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Story: The Julius Slowacki Theatrical Society, a troupe that has performed mostly comedies for the St. Louis Polish community since 1909 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Polish National Catholic Church, is getting ready to present its version of a 19th century masterpiece by acclaimed Polish playwright Aleksander Fredro.

The play is called Zemsta (Revenge) and is presented in the style of Fredro\u2019s octosyllabic verse. It\u2019s 1933 and the Great Depression is well under way as well as insidious international developments in Germany, where Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party have taken power.

With the play about to begin, the Slowacki Players are one member short of the required actors. They hear a laborer singing nearby and encourage him to join them. He\u2019s black, not Polish, but they all are united with an amiable spirit to perform Zemsta for their audience.

Zemsta tells the story of two men who have feuded for more than 30 years over a castle of which each owns one half. Klara, the niece and ward of Czesnik, is in love with Waclaw Milczek, son of the notary Milczek, Czesnik\u2019s arch-enemy and owner of the other half of said castle.

Czesnik employs the outrageous braggart Papkin to make life miserable for Milczek, but Papkin generally only makes a mess of everything. When the lusty widow Hanna learns about Czesnik\u2019s fortune, she attempts to seduce him into marrriage. At the same time, Milczek devises a scheme for Hanna, the erstwhile lover of Waclaw, to marry his son in order to claim her own estate.

Everyone, it seems, is motivated by money except Waclaw and the fair Klara, who has her own ideas about marrying the man she loves. Zemsta has been a favorite with Polish audiences for centuries, and the Julius Slowacki Players are determined to do it justice.

Highlights: Upstream Theater artistic director Philip Boehm pays homage both to one of Poland\u2019s most revered poets and playwrights and also to the rich history of Polish theater in St. Louis with Sweet Revenge, his entertaining translation of Fredro\u2019s comic masterpiece.

Other Info: Upstream\u2019s program for this opener of its 2017-18 season includes an essay about the history of the Julius Slowacki Theatrical Society by Tom Bratkowski. An old photo on the back of the cover of the troupe in 1959, its last year of existence, includes no fewer than four or five Bratkowskis (one is identified as Bratkowska), so it\u2019s logical to assume that Tom and performer John Bratkowski are members of a family steeped in a love of theater.

Boehm shrewdly sets the Slowacki Society\u2019s rendition of Fredro\u2019s famous comedy in 1933, a time which parallels in ways our contentious modern political era. Apart from the first few lines and the ending, however, the two-act comedy is firmly set in the 18th century.

Scenic designer Patrick Huber identifies the two eras by a theatrical curtain for the Society which is raised prior to the performance as well as a backdrop of a dilapidated castle for the play-within-a-play\u2019s setting.

Steve Carmichael contributes the lighting design which focuses on the comic moments and A.S. Freeman adds props which embellish the goings-on. Laura Hanson\u2019s costumes reflect the time and class of the Fredro comedy with the exception of the working togs worn by the mason who joins the Slowacki Players for their performance.

Boehm\u2019s rhyming couplets are delivered with panache by his expert ensemble, even if the poetry becomes repetitive after a while. As a director, he succeeds more in Act II, which picks up the pace and is more enjoyable than the too languid first half.

There is wonderful work by all in the tightly-knit ensemble. Whit Reichert and John Contini parry and thrust with their best, or worst, verbal jabs as the conniving Czesnik and scheming Milczek, respectively, raising eyebrows and feigning indignation to a fine art.

John Bratkowski enjoys the lion\u2019s share of the play\u2019s comic moments as the blundering Papkin, a Cowardly Lion type who is big on recounting his so-called military exploits but retreats at the slightest hint of retaliation by anyone within earshot. Jane Paradise savors every line in her role of the lascivious widow Hanna, carefully aligning herself with the side likely to be most beneficial for her.

Eric Conners does triple duty as the amiable mason, Czesnik\u2019s obedient majordomo and a befuddled cook. He excels in the show\u2019s best scene in which the majordomo literally reads back everything to Czesnik in a letter the latter is dictating to his minion.

As the young lovers, Caitlin Mickey and Pete Winfrey are at their best refining the sharp, savvy observations of Klara and the determined efforts of Waclaw to win the hand of his true love, respectively. Mickey is especially engaging as Klara uses the hopeless desires of the jester Papkin for her own purposes.

Sweet Revenge is charming, delightful and also a subtle cautionary tale for our troubled times, as well as a nod to the rich theatrical history of The Lou.

Play: Sweet Revenge

Group: Upstream Theater

Venue: Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand at Olive

Dates: October 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22

Tickets: $25-$35; contact upstreamtheater@sbcglobal.net or 669-6382

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of ProPhotoSTL.com

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\"EPP_0549a-copy.jpg\"
EPP_0549a-copy.jpg

Picture a kaleidoscope, a light-enlivened swirl of colors and whirl of shapes. Then picture a kaleidoscope the size of a community \u2013 and doing so will position you to envision the mind-boggling exuberance debuting a week from today at COCA-Center of Creative Arts.

COCA\u2019s website states it \u201cstrives to provide the highest quality arts instruction, exemplify social and artistic diversity, offer hands-on experiences and promote economic and cultural accessibility.\u201d

Now entering its 31st year, the center similarly seeks \u201cto enrich lives and build community through the arts\u201d with programs that \u201cencourage people to see, think and express themselves in new ways,\u201d also according to the website. COCA dubs itself both \u201cthe largest multidisciplinary arts institution in St. Louis\u201d and \u201cthe fourth-largest nonprofit community arts center in the country,\u201d and purports to \u201cannually serve more than 50,000 people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds.\u201d

This coming COCA Presents season, which runs Oct. 20 through July 28, would tend to support all of that, with offerings ranging from productions of The Wiz \u2013 the 1974 musical reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum\u2019s beloved 1900 children\u2019s novel \u2013 to a visit from New York City\u2019s famed American Ballet Theatre Studio Co. It also marks the last such season involving the COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre as a performance venue, prior to what sounds like an extensive structural expansion scheduled to start early next year.

\"kelly01.JPG\"
kelly01.JPG

\u201cWe begin planning our seasons two years in advance,\u201d says Kelly Pollock, the center\u2019s executive director, in reflecting on such a diversified bill. \u201cFor original COCA productions or large community collaborations, the lead time\u2019s even longer. This season, for example, we began conversations with American Ballet Theater [ABT] several years ago about bringing in the Studio Company for its first visit to St. Louis.

\u201cWe also like to build in other ways to engage the community into our performances \u2013 be it a special reception, an opportunity to meet the artists or residencies in schools \u2013 so that takes some extra coordination. When ABT is in town, they will be conducting master classes for COCA\u2019s students, as well as doing some work in the community with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis via [the New York troupe\u2019s] Project Pli\u00e9 program \u2013 a comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet and diversify America\u2019s ballet companies.\u201d

Referring with pride to \u201ca stellar artistic team,\u201d Pollock names Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd, COCA\u2019s co-artistic directors of dance, and Shawna Flanigan, its director of arts education, as \u201cthe primary drivers behind selecting and/or conceiving of the performances that are a part of our season.\u201d

She then briefly reflects on what feature of the new season proved the most difficult \u2013 and what seemed easiest.

\u201cOur biggest challenge is always finding a good balance between presented shows and our own productions, and finding just the right early childhood opportunities to introduce our very youngest patrons to the joy of live theater,\u201d Pollock says. \u201cThe easiest part? Definitely deciding to continue to feature our students in various ways throughout the season. They are amazingly talented, the heart and soul of COCA, and showing them off is a given!\u201d

A measure of sadness surrounds the coming season, Pollock admits, with the superannuation of the COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre after three decades, following the finale of the Momentum production next January. In reflecting on that change, she refers to the center\u2019s founding in the previously vacant B\u2019nai Amoona Synagogue, whose historic significance has earned it a listing in the National Park Service\u2019s National Register of Historic Places.

\u201cIt\u2019s bittersweet to say goodbye to the COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre,\u201d Pollock says. \u201cIt\u2019s served us extremely well, and not many people can say they\u2019ve produced countless performances in the former sanctuary of an architecturally significant synagogue!

\u201cHowever, my excitement about what\u2019s to come definitely outweighs the sadness. We\u2019ve outgrown our current theater, and it has some technical limitations which have stopped us from producing or presenting some things we\u2019ve wanted to over the years. It\u2019s time to give our performers and the St. Louis community the gift of a brand-new, beautiful, state-of-the-art theater.\u201d

\"The-Wiz_Dorothy-Toto_edited-with-shoes.jpg\"
The-Wiz_Dorothy-Toto_edited-with-shoes.jpg

That new theater, she continues, will adjoin the historically significant structure, replacing an addition from earlier in the millennium, and will mark just one part of a $40-million project. \u201cWe\u2019ll also be adding more than 8,000 square feet of new studio space, a performance lab, new visual arts studios, an expanded lobby and community commons space,\u201d Pollock says. \u201cAdditionally, a portion of the money raised will go toward building up COCA\u2019s endowment and reserves.\u201d

Pollock herself is approaching the end of her second decade with COCA. Previously the nonprofit\u2019s general manager and then director of development, she\u2019s served COCA almost 20 years, the past seven in her current capacity. In that light, Pollock pauses to reflect on what she personally regards as highlights of COCA\u2019s history.

\u201cThere have been so many memorable moments,\u201d she says. \u201cEvery day, I still come through the front doors and think about what a privilege it is to work at a place like COCA. For me, it always comes back to the students and the lives changed by COCA.

\u201cWe\u2019re very intentional about breaking down barriers so that everyone, regardless of financial means, can have access to the arts. Each year, we provide $1 million in scholarships, support services and programs to students in need both in our studios and in school classrooms around St. Louis.\u201d

She and COCA\u2019s staff scarcely take their duties lightly, Pollock continues.

\u201cThis access is critical, because learning in the arts changes the trajectory of a young person\u2019s life,\u201d she concludes. \u201cHuman creativity is absolutely a competitive advantage in today\u2019s world. And we know that arts education develops that creativity. It develops makers, inventors, problem solvers \u2013 and kids who know how to persevere, how to empathize and how to work with people who may not look or think like them.

\u201cSo the status quo is not an option for us. There\u2019s simply too much unrealized potential in the young people of this community. We have ambitious plans to support COCA\u2019s growth and demand. Our vision is to make St. Louis \u2013 and really the entire region \u2013 a place that\u2019s more creative, connected and inclusive.\u201d

COCA-Center of Creative Arts, 524 Trinity Ave., St. Louis, 314-725-6555, cocastl.org

COCA Presents 2017-18 Schedule

Those wishing details on the season\u2019s events (including ticket and subscription information) should consult COCA\u2019s website.

\u25cf The Wiz, Oct. 20 to 22, COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre

\u25cf Ballonacy!, Nov. 4 and 5, COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre

\u25cf Joyful Concert, Nov. 30, COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre (the same groups will sing Harmonious, May 3 at Westminster Christian Academy in Town and Country)

\u25cf The Little Dancer: La Muse, Dec. 15 to 17, COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre

\u25cf Momentum, Jan. 26 to 28, COCA Founders\u2019 Theatre

\u25cf The Story Pirates, Feb. 17 and 18, Washington University\u2019s 560 Building

\u25cf American Ballet Theatre Studio Co., March 15 to 17, Washington University\u2019s Edison Theatre

\u25cf TRIumphant, May 11 to 13, Washington University\u2019s Edison Theatre

\u25cf West Side Story, July 27 and 28, Washington University\u2019s Edison Theatre

\"101317_TOC_Small_Coca.jpg\"
101317_TOC_Small_Coca.jpg
"}, {"id":"ef0d7e9b-09ca-5e8d-8dd3-32be3372997b","type":"article","starttime":"1507827600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-10-12T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: The Mad Crab","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_ef0d7e9b-09ca-5e8d-8dd3-32be3372997b.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-the-mad-crab/article_ef0d7e9b-09ca-5e8d-8dd3-32be3372997b.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-the-mad-crab/article_ef0d7e9b-09ca-5e8d-8dd3-32be3372997b.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"The Mad Crab's menu spotlights boiled seafood shaken with house-made sauces and served directly from the bag.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["the mad crab","seafood","university city","dining review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1763,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/03/b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f/59dbb7c309d57.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/03/b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f/59dbb7c3089f0.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/03/b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f/59dbb7c3089f0.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/03/b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f/59dbb7c3089f0.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/03/b0350b12-d4c2-5b0a-a1cb-c1d15af2f72f/59dbb7c3089f0.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"ef0d7e9b-09ca-5e8d-8dd3-32be3372997b","body":"
\"TheMadCrabHiRes-01.jpg\"
TheMadCrabHiRes-01.jpg

This past summer, University City welcomed a family-owned seafood eatery, The Mad Crab, whose menu spotlights boiled seafood shaken with house-made sauces and served directly from the bag.

\u201cIt\u2019s like Louisiana-style \u2013 with paper on the tables \u2013 but with a bit of West Coast flavor,\u201d says consultant Chris Valera, who hails from Dallas. \u201cIt\u2019s not just Cajun spice. There\u2019s more garlic, more butter and chef\u2019s special sauce. You eat right out of the bag with your hands using bibs and gloves.\u201d

The crab-tivating concept comes from brothers and first-time restaurateurs Victor and Nam Ho, who come from a background of running nail salons and beauty-supply stores locally. Valera says The Mad Crab was inspired by similar-style restaurants in Victor Ho\u2019s current home in Dallas, including Hot N Juicy Crawfish.

The full-service restaurant fills the approximately 3,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Kim Son Seafood, with a capacity for around 200 guests. Nautical d\u00e9cor adorns the room, from the fishnet-covered entryway to seaside-style posts in the dining area, which guests can embellish with their own signatures.

From the menu, guests can build their own meals by selecting options from three categories: proteins, among them Dungeness crab, lobster, king crab legs, shrimp, crawfish, clams and mussels; sauces, among them Cajun, lemon-pepper, garlic and \u201cthe whole shabang\u201d (sic), a combination of all three; and finally, a spice level ranging from nonspicy to extra-hot.

\u201cWe\u2019re getting seafood from Louisiana, Gulf oysters and New Zealand clams and mussels. There\u2019s a fresh shipment every day,\u201d Valera says. And who wouldn\u2019t enjoy fresh seafood before (please pardon the pun) catching Tuesdays With Morrie from The New Jewish Theatre?

Beyond the preceding dishes, combo deals come with corn, potatoes and sausage. Appetizers and sides include raw oysters, chicken wings or tenders, fried catfish, fried shrimp, gumbo, garlic French bread, steamed rice and more. To drink, The Mad Crab offers soda, tea, lemonade and buckets of domestic and imported beer.

\u201cHonestly, I thought we opened too early and wanted to be better prepared, but hearing people in St. Louis saying that we opened too late has made this so exciting and enjoyable,\u201d Valera says. \u201cThey were waiting for this, and we brought it to them.\"

The Mad Crab, 8080 Olive Blvd., University City, 314-801-8698

"}, {"id":"7161a3b6-247b-58a4-a4ee-53f533ef96ca","type":"article","starttime":"1507827600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-10-12T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"columns":"arts-and-culture/columns"},{"nonprofits":"nonprofits"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Ready Readers: Fall in Love With Reading","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/article_7161a3b6-247b-58a4-a4ee-53f533ef96ca.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/ready-readers-fall-in-love-with-reading/article_7161a3b6-247b-58a4-a4ee-53f533ef96ca.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/ready-readers-fall-in-love-with-reading/article_7161a3b6-247b-58a4-a4ee-53f533ef96ca.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Sheila Oliveri","prologue":"Autumn often fascinates children, as they notice the changes taking place in nature.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"2e4eb46c-5851-57e9-83ca-85b074843153","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"174","height":"215","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/e4/2e4eb46c-5851-57e9-83ca-85b074843153/59dbc20b3de60.image.jpg?crop=174%2C215%2C24%2C0&resize=174%2C215&order=crop%2Cresize"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"124","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/e4/2e4eb46c-5851-57e9-83ca-85b074843153/59dbc20b3de60.image.jpg?crop=174%2C215%2C24%2C0&resize=100%2C124&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"371","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/e4/2e4eb46c-5851-57e9-83ca-85b074843153/59dbc20b3de60.image.jpg?crop=174%2C215%2C24%2C0"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1265","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/e4/2e4eb46c-5851-57e9-83ca-85b074843153/59dbc20b3de60.image.jpg?crop=174%2C215%2C24%2C0"}}},{"id":"53043907-9e86-5015-9702-c5f0999097c8","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"401","height":"500","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/30/53043907-9e86-5015-9702-c5f0999097c8/59dbc20b596e8.image.jpg?resize=401%2C500"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"125","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/30/53043907-9e86-5015-9702-c5f0999097c8/59dbc20b596e8.image.jpg?resize=100%2C125"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"374","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/30/53043907-9e86-5015-9702-c5f0999097c8/59dbc20b596e8.image.jpg?resize=300%2C374"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1277","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/30/53043907-9e86-5015-9702-c5f0999097c8/59dbc20b596e8.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"7161a3b6-247b-58a4-a4ee-53f533ef96ca","body":"

Autumn often fascinates children, as they notice the changes taking place in nature. The season also may prompt them to pose even more questions than usual when leaves turn brown and fall from trees.

Such extra questions may hint at hidden worries resembling those suffered by a young fox in Ready Readers\u2019 first recommended book this month: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson and illustrator Tiphanie Beeke.

\"Fletcher
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher has spent his brief life marveling at the vibrant world around him, so when he notices the browning and falling leaves of his favorite tree, the sight troubles him. When the kit confides his concerns to his mother, though, she nonchalantly responds, \u201cDon\u2019t worry, it\u2019s only Autumn.\u201d

As the days pass and more leaves fall, Fletcher scurries about, collecting them and trying to reattach them to now-bare branches. His anxiety only grows as he sees other forest animals \u201cstealing\u201d fallen leaves for unknown purposes.

Rawlinson\u2019s text captures a youngster\u2019s confusion and fascination with nature\u2019s changes \u2013 something adults sometimes take for granted. Beeke\u2019s illustrations, meanwhile, set a seasonal tone, with muted oranges, reds, golds and browns taking the lead for most of the story \u2013 making the reveal of a shimmering icicle-covered bare tree all the more spectacular.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves gently provides an opportunity for parents to share in the wonder and curiosity of their always-observant children. Using this story to open conversations about seasonal change and how it affects our world can ably lay a foundation for later science learning. Also, in general, chatting with your child not only strengthens your familial bond but also builds his or her burgeoning vocabulary, which can lead to school readiness and future educational success.

\"We
We are going on a leaf hunt

As another valuable addition to your bookshelf this season, consider We\u2019re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger and illustrator Miki Sakamoto.

This charming story invites children and parents alike to explore the leafy treasures literally falling around us in autumn. Sakamoto\u2019s watercolors depict a cheerful trio of curious kids who traverse a variety of settings, discovering differently shaped and colored trees and leaves along the way.

Reminiscent of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury\u2019s We\u2019re Going on a Bear Hunt, a modern classic (and preschool rhyme), We\u2019re Going on a Leaf Hunt features a familiar refrain that children should delight in repeating, as well as fun onomatopoeic words to be enjoyed by all.

Both of this month\u2019s books should promote family engagement around reading \u2013 the founding principle behind Ready Readers\u2019 collaboration with the St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council in a tandem city and county initiative called Turn the Page STL. To celebrate Ready Readers\u2019 20th anniversary, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announced the initiative\u2019s launch in a Sept. 28 joint appearance at the Missouri History Museum.

To grow a stronger community and region, we join the mayor and the county executive in encouraging families to Turn the Page STL \u2013 because, to quote the initiative\u2019s tagline, \u201cA St. Louis That Reads Together Succeeds Together\u201d!\u00a0

If you enjoy reading with children, consider becoming a volunteer for Ready Readers. You’ll read weekly to the same classroom of preschool-age children from underserved communities in St. Louis, sharing your love of books and learning. Visit readyreaders.org for more information.

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Cardenio, by the way, is very much in love with Luscinda, daughter of Don Bernardo. The reckless Fernando has seduced Dorotea, daughter of a wealthy farmer in the region, with the promise of marriage. 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Story: Known for his equestrian skills, Cardenio is summoned to the royal court in 16th century Spain by Duke Ricardo of Aguilar to be a positive influence on the duke\u2019s wayward younger son, Fernando. Cardenio, by the way, is very much in love with Luscinda, daughter of Don Bernardo.

The reckless Fernando has seduced Dorotea, daughter of a wealthy farmer in the region, with the promise of marriage. When he sees Luscinda with Cardenio, however, he is obsessed with pursuing her for his own, despite the fact that she is engaged to Cardenio.

Don Bernardo, pleased that a wealthy prince desires his daughter, grants his approval to Fernando to wed Luscinda while Cardenio is out of town. The unhappy Luscinda gets word to her true love about what is happening. He returns too late and, when he sees Luscinda and Bernardo at the altar, leaves in a rage fleeing to the mountains.

Dorotea, who is now in disguise as a boy and living in the hills, discovers Cardenio disoriented in the wilderness. They learn that Luscinda has escaped Bernardo after fainting at the altar and now is hiding in an abbey. Bernardo enlists the aid of his brother Pedro to abduct Luscinda and force her to marry him, but his plan is thwarted by Dorotea and Cardenio. Bernardo then realizes his mistakes and reunites with Dorotea, as does Cardenio with Luscinda.

Highlights: This \u201clost\u201d play attributed in part to William Shakespeare is currently being given its regional premiere by St. Louis Shakespeare.

Other Info: Cardenio has a long and colorful history. Based on a character in an episode in Miguel de Cervantes\u2019 novel, Don Quixote, Cardenio is believed to have been written by Shakespeare and his occasional collaborator, John Fletcher. There is a reference at the Bodleian Library in Oxford to a Shakespeare play titled Cardenna that was performed in 1612, and a later edition in Court records references performances of Cardenno in 1613.

In 1653 publisher Humphrey Moseley registered The History of Cardenio by Fletcher and Shakespeare. Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, researched the history of Cardenio, which included a play called The Double Falsehood that was produced by Shakespearean editor Lewis Theobald in 1727.

Doran\u2019s re-imagined version of Cardenio, which the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered in 2011, has been produced in just three American cities, according to St. Louis Shakespeare, the local troupe which has performed all of the plays in The Bard\u2019s canon since its inception in 1984.

Founder and former artistic director Donna Northcott directs a cast of 13 eager performers who are committed to rendering their interpretation of this cobbled script, with varying degrees of success. The two-act work is performed on Matthew Stuckel\u2019s curious scenic design, which includes a half dozen strings with papers attached hanging in the background, with a pair of movable archways and a large double door at the center for key entrances and exits.

Robin Weatherall\u2019s sound design fills the space with pleasant, madrigal-style music, while costume designer Michele Friedman Siler dresses everyone in the regal style of the day. Madeline Schneider lights the stage effectively and properties designer Amanda Handle enhances the set with her contributions.

Northcott presents the work in true ensemble fashion and, with the exception of an ill-advised decision to have much of the cast cavort as sheep in some scenes in Act II, moves the story along well enough.

The level of acting covers a broad spectrum, with Colin Nichols and Kevin O\u2019Brien doing the best work in their roles of Don Bernardo and Pedro, respectively. Nichols captures the lyrical rhythm of the language best of all, while O\u2019Brien infectiously depicts Pedro\u2019s genial personality throughout the presentation.

Lexie Baker and Shannon Lampkin are convincing in their roles as Dorotea and Luscinda, respectively. Erik Kuhn works hard in the title role as does Jason J. Little as Fernando. The cast also includes Jeff Lovell as Duke Ricardo, Britteny Henry, Calyn Roth, Shane Signorino, Karl Hawkins and Larisa Alexander, the latter doing nice work in the role of Cardenio\u2019s shrewd mother Dona Camilla.

St. Louis Shakespeare has remained vibrant for 33 years by blending traditional and novel interpretations of well-known works by The Bard with newer ones added to his canon, along with well-crafted plays by other writers through the centuries. Cardenio, in a rare performance by an American troupe, joins that impressive roster.

Play: Cardenio

Company: St. Louis Shakespeare

Venue: Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan Avenue

Dates: October 12, 13, 14, 15

Tickets: $15-$20; contact 361-5664 or brownpapertickets.com

Rating: A 3 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Ron James

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Story: A group of teenagers in late 19th century Germany grapple with their emerging sexual drives and desires, trying to fit into their rigid, repressive society. Between the stern, authoritarian discipline of their teachers and the lack of any clear direction by their parents, they stumble through controversial issues including rape, abortion, homosexuality and physical and sexual abuse as they struggle to comprehend their own identities.

Highlights: Stray Dog Theatre, which first presented this compelling rock musical in 2012, delivers a powerful, persuasive interpretation that is the best of the four productions or so I\u2019ve seen in the last several years, thanks to Justin Been\u2019s shrewd direction.

Other Info: German playwright Frank Wedekind\u2019s original drama, written in 1891, was banned initially because of its frank portrayal of such taboo subjects as abortion, homosexuality and sexual abuse. Composer Duncan Sheik and author/lyricist Steven Sater garnered eight Tony Awards in 2006 for their contemporary musical adaptation.

Been directed the earlier presentation at Stray Dog, but this version seems better. That\u2019s because the frenzied, frenetic nature of many of the show\u2019s raucous numbers appear more subdued in this latest version, with only the second act\u2019s verbal assault, Totally F**ked, performed in explosive fashion. As a result, the impact of that particular number is more accentuated and receives more attention.

Other elements that work beautifully in this rendition include the placement of band members throughout Robert Kapeller\u2019s scenic design. Music director and pianist Jennifer Buchheit draws masterful efforts from her combo, which includes violist Mike Blackwood, violinist Mallory Golden, cellist Kevin Schneider, guitarist Marty Lastovica, percussionist Mike Hansen and M. Joshua Ryan on bass.

Tyler Duenow\u2019s lighting bathes the set in a rainbow of colors which underscore softer scenes as well as heighten more sensational ones, and Eileen Engel\u2019s costumes reflect the repressive influence of the era.

Been uses the aisles in the Tower Grove Abbey performance space both to stretch out the stage and also to allow his players to occasionally interact with the audience. He benefits as well from Sam Gaitsch\u2019s spirited choreography, which brings a buoyant bounce to the steps of the budding teens whose angst is on display throughout the work\u2019s two acts.

Leading the strong ensemble is Riley Dunn as the rebellious student leader Melchior, who chafes at the rigid authoritarian structure in his patriarchal German society and yearns for a better, more inclusive world. Dunn delivers his lines with impact and a fierce resolution which underlie Melchior\u2019s passions as well as his intellect.

Dunn shares some strong and affecting scenes with Allison Arana, who makes an impressive Stray Dog debut in the pivotal role of Wendla. Like other teen girls in her village, Wendla is given no guidance by her mother about her own sexuality, which ultimately leads to tragedy. Arana displays a fine voice, whether in her solo opening number, Mama Who Bore Me, or in duet with Dunn on The Word of Your Body.

Another terrific performance is rendered by Stephen Henley in the tragic role of Moritz, a well-meaning student whose penchant for napping in class foments outrage in his teacher as well as his father. Henley shows the crushing melancholy which sweeps over Moritz in a tender scene with Dawn Schmid as the outcast Ilse, a girl who offers a fleeting chance at happiness to her troubled friend.

The fine cast includes an excellent turn by Jan Niehoff as the Adult Woman, whether Wendla\u2019s ineffectual mother or a sycophantic teacher who blindly supports her tyrannical colleague. That man and others are played by Ben Ritchie, who carefully conveys both the teacher\u2019s sadism and the misplaced anger of Moritz\u2019s father.

The female ensemble is comprised of Angela Bubash, Brigid Buckley and Annie Heartney, while the male students are represented by Jackson Buhr, Kevin Corpuz, Tristan Davis, Jacob Schalk and Luke Steingruby, each of whom does well with her or his moments in the spotlight.

Spring Awakening brings modern musical sensibilities to age-old strictures and restrictions which stifle individuality to the present day. Stray Dog\u2019s studied version of this award-winning show brings out its best observations.

Musical: Spring Awakening

Group: Stray Dog Theatre

Venue: Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue

Dates: October 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21

Tickets: $18-$20; contact 865-1995 or StrayDogTheatre.org

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of John Lamb

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Story: It\u2019s been 16 years since renowned sports columnist Mitch Albom has contacted Morrie Schwartz, his sociology professor at Brandeis University. Albom had taken as many classes taught by Schwartz as he could before graduating and moving to New York City to pursue a career as a jazz pianist.

That dream changed abruptly when Albom\u2019s beloved Uncle Mike, near whose family Albom lived as a young pianist, died at age 42. Albom chucked the music, went to graduate school in journalism and became a noted columnist in Detroit, covering the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics and other major sporting events.

One night while channel surfing he sees Schwartz interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline. Schwartz is suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig\u2019s Disease, and caught the attention of Koppel when a friend of Schwartz sent Morrie\u2019s aphorisms about living and dying to the newsman.

Albom calls Schwartz out of the blue and immediately is recognized by the prof, who enjoyed being called \u201cCoach\u201d by his gifted student. The columnist flies to Massachusetts on a Tuesday to visit Schwartz and, after some awkward moments caused by the younger man\u2019s impatience and self-absorption, he continues weekly visits as Schwartz physically deteriorates from the ravages of the disease.

Morrie\u2019s mind and heart, though, remain as vibrant as ever as he teaches his greatest lesson to Mitch.

Highlights: New Jewish Theatre begins its 21st season with an affecting rendition of the stage version of Albom\u2019s best-selling book, anchored by an endearing performance by Jim Anthony as the amiable professor and Andrew Michael Neiman as his tempestuous but ultimately loyal student.

Other Info: Albom co-wrote this one-act, 75-minute stage adaptation with Jeffrey Hatcher in 2002, five years after the book was published. The current production at New Jewish Theatre utilizes a clever set designed by Christie Johnston which is focused on an off-kilter bookcase at the rear of Morrie\u2019s den in his simple home.

The one-room scenic design is accentuated with props such as a black rotary phone provided by Sarah Azizo. \u201cYou and my wheelchair are the newest things in this room,\u201d says Morrie with a smile at one point to Mitch. In the background is an image of barren trees until the final scene, when shedding leaves are shown, all carefully illuminated by lighting designer Michael Sullivan. A piece of furniture which doubles as a piano where Neiman sits to emulate Jeffrey Carter\u2019s musical recordings, a bed, a coffee table and a couple of chairs fill out the set.

Amanda Werre adds a complementary sound design, while Michele Friedman Siler\u2019s costumes effectively delineate Morrie\u2019s steadily declining condition.

Director Anna Pileggi shrewdly incorporates the breadth of the stage to show at first the chasm between Mitch and Morrie, then allows their distance to shrink as the young man slowly begins to appreciate the wisdom of his mentor. Pileggi also provides a beautiful juxtaposition of Neiman at the piano at stage right while Anthony renders Morrie\u2019s omnipresent dance moves at stage left.

Anthony crafts a remarkable and ingratiating performance as the afflicted Morrie, who won\u2019t allow the limitations of his body to conquer his life-affirming spirit. He delivers Morrie\u2019s sage advice and observations not in condescension but with understanding and tenderness, and he shares an affecting chemistry with Neiman as the obstinate Albom, all the while subtly conveying the older man\u2019s decline.

Neiman demonstrates the explosive nature of Albom\u2019s capricious personality, showing how the wealthy, famous writer won\u2019t let go of the injustices he believes were thrust upon him unfairly, simultaneously oblivious to the terminal condition of his partner in conversation.

While Neiman convincingly conveys the younger man\u2019s eventual understanding and appreciation for what his mentor has accomplished in dying as well as in living, it comes across just a bit too conveniently for a writer who is driven to the extreme in his quest to be the best, regardless of the price. That attitude is salvaged somewhat, however, by the endearing final scene.

There\u2019s much to admire in this presentation of Tuesdays with Morrie, which has a message worth hearing any day of the week.

Play: Tuesdays with Morrie

Company: New Jewish Theatre

Venue: Wool Theatre, Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive

Dates: October 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22

Tickets: $39-$44; contact 442-3283 or newjewishtheatre.org

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

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Story: When superstar singer Rachel Marron is threatened by an unknown stalker, a former Secret Service agent named Frank Farmer is hired to protect her. He ruffles a few feathers among her internal security team when he demonstrates how easily he has broken into her compound.

Rather than being grateful, Rachel is annoyed by Frank\u2019s revelation and instructs him to stay away from her and her family while he does his job. Tension escalates when Farmer replies that being in proximity to Rachel, her son Fletcher and sister Nicki is exactly what he needs to do in order to best protect all of them.

After more unsettling messages and incidents occur with the stalker, Rachel reluctantly agrees to Frank\u2019s instructions. Cut off from a normal social life, she begins to bond with the bodyguard, who reciprocates despite knowing that he is compromising her safety in doing so. Will he be able to safeguard her when she makes a scheduled appearance at the Academy Awards? Will the stalker make a mistake before carrying out his deadly plan?

Highlights: The Fabulous Fox Theatre opens its 2017-18 season with this musical version of the acclaimed 1992 movie that starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.

Other Info: Based on Lawrence Kasdan\u2019s screenplay, the musical version of The Bodyguard features a book by Alexander Dinelaris and songs from the film as well as from the Houston canon of hits. It stars Grammy-nominated singer/actress Deborah Cox in the Houston role and TV star Judson Mills in the Kostner part.

The musical version of The Bodyguard didn\u2019t play Broadway. Rather, it opened in London\u2019s West End in 2012, where it ran until 2014 and then enjoyed a revival from 2016 until earlier this year. The touring production playing The Fox began in Minneapolis in 2016 and now is opening the new season at The Fox.

While the acting is fine, there\u2019s no doubt that the strength of this version of The Bodyguard is in the music rather than the predictable book. The score features several spirited pop tunes made famous by the late Houston, including the movie\u2019s signature tune, I Will Always Love You, as well as How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and Greatest Love of All.

The highlight of the two-act, two-and-a-half hour production arrives shortly before the end of Act I, when Frank takes Rachel to a karaoke bar. On a challenge from Rachel, Frank demonstrates why he\u2019s in security rather than show business in a very funny scene as he attempts karaoke with a particularly well-known tune.

Mills delights the audience with his comic timing and his ability to sing off-key (presumably he\u2019s a gifted singer in other musical roles) in this endearing vignette. The scene is further enhanced when Cox as Deborah takes to the floor and astonishes the few patrons in attendance with her vocal skills.

Cox carries a number of the show\u2019s tunes with a soaring, powerful voice, while Jasmin Richardson brings her own distinctive sound to the role of frustrated sister Nicki with her compelling voice. Kevelin B. Jones III delighted the opening-night crowd with some fancy dance moves and musical stylings as 10-year-old Fletcher (Sebastian Maynard-Palmer assumes the role in alternating performances).

The supporting cast includes Charles Gray as Rachel\u2019s manager, Jonathan Hadley as her publicist, Alex Corrado as her long-time security chief Tony, Mark McCullough Thomas as FBI agent Ray Court (Matthew Schmidt did a fine job in the role on opening night), Schmidt as the karaoke DJ (Willie Dee in a humorous performance at the opening) and Jorge Paniagua in the mostly mute, one-dimensional villainous part of the stalker.

Dequina Moore serves well as Rachel\u2019s backup vocalist, while Megan Elyse Fulmer and Naomi Walley join Moore in the amusing karaoke scene as three wannabe warblers.

Mark Henderson\u2019s lighting design goes heavy underscoring the pop concert motif and Tim Hatley contributes an array of appealing costumes and an assortment of scenic designs which correspond to Rachel\u2019s fancy pad, Frank\u2019s rustic retreat, a glittering nightclub and a woeful karaoke bar. Duncan McLean adds a mostly perfunctory video design, while Richard Brooker\u2019s sound design includes some arresting gun shot noises.

Thea Sharrock directs this simple show in straightforward fashion, which works well on the musical numbers while also showing the deficiencies in the script. Matthew Smedal serves as musical director for the eight-piece \u2018live\u2019 orchestra and Karen Bruce is the choreographer behind the dancing gyrations on stage.

You\u2019ve doubtless run across many of the plot elements in The Bodyguard in other, similar shows and stories. The tunes that brought Houston to fame comprise the saving grace behind this musical rendition of The Bodyguard.

Musical: The Bodyguard

Group: Touring Company

Venue: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand

Dates: Through October 15

Tickets: From $35-$105; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Paul Coltas, Alessandro Pinna

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\"guitar01.JPG\"

Executive Director Kevin Ginty photographed at the West Room at Music Folk in Webster Groves.

Eddie Ate Dynamite, yet lived to tell the tale.

That odd independent clause \u2013 the first half of a common mnemonic for the E, A, D, G, B, E progression of a guitar\u2019s open strings \u2013 may well prompt a fleeting collective smile from the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society at a pleasantly explosive moment, as it both greets a new executive director and starts a new season boasting a roster of mind-boggling musical talent.

\u201cBeing appointed director of the nation\u2019s third-oldest guitar society added a lot of perspective to my life,\u201d reveals Kevin Ginty, who began leading the organization on July 1 and who adds that it ranks junior only to Valley Glen, California\u2019s American Guitar Society and the Seattle Classic Guitar Society.

\u201cThis is an institution that has existed for a long time before me and will hopefully exist for a long time after me. To have the opportunity to guide the direction of such a legacy is truly exciting.\u201d

For having \u201call the pieces in place for the 2017-18 season,\u201d which commences Saturday, Oct. 7, and runs through April 14, Ginty credits his predecessor, William Ash. \u201cThere are still small details to iron out as the concerts come closer, but there was no mad dash in terms of season planning when I started,\u201d Ginty says.

According to the society\u2019s newsletter, Ash, after leading the society for almost four decades, recently became its director of education; in that capacity, he\u2019ll also serve as a general advocate for the society in the community and assist in fundraising.

The society\u2019s latest season features six musical acts exhibiting the diversity of the guitar family of instruments, which ranges from the currently resurgent ukulele through something of a miniature \u201cB suite\u201d (the freakish-looking Russian balalaika, the Spanish bandurria or bandore, and the common banjo) to the pear-shaped, flat-backed cittern.

Forming the society\u2019s seasonal playbill are native Minnesotan Xavier Jara on Oct. 7; the Beijing Guitar Duo (Meng Su and Yameng Wang, both born in Qingdao, China) on Nov. 11; The Kithara Duo (transplanted Belarusian Olga Amelkina-Vera and Houstonite Fernand Vera) on Dec. 2; Peru native Jorge Caballero on Jan. 27; Columbus, Ohio-born Paul O\u2019Dette with West Virginia native Ronn McFarlane on March 10; and Cuban immigrant Manuel Barrueco on April 14.

Given the guest musicians\u2019 geographic dispersal, Ginty admits to facing logistical complications surrounding their individual visits here, despite Ash\u2019s groundwork.

\u201cIn brief, there\u2019s airfare, lodging, meals and ground transportation needed for each artist,\u201d he says. \u201cIf they\u2019re coming directly from overseas, then visa paperwork adds another layer of complication.

\u201cWe do have a wonderful sponsor, The Cheshire Inn, which provides hotel rooms for us, as well as a network of volunteers who can help with transportation around town. Those things help take some of the weight off our shoulders.\u201d

Academically, of course, Ginty can lay claim to fairly broad shoulders. More specifically, he holds both a bachelor\u2019s degree in guitar performance and a master\u2019s degree in arts administration from Florida State University, for whose own classical guitar society he served as co-founder and president. Prior to that, he attended high school at the distinguished Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.

Toward the end of his third quarter as the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society\u2019s executive director, incidentally, Ginty will face one joyous complication exclusive of his duties \u2013 a walk down the aisle with a lady named Bailey Salinero in Florida, between the penultimate and ultimate concerts of the society\u2019s season.

\u201cYes, my beautiful fianc\u00e9e and I had a spring wedding set prior to our knowledge of the season schedule,\u201d he confesses happily. \u201cIt\u2019ll be a busy few weeks in March and April, but the work will be fulfilling. With a little help from friends and family, I should be able to keep the anxiety low and happiness high!\u201d

St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, P.O. Box 11425, St. Louis, 314-567-5566, guitarstlouis.net

\"kithara.jpg\"
kithara.jpg

St. Louis Classical Guitar Society 2017-18 Season

Cursory information on the six performances in the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society\u2019s latest season (for which ticket and membership prices vary) follows. Because most if not all of the society\u2019s nine guests have enjoyed extensive careers, earned numerous accolades and recorded variously, those wishing details on an individual musician should visit his or her website.

Xavier Jara, Oct. 7, 8 p.m., The Ethical Society of St. Louis (xavierjara.com)

Beijing Guitar Duo, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries (beijingguitarduo.com)

The Kithara Duo, Dec. 2, 8 p.m., The Ethical Society of St. Louis (kitharaduo.com)

Jorge Caballero, Jan. 27, 8 p.m., The Ethical Society of St. Louis (jorgecaballeroguitar.com)

Paul O\u2019Dette with Ronn McFarlane, March 10, 7:30 p.m., The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries (esm.rochester.edu/faculty/odette_paul) (ronnmcfarlane.com)

Manuel Barrueco, April 14, 8 p.m., The Ethical Society of St. Louis (barrueco.com)

"}, {"id":"ac693d59-cd65-5cf5-8dd7-d1fe631099a7","type":"article","starttime":"1507222800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-10-05T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: Grace Meat + Three","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_ac693d59-cd65-5cf5-8dd7-d1fe631099a7.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-grace-meat-three/article_ac693d59-cd65-5cf5-8dd7-d1fe631099a7.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-grace-meat-three/article_ac693d59-cd65-5cf5-8dd7-d1fe631099a7.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"Grace Meat + Three debuted in September and showcases Southern cuisine with an emphasis on down-home hospitality in a fast-casual setting.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["grace meat + three","rick and elisa lewis","forest park south east","southern cuisine"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1763,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/5a/15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03/59ceaa4740c7e.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/5a/15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03/59ceaa473fbcd.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/5a/15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03/59ceaa473fbcd.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/5a/15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03/59ceaa473fbcd.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/5a/15a46fe7-5a17-56a3-a1dc-1df873924f03/59ceaa473fbcd.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"ac693d59-cd65-5cf5-8dd7-d1fe631099a7","body":"
\"GraceMeat+ThreeHiRes-01.jpg\"
GraceMeat+ThreeHiRes-01.jpg

Grace Meat + Three, from husband-and-wife duo Rick and Elisa Lewis, debuted in September in St. Louis\u2019 Forest Park South East neighborhood and showcases their take on Southern cuisine with an emphasis on down-home hospitality in a fast-casual setting.

\u201cOur big focus is on service and being really community-driven,\u201d Rick Lewis says, continuing by describing the cuisine there as \u201creally kind of rustic, refined Southern fare \u2026 It\u2019s country food brought to the city for working-class people. It\u2019s like inviting people into our home for lunch.\u201d

Grace Meat + Three fills the approximately 4,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Sweetie Pie\u2019s at the Mangrove and fits approximately 100 guests, including first-come, first-served seating at the bar. The name Grace, of course, both connotes virtue, courtesy and goodwill and denotes a short prayer of thanks before a meal \u2013 suited to the Lewises\u2019 take on things.

Elisa Lewis designed the space with a modernized rustic vibe highlighted by a navy blue and gold color scheme and knotty pine accents. Reclaimed materials collected during visits throughout the South as well as around the Lewises\u2019 Cedar Hill home form the d\u00e9cor, including vintage shutters, bedsprings filled with greenery and the front end of a vintage truck mounted on a back wall.

Fixtures from Sweetie Pie\u2019s remaining in the space include some of its dining tables, as well as a St. Louis-themed mural at the entrance. Additional furnishings, such as bar furniture and a communal table in the front room, came from St. Louis\u2019 Goebel & Co. Furniture.

In the kitchen, Rick Lewis works with local ingredients from purveyors like Freshski\u2019s Fine Fresh Foods, Bohlen Farms and Side Lot Farms. Additional products include Buttonwood Farm turkey legs, some pork from Wenneman Meat Co. and Duroc cross-heritage breed ribs.

Calling the ribs \u201cfantastic,\u201d Rick Lewis says, \u201cWe\u2019re rubbing those with a house blend of spices, and then we\u2019re smoking them over charcoal with a peach glaze.\u201d Beyond the ribs, Grace Meat + Three serves catfish and fried chicken, with other proteins (turkey legs, say) seasonally inspired. The restaurant, moreover, offers a daily protein that can vary from pan-roasted trout to pulled pork to roast beef.

Such sides as mac \u2019n\u2019 cheese, marinated beets and rotating varieties of peas and greens lend vibrancy to the menu. An ovo-lacto vegetarian highlight involves country-fried tofu featuring locally made MOFU tofu that\u2019s marinated, breaded, fried and served with mushroom gravy and an egg sunny side up. For dessert, customers can choose from banana pudding, chocolate chess pie and rotating seasonal options such as cobblers.

Nonalcoholic beverages include Excel Bottling soda on tap, Kaldi\u2019s Firepot teas and three types of iced tea: unsweetened, sweetened and a seasonal sweet tea in flavors like ginger-hibiscus. Alcoholic drink options comprise a selection of liquors, four local craft beers on tap, and canned and bottled beers.

Grace Meat + Three, in short, should put its guests in a marvelously mellow postprandial mood before, say, visiting New Line Theatre to view\u00a0Lizzie.

Grace Meat + Three, 4270 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-533-2700, stlgrace.com

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\"Art
Art and Soul October 2017 image

To mention artwork predominantly targeting children instantly risks slighting that work en masse. The shuddery grotesqueries of Heinrich Hoffmann (the German author/artist, not the Nazi photographer)? Yes! The whipcord magnificence of Arthur Rackham? Again, yes! The gorgeous intricacies of Edmund Dulac? Once more, yes! But one could go on and on. What of John Tenniel, Rose O\u2019Neill and John R. Neill, for instance? What of Maurice Sendak, Leo and Diane Dillon and St. Louis\u2019 Mary Engelbreit?

For that matter, what of Ladue\u2019s own Dayne Sislen?

The deliciously whimsical work showcased here, created last year for a children\u2019s book Sislen\u2019s writing and illustrating, bears the title Whiff the Curious and Friends and measures 8.5 by 11 inches. Sislen pauses briefly in her work to satisfy \u2026 well \u2026 curiosity about that painting.

\u201cIt was painted with digital watercolor brushes in Adobe Photoshop,\u201d she relates. \u201cFor several years, I painted illustrations with real watercolors, but I quickly learned my lesson. With all the changes that need to be made in the publishing industry, digital brushes make more sense.

\u201cThis illustration came about when I entered a mythical creature design competition online. I didn\u2019t win the competition, but I fell in love with my little dragon creation, called Whiff. So I started to write a story to go with him. In the original illustration, he was roasting marshmallows using his fiery breath. Later, I exchanged the marshmallows for a kite and added some friends.\u201d

Despite the whimsical nature of Whiff the Curious and Friends, Sislen\u2019s academic and vocational background, frankly, embraces whimsy in no way, shape or form. From Washington University in St. Louis\u2019 school of fine arts, she earned an associate\u2019s degree; from Maryville University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Sislen then worked for the now-defunct Stolz Advertising agency, starting as junior art director and graphic designer before being promoted to senior art director and vice president. She then served as a consultant designer for Hughes Advertising (now called HLK, a shortening of HughesLeahyKarlovic) and taught graphic design and illustration at Maryville as adjunct faculty.

\u201cIn 2009, after 40 years in the advertising business,\u201d says Sislen, \u201cI decided to devote myself to illustrating children\u2019s books.

\u201cI love illustrating for children. As a young child, I spent many delightful hours studying the illustrations in picture books and pretending to read the books using the illustrations for clues. As an adult illustrator, I want to bring that same joy to other children.

\u201cWhen I worked in advertising, I always had to be an adult. My illustrations and layouts were about selling products. Now, I love to let my inner child loose and really use my imagination when I illustrate. It\u2019s fun to be a kid again.\u201d

Ultimately, that reflection revisits the publishing context of the kite-flying, potbellied firedrake and Whiff\u2019s shellbound buds.

\u201cI also illustrate children\u2019s stories for other authors,\u201d says Sislen. \u201cI\u2019ve illustrated eight books for other authors, and I\u2019m working on No. 9. I love what I do and think children\u2019s book authors are some of the most fun people to be around and work with. It\u2019s quite a change from the high-pressure world of advertising.

\u201cChildren\u2019s picture books are important. Children are the building blocks of our future. What better way to spend my time? I love creating the visual stories and fantasy that help children learn about the world around them.\u201d\u00a0

To learn more about our featured artist, visit daynesislen.com.

St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to bhollerbach@laduenews.com with “Art and Soul” in the subject line.

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It\u2019s a warm summer day, and so Bottvinnik suggests that the two of them take a stroll in some nearby woods to get some fresh air. Bottvinnik is an old pro at these talks. He\u2019s seen at least two of Honeyman\u2019s fellow American diplomats depart Geneva with nary a treaty to show for their efforts. 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Story: American diplomat John Honeyman arrives in Geneva, replacing his predecessor at the negotiating sessions with Russian counterpart Andrey Bottvinnik. It\u2019s a warm summer day, and so Bottvinnik suggests that the two of them take a stroll in some nearby woods to get some fresh air.

Bottvinnik is an old pro at these talks. He\u2019s seen at least two of Honeyman\u2019s fellow American diplomats depart Geneva with nary a treaty to show for their efforts. The Russian is savvy and sage at these sessions, knowing full well how difficult the process is to get the approval of two super powers, something his petulant, impatient but idealistic counterpart will soon discover.

In the course of a year, Bottvinnik and Honeyman sporadically retreat to the woods during the various seasons in an effort to strike a common chord. Can these two intelligent and reasonable fellows devise a pact that will placate leaders in each of their countries? Or will their treks from the table merely arouse the curiosity of the media and little more?

Highlights: West End Players Guild returns to old friend Lee Blessing to open its 107th season with a presentation of Blessing\u2019s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama, A Walk in the Woods.

Other Info: Blessing\u2019s 1988 two-act drama is the third of his works to be presented by West End Players Guild in recent seasons, following Lonesome Hollow and Great Falls. A Walk in the Woods has an intelligent, tightly written script which doubtless led to its Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award nominations (although it won neither).

The problem, though, is that nothing much happens in the course of the work. Naturally, that would mimic the long-term negotiations which are at the crux of Blessing\u2019s plot, but that doesn\u2019t minimize the tedium factor.

Director Renee Sevier-Monsey elicits a fine performance by Tom Moore as the older and friendlier Russian diplomat and an earnest effort by Tim Naegelin as the irritable American. Moore paints Bottvinnik as an amiable enough chap who does his work seriously even while he understands its usual futility.

Naegelin\u2019s performance makes Honeyman unpleasant for much of the play\u2019s duration, something I don\u2019t recall by performers in previous productions of this play which I\u2019ve seen. One would wish for a bit softer approach which could get across the American\u2019s impatience and yet make him a little more likable, something not readily apparent here.

The play is performed on an impressive set designed and lit by Jacob Winslow, taking place on the floor in the basement theater space at Union Avenue Christian Church, amidst a splattering of leaves on top of a mulch-like canvas and a few tree stumps strewn about. Winslow lights various scenes in different shades to accentuate sundry times of the year.

Tracey Newcomb provides the costumes, including a nicely tailored suit for Bottvinnik and a trenchcoat for Honeyman for the winter months. Most puzzling is the sound design by Mary Beth Winslow, which seems more suited for a country music or folk concert than a drama about arms negotiations. Whatever.

A Walk in the Woods is a labor of love for the cast and crew in this slowly paced WEPG presentation. Its languid approach, however, could benefit from more spring in its step.

Play: A Walk in the Woods

Group: West End Players Guild

Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Blvd.

Dates: October 5, 6, 7, 8

Tickets: $20; contact 367-0025 or WestEndPlayers.org

Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of John Lamb

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\"Healthy
Healthy Appetite

On a chilly fall day, few things can comfort us more than a piping hot bowl of soup \u2013 except maybe soup made with beer.

If you\u2019ve never experimented with cooking with beer, this recipe should help you ease into doing so. This root vegetable stew, which is cooked with ale to add flavor and complexity, comes together in just 30 minutes, but tastes as if it\u2019s simmered on the stove all day.

Use carrots, parsnips, turnips and golden beets or any other root vegetables you like. Red beets instead of golden beets, sweet potatoes instead of carrots, russet potatoes instead of parsnips \u2013 only your imagination limits ingredient combinations for this stew.

Root Vegetable-Ale Stew

Any type of ale-style beer will work well in this recipe.

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation

In a large stockpot over low heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, celery and carrots, and saut\u00e9 for 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium, and stir. Continue to saut\u00e9, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Add ale, thyme and garlic. Stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add golden beets, parsnips and turnips. Season with salt and pepper, and add enough water on top to just barely cover vegetables. Leave stew uncovered to simmer for 10 minutes or until root vegetables are tender. Serve warm with crusty bread or a green salad.

Sherrie Castellano is a health coach, photographer and private chef based in St. Louis. She writes and photographs the seasonally inspired vegetarian and gluten-free food blog With Food + Love. She has contributed work to Driftless Magazine, Vegetarian Times, Go Gluten-Free Magazine, Food52 and Urban Outfitters, among others. You can find her hanging with her aviation-enthusiast husband, sipping Earl Grey tea, green juice and/or bourbon.

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Story: In August 1892 businessman Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby Durfee Gray Borden, were found murdered in their home. Their bodies were discovered by Andrew\u2019s younger daughter, Lizzie, who summoned the family\u2019s maid, Bridget Sullivan.

When the police arrived, Lizzie gave contradictory explanations for her whereabouts, raising the suspicions of Bridget, who routinely was called Maggie after an earlier maid by Lizzie and her older sister Emma.

Plenty of circumstantial evidence pointed to Lizzie as the killer, and she was charged with the crimes. Later, however, she was acquitted, and no one else ever was prosecuted. Lizzie continued living in Fall River, Mass. until her death in 1927 at age 66. The killings remain unsolved to this day.

Highlights: New Line Theatre opens its 2017-18 season with a sizzling, sensational rendition of a rock musical built around the infamous 19th century murder case that became a cause celebre and part of American folklore.

Other Info: Lizzie features music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics and original concept by Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner, book and additional music by Maner and additional lyrics and orchestrations by Hewitt. The \u2018history\u2019 section on the Lizzie home page notes that \u201cLizzie began life as a four-song experimental theater/rock show hybrid...in 1990. Lizzie Borden: An American Musical sprang from Tim and Stevens\u2019 love of musicals, Americana, women rockers, and late \u201880s queer politics.\u201d

Eventually the show was expanded and refined to focus more on the story narrative for audiences whom the creators realized knew less and less about the Lizzie Borden episode. That culminated in a six-week run for the new version of Lizzie in 2009 in New York City, with the addition of contributions by musician Alan Stevens Hewitt.

Maner\u2019s book cleverly weaves details about the actual incident into the story, adding an extra element of believability in this refreshing and energizing musical rendition. New Line Theatre artistic director Scott Miller often finds rarely performed or largely unknown nuggets of musical mastery to present to St. Louis audiences. Lizzie fits that description in marvelous fashion.

Lizzie is an enjoyable delight from start to finish, thanks to the consistently fine efforts of New Line\u2019s quartet of performers on stage, its expert six-piece accompanying band and the carefully defined direction of Mike Dowdy-Windsor. It\u2019s a quick piece, one hour and 45 minutes covering two acts and an intermission, with an appealing blend of driving rock numbers and unexpectedly sweet ballads.

Anna Skidis Vargas delivers a powerful performance as the odd title figure, who fastidiously points out that her full name is \u201cLizzie (not Elizabeth) Andrew Borden. I was so christened,\u201d the second daughter of a man who wanted a boy but provided his daughter with his name as part of her own.

Vargas has a strong, beautiful voice that wraps itself neatly around a number of tunes in the score as Lizzie engages in sibling rivalry with her older sister, condescends to the feisty Irish maid and exchanges romantic overtures with her passionate neighbor Alice Russell. She also conveys Lizzie\u2019s peculiar personality, somewhat introverted and less than clear-thinking, with her steady presentation.

Kimi Short bristles effectively as the sneering maid, Bridget Sullivan, displaying her own deep, resonant voice as a woman who resents the Borden sisters\u2019 penchant for referring to her by the name of her predecessor, but takes advantage of their offers of shopping or other gifts to curry her favor.

Marcy Wiegert utilizes her own full-throated vocal abilities on tunes performed by the abrasive older sister Emma, while Larissa White completes the quartet with a rousing interpretation of the coy neighbor Alice, who coolly refutes Lizzie\u2019s testimony in the courtroom with her own version of the facts in the scandalous case.

Each of the players shines both on solo numbers or in harmony with one or more of the others on duets or ensemble pieces. They have plenty of pulsating, dynamic numbers to perform in the highly charged score, which is reminiscent of Tommy and other hard-driving musicals of the rock era.

In addition to Dowdy-Windsor\u2019s meticulous direction, credit also goes to music director Sarah Nelson for the vital band accompaniment, which is performed at a level low enough not to drown out the singers. Her capable group consists of guitarist D. Mike Bauer, Jake Heberlie on bass, cellist Emily Trista Lane, percussionist Clancy Newell, guitarist/keyboardist Jake Stergos and pianist/conductor Nelson, all situated at the rear of the stage.

Rob Lippert\u2019s set design illustrates the 19th century home setting with the simple appearance of a wood frame at stage right and a skeletal house at stage left, all effectively illuminated with his moody lighting. Sarah Porter\u2019s girl rock band attire jarringly runs counter to the staid set but wonderfully complements the driving musical score. Alison Helmer provides the ghoulish props and Ryan Day handles sound design.

One minor annoyance is seeing the performers speak through hand mics in their dialogue with each other. The mics are necessary in order to convey the rock concert motif, although it\u2019s a bit of a disconnect in the spoken elements, but so it goes.

Lizzie is full of energy, lively and extremely likable music and a quartet of engaging, appealing performances by its players. Add Lizzie to the rich artistic trove of adaptations and interpretations of one of America\u2019s enduring criminal stories.

Musical: Lizzie

Company: New Line Theatre

Venue: Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive

Dates: October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21

Tickets: $15-$25, plus specials for high school and college students, educators and military (see New Line’s Facebook page or www.newlinetheatre.com); contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

Rating: A 5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Jill Ritter Lindberg

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Story: Matt has a problem. He\u2019s been hearing strange noises emanating from his toilet and from the pipes in the Brooklyn apartment he shares with his girlfriend Anna. They aren\u2019t pleasant sounds, either. Rather, they are menacing and scary.

He calls a plumber to have the pipes inspected, but then he tells the man that he didn\u2019t call. Disregarding him, the plumber checks everything out but finds no evidence of rats or whatnot.

When Anna returns home, she finds Matt in an odd state. That isn\u2019t surprising since Matt, an artist who paints postcard-sized canvases, seems neurotic and a bit off-kilter much of the time. So much so that Anna suggests their relationship may be hitting an impasse.

Paranoid that he is, Matt suspects Anna of having an affair with a co-worker, and that she has made up an imaginary trip to Philadelphia (\u201cPittsburgh,\u201d she corrects him) to carry out her rendezvous. Meanwhile, Matt\u2019s tenuous hold on his sanity and reality seems to be slipping ever more precipitously. However, an art dealer friend is astonished when he sees Matt\u2019s full-size painting of the artist attending a banquet surrounded by furry creatures. Bizarre but brilliant, his friend exclaims.

Is Matt imagining scary creatures in his pipes, or is something actually there? Is he concocting an affair between Anna and a co-worker named Colin, whom Matt even meets at a business party thrown by her company which is not attended by Anna? Are Matt\u2019s ghouls inspiring his art to previously unknown, greater heights? What the heck is happening?

Highlights: St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio opens its 11th season with a bizarre comedy written by John Burroughs graduate Cory Finley under the direction of his high school teacher and STLAS associate artistic director John Pierson.

Other Info: The Feast received its world premiere off-off-Broadway in 2015 to generally good reviews. It\u2019s a snappy little piece, in one act barely more than an hour long, and it has some juicy roles in Finley\u2019s clever and quirky script.

Because of its brevity, it doesn\u2019t really develop sufficiently to build or maintain suspense as much as one might like. Its strength lies in its comedy and in the masterful interpretation of character roles by Pierson\u2019s trio of performers. That is hearty stuff, indeed.

Spencer Sickmann is a bundle of nerves and neuroses as the pitiful primary character Matt. Somehow, Matt\u2019s managed to latch onto the fetching and feisty Anna, played with allure and delicious mystery by Jennifer Theby Quinn. They make an intriguing duo, as Sickmann accentuates Matt\u2019s often ludicrous behavior while Quinn offers a stark contrast as the self-confident, vivacious girlfriend.

Ryan Scott Foizey completes the cast in several roles as \u201cThe Man,\u201d be it a take-charge plumber, a gregarious, party-time co-worker with Anna or an art dealer struck by the dazzling creativity of his usually listless friend Matt with the latter\u2019s \u201cfeast\u201d painting. Foizey brings an edge to the former and latter characters, while playing Colin the co-worker in cool, casual contrast to Sickmann\u2019s easily flummoxed Matt.

Pierson provides the funky sound design, a mash-up of cacophony when the pipes start gurgling in menacing fashion, and he directs this brisk beauty of a thriller in meticulous and measured style. Kudos also to Carla Landis Evans for the revealing costumes, from Matt\u2019s messy, disheveled look to the smart outfits worn by Anna, Colin and the art dealer to the plumber\u2019s utilitarian togs.

A real star of the production is Patrick Huber\u2019s scenic design. It\u2019s a whimsical blend of a pleasant apartment kitchen at stage right with a living area at stage left front and a back, upper-level bathroom with its very own toilet in public view. How often does that happen on stage?

Huber adds his own lighting to accentuate sundry scenes, especially ominous moments in the lavatory, while Evans lends her touch with props which elevate the creepiness factor.

The Feast is a cute and cuddly descent into the macabre. Or is it an outline of one man\u2019s psychological collapse? Either way, Findley does a nifty job telling a story that would have felt right at home on Tales from the Crypt.

Play: The Feast

Company: St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio

Venue: Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle

Dates: October 5, 6, 7, 8

Tickets: $30-$35; contact 1-800-982-2787 or ticketmaster.com

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Huber

"} ]