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Friday, July 31, 2015

THIS IS NOT FUNNY • Theatre Nuevo

Anna Skidis, founder of Theatre Nuevo, is known for her lauded performances in locally produced musicals including Stray Dog’s “Spring Awakening”, “The Who’s Tommy” and New Line’s “Rent” and “Hands on a Hardbody.” Her new company staged its inaugural production of “This Is Not Funny” this past week, and this devised piece is one of the most experimental plays you’re likely to see around town -- ensemble created, improvisational in tone, and originally inspired by a photograph, placing the onus squarely on the audience to engage their imaginations to discover their own interpretations.

The player created piece intertwines three stories. Beth Van Pelt stands alone by a microphone as our Poet who reads her angst-ridden works from the stage, while Sarah McKenney and Sara Sapp are two young friends at play. Steven Castelli is the clown, the silent overseer of the action, who interacts with the girls and sometimes the audience (he took my sock!) from the floor of the playing space. He periodically wheels out a box that he opens to reveal two vain newscasters portrayed by Sarah Porter and Reginald Pierre, who report increasingly grim news stories for channel 31.

Monday, July 27, 2015

THE RUNAWAY CUPCAKE: A PLAY ABOUT EATING FOR FAMILIES WHO EAT • OnSite Theatre Company

OnSite Theatre, the city’s only site-specific theatre company, produced its first ever family-friendly production earlier this month -- a fanciful folk tale written by local playwright and actor Nancy Bell, and in typical OnSite fashion, “The Runaway Cupcake” was presented at SweetArt in the Tower Grove area of the city.

After the introduction of our baker (Patrick Blindauer) and his assistant (Kenyata Tatum), we learn that his shop is in debt to a bill collector who comes to get what he is owed along with a leather-clad “terrifying assistant” (Maria Mohr) -- complete with boots, shades and a pink baseball bat. While the baker tries to buy himself a little more time with the collector, a mother (Michelle Hand) and her spoiled daughter (Ivy Bell Reed) come in to order a huge batch of cupcakes for a birthday party. The baker figures (with the help of some math skills from the audience), that the order would cover his debt. But with a toss of a little flour, one of the cupcakes magically comes to life (Hannah Donaldson), running in and out of the store, wreaking a gleeful havoc.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE • Max & Louie Productions

Max & Louie kicks off its fifth season with Frank Marcus’s, “The Killing of Sister George,” a 1965 dark comedy with June Buckridge (Lavonne Byers), at its center. She’s a radio actor with an uncertain future with the BBC and a home life with a lover of seven years whom she’s increasingly afraid of losing.

The “Sister George” of the title is the character June plays on a radio soap -- a sweet and kindly district nurse who zips around on her motorbike, doling out medicines and rustic wisdom to the residents of the fictional town of Applehurst with a happy hymn on her lips. Sister George is a popular character on the show, and so high is June’s association with her radio persona that her friends call her “George.” Off the air though, June smokes cigars, knocks back gin, and shares her West End flat with her lover, Alice “Childie” McNaught (Shannon Nara), in a relationship that bounces from moments of kindness, to bath-water drinking sadomasochism.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL I • St. Louis Actors' Studio

St. Louis Actors' Studio is back with its third annual LaBute New Theater Festival, named after Tony-nominated playwright and screenwriter Neil LaBute. Nine one-act plays were selected from 250 submissions with LaBute not only lending his name to the festival, but participating in the selection panel, providing a great opportunity for aspiring playwrights from all over the globe. The first group of finalists will be performed from July 10th through the 19th, and the second group will be performed from the 24th through August 2nd, and LaBute’s world premiere, “Kandahar”, written specifically for the event, will run every night of the festival. There are also five high school finalists whose work will be presented as a free staged reading on July 25 at 11am. You can find the details on these plays at the end of the blog.

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