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Recognition of stellar productions by nearly two dozen local theater companies will take center stage when the St. Louis Theater Circle presents its second annual awards ceremony honoring the best in local professional theater, on stage and behind the scenes, on Monday, March 17, 2014 at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), 524 Trinity Avenue in University City.
Story: Research scientist Juliana Smithton is a driving force in her field; as she says to a convention of physicians, “Protein folding is my area.” While she touts the virtues of a pharmaceutical drug called Identamyl, though, she seems to space in and out of her presentation.
Story: World War II is over, and Joe Keller is back at work running his factory. During the war, he and his partner, Steve Deever, had been convicted of selling defective airplane parts to the United States Army. Those defective pieces led to the deaths of 21 Army Air Force pilots who flew faulty planes into combat.
All of a sudden it’s nearing the end of December and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions dance in our heads. Before we enter 2014, however, let’s reflect on what the past year has given us on local stages.
Story: When Ben and Franklyn met in college, they knew they’d be best friends, as in “Ben Franklin,” you know? Several years later, Ben is a successful Los Angeles businessman operating a string of ‘Big and Tall’ men’s shops, while Franklyn pays the bills as an employee of a prominent law firm run by his father-in-law. What he really wants, though, is a career as a writer, so he’s taking a night-school course to help in that endeavor.
Story: On the eve of World War II, famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud invites little known Oxford professor C.S. Lewis to his London flat. Lewis suspects that Dr. Freud intends to chastise him for some flippant remarks made by Lewis about the noted atheist in a new book the Christian author has written. He is surprised to hear that Freud hasn’t read the book at all, and also stunned to learn that the 83-year-old physician is dying of cancer.
Story: New York City is stunned when a slave ship suddenly appears in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, centuries after it initially sailed. Its presence elicits a strong reaction from people on shore, including a reporter at the scene, a “slave-ologist” professor, a Republican business executive, a homeless man, a street vendor, a young boy and girl from the projects and others.
Story: Kath is smitten with her prospective new tenant, Mr. Sloane. He’s tall, dark and handsome, just the type of lad that middle-aged Kath says she could ‘mother.’ He reminds her of what her own son might be like had she known him. Her son was born out of wedlock, though, and Kath’s brother Ed sent him off to an adoption agency many years ago.
Way back in the days when I was a lad, Labor Day marked the beginning of the school year. Now, of course, school districts and universities get their fall semesters underway a couple of weeks earlier.
When it’s live, anything can happen, says The Repertory Theatre’s veteran artistic director Steven Woolf. This season, The Rep will showcase that exciting element of live theater during two productions that take audiences backstage. The new lineup also will feature a range of dramatic, comical and mysterious plays. LN recently spoke with Woolf for an inside look at the mainstage season and Studio Theatre series.
Petting a stingray. Watching a Broadway show. Taking a simulated flight. These are just a few of the unique experiences retirees take part in as they volunteer at local institutions.
The Saint Louis Art Museum’s new restaurant, Panorama, is the latest ‘work of art’ to be unveiled at the museum’s new East Building. The restaurant features a farm-to-fork menu and is led by executive chef Edward Farrow, who is known for forming partnerships with local growers. He most recently served as chef at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, where he was twice named a ‘Local Hero’ by Edible Phoenix. Panorama is operated by Bon Appetit Management Company.
Story: Shlemiel is a simple beadle (minor official) in the town of Chelm, a “village of fools” located between Everywhere and Elsewhere “a long, long time ago.” Shlemiel is exasperating to his wife, who has tolerated his imperfections for 20 years as he goes about his humdrum existence, and she needs to supplement his income in order to have food for their two surviving children.
Story: Katha has a high-powered job in the city that keeps her in high-stress mode. Her husband Ryu is a plastic surgeon who seems always to be on the run. One day, when Katha by chance meets a dapper fellow named Dean on the street and inquires about his ‘retro’ look, he hands her a brochure about the Society of Dynamic Obsolescence.
Story: The time is December 4, 1956 and the place is Sun Records in Memphis. The tiny, unremarkable building once housed an auto parts store, as owner and producer Samuel Cornelius Phillips reminds himself and visitors, before Sam turned it into a tiny recording studio a couple of years earlier.
Story: Two men converse on a nearly barren landscape. They appear to be in dire straits, although their now shabby clothes indicate they once held loftier places in society. They talk about a man named Godot, who has promised to visit them today, much like he has indicated numerous times in the 50 years they have waited. As of yet, though, they have never actually met this individual.
An assistant of Sir Paul McCartney recently called local designer David Deatherage to discuss purchasing a vintage desk-- the desk that was featured on the cover of LN’s Fall 2012 Elegant Living edition.
WEBSTER UNIVERSITY’s Chess Team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, will be competing as the top seed in the Final Four of Collegiate Chess this weekend. The team, coached by renowned chess grandmaster SUSAN POLGAR, will do battle against students from University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Texas-Dallas and University of Illinois. The six grandmasters who make up the Webster team include: WESLEY SO (also ranked No. 1 in the Philippines), RAY ROBSON (also ranked No. 8 in the U.S.), FIDEL JIMENEZ (also ranked No. 3 in Cuba), GEORG MEIER (also ranked No. 4 in Germany), MANUEL HOYOS (also ranked No. 1 in Mexico and is the reigning U.S. Open Champion), and ANATOLY BYHKOVSKY (also ranked No. 21 in Israel). Bring home a winner, Webster!
Story: Thomas has grown weary interviewing actresses for the starring role in his new play, Venus in Fur. It’s written in the large, bombastic style of 19th century European literature, a genre Thomas laments is all but extinct in modern art. He prepares to leave the audition room in frustration when a flamboyant, stunningly attractive woman enters the room.
DATE AND LOCATION CHANGED, CATERER ADDED FOR INAUGURAL ST. LOUIS THEATER CIRCLE AWARDS
Story: Using social media as both a tool and a plot device, playwright Lia Romeo presents a quartet of tales, played out in one act and 90 minutes, which depict the values and vices of communicating with others through 21st century adaptations of the internet.
Renowned professional dancers from around the globe star on St. Louis stages throughout the year. And that same high-caliber talent also trains the next generation of local dance artists. It’s all made possible by Dance St. Louis.
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.
Story: Vera is awakened in the dead of night by a loud pounding on her Greenwich Village apartment door. The unexpected visitor is her 21-year-old grandson Leo, who is filthy and smells from too many days away from soap and shower.
While the local theater scene felt less ‘busy’ than the last few years, a couple hundred productions were available to patrons in search of something new—or something familiar and beloved—to entertain them. Of the approximately 135 productions I viewed this year, dozens were splendidly presented. The following list ranks the 11 productions that made the most impact—in one reviewer’s opinion—in this fabulous year: