DATE AND LOCATION CHANGED, CATERER ADDED FOR INAUGURAL ST. LOUIS THEATER CIRCLE AWARDS
Performances by local professional theater companies, ranging in size from The Muny and its productions in the 11,000-seat Forest Park amphitheater to small companies performing in modest spaces throughout the area, will be recognized at the inaugural Louie Awards.
The year 2012 was tumultuous in many respects, so perhaps fittingly Wicked is the title of the production that brings down the curtain on the last 12 months. A record drought plagued the St. Louis area, temperatures sweltered in an elongated summer and the area’s economy staggered toward a slow but steady recovery. All of this took place in the face of impending doom predicted centuries ago by the Mayan calendar.
Story: Lorraine is out of prison for the first time in 12 years. She’s served her sentence and now is free to get on with living. Trouble is, she has no life on the outside. She’s a stranger to her adult son, whom she gave up for adoption, and she has no trade with which to earn a living. Unemployed and unwanted, she shows up on the doorstep of her cell mate Marie, who was released a while before her.
Story: Agnes is at low ebb in her life. Her ex-husband Jerry has been released from prison and she fears he will come after her and resume his violent ways. As a result, she’s holed up in a tiny room in a seedy motel on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. When her friend R.C. drops by, she brings along an acquaintance, a quiet young man named Peter. Despite his reticence, Agnes takes a tentative liking to the stranger, who gradually indicates the feeling is mutual. Knowing only that Peter is on the move for mysterious reasons, she invites him to stay.
The year 2011 yielded an abundance of significant news in local theater. Eleven presentations stood out above the rest. In ascending order, here’s a list of the year’s best productions:
Story: Li’l Bit comes from a small, poor family in rural Maryland. She lives with her mother and also regularly sees her grandmother and grandfather as well as her mother’s sister, Aunt Mary, and Mary’s husband Peck. Li’l Bit tells us that everyone in her family is known by a nickname with sexual connotations, and the family’s dinners frequently turn coarse and vulgar as her uneducated grandfather says whatever comes into his mind. Li’l Bit dreams of going to college, but only Uncle Peck nurtures that thought.
Play: “The Mineola Twins”
Play: “The Baltimore Waltz”
Financial forecasters say that the Great Recession is winding down, with encouraging signs of an improving economy outweighing lingering negative effects such as high unemployment.
Play: “Long Day’s Journey into Night”
Play: “Now I Ask You”
Play: Desire Under the Elms
Some say that St. Louis in recent years has been experiencing a renaissance in theater, but I’m not entirely sure about that. While matching the second definition of ‘renaissance’ in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as ‘a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity,’ it doesn’t necessarily jibe with the third definition of ‘rebirth, revival.’
Play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Play: The Lady from Dubuque
Remember when theater in St. Louis took a sleepy hiatus before The Rep kicked off its new season in September? Apart from The Muny, culture from May through August was derived mainly from a good book or a trip to the museum.
Play: Three Tall Women
While 2008 is ending on a recessionary note economically, there’s little doubt that the St. Louis theater scene continues to grow, at least as far as the number of productions is concerned. In reviewing my notes about shows covered this year, I noticed that the number I saw in person, 128, was at least 85 short of the total presentations offered by touring, professional, community and college companies in the area. And that doesn’t count the dozens of performances offered by the burgeoning cabaret crowd.
Play: The Night of the Iguana
Play: Vieux Carre
Play: Vieux Carre
How to begin to describe the theater experience in St. Louis in 2007? Certainly the growth in both the quantity and quality of offerings is apparent, with several new theater companies including the St. Louis Actors’ Studio and Mustard Seed Theatre joining more established troupes. The year also marked the opening of several new venues, including Tower Grove Abbey (home of Stray Dog Theatre), Gaslight Theater (home of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio) and Ivory Theater (where New Line Theatre, the NonProphet Theater Company and Hydeware Theatre all reside).