Stray Dog Theatre’s 13th season continues its tradition of honoring the human condition, with six new shows themed around the odd, disenfranchised members of society, to be staged at Tower Grove Abbey. LN spoke with the company’s artistic director, Gary Bell, to learn more about the unique new season of top-notch musicals to laugh-out-loud comedies – all featuring diverse messages.

Describe the new shows.

“Dogfight,” a hip, modern show with a stunning pop/rock musical score, honors a memorable time in American history, while “Devil Boys from Beyond” is a play that celebrates misfits and the need for acceptance. “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight” is a spine-tingling mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock. “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” features five identically clad bridesmaids who each have a different reason for avoiding a grandiose wedding reception at a Southern estate. And “Bat Boy: The Musical” mixes offbeat comedy and horror with big-hearted satire about prejudice.

What will be the highlight of the season?

I am especially excited about “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which explores what it feels like to be lost, alone, outcast and a bit odd. Just when you think Hedwig can’t go on, out of the ashes springs hope and the strength to persevere.

What are some of the challenges of producing these shows?

Every show comes with obstacles, from unique props to specialty costumes. The main stage at Tower Grove Abbey – a converted historic church – has no wing space or fly space, so our creative team must rely on our unique talents to produce larger shows in innovative ways.

What should people know about Stray Dog Theatre if they’ve never been to a show?

Stray Dog Theatre prides itself on presenting work that has substance and purpose. We don’t shy away from uncomfortable issues that stimulate and provoke thought and self-examination. Often, the best mediums in which to explore such important themes are through music, comedy and satire.

What is unique about the Stray Dog Theatre experience?

With its 35-foot vaulted ceilings and 25-foot stained glass windows, Tower Grove Abbey is quite the elegant St. Louis landmark. However, with a seating capacity of 150, the productions themselves are extremely intimate. This dichotomy in feeling creates a one-of-a-kind experience.

314-865-1995, straydogtheatre.org

Stray Dog Theatre’s 13th Season

Staged at Tower Grove Abbey

  • “Dogfight,” through Oct. 24
  • “Devil Boys from Beyond,” Dec. 3 to Dec. 19
  • “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight,” Feb. 4 to Feb. 20
  • “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” March 31 to April 16
  • “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” June 9 to June 25
  • “Bat Boy: The Musical,” Aug. 4 to Aug. 20