is the bon vivant who has the obviously spacious apartment overlooking Paris where he has three stewardesses on the hook. He has an elaborate airline schedule that intersects the three different airlines they all fly for so that as soon as one leaves after a day or two layover with him, the next one flies into Orly to spend some time with him. Of course, all three believe they are engaged to him. Chad plays the role with a suave demeanor which increases to sheer panic as supersonic jets soon change the schedules all around.

Enter John Reidy- his old buddy- who marvels at his friends chutzpah but warns him of the dangerous game he is playing. He also travels neatly into panic mode as he tries to help his friend as all three ladies descend on the apartment at the same time. Playing a game of hide and seek as he keeps one lady in one room, a second in another room and yet another out for a walk, his nerves begin to ravel and some unexpected advances leads to the first solution to his friend’s problem.

Emily Baker tries to explain the situation to John Reidy in "Boeing, Boeing" at DLP. Photo: John Lamb

Emily Baker tries to explain the situation to John Reidy in “Boeing, Boeing” at DLP. Photo: John Lamb

DLP’s Executive Producer, Kim Furlow, is simply marvelous as the maid who assists in keeping the ladies in line and away from each other. She obviously does not approve of the shenanigans going on but feels obligated to her boss to calm the ever growing tempest in the teapot brewing at full boil. Her rolling eyes and exquisite timing in both movement and delivering her sarcastic lines is priceless.

Then we have the girls. The brilliant Emily Baker ties us up in gales of laughter with her heavy German accent and drill sergeant tactics. Deanna Mazdra has the Texas twang down perfect as she takes her feminist views to the nth degree in trying to tame both men. Finally, Natasha Toro uses her feminine wiles to win out the “playboy” sweepstakes.

John Reidy tries to protect one bedroom while Chad Morris directs Deanna Mazdra to another room in "Boeing, Boeing" at Dramatic License. Photo: John Lamb

John Reidy tries to protect one bedroom while Chad Morris directs Deanna Mazdra to another room in “Boeing, Boeing” at Dramatic License. Photo: John Lamb

When the action is fast and furious, that’s when “Boeing, Boeing” becomes the clever farce that won it accolades in the ’60’s and once again with the recent revival. Rough and tumble seduction and the typical slamming doors make for a wild and wooly ride through sexual escapades that somehow all wind up satisfying in a “Love, American Style” style of sappiness. But that’s what makes this show so appealing- the retro set of  inappropriate actions and dialogue that one couldn’t write today. But as a piece of nostalgia, it’s wonderful.

Join the madcap fun through March 17th as Dramatic License Productions presents “Boeing, Boeing” at their theatre in Chesterfield Mall. Give them a call at 636-220-7012 or visit at dramaticlicenseproductions.org for tickets or more information.

Rockin’ “Next To Normal” At New Line Gives Depression A Lift

March 3, 2013

NTN_square1-M Who decided a musical with a heroine with bipolar disorder was a good idea? Brian Yorkey fashioned the book and lyrics and Tom Kitt provided the music for “Next To Normal” and it became an instant hit winning Tony’s for Best Musical Score, Orchestration and for lead, Alice Ripley. It also took several Outer Circle Awards for its off-Broadway run. Now New Line Theatre has brought an intimate and more accessible production to their stage and everything about it is outstanding.

Mary Beth Black, Jeffrey M. Wright and Kimi Short celebrate an uneasy birthday in New Line's "Next To Normal." Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Mary Beth Black, Jeffrey M. Wright and Kimi Short celebrate an uneasy birthday in New Line’s “Next To Normal.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Kimi Short is simply sensational in the difficult role of Diana. We see her struggle with her inner demons, obsessing about a lost child which, among other problems, has led to her depression. Her cagey acting and her strong singing voice makes this most unlikely leading lady someone we root for and sympathize with. Playing her loving and frustrated husband is the wonderful Jeffrey M. Wright. Transitioning from the young playboy in “High Fidelity” last year to this brooding, helpless middle aged man shows his remarkable range. Ryan Foizey once again stands out in the role of the son with a bit of a twist and Zachary Allen Farmer gets away from his usual roles of sidekicks and wacky best friends to portray two doctors with insight into Diana’s problems. Showing both the angst of diagnosing such a sensitive problem and the often cavalier attitude in treatment, he get a meatier role but also gets to play up his comedic skills during Diana’s fantasies.

Although Joseph McAnulty’s character of the daughters’ boyfriend bothered me at first, he transitioned into a highly likable character with a better head on his shoulders than first appeared. The real find of the evening is Mary Beth Black as the daughter, Natalie. An actual high school student playing her age, she shows remarkable dexterity in handling this very tricky role. She, like the rest of the cast, also displays a powerful singing voice in handling one of the most difficult scores in musical theatre today. It’s powerful and driving with duets, quartets and more that weave in and out of the story and present as difficult a task as the characters themselves. One number near the open of the show blends classic, jazz and even a touch of “The Sound Of Music” as we first delve into these complex characters.

Joseph McAnulty and Mary Beth Black share an intimate moment in "Next To Normal." Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Joseph McAnulty and Mary Beth Black share an intimate moment in “Next To Normal.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The Scott L. Schoonover set is remarkable as well with hundreds of generic brown pill bottles set in a shadow box-like backdrop that also includes skewed furniture sideways and upside down and even a red door hanging off kilter high over this dysfunctional family home. The Sean M. Savoie lighting design enhances the story as well while Amy Kelly’s costumes are right on the money.

Director Scott Miller, assisted by Mike Dowdy, has brought the powerful story to dramatic life focusing on the intimacy of the venue. This would be an ordinary “Ozzie and Harriet” family if it weren’t for the initial trigger that probably brought on Diana’s depression- thus affecting everyone in the family and those hovering close by. It’s an unbelievable topic for a musical but the powerful script and driving rock score make it highly accessible and even entertaining in the most bizarre sense of the word.

Zachary Allen Farmer drills Kimi Short in New Line's production of "Next To Normal." Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Zachary Allen Farmer drills Kimi Short in New Line’s production of “Next To Normal.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Just as with the recent opening of “The Book Of Mormon” at the Fox and the disclaimer about offending some sensitive people, “Next To Normal” should come with a disclaimer about anyone suffering with bipolar themselves or dealing with it with a family member. They might want to think twice about seeing the show. It might be therapeutic but it could be upsetting as well.

The packed house on opening night, however, leapt to their feet after the final strains of “Light” to show their appreciation for a talented cast and crew and a most brave production. (Also witnessed a full house the next night at Dramatic License- things are looking up for local theatre.) Plan now to get to the Washington University South Campus Theatre before March 23rd to enjoy this dynamic production of “Next To Normal.” Contact New Line at http://www.newlinetheatre.com or call Metrotix at 314-534-1111.