Friday, February 12, 2016

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL • The New Jewish Theatre

A library book that’s 113 years overdue sets the action off in Glen Berger’s 2001, one-actor play in NJT’s latest production. Our protagonist, a Dutch Librarian, is determined to hunt down whomever checked out a Baedeker's travel guide in 1873. WAY overdue. A trail of clues propels her (often portrayed as a ‘him’) out of her strait-laced job and off on an existential quest.

Against Kyra Bishop’s spare set with a blackboard, slide projector and screen, and an old suitcase, our Librarian (Glynis Bell), a resolute lover of order who wears her date stamper around her neck like a piece of jewelry, begins a presentation that she’s called, “An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences.” Within the pages of this long overdue travel guide she finds in the overnight slot, the Librarian discovers a laundry ticket from 1913 that willfully leads her to London. Taking a leave from her job, she lingers and follows hints, girded with a gut-level belief that she may have stumbled across evidence of The Wandering Jew -- a mythical figure from medieval Christian folklore. It concerns a man doomed to roam the earth until the second coming -- punishment for his reproach of Jesus on the way to his crucifixion.

The Librarian (Glynis Bell).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey
The academic demeanor of our Librarian and the heavy underpinnings of the play can result in a little dragging at the start, but as the play opens up, so does Bell. The more we learn about her own life, the more Bell pulls you into the sidecar of her transformative journey, whether along the straight bits, or around unexpected curves and hills.

Only one more chance to see it. Settle in, check it out.


The Librarian (Glynis Bell).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey
UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL

Written by Glen Berger
Directed by Lana Pepper
Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio, 2 Millstone Campus Drive Creve Coeur
through February 13 | tickets: $39.50 - $43.50
Performances Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm & 7:30pm, Sunday the 31st at 2pm

Cast
The Librarian: Glynis Bell*
Musician: Will Soll

The Librarian (Glynis Bell).
Photo credit: Eric Woolsey
Creative
Stage Manager: Mary Jane Probst*
Scenic Designer and Artist: Kyra Bishop
Lighting Designer: Michael Sullivan
Costume Designer: Michele Friedman Siler
Properties Designer: Kyra Bishop
Master Electrician/Board Operator: Nathan Schroeder
Assistant Stage Manager/Wardrobe: Becky Fortner

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fourth Annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards Nominations

The nominations are out! Here's the full list of this year's fourth annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards nominees. The ceremony will be on Monday, March 21st at a new location -- the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School. The ceremony starts at 7pm, and the buffet begins at 5:30. If you're a fan of St. Louis theatre (and who isn’t, really?), consider picking up a ticket or two to the show! Tickets can be reserved here. If you can't make it, the ceremony will once again be televised on HEC-TV and streamed on the HEC web site.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy
Bad Jews, New Jewish Theatre
Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, R-S Theatrics
The 39 Steps, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Wild Oats, St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Betsy Bowman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis
Actors’ Studio
Shinnerie Jackson, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Erin Kelley, The Killing of Sister George, Max & Louie
Productions
Shannon Nara, The Killing of Sister George, Max & Louie
Productions
Jeanitta Perkins, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, St.
Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
John Bratkowski, The World Begun, Shakespeare Festival St.
Louis
Michael Brightman, Mr. Marmalade, West End Players Guild
Jeffrey C. Hawkins, Peter and the Starcatcher, Repertory
Theatre of St. Louis
Pete Winfrey, Bad Jews, New Jewish Theatre
John Wolbers, Wild Oats, St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Lavonne Byers, The Killing of Sister George, Max & Louie
Productions
Kari Ely, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis Actors’
Studio
Suzanne Grodner, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Linda Kennedy, The Gin Game, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Em Piro, Bad Jews, New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
John Feltch, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Peter Mayer, The Gin Game, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Antonio Rodriguez, Bad Jews, New Jewish Theatre
William Roth, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis Actors’
Studio
Jeremy Webb, Buyer and Cellar, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Director of a Comedy
John Contini, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis Actors’
Studio
Michael Evan Haney, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,
Repertory Theatre St. Louis
Sydnie Grosberg Ronga, Bad Jews, New Jewish Theatre
Jacqueline Thompson, The World Begun, Shakespeare
Festival St. Louis
Kirsten Wylder, The 39 Steps, Slightly Askew Theatre
Ensemble

Outstanding Production of a Comedy
The Gin Game, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
The Killing of Sister George, Max & Louie Productions
The 39 Steps, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Wild Oats, St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama
All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
One Flea Spare, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
The Winslow Boy, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Em Piro, Sight Unseen, New Jewish Theatre
Kelly Taffe, Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Jennifer Theby-Quinn, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, Metro
Theater Company
Cassia Thompson, Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Elizabeth Van Pelt, Rapture, Blister, Burn, West End Players
Guild

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Will Cobbs, Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
John Flack, Sublime Intimacy, Max & Louie Productions
Andrew Kuhlman, One Flea Spare, Slightly Askew Theatre
Ensemble
Michael James Reed, All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis
Chris Tipp, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage
Blockhead, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Shirine Babb, Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Festival St.
Louis
Emily Baker, Sight Unseen, New Jewish Theatre
Danielle Carlacci, I and You, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Amy Loui, The Amish Project, Mustard Seed Theatre
Lisa Tejero, The Kiss, Upstream Theatre

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
J. Samuel Davis, Bashir Lazhar, Upstream Theater
Brian Dykstra, All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Daniel Morgan Shelley, Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis
Jerry Vogel, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Upstream
Theater
Eric Dean White, The Kiss, Upstream Theater

Outstanding Director of a Drama
Deanna Jent, The Amish Project, Mustard Seed Theatre
Jane Page, I and You, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Ellie Schwetye, One Flea Spare, Slightly Askew Theatre
Ensemble
Patrick Siler, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Upstream
Theater
Steven Woolf, All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Production of a Drama
All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
I and You, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
One Flea Spare, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Upstream Theater
The Winslow Boy, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Play
Wilson Chin, Angel Street, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Scott C. Neale, Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Festival
St. Louis
Paul Shortt, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Peter and Margery Spack, Safe House, Repertory Theatre of St.
Louis
Mark Wilson, An Invitation Out, Mustard Seed Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design in a Play
Beth Ashby, An Invitation Out, Mustard Seed Theatre
Dorothy Marshall Englis, The Winslow Boy, Repertory Theatre
of St. Louis
JC Krajicek, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, St. Louis
Shakespeare
Cyndi Lohrmann, The Killing of Sister George, Max & Louie
Productions
David Toser, Angel Street, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play
Joseph Clapper, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Upstream
Theater
Patrick Huber, Sublime Intimacy, Max & Louie Productions
Bess Moynihan, One Flea Spare, Slightly Askew Theatre
Ensemble
Peter E. Sargent, Angel Street, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Nathan Schroeder, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, R-S
Theatrics

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Paige Brubeck and Evan Suit, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Upstream Theater
Fitz Patton, All the Way, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Greg Mackender and Rusty Wandall, Antony and Cleopatra,
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Rusty Wandall, Angel Street, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Rusty Wandall, I and You, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design in a Musical
Shoko Kambara, The Barber of Seville, Opera Theatre of Saint
Louis
Rob Lippert, Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre
Rob Lippert, Heathers, New Line Theatre
Rob Lippert, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
James Wolk, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Costume Design in a Musical
Eileen Engel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
Andrea Lauer, Into the Woods, The Muny
Brad Musgrove, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Sarah Porter, The Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre
Alejo Vietti, Holiday Inn, The Muny

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Musical
Christoper Akerlind, Emmeline, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Tyler Duenow, Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre
John Lasiter, Oklahoma!, The Muny
Sean M. Savoie, Once on This Island, The Black Rep
Sean M. Savoie, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Musical Director
Jeffrey Richard Carter, The Threepenny Opera, New Line
Theatre
Charles Creath, Once on This Island, The Black Rep
Michael Horsley, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Muny
George Manahan, Emmeline, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Chris Petersen, Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding Choreographer
Stephen Bourneuf, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The Muny
Dan Knechtges and Jessica Hartman, Hairspray, The Muny
Susan Stroman and Ginger Thatcher, Oklahoma!, The Muny
Keith Tyrone Williams, Once on This Island, The Black Rep

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical
Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre
Into the Woods, The Muny
Heathers, New Line Theatre
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
Eileen Engel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
Heather Headley, Into the Woods, The Muny
Sydney Mancasola, La rondine, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Sarah Porter, The Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre
Zoe Vonder Haar, The Full Monty, Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
Dan Fenaughty, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Joneal Joplin, The Fantasticks, Insight Theatre Company
Rob McClure, Beauty and the Beast, The Muny
Milton Craig Nealy, The Full Monty, Stages St. Louis
Sam Weber, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Muny

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Julie Cardia, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Shannon Cothran, Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre
Erin Dilly, Into the Woods, The Muny
Joyce El-Khoury, Emmeline, Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Anna Skidis, Heathers, New Line Theatre

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Andy Christopher, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Muny
Ben Davis, Oklahoma!, The Muny
Evan Fornachon, Heathers, New Line Theatre
Gerry Love, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
Jordan Shanahan, Rigoletto, Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Justin Been, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
Michael Hamilton, Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Scott Miller, The Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre
Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, Heathers, New Line Theatre
Rob Ruggiero, Oklahoma!, The Muny

Outstanding Production of a Musical
Anything Goes, Stages St. Louis
Dogfight, Stray Dog Theatre
Heathers, New Line Theatre
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Stray Dog Theatre
The Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre

Outstanding New Play
Nancy Bell, The World Begun, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Shualee Cook, An Invitation Out, Mustard Seed Theatre
Neil LaBute, Kandahar, St. Louis Actors’ Studio
Ken Page, Sublime Intimacy, Max & Louie Productions
Alec Wild, Off the Record, OnSite Theatre

Friday, January 15, 2016

THE LION IN WINTER • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

If you think the recent holidays were stressful for your family, trust me -- it’s nothing compared to the rancor going on in James Goldman’s 1966 dramatic comedy, “The Lion in Winter.” Historic tidbits inspired the playwright, a lover of history, to create this fictionalized account of King Henry II of England and his medieval Royal Family’s contentious battle for the throne.

It’s 1183, and the aging Henry (Jeffrey King) is holding the Royal Christmas Court at his Chinon Castle in France. Henry’s limp from a bad leg is overcome by the audacious but charming nature that King gives the character. Carol Schultz is, like Henry, aging, but sharp as a tack and sentimental as a vigilant Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry’s wife, who is allowed a discharge from her imprisonment (it’s the holidays) to partake in some spirited and savage sparring about which of their three sons should take the crown.

Philip Capet (Ryan Ward), Eleanor (Carol Schultz),
Geoffrey (Wilson Bridges), John (Kurt Hellerich)
and King Henry II (Jeffrey King) 
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
It only comes down to two really. Eleanor’s favorite son is Richard. Competent in battle, “the lionhearted” is played with smooth assurance by Grayson DeJesus. Their youngest son, John (Kurt Hellerich), spotty and pouty, is Henry’s favorite, and Hellerich lends the perfect pitch to this spoiled teenager with “privilege issues” you could barely imagine. Then there’s Geoffrey (Wilson Bridges), the brainy, “Jan Brady” of the siblings whom everyone seems to forget. Also on hand are the young French King Philip, (Ryan Ward), slightly detached from the happenings but engaging in his performance, and Alais (Angela Janas), who has deep ties with the family -- destined to marry Richard from a very young age, but now serving as Henry’s mistress.

Alais (Angela Janas) and King Henry II (Jeffrey King).
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
Director Edward Stern strikes an uneasy balance among his cast, and it seems like an uneasy vibe is what the playwright intended. Once the play gets going and the layout is set, callous jabs and treachery repeatedly come on the heels of declarations of adoration and loyalty, and you can’t help but feel like, as treacherous as this family is, there are real sentiments under all of the turbulence. You’re just not sure what’s real, and what’s a maneuvering ploy. Good stuff.

It’s playing at the Rep until the 31st.


Richard (Grayson DeJesus) and Eleanor (Carol Schultz).
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
THE LION IN WINTER

Written by James Goldman
Directed by Edward Stern
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
through January 31 | tickets: $21 - $79.50
Performances Tuesdays at 7pm, selected Wednesdays to Fridays at 8pm, selected Wednesdays at 1:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm, selected Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, selected Sundays at 7pm

Cast
King Henry II of England: Jeffrey King*
Alais Capet: Angela Janas*
John: Kurt Hellerich*
Geoffrey: Wilson Bridges*
Richard: Grayson DeJesus*
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Carol Schultz*
Philip Capet, King of France: Ryan Ward*

Creative
Scenic Designer: Joseph P. Tilford
Costume Designer: Mathew J. LeFebvre
Lighting Designer: Thomas Carl Hase
Sound Designer: Rusty Wandall
Stage Manager: Tony Dearing*
Assistant Stage Manager: Monica Dickhens*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

Monday, December 14, 2015

DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND • Stray Dog Theatre

You won’t find any elves or sugary confections in Stray Dog Theatre’s traditionally, non-traditional holiday show. What you will find is Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliott’s camp-tacular, 1950’s retro-styled close encounters caper featuring a tightly knit group of actors, sly creative contributions, and a welcomed getaway if you’re already sick of the commercial holiday season. One glance at that artwork over there to the left, and you’ll get what I mean.

It’s 1957, and there’s some weird stuff going on in Lizard Lick, Florida. Florence Wexler fills us in on all of the details at the start -- about how her husband disappeared after colorful lights appeared in the sky, and an unidentified flying object crashed into the shed. Florence is played splendidly by Michael Juncal, who's great in drag, and sports one of the most delicious Southern drawls I’ve ever heard. This incident has gotten the attention of some New York City newspaper slickers.
Matilda Van Buren (Sarajane Alverson),
Gregory Graham (Stephen Peirick)
and Lucinda Marsh (Michael Baird).
Photo credit: John Lamb
The “New York Bugle” editor, Gilbert Wiatt (Jonathan Hey), photographer Gregory Graham, an unsuccessfully recovering alcoholic, (Stephen Peirick), and his ex-wife, the fast-talking, underpaid, award winning reporter, Matilda Van Buren (Sarajane Alverson), have all heard this tale before, but after acquiring some physical evidence, they decide to head back to the sticks hoping for a big story to keep The Bugle’s subscriptions alive. Then we have Lucinda Marsh (wonderfully played by Michael Baird.) She’s a rival reporter who wrecked the marriage of Matilda and Gregory. While hoping to get a scoop on the story herself, she’s also hoping to worm her way back into the arms of Gregory. Matilda, Gregory and Lucinda spend their time in Lizard Lick at the motor-lodge that Dotty (Teryl Thurman) owns. She’s exceptionally lustful, and she and Florence seem to have had their husbands replaced with strapping substitutes, Harry Wexler (Ryan Wiechmann) and Sheriff Jack Primrose (Brandon Brendel.)

Matilda Van Buren (Sarajane Alverson),
Florence Wexler (Michael Juncal)
and Harry Wexler (Ryan Wiechmann).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Director Gary F. Bell plumbs all of the tomfoolery that is to be had in the play, and the actors seem to be having a great deal of fun. Hey as the hardened newspaper editor makes a great counter to his more emotional staff -- Peirick’s cowed Gregory, and Alverson’s steel spun reporter, Matilda. With melodramatic flourishes and style, Baird is fantastic as Lucinda Marsh, and Juncal gives an authentically trashy performance as Florence. Thurman adds a quiet hilarity to Dotty Primrose, as she hunches on Gregory at their first meeting, and Wiechmann and Brendel’s hunky Plutopians are well played.

Tyler Duenow’s lights give a nod to the alien aspects of the show, Justin Been’s sound, particularly the added embellishments to Drew Fornarola and John Fontien’s sound design, is spot-on, and Been’s scenic design gives us a perfect postcard backdrop. Eileen Engel’s costumes and Priscilla Case’s wig design round out the creative elements.

Matilda Van Buren (Sarajane Alverson),
Gilbert Wiatt (Jonathan Hey), Florence Wexler (Michael Juncal)
and Dotty Primrose (Teryl Thurman).
Photo credit: John Lamb

For a fun, riotous night at the theatre where 1950s sci-fi B-movie spoofs are the rule of the day, check out “Devil Boys from Beyond” at Tower Grove Abbey -- just leave the kids at home for this one.


DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND

Written by Buddy Thomas, Kenneth Elliott
Original Score and Sound Design by Drew Fornarola
Directed by Gary F. Bell 
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Ave.
through December 19 | tickets: $20 - $25
Performances Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm, Saturday, December 19 at 2pm

Cast
Florence Wexler: Michael Juncal
Gilbert Wiatt: Jonathan Hey
Gregory Graham: Stephen Peirick
Matilda Van Buren: Sarajane Alverson
Lucinda Marsh: Michael Baird
Dotty Primrose: Teryl Thurman
Harry Wexler: Ryan Wiechmann
Sheriff Jack Primrose: Brandon Brendel

Creative
Artistic Director: Gary F. Bell
Costume Designer: Eileen Engel
Lighting Designer: Tyler Duenow
Production Manager: Jay V. Hall
Property Designer: Jay V. Hall
Scenic Artist: Gary Karasek
Scenic Carpentry: Richard Brown, Doug Burge, Kathleen Dwyer, Corey Fraine, Melanie Kozak, Paul Troyke, Kate Wilkerson
Scenic Designer: Justin Been
Sound and Light Board Operator: Justin Been
Sound Designer and Original Song: Drew Fornarola
Sound Designer: John Fontien
Sound Design Additions: Justin Been
Stage Manager: Justin Been
Wardrobe Assistant: Jay V. Hall
Wig Stylist: Priscilla Case

Sunday, December 6, 2015

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER • R-S Theatrics

Playwright Rajiv Joseph’s 2008 drama places a delicate art at its center. Origami, with its precise execution of intricate folds, makes a fitting prism to look through at three people, suffering through fragile times, who hold the art dear -- whether through hard work or natural ability, and as a method of creativity, or escape.

When Ilana (Teresa Doggett) hesitantly opens the door to let in Andy (Andrew Kuhlman), he’s soaking wet from the pouring rain outside, and a little starstruck and giddy, meeting a fellow origami artist -- and Ilana is one of the best. But because of her two month old divorce and her beloved dog running off, she’s in no mood for company, and hasn’t felt any passion for folding paper in awhile, though her studio where she now lives is cluttered with all kinds of paper -- origami paper, newspapers, and Chinese takeout boxes. Andy, a high school calculus teacher, is there on official business as the treasurer for the American Origami organization. He’s the kind of guy who literally counts his blessings, writing them down in a little notebook with listings that now number up to the thousands. Ilana’s in there more than a couple of times, which she discovers when Andy leaves his book behind and Ilana takes it up as her latest reading material.

Ilana (Teresa Doggett) and Andy (Andrew Kuhlman).
Photo credit: Michael Young
Andy, though he’s embarrassed and now in a position where his origami crush knows just about everything about him, urges her to advise a student of his, Suresh (Ethan Isaac), a brilliant and promising student of origami, but also a posturing, brawling teenager with his own troubles -- hinted at through bits of cell phone conversations with his father, recently widowed, assuring him that he’ll home soon. The timid sparks that develop between Ilana and Andy shift when she invites Suresh to an origami convention in Nagasaki instead of Andy, and the under-the-surface volatility between the three come out in funny and shatterable ways.

Ilana (Teresa Doggett) and Suresh (Ethan Isaac).
Photo credit: Michael Young
Todd Schaefer’s keen direction of the dynamics onstage makes the most of each setting, only slightly undermined by a couple of lengthy scene changes. Doggett as Ilana, leery and bare at the start, makes you want to cheer her on as she slowly makes her way to pursuing her passion again, with a couple of potential love interests. Kuhlman’s awkward but lovable Andy is sweetly innocent in the face of heartbreak, and Isaac, though initially covered in a veneer of teenage bravado and isolation with his iPod never far, eventually makes a rewarding turn.

In R-S Theatrics’ season closer, the story, like origami, is seemingly simple, but shrewdly complex. Only one more chance to check it out at The Chapel.


ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER

Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Todd Schaefer
The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive
through December 6 | tickets: $18 - $20
Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Cast
Ilana: Teresa Doggett
Andy: Andrew Kuhlman
Suresh: Ethan Isaac

Creative
Stage Manager: Sean Michael
Assistant Stage Manager: Sophia Gotto
Assistant Stage Manager: Nick Raghebi
Scenic Designer: Keller Ryan
Lighting Designer: Nathan Schroeder
Costume Designer: Ruth Schmalenberger
Sound Designer: Mark Kelley
Properties Master: Heather Tucker
Production Manager: Christina Rios
Artistic Director: Christina Rios
Managing Director: Heather Tucker
Associate Managing Director: Elizabeth Van Pelt

Monday, November 9, 2015

THE 39 STEPS • Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Patrick Barlow’s 2005 spy spoof was adapted from a couple of sources -- John Buchan’s 1915 adventure novel, and its later incarnation as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller flick, and SATE is currently tearing it up with nimble direction by Kirsten Wylder and a sharp, equally nimble cast of four, who cover dozens and dozens of roles during the course of this delightfully wild ride.

When our hero, Richard Hannay (Pete Winfrey), dapper with his pencil-thin mustache, relieves his boredom with a night at the theatre, he runs into Annabella Schmidt (Rachel Tibbetts), an alluring German spy in black, who talks him into sheltering her for the night, as she’s on the run.
Kristen Storm, Pete Winfrey, Rachel Tibbetts,
Carl Overly, Jr., Ellie Schwetye and Erin Renée Roberts.
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
This leads Hannay into a whirlwind of mistaken identity, espionage, and top-shelf farce.

Winfrey handles his role as the debonair Hannay with just the right touch of poker-faced charm, and Tibbetts plays the leading ladies he runs across convincingly with comic style. Carl Overly, Jr. and Ellie Schwetye, credited as “Clown 1” and “Clown 2,” play everyone else, from a pair of innkeepers, (where Schwetye is especially hilarious), spies, cops, vaudeville performers, and then some. Overly is priceless as a vaudeville mind-reader and a Scottish matriarch, and Schwetye even makes a brief appearance as a crop duster that pursues Hannay, à la Hitchcock’s "North By North-West.” These two are particularly dexterous with crazy fast changes in character, costumes and dialect, and they all turn in tireless performances with some great physical comedy.

Pete Winfrey, Carl Overly, Jr.
and Ellie Schwetye.
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Keeping a high pace is essential for this kind of play to work, and Wylder keeps the shenanigans at an ideal clip, and the cast makes the action easy to follow and understand. Scott De Broux’s scenic design makes the most of the small space of the Chapel, and Schwetye fills in the blanks, considerably adding to the action with terrific sound design. Lighting designer Erik Kuhn highlights the different areas of the stage well, and Elizabeth Henning provides a huge lineup of tone-perfect costumes.

This production, playing until the 14th, is loads of fun with strong work from the cast and crew. Check it out!


(front); Carl Overly, Jr., Ellie Schwetye
(back); Pete Winfrey and Rachel Tibbetts.
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
THE 39 STEPS

Written by Patrick Barlow, adapted from the novel by John Buchan and the film by Alfred Hitchcock
Directed by Kirsten Wylder 
through November 14 | tickets: $15 - $20
Performances Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8pm

Cast
Richard Hannay: Pete Winfrey
Annabella Schmidt/Margaret/Pamela: Rachel Tibbetts
Clown 1: Carl Overly, Jr.
Clown 2: Ellie Schwetye

Pete Winfrey, Rachel Tibbetts,
Carl Overly, Jr. and Ellie Schwetye.
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Creative
Assistant Director: Scott De Broux
Stage Manager: Kristin Rion
Scenic Designer: Scott De Broux
Lighting Designer: Erik Kuhn
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Henning
Sound Designer: Ellie Schwetye
Props: Rachel Tibbetts
Assistant Stage Manager: Erin Renée Roberts
Assistant Stage Manager: Kristen Storm
Dialect Coach: Pamela Reckamp
Sound Board Operator: Katy Keating
Graphic Designer: Dottie Quick
Photography: Joey Rumpell

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I AND YOU • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Studio Theatre)

“I and this mystery here we stand.” This is the first thing Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella) says to Caroline (Danielle Carlacci) in the Rep’s Studio Series opener, written by Lauren Gunderson. It’s a line from Walt Whitman’s poem, "Song of Myself,” and Anthony has unexpectedly come up to Caroline’s bedroom to work together on an English Lit. project about Whitman’s collection of poems, “Leaves of Grass” -- much to her surprise.

Caroline wasn’t expecting company, and as she brandishes a pair of scissors, demanding an explanation for his presence, Anthony tries to clarify why he’s there. He’s picked her to be a partner for the project, so he shows up, with the project’s deadline looming, carrying a pathetic poster he needs her help with. Anthony’s smart, athletic, full of calm charm and a lover of poetry and jazz, but Caroline is defensive and angsty, but she’s got good reason to be.
 Caroline (Danielle Carlacci) and Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella).
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
She hasn’t been to school in months due to a serious liver illness, and though she’s been sick all her life, things have lately taken a turn, and she spends a great deal of the play in ferocious defense of her wanting to be left alone in her lived-in chapel of solitude -- a cluttered teenager’s bedroom. When Caroline needs anything, instead of yelling for her mom, she just sends a text. Kids, right? 

After being taken by Anthony's genuine passion for Whitman, Caroline eventually warms to the ideas in the poetry, so she takes out her trusty craft box, and goes to work on putting a little glitter into Anthony’s pitiful efforts.

 Caroline (Danielle Carlacci) and Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella).
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The mystery that brought these two together, finally revealed in the last few minutes, is mind-blowing, so naturally I can’t say anything about that. But their discussions of Whitman’s poetry and its explorations of life and death give weight to Caroline’s battle with a body she has no control over, and serves to draw her closer to Anthony, who’s curious about this classmate whom he, nor anyone else at school, ever sees. They’re both what the other needs. Though the ending comes down like an anvil, threatening to overpower most of everything that has come before, it will definitely spark some after-thought, and plenty of conversation.

Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella) and Caroline (Danielle Carlacci).
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
Director Jane Page undeniably understands the dynamic of teenagers, and the connection comes in the gratifying, gentler, quieter moments between the two. Eric Barker’s scenic design hits the mark as a teen girl’s bedroom, covered with photos, complemented by all of the essential tech toys. Carlacci’s Caroline stands about a foot shorter than Piniella -- a happy coincidence that hints at her illness. She’s all bark from the start -- loud and combative, and seeing her finally give in is satisfying, while seeing her illness take its toll in a frightening physical breakdown is painful. Piniella’s appealing lankiness wins you over gradually, as he tries to push Caroline towards optimism, getting her to open up about herself despite her tendency to push everyone away.

For some thoughtful theater and equally thoughtful performances, check it out at the Rep Studio. It’s playing until the 15th.


Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella) and Caroline (Danielle Carlacci).
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
I AND YOU

Written by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jane Page
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
through November 15 | tickets: $50 - $65
Performances Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm, selected Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm and 7pm

Cast
Caroline: Danielle Carlacci*
Anthony: Reynaldo Piniella*

Creative
Scenic Designer: Eric Barker
Costume Designer: Marci Franklin
Lighting Designer: John Wylie
Sound Designer: Rusty Wandall
Casting Directors: Ric Cole and Bob Cline
Stage Manager: Shannon B. Sturgis*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...