Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Sixth Annual Kevin Kline Awards • Loretto-Hilton Center

Woo-hoo, the Kevin Kline Awards!  Or if you'd like, think of them as the Tonys -- St. Louis Edition.  They were held yesterday at the Loretto-Hilton Center, and guess who got to go?  Me!  Actually, they were kind enough to ask that I present an award along with the lovely Greg Johnston (who had the wherewithal and good taste to request that Parliament Funkadelic's "Flashlight" be the last song of the night at the after-party).  I was very honored to be included in the festivities.  I got to hang out with and meet some wonderful people and had a fabulous time.  I also had to fight the urge to gawk and point.
Okay, I'll get to the winners in a minute…
As some of you well know, I love me some theatre people, so I was like a kid in a fancy black-tie and sequined candy store.  I must have approached 5 or 6 people to exclaim, "Oh my God I loved you in so and so".  "Oh my God you were so good!"  I stopped just short of seeing if Ka’ramuu Kush wanted to make out.  He's so handsome…  Along with a few others, but I'll leave that alone, shall I?  Yep.  I was that guy.  Do I care?  No, not really.  I mean hell, I got to take a picture with Kari Ely!!  She's the bomb.  I might frame it.

Here are the winners from this year's Kevin Kline Awards.  The winners are in red.  There was a tie among them, and even a three-way!  Congrats to all!


Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Production for Young Audiences
"Delilah's Wish," Metro Theater Company
"A Peter Rabbit Tale," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company
"Amelia Earhart," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company
"The Aristocats," Stages St. Louis
"The Nutcracker," The Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company

Outstanding New Play or Musical
Jami Brandli, "The Sinker," HotCity Theatre
Lee Patton Chiles, "Eye on the Sparrow — The World Within St. Louis," Gitana Productions
David Slavitt, translator, from Sophocles, "Oedipus King," Upstream Theater
Sandra Marie Vago, "Treading Backwards Thru Quicksand Without Wearing Your Water Wings," Black Cat Theatre

Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Costume Design
JC Krajicek, "Tartuffe," Mustard Seed Theatre
Dorothy Marshall Englis, "Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
John Inchiostro, "The Aristocats," Stages St. Louis
JC Krajicek, "Crumbs from the Table of Joy," Mustard Seed Theatre
Jess Goldstein, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Lighting Design
Brian Sidney Bembridge, "Crime and Punishment," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Matthew McCarthy, "Big River," Stages St. Louis
Matthew McCarthy, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
John Lasiter, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Set Design
Gianni Downs, "Crime and Punishment," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Christopher M. Waller, "It Had To Be You," Max and Louie Productions
Mark Halpin, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
Michael Heil, "Oedipus King," Upstream Theater
David Gallo, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Sound Design
Mic Pool, "The 39 Steps," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Josh Limpert, "Outlying Islands," Upstream Theatre
Ann Slayton and Robin Weatherall, "Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Matthew Koch, "Slasher," HotCity Theatre

Outstanding Ensemble in a Play
"The 39 Steps," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
"Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
"Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
"High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
"The Chosen," Mustard Seed Theatre

Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
Kari Ely, "Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them," HotCity Theatre
Kimiye Corwin, "Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Colleen Backer, "Our Town," Stray Dog Theatre
Patrese McClain, "Crumbs from the Table of Joy," Mustard Seed Theatre
Kelley Ryan, "Equus," HotCity Theatre
Betsy Bowman, "The Tempest," St. Louis Shakespeare
Susan Greenhill, "Next Fall," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
Jerry Vogel, "Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
Bobby Miller, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," New Jewish Theatre
Evan Jonigkeit, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Richard Lewis, "The Chosen," Mustard Seed Theatre
Aaron Orion Baker, "Long Day's Journey Into Night," Muddy Waters Theatre

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Michelle Hand, "Fires in the Mirror," Mustard Seed Theatre
Magan Wiles, "My Name Is Rachel Corrie," Blue Rose Stage Collective
Kathleen Turner, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Kari Ely, "Long Day's Journey Into Night," Muddy Waters Theatre

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Jason Cannon, "Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
Scott McMasters, "Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
Jim Butz, "Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Drew Pannebacker, "Equus," HotCity Theatre
Alan Knoll, "This Wonderful Life," Dramatic License Productions

Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Director of a Play
Philip Boehm, "Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
Bruce Longworth, "Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Doug Finlayson, "Equus," HotCity Theatre
Philip Boehm, "Oedipus King," Upstream Theater
Rob Ruggiero, "High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Deanna Jent, "The Chosen," Mustard Seed Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Play
"Outlying Islands," Upstream Theater
"Hamlet," Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
"High," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
"The Chosen," Mustard Seed Theatre

Outstanding Choreography
Lazette Rayford-O'Brien, "Five Guys Named Moe," the Black Rep
Heather Beal, "The Me Nobody Knows," the Black Rep
Mary MacLeod, "Damn Yankees," the Muny
Suzanne Viverito, "Cats," the Muny

Outstanding Musical Direction
Charles Creath, "Five Guys Named Moe," the Black Rep
Sallie duMaine, "Pump Boys and Dinettes," Bear Stage
Michael Horsley, "Damn Yankees," the Muny
Lisa Campbell Albert, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
Ben Whiteley, "The Sound of Music," the Muny
Catherine Majetka, "Show Boat," the Muny
Henry Palkes, "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas," New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical
"Five Guys Named Moe," the Black Rep
"The Wild Party," New Line Theatre
"Damn Yankees," the Muny
"Cats," the Muny
"The Aristocats," Stages St. Louis
"Show Boat," the Muny
"State Fair," Stages St. Louis
"The Last of the Red Hot Mamas," New Jewish Theatre

Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
Sharisa Whatley, "The Me Nobody Knows," the Black Rep
Brandi Wooten, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
Jo Ann Hawkins-White, "Show Boat," the Muny
Johanna Elkana-Hale, "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas," New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
Joneal Joplin, "The Fantasticks," Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Lara Teeter, "Beauty and the Beast," the Muny
Kevin Loreque, "Cats," the Muny
Michel Bell, "Show Boat," the Muny

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Vanessa Rubin, "Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday," the Black Rep
Stephanie J. Block, "Cats," the Muny
Ashley Brown, "The Sound of Music," the Muny
Leah Horowitz, "Show Boat," the Muny
Hollie Howard, "State Fair," Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Ben Nordstrom, "Gutenberg! The Musical!," Temporary Theatre
John Sparger, "Pump Boys and Dinettes," Bear Stage
Jeffrey Pruett, "The Wild Party," New Line Theatre
Eric Kunze, "Damn Yankees," the Muny
Ben Nordstrom, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Ron Himes, "Five Guys Named Moe," the Black Rep
Paul Blake, "Damn Yankees," the Muny
Michael Hamilton, "Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
Marc Bruni, "The Sound of Music," the Muny
Edward Coffield, "Man of La Mancha," Insight Theatre Company

Photo credit: Nicole Hollway for the St. Louis Beacon
Outstanding Production of a Musical
"Five Guys Named Moe," the Black Rep
"Big River," Stages St. Louis
"Damn Yankees," the Muny
"Promises, Promises," Stages St. Louis
"The Sound of Music," the Muny
"Show Boat," the Muny
"State Fair," Stages St. Louis

More information about the Klines, and St. Louis theatre in general, can be found here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Studio Theatre)

It's the end of the Gilded Age, a time when sex for women is something that's not enjoyed, merely tolerated, and women are suffering from "hysteria" all over the place.  Dr. Givings has harnessed the newfangled power of electricity with a new treatment.  Enter the prototype electronic vibrator -- a device that the doctor has found very successful in treating his patients when applied to their nether regions, producing "paroxysms" in women, and the occasional male patient.  This method of treatment used by physicians during the late 19th century is historically documented, and serves as the basis for Sarah Ruhl's 2009 Tony nominated play.  Although the situations presented provide plenty of hilarity, it's the exploration of the emotional underpinnings of the subject matter that give this play its heart.

Dr. Givings' newest patient, Mrs. Daldry, is suffering from a sensitivity to light, mood swings, and a general nervousness that is causing her and her husband concern.  After a session with this rather scary looking implement, the color returns to Mrs. Daldry's cheeks, and she readily agrees to the suggestion that perhaps another treatment soon would be in order.  Tomorrow perhaps?  Dr. Givings conducts his treatments making small talk with clinical straightforwardness, and you get the feeling he's not really sure how his device works, only that it does.  If the paroxysm isn't achieved in about 3 minutes with his electronic device, he occasionally has to call on his nurse Annie for the uh… manual stimulation of his patients -- a particularly great scene.

Emily Dorsch (Sabrina Daldry),
Amy Landon (Annie)
and Ron Bohmer (Dr. Givings).
© Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr. 

Hearing all of the sounds coming from her husband's operating theater, Catherine is beside herself with curiosity with what exactly goes on "in the next room", and with the help of Mrs. Daldry's hatpin one night when her husband is at the club (presumably a place where 19th century men go to talk about how they can't sexually please their wives), they break in to his surgical parlor, plug in, and discover the pleasures of his miraculous device with each other. 

Lack of intimacy with her husband isn't Catherine Givings' only issue though.  She and her husband have a newborn, but her milk isn't quite sufficient enough to properly feed her baby, so they hire Elizabeth, an African-American wet nurse who has just lost her own baby to provide for Catherine's child.  Along the way, Leo, a male artist who has just had a devastating break up, is displaying similar symptoms as the doctor's female patients -- becoming overtaken with a general melancholy and losing his desire to paint.  Lo and behold, he also finds much relief in Dr. Givings treatment -- for male patients, it's a long device called the "Chattanooga".

Emily Dorsch (Sabrina Daldry)
and Annie Purcell (Catherine Givings).
© Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
The Rep's Studio production, under Stuart Carden's wonderful direction, is gorgeous with lush Victorian costumes, as well as those fussy undergarments (Dorothy Marshall Englis), a beautiful set (Gianni Downs), and provocative lighting (Mark P. Wilson).  The sound design by Mikhail Fiksel is also very effective -- if you can imagine…  The performances were strong across the board including Annie Purcell's adorable, luminous and very funny Catherine Givings, Emily Dorsch's restrained Sabrina Daldry, James Reed as her clueless husband Mr. Daldry, Amy Landon as the doctor's deadpan yet sympathetic nurse Annie, David Christopher Wells as Leo the impulsive and passionate artist, Krystel Lucas as Elizabeth, the nurse who probably can't believe these white folks can't quite manage their lives in the bedroom, and of course Ron Bohmer's Dr. Givings, who eventually comes (no-pun intended) to appreciate the fact that you don't need an electronic instrument to produce… paroxysms with your wife.

Annie Purcell (Catherine Givings),
Emily Dorsch (Sabrina Daldry)
and Ron Bohmer (Dr. Givings).
© Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
I really loved this play, and it wasn't just the corsets either.  To tell the truth, it would be easy to sell this as an over-extended joke or emphasize the homoerotic overtones, but that would be missing the point.  Sex without love, vice-versa, the longing for connection as well as motherhood and self expression are themes that are universal and timeless, and this play manages to explore these themes with humor and heart.  You also may want a cigarette after.

Seriously, go see it.  I would make a comment about how stimulating this play is, but that would be too easy...


David Christopher Wells (Leo Irving),
Ron Bohmer (Dr. Givings)
and Amy Landon (Annie).
© Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY

Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Stuart Carden 
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
through March 27 | tickets: $44 - $56
Performances Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm, selected Saturdays at 9pm, Sundays at 2pm, selected Sundays at 7pm

Cast:
Ron Bohmer (Dr. Givings), Emily Dorsch (Sabrina Daldry), Amy Landon (Annie), Krystel Lucas (Elizabeth), Annie Purcell (Catherine Givings), Michael James Reed (Mr. Daldry) and David Christopher Wells (Leo Irving).

Creative:
Set design by Gianni Downs; costume design by Dorothy Marshall Englis;  lighting design by Mark P. Wilson; sound designer/composer, Mikhail Fiksel; stage manager, Champe Leary.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

DRIVING MISS DAISY • Dramatic License Productions

Dramatic License Productions' 2011 season opener is a charming presentation of DRIVING MISS DAISY.  The revival of this play has been enjoying a run in NYC at the John Golden Theatre since October 2010, starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, but will close in April.  Now is a great opportunity to see St. Louis' production that will close sooner than that, but luckily, it's easier to get to Chesterfield than it is to get to NYC.

So, it's become obvious that it's just not safe for Daisy Werthan to drive herself anymore.  Her son Boolie has broken the news to her that whether she likes it or not, she's getting a driver, and Hoke Coleburn is the man for the job.  Both Daisy, a Jewish widow, and Hoke, a folksy black Southerner, are strong, proud personalities.  Daisy is convinced her accident was the car's fault, that LaSalles are better than Packards, and consistently denies claims that she's rich, often referring to her rough days coming up on Forsyth Street.  Hoke is an easy talker who appreciates Jews, and doesn't mind telling you of their virtuous thrift.

Sally Eaton (Miss Daisy) and Dennis Lebby (Hoke)
Photos courtesy of Dramatic License Productions.
Although it takes about a week for Miss Daisy to break down and finally allow Hoke to drive her anywhere, once she relents and they're on their way to the Piggly Wiggly, their relationship slowly starts to take shape.  The unlikely friendship between these two evolves from the late 1940's until the early 70's.  Racial tensions and anti-Semitism frame their commonalities.  Through a series of vignettes, their entertaining and cantankerous back-and-forth exchanges eventually give way to a quiet appreciation and understanding that bring them closer together.  

Dennis Lebby will win you over immediately as Hoke, and Sally Eaton makes for an engaging Miss Daisy.  These two are quite funny together, and watching their unfolding friendship is a real treat.  Also great work by B. Weller as the dutiful son, Boolie.  The costumes, sound and lighting (Jane Sullivan, Joseph T. Pini and Ian Stoutenburgh respectively) keep you in the mood of the play, and the set by Courtney Sanazaro-Sloey is efficient and homey.  Never fear city folk - it's worth the drive, and clocking in at around 85 minutes, you'll be back home in time to catch the 10 o'clock news!


DRIVING MISS DAISY

Written by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Annamaria Pileggi
Dramatic License Theatre, Chesterfield Mall (upper level entrance, next to Houlihans)
through March 27 | tickets: $22.00 - $25.00
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm

Cast:
Sally Eaton (Daisy Werthan), B. Weller (Boolie Werthen) and Dennis Lebby* (Hoke Coleburn).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Creative:
Scenic design by Courtney Sanazaro-Sloey; lighting design by Ian Stoutenburgh; costume design by Jane Sullivan; sound design by Joseph T. Pini.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA • New Line Theatre

This Tony Award winning musical that debuted in 1971 was based on Shakespeare's comedy of the same name -- presumed by many to be his first play.  Not really the Bard's best work, but when adapted into a musical set in the 1970's, this crazy story of love, friendship, betrayal and the fickle nature of humans is brought new life.

We've got Valentine (a soulful voiced Eeyan Richardson) who is about to embark on a journey from the town of Verona to exciting Milan.  He tries to convince his best buddy Proteus (the always uproarious Zachary Allen Farmer) to come along, but Proteus is too in love with Julia (Jeanitta Perkins) to bring himself to leave.  Julia scorns Proteus.  She's "…Not interested in Love" (I find love alarming/I'm happier farming…) until she's "metamorphosed" by love's influence, and she soon falls for him.  Proteus is ordered by his father to go to Milan as well to broaden his horizons, and after he and Julia exchange rings and have a fond, bittersweet farewell, Proteus leaves, heartbroken.  Julia finds out later that that "fond farewell" has resulted in her being knocked up, (an addition to Shakespeare's original story) so she and her friend Lucetta (Terrie Carolan) decide to travel to Milan to tell Proteus in person, but dress as men (becoming the two gentlemen of Verona) to ensure a safe journey.

Zachary Allen Farmer (Proteus),
and Eeyan Richardson (Valentine)
in New Line Theatre's
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Meanwhile in Milan, Valentine has fallen in love with Silvia (a charming Taylor Pietz), the Duke's daughter, and tries to hatch a plan to break up her engagement to Thurio (a very funny Aaron Allen), the wealthy but less than completely manly groom-to-be.  Upon Proteus' arrival in Milan, he too falls in love with Silvia and becomes determined to secure Silvia for himself, betraying Valentine's friendship and his love back home.  Bastard…  When Julia and Lucetta arrive (disguised as fellas), they become employed by Proteus and learn of his plan, and are disgusted.  When asked where they're from they tell Proteus they're from "The Land of Betrayal", but Proteus doesn't recognize his old flame.  Julia's identity is eventually revealed, and well, suffice it to say all's well that ends well.  I mean, I can't give it all away!  It's quite a romp though, and each new development is more entertaining than the last.

Taylor Pietz (Silvia), Eeyan Richardson
(Valentine), Zachary Allen Farmer (Proteus),
and Jeanitta Perkins (Julia)
in New Line Theatre's
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Zachary Allen Farmer, Eeyan Richardson, Taylor Pietz and Tom Conway all give great performances, along with Joel Hackbarth, Mike Dowdy and Aaron Allen.  Jeanitta Perkins' Julia is particularly spot on and her expressions are hilarious as well as those of her travel partner, Terrie Carolan's Lucetta.  The familiar New Line crew, under Scott Miller's direction, never disappoints, and the ensemble members are always completely engaged and energetic.  The show is dotted with some really entertaining numbers including "What Does a Lover Pack?", "Two Gentlemen of Verona", "Night Letter" and a wacky "Thurio's Samba".  I was struck with how familiar the songs sounded and then I remembered, oh yeah, Galt MacDermot did the music for this.  He also composed the music for HAIR, and the music for TWO GENTS is very reminiscent of that (with a little Spanish spice thrown in) -- engaging, groovy, and the New Line Band was tight and handled it well.  The choreography by Robin Michelle Berger was fun to watch, and the set by Todd Schaefer provided multiple levels for the cast to play around in.  Lighting design by Christopher Waller and costumes by Thom Crain kept it light, funky, and doused with a good-time 70's vibe.  After a while, you forget that it's Shakespeare.  And I mean that in a good way.


The cast of New Line Theatre's TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Book by John Guare and Mel Shapiro, based on the play by William Shakespeare
Lyrics by John Guare
Music by Galt MacDermot
Directed by Scott Miller
Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road
through March 26 | tickets: $10 - $20
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm

Cast:
Zachary Allen Farmer (Proteus), Eeyan Richardson (Valentine), Jeanitta Perkins (Julia), Taylor Pietz (Silvia), Joel Hackbarth (Launce), Mike Dowdy (Speed), Terrie Carolan (Lucetta), Tom Conway (The Duke of Milan), Aaron Allen (Thurio/Antonio), Michael Jones (Eglamour), Kimi Short (Milkmaid), Mara Bollini, Rahamses Galvan, Emily Ivy and Michelle Sauer.

Creative:
Choreography by Robin Michelle Berger; scenic design by Todd Schaefer; costume design by Thom Crain; lighting design by Christopher Waller.

The New Line Band:
Piano/conductor, Justin Smolik; guitar, D. Mike Bauer; bass, Dave Hall; percussion, Clancy Newell; trumpet, Cliff Phillips; reeds, March Strathman; trumpet/guitar, Patrick Swan.

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...