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\"cheree
cheree berry paper

From classic to organic to whimsical, Cheree Berry Paper is celebrating 10 years of designing custom stationery for all of life\u2019s most memorable occasions.

St. Louis-area native Cheree Berry, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in design from Washington University in St. Louis, worked as a designer and art director for Kate Spade New York before launching her own paper company in her hometown in 2007. \u201cI fell in love with designing paper and realized I could actually get paid to do this,\u201d Berry says.

Through the years, Cheree Berry Paper has evolved from a custom wedding-invitation business to a company offering traditional-to-playful stationery for every occasion, including weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, nonprofit galas and corporate events. \u201cOur signature style is classic \u2013 with a twist,\u201d Berry says. The one-woman operation has grown to a staff of 22, including seven experienced graphic designers and illustrators who take inspiration from their clients to create stationery as unique as they are. \u201cWe call ourselves \u2018occasion queens,\u2019\u201d Berry says. \u201cThere is no occasion we haven\u2019t tackled.\u201d

Today, Cheree Berry Paper can be found not only on chereeberrypaper.com but also in Target stores across the nation. Berry connected with a Target buyer two years ago, and after several successful design meetings in Minneapolis, the retail chain selected the locally based paper company to be one of the faces of a chic new stationery section. The collection features both wedding and baby stationery. \u201cWe call them \u2018light do-it-yourself,\u2019 so you buy a design and fill in the facts of the party,\u201d Berry explains. \u201cAnd we still try to make them feel as custom and personalized as possible, so people know they are opening something that\u2019s unique.\u201d

The wedding lines feature save-the-date cards, thank-you notes and be-my-bridesmaid invitations, as well as cocktail napkins and paper chargers for ancillary wedding events, all designed with modern brides and grooms in mind. The baby lines include baby announcements and baby-shower invitations, such as the Swaddle Soiree design, featuring a baby-shaped card with a blanket opening to the event details. \u201cMaybe a mom is having her second baby, and she doesn\u2019t want to go custom because she\u2019s busy and being more frugal,\u201d Berry says. \u201cThese are great for showers because there are just 10 to 25 cards, and the formats are really unexpected.\u201d The designs stay in line with Cheree Berry Paper, as they showcase its signature typography and clever copywriting on every card, as well as chic gold-foil accents.

Although Cheree Berry Paper has expanded to off-the-shelf stationery, the heart of its business remains custom invitations. The company recently unveiled 40 new customizable wedding-invitation designs on its website and continues to work closely with couples who would like the stationery for their big day to be personalized from start to finish. The most popular customizable designs, which can be altered using the website\u2019s libraries of fonts, color schemes, themes, inks and envelopes, include Fit for a Queen, featuring a royal vibe for the classic bride; Wood You Marry Me, with an organic feel for the outdoorsy couple; and Rose Water, a Gothic, romantic theme for the edgier bride. Berry says the designs run the gamut of tastes, from the classic bride who wants to pull out the invitation in 10 years and still love it, to the \u201cunique\u201d bride who desires an invitation that stands out from the crowd.

When a bride and groom opt to design a custom wedding invitation, Berry selects the designer with the aesthetic most fitting for the couple. \u201cWe ask [the couple] a ton of questions to make the design as personalized as possible, from how they met to their engagement story and why they chose their wedding location,\u201d Berry says, adding that the couple is presented with two or three design options to choose from, and several rounds of revisions are made to perfect the stationery. \u201cWe want the design to be a visual representation of that couple.\u201d

Cheree Berry Paper has designed wedding, baby and special-event stationery for everyone and everything from St. Louis couples, corporations, charities and medical centers, such as St. Louis Children\u2019s Hospital, to high-profile clients, including former first daughters Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager, Girls actress Allison Williams, Modern Family\u2019s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt\u2019s Ellie Kemper. \u201cWe\u2019re working with people at such an emotional time, so it\u2019s so neat when you reveal the invitation, and they say, \u2018It\u2019s amazing!\u2019\u201d Berry says. \u201cThat\u2019s what keeps us running and ticking.\u201d

This summer, the company will release another new collection \u2013 a whimsical line of everyday stationery, from birthday cards to thank-you notes, slated for smaller lifestyle chain stores and local boutiques. \u201cWe\u2019re also working on some exciting new collaborations, such as a playful design for baby-moccasin company Ch\u00e9rubin,\u201d Berry says. \u201cWe plan to stay primarily in paper and maybe some home goods.\u201d Whatever the project, Cheree Berry\u2019s signature style \u2013 classic, with a twist \u2013 is sure to mark every paper product.

Cheree Berry Paper, 215 N. Meramec Ave., Second Floor, St. Louis, 314-533-6688, chereeberrypaper.com

\"cheree
cheree berry paper2
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Story: Times are tough in ancient Thebes. A plague has ravaged the city and the people are demanding action to relieve their anguish. King Oedipus sends his brother-in-law Creon to the Oracle at Delphi to ascertain what has caused these torments and what can be done to alleviate them.

There\u2019s also the matter of Oedipus himself. A decade earlier he had fled Corinth, where he was raised by King Polybus and his wife Merope as their adopted son, because of a prophecy by the Oracle that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. Fleeing to prevent this from happening, Oedipus made his way to Thebes.

Along the way, he had encountered several men on the road, killing all but one of them. He continued on to Thebes, solving the infamous \u201criddle of the Sphinx\u201d in order to gain access to the city. Subsequently he married Thebes\u2019 widowed queen Jocasta, fathering two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. All the while, Oedipus was unaware that Jocasta in reality was his mother and that he had killed his real father, Laius, among that group of men he had encountered.

While a number of figures, including the Sphinx, the blind prophet Tiresias, the goddesses Athena and Artemis and even Sigmund Freud, discuss the goings-on in Thebes and the inevitable fate of Oedipus, the king becomes increasingly testy with Creon and the unsatisfactory answers his brother-in-law keeps delivering. Jocasta spends most of her time in a reverie, while Antigone contemplates the physics of the world that may play an inexorable part in her father\u2019s future.

Highlights: Complex, challenging but also at times torturous, Oedipus Apparatus adapted by Lucy Cashion is an intriguing if flawed concept being given its world premiere as the concluding presentation of West End Players Guild\u2019s 106th season.

Other Info: Cashion\u2019s work often lumbers along like the giant wheel or \u201capparatus\u201d so ingeniously incorporated into the elaborate set designed by Cashion, Kristin Cassidy, Joe Taylor, Jacob Francois and Ben Lewis. That design stretches the normally confined performing area in the basement at Union Avenue Christian Church into where West End usually has its lobby.

A construction piece (or is that the apparatus?) is moved back and forth along the main performance floor throughout the presentation, pushed by various characters involved in the story. At stage right sits Taylor, performing accompanying music while also essaying the role of Artemis\u2019 twin brother and god, Apollo, from time to time. Meredith LaBounty\u2019s costumes dress the characters in classically ancient Greek attire apart from the Victorian wardrobe sported by Freud.

Cashion has based Oedipus Apparatus primarily on Sophocles\u2019 tragedy, Oedipus the King, but also weaves bits from Aristotle\u2019s Mechanica, a Buddhist\u2019s guided meditation on death from YouTube and even a cheeky take-off on the TV talk program, The View. The panelists on The View spoof sit on the stage at one end of the playing area, opposite Jocasta\u2019s living quarters at the other.

Oedipus Apparatus begins intriguingly enough, as Antigone wanders about while she contemplates the intricacies of physics, oblivious to her pre-occupied father and distant mother. The introduction of various elements of the show is beguiling to fascinate and welcome further exploration.

A major problem, however, is also a key element of Cashion\u2019s adaptation. As she describes it in the company\u2019s news release, \u201cFrom the beginning, the play moves along a laid-out track, like a speeding train. The characters are entirely out of time to change anything\u2026But this speeding train is not a perfect machine. It gets stuck\u2026and it must restart (five times actually).\u201d

Those lumbering disruptions prove tedious well before the one-act drama concludes its more than 90-minute presentation. That many repetitions beat the point of inevitability into the ground, leaving an observer longing for a less obvious way to resolve the drama, or at least a more expedient one.

On the positive side, Cashion\u2019s original dialogue is witty and well served by her strong cast, each of whom involves herself/himself into roles with flair and arched delivery. Mitch Eagles leads the ensemble in the title role and well captures both the arrogance and confusion of Oedipus.

Will Bonfiglio is appropriately frustrated and miffed as the put-upon Creon, who becomes the scapegoat of the thin-skinned Oedipus (any relation to current world leaders is perhaps coincidental). Maggie Conroy as Jocasta has little to do until the last fourth of the play, when she frantically realizes that a prophecy she and Laius fought so hard to avoid has actually come to pass.

Alicen Moser portrays Antigone as a bright, curious and affable child, welcoming visitors to her parents\u2019 kingdom and also showing a knack for the physical sciences. As the glib prophet Tiresias, Carl Overly Jr. showcases his polished comic touch both in badinage with other panelists and also in exasperating encounters with the unobservant Oedipus.

Ellie Schwetye serves well as the dangerous Sphinx, both in her conversation with Oedipus and also as host of the other-worldly confab, while Rachel Tibbetts wanders dutifully around the floor as the goddess of wisdom Athena.

Cara Barresi prowls the stage as the goddess Artemis, frequently propelling that giant apparatus of fate across the performance area, while Michael Cassidy Flynn\u2019s Freud fits right in with gods and goddesses discussing his theory of the Oedipal complex and chortling along with the others at pithy comments.

There\u2019s much to admire in Cashion\u2019s Oedipus Apparatus, as well as recommendations to further refine her treatise to lessen its bludgeoning affect in order to keep an audience\u2019s interest throughout. Two or three repetitions would work as well as five and make the welcome conclusion sharper.

Play: Oedipus Apparatus

Group: West End Players Guild

Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Blvd.

Dates: April 27-30

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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She\u2019s in love with another student, \u2018Dude\u2019 Orsino, who in turn is smitten with Olivia Davenport, a senior whose brother recently was killed in an auto accident. While Olivia mourns her brother, fellow students Toby Belch, Maria Smith and Andrew Aguecheek are driven primarily by the need for a good time and as little studying as possible. The good-natured but gullible Andrew, easily swayed by Toby and Maria, is admired by another student named Valentine.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["era","equally represented arts","centene center","centene center for arts and education","grand center","shakespeare","shake 38","twelfth night","twelfth period or not another twelfth night","twelfth period","theater","review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":2048,"hiresheight":1365,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/51/651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41/58ff8538e46fa.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/51/651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41/58ff8538e2f23.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/51/651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41/58ff8538e2f23.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/51/651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41/58ff8538e2f23.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/51/651fbb04-29db-11e7-88ce-dbe9dce08d41/58ff8538e2f23.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}},{"id":"7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":2048,"hiresheight":1365,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/46/7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec/58ff85528a7a0.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/46/7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec/58ff855288fe7.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/46/7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec/58ff855288fe7.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/46/7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec/58ff855288fe7.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/46/7466c9d6-29db-11e7-9a80-0b35673b99ec/58ff855288fe7.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}},{"id":"7f8c548e-29db-11e7-886b-6313b05ef3f6","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"281","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f8/7f8c548e-29db-11e7-886b-6313b05ef3f6/58ff85653f7b1.image.jpg?resize=760%2C281"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"37","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f8/7f8c548e-29db-11e7-886b-6313b05ef3f6/58ff85653f7b1.image.jpg?resize=100%2C37"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"111","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f8/7f8c548e-29db-11e7-886b-6313b05ef3f6/58ff85653f7b1.image.jpg?resize=300%2C111"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"379","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/f8/7f8c548e-29db-11e7-886b-6313b05ef3f6/58ff85653f7b1.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"928f6bc0-29db-11e7-9475-63bc04dfa883","body":"

Story: Melding together Shakespeare\u2019s comedy, Twelfth Night, with a number of pop cultural references from the 1990s, Twelfth Period focuses on Sebastian Horowitz, a senior at Illyria Preparatory Academy who actually is his sister Viola in disguise of the missing Sebastian.

She\u2019s in love with another student, \u2018Dude\u2019 Orsino, who in turn is smitten with Olivia Davenport, a senior whose brother recently was killed in an auto accident. While Olivia mourns her brother, fellow students Toby Belch, Maria Smith and Andrew Aguecheek are driven primarily by the need for a good time and as little studying as possible. The good-natured but gullible Andrew, easily swayed by Toby and Maria, is admired by another student named Valentine.

Toby, Maria and Andrew are involved in a particularly nasty bit of hazing of fellow student Mal Olio, convincing her that Olivia is in love with her through a letter written by Maria in Olivia\u2019s handwriting and left for Mal to find. They leave specific details for Mal to follow in her \u2018wooing\u2019 of Olivia before locking her away in the school\u2019s dark room.

Pranks such as the aforementioned run counter to Illyria\u2019s motto, \u201cWhere some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.\u201d Driving home this point is school principal Melanie Feste and teachers at the academy. As the faculty and administration allow students to prepare for the school\u2019s annual prom, the consequences of the cruel ruse played on Mal become soberly realized.

Highlights: Equally Represented Arts presents a new take on Shakespeare\u2019s enduring comedy of disguise, deception and love with this fresh and agreeable blend of Twelfth Night and modern pop culture, circa 1999. It\u2019s Fast Times at Ridgemont High updated and invigorated with lively performances by an energized cast.

Other Info: ERA cleverly moves its audience throughout several floors at the Centene Center for Arts and Education as we \u201cattend\u201d classes at Illyria from first assembly through 7th period, including \u201cstudy hall\u201d or intermission. Just like kids do, the principal (Anna Skidis Vargas) is tuned out on the dais by the students with a barrage of rock tunes from the likes of Smash Mouth, Fiona Apple and several other groups that fill the kids\u2019 ears.

While we\u2019re in English class, sex ed or gym, the audience observes Toby, Maria and Andrew do everything but study and pay attention, even sharing a warm Stag beer or two with them on the Centene balcony. All the while, the text adaptation by ERA is filled with dialogue from teen films including Clueless, Ten Things I Hate About You, Rushmore, Election, Mean Girls, She\u2019s All That, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the Oscar-winning adult drama, American Beauty.

Lines from those movies are seamlessly integrated into The Bard\u2019s story. ERA also addresses the historically shabby treatment of Malvolio, here more sympathetically etched in the person of eager student Mal Olio, although its resolution decidedly moves Twelfth Period from comedy to tragedy by strict Shakespearean standards.

Gabe Taylor\u2019s direction is leisurely but well focused, keeping the diverse threads of Shakespeare\u2019s original tale and the rom-com adaptation both easily identifiable and relevant to the show\u2019s integrated plot. Taylor also provides the production design and sound design, keeping those \u201890s tunes popping up at advantageous times. Erik Kuhn adds lighting, highlighted in the prom scene.

The intrepid ensemble, all in fine comic form as well as adaptable to moments of melancholy, includes Erin Renee Roberts as the much admired Olivia, Amanda Wales as the love-struck Sebastian/Viola, Andrew Kuhlman as slacker Toby Belch, Tyson Cole as the easily duped Andrew Aguecheek and Francesa Ferrari as the conniving Maria.

Also involved in this intriguing enterprise are Katy Keating as the misguided and manipulated Mal Olio, Jonah Walker as stylish Dude Orsino and Erik Kuhn as the unobtrusive Valentine. Anna Skidis Vargas is amusing as all of the adults, from the tuned-out principal to patient English teacher to jock phys-ed coach.

Twelfth Period might better be titled Twelfth Grade to identify with its senior class constituents, but that\u2019s a minor point. This ERA presentation, which was part of the area\u2019s contributions to Shakespeare Festival St. Louis\u2019 Shake 38 event, is an amusing and enjoyable romp (apart from its sadder moments) that demonstrates how The Bard remains relevant to curious kids even today.

Play: Twelfth Period, or Not Another Twelfth Night

Company: Equally Represented Arts

Venue: Centene Center for Arts and Education, 3547 Olive Street

Dates: April 26-28, May 3-6

Tickets: $15-$20; visit www.artful.ly/era or eratheatre.org

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

Photos courtesy of ERA

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Story: Adapted by Eric Coble from the best-selling, non-fiction book of the same title by relationship counselor John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Live! is a comic look at the ever-contested battle of the sexes and how men and women view almost everything differently.

Highlights: Actor/comedian Amadeo Fusca is the star and driving force of this one-man show. The off-Broadway hit uses Gray\u2019s immensely popular book from 1992 as the launching pad for a blend of Fusca\u2019s stand-up routine of jokes about the differences between men and women with a theatrical storyline that incorporates video representations of Gray\u2019s observations.

Fusca\u2019s dry delivery and references to his relationship with his wife Sarah provide sufficient laughs to entertain the show\u2019s adult audience for nearly two hours.

Other Info: Fusca\u2019s amiable personality is important to the presentation, which also utilizes humorous animation sequences by Bazillion Pictures. With modest props and setting the genial Pittsburgh native proceeds to regale his audience with tales from his own adventures with Sarah, both before and during marriage.

His delivery often is downplayed, which serves effectively to heighten the humor in his stories, such as when he talks about opening \u201ca bottle of Mer-lott\u201d to impress his then-date Sarah. Fusca often returns to the mantra of women needing \u201cattention and understanding\u201d while men are motivated by \u201ct and a\u201d -- namely, trust and approval. It\u2019s important to know that, he says, when considering their differences.

For example, he is puzzled when Sarah says she has \u201cnothing to wear,\u201d as he observes two closets filled with her clothes. He notes that when he himself says he has nothing to wear that means he needs to rummage through dirty laundry to pick out the cleanest items headed for the washer.

Guys like sports whereas gals sometimes prefer opera, which sets up a routine about Fusca trying to catch glimpses of his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins in a National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoff game on his smart phone while seated next to Sarah, as he ostensibly is paying attention to performers singing in strange languages at the New York Met. \u00a0After paying a king's ransom for parking, as he notes.

Bazillion\u2019s cartoons frequently are interspersed with videotaped commentary by a smiling Gray addressing the sundry differences between the sexes a tad like a smarmy talk show host. While Gray is presented as a well-tailored and academic \u2018voice of reason,\u2019 his appearance sets up a humorous contrast to the \u2018Everyman\u2019 Fusca when the latter returns to the stage with his familiar look of bewilderment.

The opening-night audience was largely appreciative of Fusca\u2019s hard-working efforts, as the comedian spends considerable time and energy on stage in what is essentially an elongated stand-up routine. Coupled with a lengthy intermission, the show runs a little less than two hours under Mindy Cooper\u2019s direction.

This bit of fluff based on Dr. Gray\u2019s phenomenally successful book is lightweight but often amusing, made all the more palatable by Fusca and his welcome charm and nicely honed gift for comic delivery.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus did well enough at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza last year to convince Emery Entertainment to line up this return engagement. Time will tell if audiences, male or female, enjoy it as much the second time around. For some of us, once is enough.

Show: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Live!

Company: Emery Entertainment

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza, 635 Westport Plaza

Dates: April 26-30, May 4-7

Tickets: $50 (discounts available); contact 534-1111 or www.metrotix.com

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

Photos courtesy of Emery Entertainment

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Story: Head lion Mufasa rules Pride Rock as \u201cking of the beasts.\u201d He presides over a flourishing kingdom, loved by his queen Sarabi but despised by his younger brother Scar. When Mufasa\u2019s and Sarabi\u2019s cub son is born, \u2018Simba\u2019 is presented to the other animals by the wise mandrill Rafiki as part of \u201cThe Circle of Life.\u201d

Scar resents that Mufasa is king and is further angered that young Simba now is heir to the throne. Over time Scar plots various ways to murder Mufasa, finally succeeding when he lures Simba into a stampede of wildebeests. Mufasa rescues Simba but dies after Scar pushes him back into the stampede. Scar quickly ascends the throne with a menacing group of hyenas as his henchmen.

Simba is convinced by Scar that the lad caused his father\u2019s death and at Scar\u2019s urging flees into the countryside. Unknown to Scar, the hyenas fail to follow his orders to kill young Simba, letting the cub escape into the jungle.

There Simba is rescued and raised by the wise-cracking meerkat Timon and his pal, an affable warthog named Pumbaa. When Pumbaa years later is stalked by a lioness in desperate need of food, she turns out to be Simba\u2019s childhood sweetheart Nala. She convinces Simba to return home and reclaim the throne from his treacherous uncle, who has destroyed the once-flourishing pride land.

Highlights: Based on the 1994 Disney film of the same name, The Lion King is a magnificent spectacle of a show. The eye-popping, jaw-dropping puppetry designed by director Julie Taymor and Michael Curry has dazzled audiences for more than 8,000 performances on Broadway since The Lion King opened in 1997 following a tryout in Minneapolis.

The show has since spawned tours nationwide as well as in several foreign countries. Its six Tony Awards were well earned for direction, sets, costumes, lighting and choreography as well as Best Musical.

Other Info: The current production at The Fox marks the fourth time the touring version has played here, following stops in 2003, 2007 and 2012. The show retains its considerable magic and wonder, with a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi that hearkens to Hamlet and features such Disney staples as the affable friends of the hero, in this case Timon and Poomba, who share the lion\u2019s share of the jokes with Zazu the hornbill bird, Musafa\u2019s advisor.

The beauty of The Lion King lies in the breathtaking artistry of the masks and puppets, creations that took the staggering total of more than 17,000 hours to assemble for the original Broadway production. The show is the third-longest running musical ever on Broadway and the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time, with more than $1 billion in revenue. It\u2019s also the top-earning title in box-office history for both stage and cinema.

Performers who maneuver the puppets speak in unison with their animal counterparts, achieving a stereo effect of sorts in the presentation. Their flair is enhanced by the resplendent costumes designed by Taymor, complemented by a rainbow of hues incorporated into Michael Ward\u2019s hair and makeup design.

Richard Hudson\u2019s scenic design focuses on the Prime Rock locale, aided by screens that depict various jungle aspects such as a waterfall, a river and even the African veldt. All of it is sumptuously illuminated by Donald Holder\u2019s lighting design, which features a shimmering sun as well as a night sky filled with sparkling stars. Steve Canyon Kennedy adds a supportive sound design.

Garth Fagan\u2019s choreography is effervescent and vibrant throughout, inspired by the infectious mingling of African rhythms and South African music with American pop styles. The show\u2019s enchanting score is an intricate collaboration fusing the primary compositions of Elton John with the lyrics of Tim Rice and enhanced by the contributions of Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer. It blends several songs from the 1994 movie with tunes written specifically for the musical.

Fine singing accentuates the production as well, led by the glorious pipes of Mukelisiwe Goba on the packed media night as the wise mandrill Rafiki (Buyi Zama repeats her 2012 role in most performances). She leads the introductory Circle of Life number as puppeteers in animal costumes cascade down the aisles of The Fox onto the stage before wide-eyed children and their adult counterparts.

Young Simba, alternately portrayed by Devin Graves and Jordan Williams, and Young Nala, who is played in rotation by Grier Burke and Meilani Cisneros, have a grand time with the rambunctious I Just Can\u2019t Wait to Be King, while Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Keith Bennett and Robbie Swift (the latter two reprising their roles from the 2012 tour) get into their antics as the trio of lazy hyenas on Chow Down.

Mark Campbell is appropriately menacing, sneering his way as the ambitious Scar, while Gerald Ramsey is properly regal as the kind-hearted Mufasa, who teaches Simba about the delicate balance of nature that includes even vultures. Sophia Stephens plays Mufasa's beloved queen Sarabi.

Deshaun Young and Nia Holloway showcase their athleticism as well as their musical chops as the adult Simba and Nala, respectively. Drew Hirschfield masterfully mines the droll humor of the prim and proper hornbill Zazu, while Nick Cordileone and Ben Lipitz once again keep audiences chuckling as the glib Timon and his amiable chum Pumbaa, teaching Simba their joie de vivre approach on the rollicking Act I finale, Hakuna Matata.

The Lion King takes a serviceable story and elevates it to superior art with the fastidious, meticulous direction and dedication by Taymor and her immensely talented colleagues. It's still a visual and auditory feast for the senses.

Musical: The Lion King

Group: Touring Company

Venue: The Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.

Dates: Through May 7

Tickets: $55-$199; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

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

Photos courtesy of Matthew Murphy, Joan Marcus, The Lion King

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\"Johann

Johann Sebastian Bach; painting by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, 1746

Johann Sebastian Bach scares the snot out of a lot of folks, but with its monthlong 2017 festival, the Bach Society of Saint Louis seeks to provide musical (and mucosal) solace even to the most nervous of J.S.B. newbies.

\u201cAlthough Bach can rightly be called a genius, he didn\u2019t compose for other geniuses \u2013 he wrote his music to speak directly to you and me,\u201d explains Dr. A. Dennis Sparger, the society\u2019s music director and conductor, regarding the festival, which opened yesterday and which runs through May 21.

Well, yeah, OK, but.

We\u2019re not contemplating Beethoven here \u2013 no friendly bust topping the toy piano of Schroeder in Peanuts. Moreover, we\u2019re not contemplating Mozart \u2013 no cackling vivacity from actor Tom Hulce in director Milo\u0161 Forman\u2019s unlikely 1984 cinematic blockbuster, Amadeus. And we\u2019re not contemplating Brahms \u2013 no \u2026 well, he wrote a lullaby, for pity\u2019s sake.

No, we\u2019re contemplating Bach, who, in portrait after portrait from the time, looked as stern and unforgiving as an old-school hanging judge and who, in his 65 years, achieved rock-star status two centuries before rock-and-roll even came into existence.

Hilariously, for instance, his surname alone earns a discrete entry (as B-A-C-H) in The New Harvard Dictionary of Music as a succession of pitches in the context of German nomenclature, and The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music rhapsodizes, \u201cHe opened up new dimensions in virtually every department of creative work to which he turned, in format, musical quality and technical demands.\u201d

(In true rock-star fashion, Norton/Grove adds, Bach also found the time and energy to sire seven children with his first wife and another 13 with his second.)

Fortunately, Sparger expands on his informal primer on the composer.

\u201cFrom 1717 to 1723, all of his compositions were written to please a musically well-trained prince, but everything else was heard by common people, either in a church or a coffeehouse,\u201d he says. \u201cSome of his music sounds rather complicated \u2013 think chess instead of checkers \u2013 but other pieces are direct, emotional and easily accessible. It\u2019s wonderful to discover all the differences that can be found in his large body of compositions.

\u201cMost of us realize that to get something out of a book, a novel, we first have to invest some time to get some background and a sense of plot. In music, we also have to invest some time to allow our skills of concentration to develop and discover what magic can be found.

\u201cOne of the things the Bach Society does best is present music in smaller venues where the listener can see the performers and feel a closeness to the music that\u2019s being made. We often meet with our audiences after a performance to discuss what they observed. Our wonderful soloists, selected from the best rising stars in the nation, are also available to meet with audience members.

\u201cIn the end, it\u2019s about great music that allows people to connect with other people, to experience the same or similar emotions and, most of all, to feel it together.\u201d

Melissa Payton, the society\u2019s executive director, highlights another reason for jubilation among area classical devotees. \u201cThe Bach festival used to be a huge part of our history, but it hasn\u2019t been performed in decades,\u201d she says. \u201cSo just the fact that it exists \u2013 with a goal of continuing it each year \u2013 is huge!\u201d

Sparger agrees and enlarges on Payton\u2019s comment.

\u201cWhile the St. Louis Bach Festival has been an important part of our history since our second season, in 1942, it took a long break nearly 20 years ago because of funding difficulties,\u201d he says. \u201cBut the last several years have seen a growth in audiences as well as individual and corporate support, culminating in a very successful 75th anniversary last year.\u201d The success of that diamond anniversary helped restore the sparkle to the festival\u2019s return this year.

\u201cOur board of directors is committed to marching forward and helping the Bach Society reach more lives in our region with the great music we perform,\u201d Sparger continues. \u201cWhen we posed the idea of resurrecting the Bach festival, they were thrilled by the challenge and the opportunity.

\u201cSince we hadn\u2019t organized a festival in many years, we quickly learned they take more planning than we imagined. But we\u2019re so excited by how this festival will affect our fellow St. Louisans, we\u2019re already talking about 2018.\u201d

In that mode, Payton summarizes the festival\u2019s goals and, at the risk of naming favorites, sketches aspects of this year\u2019s festival that most excite her as an individual.

\u201cWe\u2019re using the festival not only to celebrate the breadth of Bach\u2019s works but [also] to introduce our community to the music of Bach in new and creative ways,\u201d she says. \u201cThe festival has also allowed us to open up the door of collaboration with other arts organizations in the community, including The Sheldon, Union Avenue Opera and the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society. I\u2019m personally very excited about three unique events.\u201d

The first of those events, The Spiritual Bach, partners Bach\u2019s organ works with African-American spirituals. \u201cBoth styles of music help the listener to get to a place of hope out of a place of despair,\u201d Payton says, \u201cdemonstrating how music can help us face the challenges of our own time, connecting us and speaking from the heart to the heart.\u201d

Bach & Jazz, Payton\u2019s second favorite, showcases the composer\u2019s improvisational skills and emphasizes similarities between his music and jazz for \u201ca better understanding of how the \u2018Master of Baroque\u2019 continues to influence modern jazz.\u201d

Regarding her third favorite, Coffee With Bach, Payton says: \u201cCoffee has been loved and worshipped like few other beverages. Bach was also apparently a coffee enthusiast and even wrote a witty \u2018mini-opera\u2019 about the beloved drink called the Coffee Cantata.\u201d

On the subject of those three events and the festival\u2019s other six in the next four weeks, Sparger provides insight into the creation of the festival\u2019s final bill.

\u201cMelissa and I worked together in selecting the types of programs and collaborations we wanted to include,\u201d he says. \u201cAfter that, Melissa took the lead in making the contacts, selecting the dates and venues, creating the promotional materials and bringing it all together.

\u201cMy efforts for the Bach festival are directed more toward two of the events. For the past few years, concertmaster Lenora-Marya Anop and I have discussed altering our chamber music program to a \u2018Bach by candlelight\u2019 evening to highlight several of our orchestra members, and the Bach festival presented the perfect time to make this move.

\u201cFor many years, I have been interested in programming Bach\u2019s Christmas Oratorio, a work known to be his most joyful and delightful piece. However, because our annual Christmas Candlelight Concert must include carols and the candlelight procession [that] is the highlight of that concert, we could never include this extended major work in this special evening. The Bach festival provided the perfect opportunity to finally present this entire work.\u201d

In that the Christmas Oratorio comprises six parts and reportedly approaches three hours, though, Sparger does make one confession, about a concession.

\u201cTo be honest,\u201d he concludes, \u201cI\u2019m making a few minor cuts to bring the performance time down to a comfortable \u2018sit\u2019 for the audience!\u201d

Bach Society of Saint Louis, 314-652-2224, bachsociety.org

A Stroll in the Grove

Beyond manifold other accolades and accomplishments, the Bach Society of Saint Louis\u2019 Dr. A. Dennis Sparger has contributed to one of the most monumental and distinguished authorities published in the new millennium.

Specifically, Sparger wrote the entry on a lutenist and composer named Andrzej Hakenberger for the 2001 edition of the 29-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

\u201cLong before I was invited to join the Bach Society as its sixth music director and conductor [in 1986], I wrote my doctoral dissertation on an obscure Polish composer from the early 17th century,\u201d Sparger recalls. \u201cThe music of Andrzej Hakenberger is much closer to the style of Giovanni Gabrieli and other Italian composers who excelled in the polychoral music that was the latest rage at that time. In fact, it was the opulent sound of Hakenberger\u2019s music that secured him a position at St. Mary\u2019s Church in Gda\u0144sk (Danzig).\u201d

As a measure of Hakenberger\u2019s obscurity, Wikipedia \u2013 the digital fount of all information or something approximating information \u2013 includes no entry on him.

\u201cIt\u2019s because of the dissertation that I was invited to provide the article on him and his music for the New Grove Dictionary,\u201d Sparger continues. \u201cBut his work does not at all resemble the music of Bach, other than it was written in service to God.\u201d

Wryly, Sparger concludes, \u201cWe have performed a few of his pieces over the years, and every spring I get a royalty check for about $12 for my publications of a few Hakenberger motets!\u201d

Program (and Musical) Notes

The Bach Society of Saint Louis\u2019 2017 St. Louis Bach Festival comprises nine events, both free and ticketed, throughout St. Louis:

The Spiritual Bach, which features soprano Marlissa Hudson and organist Marvin Mills, juxtaposes the composer\u2019s organ works with African-American spirituals. It takes place this Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m. at Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church. Tickets cost $20 apiece.

Bach Chamber Music by Candlelight offers a full-immersion experience of the composer\u2019s chamber music in an intimate setting. It takes place May 5 at 7 p.m. at the Church of St. Michael & St. George in Clayton. Tickets cost $25 apiece.

Attendees to the free Vocal Master Class can learn to sing and love Baroque recitative. Presented in collaboration with Saint Louis University\u2019s music program, this event takes place May 8 at 3 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier College Church on the university\u2019s campus.

For the free Christmas in Leipzig Lecture, Bach specialist David Gordon describes the origins of Bach\u2019s Christmas Oratorio and its 1734 premiere. This event takes place May 21 at 1:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood.

In the Young Artist Recital, the Bach Society Young Artists present their favorite Bach solos and highlights from their operatic and oratorio repertoire. Presented in collaboration with the Couts Music Series, this free event takes place April 30 at 4 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church in the Central West End.

The Classical Guitar Concert, presented in collaboration with the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, showcases favorite Bach melodies transcribed for a guitar. It takes place May 7 at 3 p.m. at Salem United Methodist Church in Town and Country. Tickets cost $15 apiece.

Bach & Jazz spotlights the similarities between improvised jazz and the composer\u2019s music, and takes place May 9 at 6 p.m. at Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis proper. Tickets cost $35 apiece.

Coffee With Bach attendees can enjoy java and doughnuts before hearing Bach\u2019s Coffee Cantata, his famed mini-opera, and other favorites from the classical and musical-theater repertoire. Presented in collaboration with The Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries and Union Avenue Opera, this event takes place May 17 at 9 a.m. at the former, and tickets cost $18 apiece.

The chorus and orchestra present Bach\u2019s rarely heard Christmas Oratorio with soloists Kim Leeds, Stephen Morscheck, Sherezade Panthaki and Kyle Stegall. This finale to the festival also takes place May 21, at 3 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood. Tickets cost between $25 and $45 apiece.

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Story: Beverly Weston, once a renowned poet but now a self-acknowledged alcoholic living mostly on his laurels, interviews a young Native American woman named Johnna for the position of cook and caregiver in his sprawling country manor 60 miles from Tulsa. His wife Violet is being treated for mouth cancer and Beverly needs someone to tend to Violet\u2019s needs as well as essential household chores.

When Beverly disappears a few weeks later, Violet informs their three grown daughters of the situation. Ivy still lives nearby in Oklahoma, but Barbara is a college professor in Boulder, Colorado and Karen is a realtor in Florida. Barbara arrives home after an absence of several years with her estranged husband Bill, also a professor, and 14-year-old daughter Jean in tow. Violet\u2019s sister Mattie Fae and her husband Charlie lend emotional support, too.

In the very early hours of the next morning, Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, a high school sweetheart of Barbara\u2019s, arrives with terrible news for the family: Beverly\u2019s body has been found and someone needs to identify it. A few days later, Karen shows up with her fianc\u00e9 Steve, a slick and shady businessman. So does Mattie Fae and Charlie\u2019s bumbling son, \u201cLittle\u201d Charles.

The Westons once again share old stories and war wounds under one roof, if only temporarily. The good times, though, are outnumbered by bitter memories, scandalous behavior, and the incessant harping by the overbearing Violet and thick-headed Mattie Fae. Many in this wildly dysfunctional family, however, haven\u2019t a clue just how off-kilter they really are. But they may soon find out.

Highlights: St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio brings its ambitious appetite to this tantalizing tale by Tracy Letts and devours the playwright\u2019s piece de resistance with a ravenous hunger that leaves its audience skewered but sated after the frightening feast.

Other Info: Native Oklahoman Letts won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008 as well as five Tony Awards including Best Play for this ferociously dark comedy that tears at the flesh of a family and leaves gaping wounds ripe for infection. Despite three and a half hours and three acts it is more exhilarating than exhausting, although the adjacent West End Grill and Pub offers an enticing oasis during intermissions.

August: Osage County, which takes its title from a poem by Howard Starks and ends with a quote from T.S. Eliot, is itself an epic elegy written on an expansive canvas that covers three generations and alludes to nefarious ancestors as well. The touring production that visited The Fox Theatre in 2010 featured an eye-popping set design of a three-story home that looked lived-in authentic and housed a memorable presentation.

What is wasn\u2019t though, was intimate, something much more accessible at the cozy Gaslight Theater and achieved in this powerful and persuasive St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio rendition. Being so close to the stage gives one a claustrophobic feeling, squirming at the vicious verbal attacks that explode in Letts\u2019 acidic dialogue.

Here, Patrick Huber\u2019s set design is as much imagined as actual, with a room above the main performance space where Vi pops her pills and disappears into bouts of delirium when she isn\u2019t castigating family members. It also doubles as Johnna\u2019s living quarters, where Jean seeks refuge to smoke pot and share the sad news with the cook of her parents\u2019 dissolving marriage.

The main stage utilizes a doorway for entrance into a dining and living area, with a foyer at stage left which serves for an occasional scene. Carla Landis Evans fills the quarters with sundry props to enhance the setting, which is lit by Dalton Robison. Evans\u2019 costume design dresses players in clothing which represents their various characters and aligns with descriptions in Letts\u2019 script.

Wayne Salomon directs these proceedings with a keen eye for placement of performers to accentuate more intensely dramatic scenes. He also keeps the pace steady and involving, relying wisely on his players\u2019 ability to mine Letts\u2019 scalding script to convey their characters\u2019 feelings and philosophies.

Inhabited by 13 characters, August: Osage County truly is an ensemble work, although Kari Ely and Meghan Baker essentially share top billing as the vitriolic Violet and battle-weary Barbara, respectively. Ely veers convincingly between the drowsy doper and venomous vixen aspects of Vi\u2019s personality, while Meghan Baker effectively displays a wide range of Barbara\u2019s exposed emotions. Their scenes are highlighted by a burst of violence that rattles even this jaded clan.

Larry Dell as Beverly starts the evening off with a grand serenade to the patriarch\u2019s poetic drive and alcoholic impulses, sharing the stage with Wendy Renee Farmer, who depicts Johnna as a voice of reason and a spiritual presence in a home lacking a moral foundation.

Kim Furlow finely displays the biting bombast of Mattie Fae, whose primary task seems to be an habitual attack on her well-meaning but ill-starred son \u201cLittle\u201d Charles. Stephen Peirick etches an affecting portrayal of the clumsy \u201cLittle\u201d Charles, while William Roth impressively delineates the decency and amiability of the convivial Charlie, who really seems to love his extended family.

Emily Baker expertly fills the role of Ivy, showing her remaining poised and suffering silently the snipings of her mother while also conveying the deep emotional waters under Ivy\u2019s surface. Rachel Fenton does well conveying Karen\u2019s vapid, self-centered and delusional personality as the youngest daughter focused on her impending marriage to the lecherous Steve. Drew Battles captures Steve\u2019s creepy persona precisely, especially in a scene where Steve works on seducing Jean.

Bridgette Bassa uses her diminutive stature to good advantage in the role of the confused teen Jean, rolling her head and her eyes as any 14-year-old might while also showing Jean's vulnerability to Johnna. \u00a0David Wassilak and GP Hunsaker do proper justice to the parts of Barbara\u2019s disappearing husband Bill and her shy old flame, Sheriff Deon, respectively, adding to the wealth of character portrayals in this stellar production.

St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio\u2019s rendition of August: Osage County is about as up close and personal as you\u2019d want to get to a family such as the Westons, so real you can feel it coursing through your blood.

Play: August: Osage County

Company: St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio

Venue: Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle

Dates: April 20-23, 27-30

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

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

Photos courtesy of John Lamb

"}, {"id":"c9e504a2-2483-11e7-babc-472a27629e3c","type":"article","starttime":"1492553400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-18T17:10:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1492637774","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"TLT Productions Presents Lively 'Something Like...Godspell': Musical Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_c9e504a2-2483-11e7-babc-472a27629e3c.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/tlt-productions-presents-lively-something-like-godspell-musical-review/article_c9e504a2-2483-11e7-babc-472a27629e3c.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/tlt-productions-presents-lively-something-like-godspell-musical-review/article_c9e504a2-2483-11e7-babc-472a27629e3c.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: An urban locale is used to bring Jesus, John the Baptist and others into a modern setting much like Stephen Schwartz\u2019s and John-Michael Tebelak\u2019s Godspell.\u00a0As with that musical, it uses parables and stories from the New Testament to emphasize the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and their continued relevance in contemporary society.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["tlt producitons","tre'von griffith","lauron thompson","something like...godspell","godspell","marcelle theatre","musical","review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":4416,"hiresheight":2944,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/9d/e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717/58f7d7cd6539e.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/9d/e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717/58f7d7cd62997.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/9d/e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717/58f7d7cd62997.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/9d/e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717/58f7d7cd62997.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/9d/e9d34bf6-2547-11e7-8627-dfa83c421717/58f7d7cd62997.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"c9e504a2-2483-11e7-babc-472a27629e3c","body":"

Story: An urban locale is used to bring Jesus, John the Baptist and others into a modern setting much like Stephen Schwartz\u2019s and John-Michael Tebelak\u2019s Godspell.\u00a0As with that musical, it uses parables and stories from the New Testament to emphasize the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and their continued relevance in contemporary society.

Highlights: TLT Productions augmented its \u2018inaugural\u2019 season with a spirited and well-received presentation showcasing efforts of its youthful cast and creative team.

Other Info: According to a news release, TLT Productions is the creation of the artistic collaboration between musical artist Tre\u2019von Griffith, also known as TreG, and playwright Lauron Thompson. Since 2008 the duo has created several shows and was \u201cexcited to bring to life the re-telling of the ultimate love story.\u201d

Something Like\u2026Godspell is described as a \u201csoulful musical on friendship, loyalty and love based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew.\u201d The show includes original music composed by Griffith and lyrics by Thompson, both of whom also collaborated on the book.

Last Saturday\u2019s full house both surprised and delighted Griffith, as he referenced in welcoming the audience. TreG was also part of the four-piece band that accompanied the performance, including Griffith on keyboards, Demetri Payton on bass, drummer Keenan Wilson and Dishawn Payton on aux.

Carvas Pickens lent his smooth voice to the dual roles of John the Baptist and Judas, welcoming everyone on the Prepare the Way number near the start of the show. David Dwight IV brought amiability and patience to the role of Jesus, leading the troupe on the tune Save Us in the first act.

Others in the cast included Alex Jay, Golliday, Erika Griffin, MarQuis Murphy, Anthony Randle, Dre Williams and Kim Parson. All joined in the comic camaraderie, taking turns playing out the parables of wisdom Jesus spoke to guide their characters in how to live by the Golden Rule, and also demonstrated their voices and dance moves as well.

Cameron Tesson\u2019s scenic design allowed easy access for the players to move around and interpret various numbers, while Nathan Schroeder\u2019s lighting enhanced the presentation.

Founded in 2009, TLT Productions specializes in original theater and music, according to program notes. The enthusiastic reception of last Saturday\u2019s full house indicates there is a market happy to welcome TLT Productions to the thriving St. Louis theater scene.

Musical: Something Like\u2026Godspell

Company: TLT Productions

Venue: Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive

Dates: Run concluded

Photo courtesy of Phillip Hamer

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Story: Michael Evans was 7 years old when his uncle, \"Father Jack\" Mundy, returned to his native Ireland after decades of missionary work with lepers as a priest in Africa. Jack contracted malaria and was sent home to his family's cottage on the outskirts of the village of Ballybeg in County Donegal to convalesce. At least, that was the official reason given by the Catholic Church overseeing the mission.

Adult Michael recalls that it was the month of August 1936, at the start of the Celtic harvest season known as Lughnasa, when Uncle Jack came home \u201cto die\u201d in the cozy family home shared by Michael and Jack\u2019s five maiden sisters. While they\u2019re happy to see Jack, it soon becomes apparent that he\u2019s adopted the ways of the African natives who were in his care for so long.

Eldest sister Kate, a staunch and starchy Catholic, is the breadwinner of the Mundy clan as a local schoolteacher, supplemented by the meager money brought in by quiet sister Agnes and simple-minded Rose with their knitting, income now threatened by a new, nearby factory doing similar work.

Irrepressible sister Maggie takes care of the household chores, assisted by youngest sister Chris, who had borne Michael out of wedlock with a dashing young Welshman named Gerry Evans. Gerry has a penchant for showing up at the Mundy home once a year or so. He\u2019s good-looking, charming and amiable, but unfortunately he\u2019s not much at holding a job or being reliable.

Still, when Gerry arrives in that fateful month, Chris once again is swept off her feet by his love for dancing and life itself. She knows better than to accept his latest proposal of marriage, though, seeing him for the rolling stone that he is. Gerry, who is an unsuccessful salesman of gramophones and a failed dance instructor, tinkers with the family\u2019s erratic radio, which plays Irish folk music and dance tunes when it\u2019s working.

Life is simple, quiet and rather unfulfilling for the Mundy sisters but they get by and carry on, feeding on their daydreams and hopes for a brighter future or wistful memories of fleeting happiness in the past. As bleak as their lives are, however, Michael looks back on the cruel circumstances of that long-ago Lughnasa which harvested his family\u2019s fading hopes.

Highlights: Mustard Seed Theatre\u2019s 10th season comes to a conclusion with a heart-rending rendition of Brian Friel\u2019s haunting Irish drama, featuring superb performances by an ensemble cast given affecting direction by Gary Barker.

Other Info: Friel\u2019s effort garnered Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Play in its London and Broadway versions following its 1990 premiere in Dublin. It\u2019s a \u2018memory play,\u2019 with the adult Michael narrating from the side of the stage a la To Kill a Mockingbird or The Glass Menagerie. Its melancholy tone more resembles the latter work than the former in that regard.

The stifling, lonely lives of the Mundy sisters provide rich opportunities for accomplished performers to cast the characters in their own interpretations. Such is the case with Mustard Seed\u2019s presentation, in which Barker allows Friel\u2019s endearing dialogue to move the story forward at a leisurely but never languid pace.

The technical setting is immediately evocative, giving an audience access to the Mundy environment before the play even begins. Kyra Bishop\u2019s scenic design is accentuated by a handsome backdrop painted by Cameron Tesson which takes one on a path into the Irish hillside from the Mundy cottage that sits in the foreground. Moving from stage right to stage left Bishop places an outdoor area where Michael plays, a door to the home and a working area that ushers into a living room of sorts with a kitchen at back.

Michael Sullivan\u2019s lighting is poetic in its own right, bathing the hillside in a rainbow of colors and the house in more utilitarian shades for various times of day. Laura Skroska\u2019s props add to the look and feel of the times with the boxy \u2018Marconi,\u2019 an ironing board, etc., while Jane Sullivan\u2019s costumes capture the diverse personalities of the sisters, from Kate\u2019s rigid appearance to Maggie\u2019s somewhat bohemian attire, as well as Gerry\u2019s dandy duds.

Zoe Sullivan\u2019s sound design is a blend of \u201930s band music and spirited Irish jigs, which the sisters respond to, ironically, with their own natural \u2018pagan\u2019 moves that are carefully choreographed by Helen Gannon to represent their feelings as well as their bodies. You can thank Nancy Bell for the rich Irish dialects, notably Michael\u2019s as spoken by Jim Butz.

This is truly an ensemble effort, with each of the players showing her or his ability to integrate artistic energy into an ingratiating performance. Butz sets the tone of the work with his forlorn countenance as he recalls the last happy moments of the Mundy brood, but also is delightful as Michael the lad, squealing excitedly in conversations with the adults, none of whom ever looks at him directly but instead speak to a location on the set.

Amy Loui renders Kate with an agonizingly repressed iron will, existing by the book of the Catholic Church rather than living freely, wavering ever so slightly. In sharp contrast is Kelley Weber\u2019s portrayal of Maggie, the free spirit who wonders what might have been when hearing of the faraway life of a schoolmate and who shows Michael what fun it can be to play.

Michelle Hand does wonders as Rosie, conveying the protected sister\u2019s simple ways with a face that shows wonder without comprehension, a considerable feat, and speaking just a tad differently than her sisters. Leslie Wobbe brings out the aching loneliness of Agnes, who comes to life when invited by Gerry to dance with him. At that same moment, Jennifer Theby Quinn fills Christine\u2019s face with jealousy and hurt, while at other times she instills Chris with the girlish love she still holds for her Welshman.

Gary Glasgow and Richard Strelinger complete the cast as the confused and gone astray Father Jack and as the good-hearted but irresponsible Gerry, respectively. The men here clearly aren\u2019t strong personalities, requiring care and cultivation.

Dancing at Lughnasa is a wondrously written yarn tenderly treated by Mustard Seed, with devoted direction and impeccable performances which affect every corner of an Irish Catholic heart and beyond.

Play: Dancing at Lughnasa

Company: Mustard Seed Theatre

Venue: Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, Big Bend at Wydown

Dates: April 20-23, 27-30

Tickets: $30-$35 (or Pay with a Can/Pay What You Can on Thursdays); contact www.mustardseedtheatre.com or 719-8060

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

Photos courtesy of John Lamb

"}, {"id":"abf66f23-f6cc-5ef3-9f14-1a4a8a7c84fe","type":"article","starttime":"1492102800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-13T12:00:00-05:00","priority":45,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Art Appreciation Grows with Age","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_abf66f23-f6cc-5ef3-9f14-1a4a8a7c84fe.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/art-appreciation-grows-with-age/article_abf66f23-f6cc-5ef3-9f14-1a4a8a7c84fe.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/art-appreciation-grows-with-age/article_abf66f23-f6cc-5ef3-9f14-1a4a8a7c84fe.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Alice Handelman","prologue":"Lynn Hamilton has spent her life championing the belief that the ability to create and appreciate art doesn\u2019t diminish as we get older, exhibited in this month\u2019s CASEfest.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["lynn hamilton","maturity and its muse","casefest"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d","description":"Lynn Hamilton, pictured at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum","byline":"Photo by Sarah Conroy","hireswidth":1752,"hiresheight":1183,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/e2/be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d/58ef8be42a4a5.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"513","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/e2/be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d/58ef8be428b1f.image.jpg?resize=760%2C513"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"68","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/e2/be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d/58ef8be428b1f.image.jpg?resize=100%2C68"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"203","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/e2/be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d/58ef8be428b1f.image.jpg?resize=300%2C203"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"691","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/e2/be2d9fa3-89d2-503b-a3f8-5c419fa7940d/58ef8be428b1f.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C691"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"abf66f23-f6cc-5ef3-9f14-1a4a8a7c84fe","body":"
\"Lynn

Lynn Hamilton, pictured at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

Lynn Hamilton\u2019s combined devotion to art, seniors and volunteerism has turned into a golden asset for the St. Louis community.

An art history major in college, Hamilton had an entrepreneurial bent that led to her owning an art gallery and The Chocolate Lady, a chocolate and pastry shop that\u2019s now closed. Earlier in life, as a stay-at-home mom, she crafted ribbon pillows and necklaces in her Creve Coeur home.

Long a champion of older adults and the arts, Hamilton pursued a major volunteering endeavor in 2010 by founding Maturity and Its Muse, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit where she created an innovative model program for seniors to enjoy and experience art while enhancing their quality of life.

\u201cMaturity and Its Muse began as my way of exploring the question of how the resourceful, energetic lives and experiences of mature, seasoned artists can serve as positive, productive examples of aging for all of us,\u201d she says. Hamilton, now 71, met many St. Louis artists during her days as a gallery owner, and as she was getting older, so were they.\u00a0To celebrate older adults and inspire others, the first event of Maturity and Its Muse was an art exhibit of the same name at The Sheldon Art Galleries in 2010, featuring professional area artists age 70 or older. Each artist created new art specifically for the show to highlight his or her current thoughts about themselves and the world around them. Although professional artists their entire adult lives, some of the contributors had never exhibited work in a gallery.

At the time she founded Maturity and Its Muse, Hamilton was working\u00a0full time for a computer company. \u201cVolunteerism was my nighttime career that combined mature adults and art, and it became like eating peanuts \u2013 I could not stop,\u201d she says.\u00a0\u201cWhat began as a visual art show soon morphed into programs featuring all art disciplines.\u201d

Her latest venture is Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement (CASEfest). Hamilton, now serving as Maturity and Its Muse\u2019s executive director, is coordinating a 10-day communitywide festival April 20 to 30. Now in its second year, the festival will feature arts events at 40 to 50 venues in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

\u201cIn 2016, CASEfest was the first areawide festival dedicated to our community\u2019s older adult population,\u201d Hamilton says. \u201cThis year, it will again showcase and applaud the creative work, expression and achievements of seniors; promote creative aging programs; feature positive images of older adults in the community; and build respect and understanding between generations.\u201d Hamilton is interested in engaging the senior St. Louis community at all levels and experiences, and hopes to further the older population\u2019s participation and relationship with the arts. \u201cWe are interested in inspiring folks and making St. Louis a great place for all to artfully age,\u201d she says, noting that the majority of the events at CASEfest are free and open to the public. \u201cArtists have the ability to inspire all of us to try our hand at something we have always wanted to do,\u201d she says. \u201cThe ability to appreciate and create art doesn\u2019t stop just because we\u2019re getting older. I like to serve as a conduit who puts people and organizations together.\u201d

Sheila Suderwalla, executive director of Artists First and a participating organization in CASEfest, agrees with Hamilton\u2019s assessment. \u201cParticipation in the arts, especially for older adults, can influence physical and mental health,\u201d she says. \u201cIt can strengthen social bonds and provide a sense of productivity and independence.\u201d

The 2017 CASEfest presents myriad opportunities for seniors to be entertained by and get involved in the arts. Highlights include free daily docent-led A-Musing Art tours of the permanent collection galleries at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will feature Family Fun Day, a variety of interactive art-making activities for all ages on April 22. Participants are invited to create multimedia collages and flipbooks, play games, enjoy a performance and explore the galleries. The Sheldon will showcase a gallery talk on April 25 with artist Barbara Holtz and Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of The Sheldon. Holtz, 92, has received multiple awards for her paintings and has been included in numerous national and international group exhibitions.\u00a0

Additionally, the St. Louis Banjo Club will hold a free performance of music from the first half of the 1900s at Schlafly Bottleworks at 7:30 p.m. on April 27. Seniors will have the opportunity to create self-portraits at most St. Louis County Library locations, and the results will be showcased at the end of the festival. The Holocaust Museum & Learning Center, a department of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, will feature a film series.\u00a0

Hamilton\u2019s activities and interests to improve the quality of life for seniors were recognized in 2016, when she was honored as a Woman of Achievement for her dedication to \u201cOlder Adult Services.\u201d Decades before founding Maturity and Its Muse, Hamilton spent years organizing social group activities and providing congregate adult dining services for older adults in St. Louis Housing Authority buildings.

She sold her elderly support business in 1988 and decided to concentrate on other business interests, including her art gallery, as well as take a run for state representative. \u201cI lost in number of votes but won because I never knew I could do this,\u201d she says. \u201cIt was a great experience. You\u2019re never too old to try something new. I enjoy inspiring people to share things and engage in the arts.\u201d

Hamilton, who calls herself a \u201cSt. Louisan always,\u201d says she dreamed of being a volunteer when she was growing up. She served as a candy striper at Jewish Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish Hospital), was active in Jewish Federation Sundays and was a Brownie Scout and Girl Scout. She graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 1963 and Centenary College for Women two years later, then attended Finch College for one year.\u00a0

Today, the mother of three and grandmother of four is president-elect of Women at the Kemper and will assume leadership of the organization in January 2018. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League; a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Fashion Group International, Clayton-Ladue Rotary Club and Barnes Jewish-Hospital Auxiliary; and a \u201cFriend\u201d of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Saint Louis Art Museum. She is a board member of Covenant Place, where she has volunteered to spearhead an art project to bring an artist in residence to the senior housing complex.\u00a0

In keeping with her love of art and design, the fashionable Hamilton looks as put-together and comfortable in a stylish dress and high heels as she does in a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and tennis shoes. She laughs when asked if she receives a paycheck for the work she does each day. \u201cMy volunteer time is my paycheck \u2013 the doing is my joy!\u201d she says. \u201cIt inspires me and keeps me going. It\u2019s my focus; it\u2019s what I love and makes me happy.\u201d

For a complete listing of all 2017 Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement events, running Thursday, April 20, to Sunday, April 30, visit maturityanditsmuse.org/calendar.

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Story: Barber Benjamin Barker returns to London in 1846 after 15 years imprisonment in Australia, having been sent there on a trumped-up charge by Judge Turpin, who then raped Barker\u2019s wife Lucy and assumed guardianship of Barker\u2019s young daughter, Johanna. Barker arrives in London with Anthony Hope, a young sailor who saved him from drowning on the voyage home.

Seeking revenge against Turpin, Barker, now going by the name of Sweeney Todd, finds his old location above Mrs. Lovett\u2019s meat pie shop empty and available. Recognizing him, Mrs. Lovett joins forces with the deranged Todd, helping him dispatch several bodies after he has murdered the victims.

When Anthony sees a young woman in a house while walking the streets of London, he finagles a way to meet her, and the two instantly are attracted to each other. She happens to be Johanna, who now has become the object of desire of the devious judge, who wants to marry her.

Anthony tells Todd of his plan to escape with Johanna, and Todd agrees to hide Johanna while actually hoping to be reunited with his daughter. When Tobias, a young waiter at Mrs. Lovett\u2019s shop, learns what actually is in her meat pies, Todd and Mrs. Lovett realize that their bustling enterprise is threatened and put in motion a plan to escalate their murders. But is it all too late?

Highlights: Stray Dog Theatre hits most of the right (and difficult) notes in a gloriously realized rendition of this masterpiece of a musical written by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. The production is highlighted by smashing performances by Lavonne Byers as the duplicitous Mrs. Lovett and Jon Hey as the maniacal title character.

Other Info: Based on a 1973 play by Christopher Bond which in turn was inspired by the urban legend that became a \u2018penny dreadful\u2019 serial in the early 19th century, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street garnered eight Tony Awards in 1979, including Best Musical, Best Book by Wheeler and Best Score by Sondheim. The original production starred Len Cariou as Sweeney and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett in Tony Award-winning roles.

Stray Dog\u2019s version features vivid direction by Justin Been, who opens up the Tower Grove Abbey theater to utilize aisles through which traverse an ensemble of flamboyant players, whose ghastly makeup and shoddy costumes epitomize the grime of polluted London and the grim chances of survival for the proletariat.

Rob Lippert is responsible for the deliciously decayed scenic design, a mass of gray, washed-out buildings that bespeak the poverty of the surroundings. It\u2019s expertly enhanced by Tyler Duenow\u2019s insightful lighting, especially haunting in Sweeney\u2019s barber shop on the set\u2019s second level.

Ryan Moore\u2019s costume design dresses the street folks in appropriately squalid tatters, while saving more elegant wardrobes for Judge Turpin and Johanna. Kudos go to the makeup designer for Hey\u2019s sunken, darkened eyes and pasty face that add menace to his already glowering and intimidating countenance.

Somewhere behind the expansive, two-level set sit music director Chris Petersen and his plucky band, who despite some shrill misses on opening night did proper justice to Sondheim\u2019s complex and compelling score. Pianist Petersen is accompanied by Kelly Austermann on clarinet, violinist Steve Frisbee, Bill Hershey on trumpet, Liz Kuba on French horn, cellist Michaela Kuba, M. Joshua Ryan on bass and percussionist Joe Winters.

The cast also had some moments of daunting challenges grappling with Sondheim\u2019s difficult tempos and perplexing ranges, but for the most part they are equal to the task and then some. Most impressive is Cole Gutmann\u2019s soaring tenor as the show\u2019s heroic figure, the aptly named Anthony Hope. His pairing with Eileen Engel\u2019s accomplished soprano as Johanna on the upbeat ballad, Kiss Me, is a highlight of the production.

Kay Love utilizes her beautiful voice to bring unsettling power and persuasion to the role of the mysterious Beggar Woman, adding some devilishly decadent moments when not singing as well. Her husband, Gerry Love, shows command in the role of the lecherous, insidious Judge Turpin, while Mike Wells demonstrates the breadth of his singing strength in the role of Turpin\u2019s toady, Beadle Bramford.

Connor Johnson delights as the enterprising young Tobias, while Tyler Cheatem goes too far over the edge in the understandably inflated role of the boastful \u201cItalian\u201d barber, Pirelli, but does showcase a fine voice.

Byers survived a rough start on the tune, Worst Pies in London, and then settled in nicely, both musically and in splendid comic form as the opportunistic Mrs. Lovett. Her expert timing and deadpan reactions make this Mrs. Lovett a wacky and weird wannabe love interest for the indifferent Sweeney, grandly mining the show\u2019s surprising elements of humor.

As the title character, Hey impressively displays not only a sturdy, steady voice in his lower register but also captures the menace, mayhem and madness in the \u201cdemon barber\u201d who, like Captain Ahab, is driven solely by revenge and ultimately pays the consequences for his single-minded focus. He teams with Byers charmingly on the gruesome albeit humorous Act I finale, A Little Priest, which describes the show\u2019s grisliest theme.

Adding to the flavor of this gleefully gruesome rendition are ensemble performers Angela Bubash, Ted Drury, Scott Degitz-Fries, Laura Megan Deveney, Kimmie Kidd, Stephanie Merritt, Kevin O\u2019Brien, Belinda Quimby and Benjamin Sevilla.

Artistic director Gary Bell announced on opening night that the first two weeks of Sweeney Todd are entirely sold out. Make plans quickly to obtain ducats for the production\u2019s third and final week. It\u2019s a close shave, but hopefully you\u2019ll score seats for this grand and glorious presentation.

Musical: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Company: Stray Dog Theatre

Venue: Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue

Dates: April 13-15 (all sold out), 19, 20, 21, 22

Tickets: $20-$25; contact 865-1995 or www.StrayDogTheatre.org

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

Photos courtesy of John Lamb

"}, {"id":"0a00bf28-1ede-11e7-a499-e37798ae9318","type":"article","starttime":"1491932460","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-11T12:41:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1491932988","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Fine Performances in Bankside Repertory's Production of 'Miss Julie\": Theater Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_0a00bf28-1ede-11e7-a499-e37798ae9318.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/fine-performances-in-bankside-repertory-s-production-of-miss-julie/article_0a00bf28-1ede-11e7-a499-e37798ae9318.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/fine-performances-in-bankside-repertory-s-production-of-miss-julie/article_0a00bf28-1ede-11e7-a499-e37798ae9318.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: It\u2019s Midsummer\u2019s Eve and Miss Julie is drawn to the festive celebration of the peasants at her father\u2019s manor house. Roles are clearly defined for the ruling and subordinate classes in Sweden in 1888, and Julie\u2019s father, the Count, oversees a vast estate as well as the many servants who tend it for him.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["strindberg","miss julie","sweden","naturalistic drama","theater","review","bankside repertory theatre company","alton","jacoby arts center"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769","description":"","byline":"Kim Howland","hireswidth":2048,"hiresheight":1365,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/74/674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769/58ebd709de65d.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"507","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/74/674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769/58ebd709dd236.image.jpg?resize=760%2C507"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/74/674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769/58ebd709dd236.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/74/674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769/58ebd709dd236.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/74/674d81fc-1e20-11e7-8fda-3f3c84ccc769/58ebd709dd236.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C682"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"0a00bf28-1ede-11e7-a499-e37798ae9318","body":"

Story: It\u2019s Midsummer\u2019s Eve and Miss Julie is drawn to the festive celebration of the peasants at her father\u2019s manor house. Roles are clearly defined for the ruling and subordinate classes in Sweden in 1888, and Julie\u2019s father, the Count, oversees a vast estate as well as the many servants who tend it for him.

That includes his valet Jean and Jean\u2019s fianc\u00e9e, Kristine, who cooks for the Count and tends the manor\u2019s large kitchen. Miss Julie is attracted to Jean, who is older than her and had done quite a bit of traveling in his time before settling into his current position. Jean is literate and well-mannered and enjoys conversing with the beautiful but socially na\u00efve Julie, who was raised by her late mother to believe that she should strive to be equal to any man and has recently ended a relationship with another aristocrat.

On this evening Miss Julie displays a wide array of emotions in her pas de deux with Jean, alternately ordering him around and begging him to love her, physically as well as emotionally. Their actions become more brazen after Kristine leaves the kitchen, and Jean proposes that he and Julie run off together to Switzerland, where he hopes to own and operate a hotel.

They\u2019ll need money to do that, of course, as Julie points out with clear practicality. As they consider their options, Jean becomes more pessimistic about their possibilities and is further threatened by Kristine\u2019s stern response to this sudden turn of events when she learns about it. Can Julie and Jean truly escape the roles established for them by society and centuries of \u2018propriety\u2019?

Highlights: Bankside Repertory Company concludes its second season with convincing performances by its trio of major players in a modern adaptation of August Strindberg\u2019s 19th century naturalistic drama.

Other Info: In 2015 the founding members of Bankside Repertory Theatre Company established residence at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton as a professional, Equity theater. The troupe\u2019s second season closed last weekend with a 21st century adaptation by playwright Craig Lucas of Strindberg\u2019s landmark drama, Miss Julie.

Congratulations are in order for the fledgling organization, which adds another star to the growing firmament of theater companies throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Its regular ensemble includes Geoff Callaway, Sue Ellen Coughtry, Caleb King, John O\u2019Hagan and Chrissy Calkins Steele.

As for the production of Miss Julie itself, there were several positives that offset the problematic elements of the Lucas translation. Jane Martin\u2019s set design, e.g., was an effective representation of a large and well-stocked kitchen, where most of the action in the drama takes place. It included a door at stage right and some windows in the rear, crucial for revealing the play\u2019s stunning climax.

Rick Vaughn\u2019s lighting was simple but satisfactory, while Allison Foreman\u2019s costumes added a nice touch with the servants\u2019 uniforms and the handsome finery of Miss Julie. Steele\u2019s choreography was limited to a few pleasing scenes involving the servant ensemble (Hannah Coughtry-Trapp, Cole Johnson, Nigel Knutzen, Sara Stephenson and Nick Trapp) dancing to a delightful selection of Swedish folk tunes played by music director and violinist Laura Garritson Parker.

Leerin Campbell convincingly conveyed the conflicting emotions that dominate Miss Julie\u2019s personality, wavering between a belligerent affirmation of her high place in society with Miss Julie\u2019s desperate need to secure Jean\u2019s love. She did a fine job delineating how Miss Julie alternately welcomes and rejects Jean\u2019s overtures, revealing the character\u2019s uncertainty in how to accommodate her mother\u2019s training to stand on equal footing with a man, albeit a servant.

Jason Contini was more effective at showing Jean\u2019s cruder and baser side than his aspirations to control his own destiny, although he nicely depicted the servant\u2019s respect for his master and employer with a nod of admiration about what the Count has accomplished, and a simple acknowledgement of the importance of keeping the Count\u2019s boots polished at his command.

In the relatively minor role of Kristine, Andrea Beth Craig shined showing the servant\u2019s simple adherence to her religion and to her established place in society as well as her disdain for the impulsive desires between Jean and Julie.

Director Sue Ellen Coughtry made good use of the performance area beyond the stage for the Midsummer Eve\u2019s festivities by the servants, while also moving Campbell and Contini around the kitchen area. The two primary players worked well off each other in both tempestuous and sensual scenes, although the first act too often seemed inconsistent in its pacing, seeming to lurch awkwardly forward at times from one conversation to the next.

A major problem with the Lucas interpretation is the annoying use of modern colloquial language, even while the setting remains in 19th century Sweden. The course dialogue doesn\u2019t mesh with its surroundings and dilutes the impact of Strindberg\u2019s philosophy, even if it sounds more \u2018naturalistic.\u2019

It\u2019s always good to have the opportunity to see a classic work performed, regardless of interpretation. In the case of Miss Julie, it was just as rewarding seeing the efforts of a new company welcomed by an appreciative audience.

Play: Miss Julie

Company: Bankside Repertory Theatre Company

Venue: Jacoby Arts Center, 627 East Broadway, Alton

Dates: Run concluded

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

Photos courtesy of PhotogBuddies

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A new eatery in southwest St. Louis\u2019 Lindenwood Park neighborhood \u2013 roughly a concrete\u2019s throw from the landmark Chippewa Street location of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard \u2013 Snax Gastrobar had a successful opening run, no thanks to fulminations from Mother Nature.

The afternoon of March 9 \u2013 a Thursday, named after the Norse storm god Thor \u2013 Snax Gastrobar greeted guests for the latter half of a two-day \u201csoft\u201d opening, just as much of the metro area turned into a blur of rain and mist. Then the mercury plunged 40 or so degrees, and a goofy (if minor) late-season snowfall hit the area that Saturday, as Old Man Winter sent St. Louisans scrambling for all-but-mothballed parkas, gloves and knit caps.

In all likelihood, the husband-and-wife team of Stanley and Arlene Browne \u2013 who conceived Snax Gastrobar and who, for some time now, have operated Robust Wine Bar\u2019s tandem locations in Webster Groves and downtown St. Louis \u2013 experienced a moment of sheer and utter confusion.

\u201cWednesday taxed us,\u201d confesses the new establishment\u2019s burly, affable bar manager, Jamie Coffman. \u201cThursday taxed us. Friday, the grand opening, really taxed us.\u201d

But his matter-of-fact tone joined with the poise and efficiency of the two servers on duty to suggest any \u201ctax\u201d per se ranked as chump change, as Snax Gastrobar satisfied customers with drinks and dinners from chef Joseph Hemp V (Robust Wine Bar\u2019s executive chef for the past lustrum).

Confirmation of that notion came one recent evening less than a week after the restaurant\u2019s launch on the former site of the lauded but short-lived J MacArthur\u2019s An American Kitchen (a shot of which, amusingly, still lingers on Lindenwood Park\u2019s online home page slideshow). That evening, a younger man in a black back-brimmed ball cap savored a draft Citrapolis from St. Louis\u2019 Modern Brewery and gravely told Coffman, \u201cLeBron\u2019s pretty good at traveling.\u201d In the dining room\u2019s northeast corner, meanwhile, three middle-aged women were studying menus while chattering like mad, near a quasi-chalkboard decorated with amusing sayings: Ben Franklin\u2019s misquotation about beer and God\u2019s love, as well as quips like \u201cIn dog beers, I\u2019ve only had one\u201d and \u201cBeer is good, but beers are better.\u201d And from a table near the room\u2019s windowed western edge, an infant gaily testified, \u201cYah, yah, yah, chip yah fah!\u201d

So: Snax Gastrobar, yes. But what does that even mean? The short answer: a rather fine distinction.

At a glance, the term gastrobar seems a conceptual upsell of gastropub, itself a slippery linguistic fish. Two of three unabridged dictionaries at hand, that is, define the springboard term as a \u201cbar that serves food considered to be of high quality\u201d and \u201ca pub that specializes in serving high-quality food.\u201d (The third and oldest of the unabridged dictionaries, like lesser lexicons, fails even to index gastropub.)

Gastrobar, again, seemingly draws a fine distinction between a focus on just beer and on a fuller range of libations, because many Americans, unaccountably, regard pubs, gastro- or otherwise, as strictly zymurgic zones.

This likely would tickle the Brits, who (to filch a construction from early 20th-century literary bomb-thrower Gertrude Stein) know that a pub is a pub is a pub is a pub \u2013 that at the local public house, one can just as easily sip a gin as a bitter.

In any event, Snax Gastrobar\u2019s culinary offerings lean toward higher-end comfort food. A simple and simplistic bean counter\u2019s squint at the dinner-only menu \u2013 which puckishly impersonates the flowcharts so integral to, oh, y\u2019know, accountancy \u2013 reveals six starters, a single soup (New England clam chowder) and three mostly standard salads, four sandwiches, six \u201cmains\u201d (entr\u00e9es, for those not down with foodie patois), a similar number of sides, four kiddie dishes and more than five but fewer than six desserts. (\u201cJust want a little something???\u201d the menu asks, to tease the restaurant\u2019s Ice Cream Shooter \u2013 a mini scoop on a mini cone for a buck and a half.)

That said, no one in his or her right mind would really want to count beans when Snax Gastrobar\u2019s kitchen can plate something a lot more tempting.

Consider, for starters, its starters, which cost between $5 and $12. They range from Bar Kibble (a Chex Mix-style nosh simultaneously sweet, salty and \u201cspicy\u201d) to separate house-cured and -smoked charcuterie and fromage (with rotating cheeses from various sources local and otherwise), both accompanied by fig jam, garlic mustard and crackers.

The establishment\u2019s sandwiches, which cost $10 and $12 and come with garlic-Parmesan fries, include the requisite burger as well as a Reuben with house-cured and -smoked pastrami, a BLT and a po\u2019boy incorporating some succulent marinated and grilled shrimp.

Snax Gastrobar\u2019s entr\u00e9es \u2013 those infamous \u201cmains\u201d \u2013 each cost $15, $16 or $17 and similarly include old favorites like meatloaf, an intriguing-sounding lamb shepherd\u2019s pie and, for noncarnivores, wild and exotic mushrooms saut\u00e9ed with spinach and served on a bed of Parmesan grits.

Grits recur among the quintet of sides, which otherwise seem standard enough and which run from $4 for mashed potatoes to $6 for (almost inevitably) mac \u2019n\u2019 cheese.

From their section of the menu, meanwhile, younger guests can enjoy that last dish and other dishes that range from $4 to $12 (for both mini steak frites with veggies and a dish labelled \u201cHam-Chop n Grits and Veggies\u201d).

Finally, the full desserts (priced between $5 and $8) constitute these temptations: a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles, apple pie \u00e0 la mode, a triple scoop of Webster Groves\u2019 Serendipity Ice Cream, vanilla cr\u00e8me br\u00fbl\u00e9e and, tantalizingly, a salted-caramel ice cream sandwich.

Beyond the culinary offerings as such, a separate menu showcases Snax Gastrobar\u2019s libations.

Not unexpectedly, given that Stanley Browne holds the rank of certified sommelier through Napa, California\u2019s Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, the establishment features dozens and dozens of fine wines. It also spotlights seven signature cocktails, among them a Manhattan potent enough for a native Manhattanite, as well as, intriguingly, a pear margarita and a sour made with Maplewood\u2019s Big O Ginger Liqueur. And last but scarcely least, the new establishment\u2019s libations constitute a bounty of brews: six on tap, including Busch; 12 in cans, including Stag; and 17 in bottles, including PBR.

Both menus, on the evening of the aforesaid visit, were giving patrons much to mull as the servers navigated the tastefully appointed place, which sports slate-gray walls accented with bursts of orange \u2013 as on the chairs to a central communal 10-top, three pendants lighting part of the open bar and thin plastic drink coasters regularly perforated by tiny rectangles for a checkerboard effect.

Amusingly, that evening, Browne arrived early, opened a tablet at the end of the bar and almost immediately ignored it as the pace at Snax Gastrobar increased.

First, he paused to relate the restaurant\u2019s seating capacity: 56 in the dining room plus 11 at the bar, 40 in the front enclosed patio and 30 in a back outdoor area. Then, with spousal pride, he indicated a can of Zwickel (from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.) topping the bar, one of several such aluminum containers from various brewers that his wife had repurposed as candles. Next, he signed for a congratulatory bouquet delivered to Snax Gastrobar, which, almost perforce, he also photographed for social media purposes.

Ultimately, Browne doffed his sport coat \u2013 the kid gloves were off \u2013 just before bussing a table and relocating a chair to an alcove in order to accommodate a stroller.

At the same time, the PA system, at a discreet level, was playing Bad Company\u2019s \u201cFeel Like Makin\u2019 Love,\u201d and three flat-screen TVs were broadcasting a sports event in a similarly nonintrusive fashion. Utensils here, there and everywhere were going clink-clink-clink, and in crafting a cocktail, Coffman, with two joined metal mixing glasses, impersonated the lead shaker player in a mariachi band: chicka-chicka-chicka.

In short, Snax Gastrobar sounded like a restaurant of much longer tenure, a neighborhood establishment adept at delighting patrons for considerably more than a mere five workdays. So amid the glorious tumult, whether tipping a pint, a pinot or a Pimm\u2019s No. 1 Cup, visitors to the Lindenwood Park newcomer may wish to say a toast to it and to hope it continues, yes, to welcome diners in such fine style.

Snax Gastrobar, 3500 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314-353-9463, snaxstl.com

Editor\u2019s Note: Stanley Browne contributes an oenological column, The Wine Life, each month to Ladue News.

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"}, {"id":"8a033554-1a3b-11e7-ac71-ab4a41501a88","type":"article","starttime":"1491422820","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-05T15:07:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1491932456","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Unsettling 'Sex with Strangers' Keeps One Guessing: Theater Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_8a033554-1a3b-11e7-ac71-ab4a41501a88.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/unsettling-sex-with-strangers-keeps-one-guessing-theater-review/article_8a033554-1a3b-11e7-ac71-ab4a41501a88.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/unsettling-sex-with-strangers-keeps-one-guessing-theater-review/article_8a033554-1a3b-11e7-ac71-ab4a41501a88.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":3,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: Olivia is a teacher who wrote a modestly successful novel several years earlier. It didn\u2019t do as well as she hoped, though, and now she\u2019s withdrawn into a shell as far as her writing aspirations. She\u2019s just finished work on another novel but hasn\u2019t done anything with it yet. \u00a0Instead, she holds onto a teaching position that she appears to damn with faint praise.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["central west end","sex with strangers","laura eason","rebel and misfits productions","kelly hummert","chris tipp","theater","review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"18744a5c-1e20-11e7-a676-3378463185ca","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"506","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/87/18744a5c-1e20-11e7-a676-3378463185ca/58ebd68596d6d.image.jpg?resize=760%2C506"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/87/18744a5c-1e20-11e7-a676-3378463185ca/58ebd68596d6d.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/87/18744a5c-1e20-11e7-a676-3378463185ca/58ebd68596d6d.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/87/18744a5c-1e20-11e7-a676-3378463185ca/58ebd68596d6d.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"3178b182-1e20-11e7-99b4-239a654fbb26","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"506","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/17/3178b182-1e20-11e7-99b4-239a654fbb26/58ebd6af8ff65.image.jpg?resize=760%2C506"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/17/3178b182-1e20-11e7-99b4-239a654fbb26/58ebd6af8ff65.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/17/3178b182-1e20-11e7-99b4-239a654fbb26/58ebd6af8ff65.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/17/3178b182-1e20-11e7-99b4-239a654fbb26/58ebd6af8ff65.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"4454aac2-1e20-11e7-9297-475024f1d63c","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"506","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/45/4454aac2-1e20-11e7-9297-475024f1d63c/58ebd6cf38227.image.jpg?resize=760%2C506"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/45/4454aac2-1e20-11e7-9297-475024f1d63c/58ebd6cf38227.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/45/4454aac2-1e20-11e7-9297-475024f1d63c/58ebd6cf38227.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/45/4454aac2-1e20-11e7-9297-475024f1d63c/58ebd6cf38227.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"8a033554-1a3b-11e7-ac71-ab4a41501a88","body":"

Story: Olivia is a teacher who wrote a modestly successful novel several years earlier. It didn\u2019t do as well as she hoped, though, and now she\u2019s withdrawn into a shell as far as her writing aspirations. She\u2019s just finished work on another novel but hasn\u2019t done anything with it yet. \u00a0Instead, she holds onto a teaching position that she appears to damn with faint praise.

Alone in a bed and breakfast, she\u2019s startled one evening when a young man who calls himself Ethan barges in, saying he\u2019s looking for the proprietor of the place, which is hosting a writers' conference. He turns his attention to Olivia, however, boasting that he\u2019s done very well as a blogger and the author of a hit book titled Sex with Strangers. It\u2019s a semi-autobiographical tome about how many women he bedded in a single year in order to win a bet with a friend.

Initially repelled by his brash behavior, Olivia finds herself nonetheless attracted to the cocky, self-confident Ethan, who is a decade her junior and says he has read and admired her book. Soon enough they end up sleeping together, even as Olivia resists Ethan\u2019s efforts to market both of her books electronically via an app he\u2019s been working to introduce to the market.

Ethan persists in his desire to see Olivia get the recognition he believes she deserves, pushing the limits of what she has permitted him to do and all the while making increasingly stronger overtures to read her new novel despite her protestations. If Ethan gets his way, the old-fashioned Olivia, who prefers the look and touch of a hard-bound tome, could be a literary force in an e-book world. But is that what she wants or not?

Highlights: Laura Eason\u2019s steamy, two-character study is receiving its St. Louis premiere in a solid production presently being staged by Rebel And Misfits Productions in the offbeat venue of a private home.

Other Info: Artistic director Kelly Hummert\u2019s fledgling troupe, which arrived late last year with its \u201cimmersive theatre\u201d presentation titled Hamlet: See What I See, is performing Sex with Strangers at 4632 McPherson Avenue in a private home in the Central West End.

The unusual performance venue features no set design or lighting per se beyond the house\u2019s usual look, taking place in living room quarters on the first floor with folding chairs lined up on two sides. It\u2019s a cozy and quirky choice but it works well enough with such a small cast.

Hummert and Christopher Tipp comprise the players under Michelle Bossy\u2019s deliberate direction, which comes to a standstill whenever the one-act script requires a new scene. There is no program, so the passage of time between scenes is gathered primarily from the conversations of the two characters, who enter and exit via the front door, steps to the second floor and through a room leading to the home\u2019s back door.

Eason\u2019s sensual story is filled with sexy scenes that heighten the tension between the two characters, given their underlying motives as well as an aura of mystery and danger in Ethan\u2019s personality. Is he genuinely interested in Olivia and her deserved fame? Or is using her to jump-start his latest entrepreneurial idea?

Both Hummert and Tipp give convincing performances. Hummert conveys Olivia\u2019s beaten-down, timid acceptance of her condition, a considerable ways removed from her halcyon days with a former professor who is now a close friend of Ethan\u2019s. Olivia appears to be no match for her headstrong lover.

Tipp is creepily effective as the financially successful young Ethan, capturing the blogger\u2019s overblown confidence with a swagger and smooth talk of a con artist. He also shows Ethan\u2019s disturbing penchant for sudden piques of anger and resentment that seemingly bubble to the surface on a whim.

Production notes indicate that Sex with Strangers was one of the Top Ten-produced plays in 2015 and 2016, with more than 30 productions in the United States and internationally, including a successful run in New York.

Sex with Strangers at its core is an erotic and unsettling cat-and-mouse game that keeps one guessing about which motives are genuine and which lead to a devious conclusion as its two characters use any means to get what they want.

Play: Sex with Strangers

Company: Rebel And Misfits Productions

Venue: Private residence, 4632 McPherson Avenue

Dates: April 5-9, 12-15

Tickets: $25 ($10 for college students with valid photo ID); contact 314-534-1111 or www.metrotix.com (Note: Audience members must be at least 18 years old)

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

"} ]