Donna Parrone has been involved with St Louis theater since moving here in the 1980's. She is one of the founders of HotHouse Theatre (now HotCity) and has been an actor, a producer, a director and an educator.
Last year, Ron Conner led Black Rep casts in four out of five productions, and from the first, became one of my favorite actors to watch. This year he leads the Black Rep away from its twenty-six year home at the Grandel Theater to the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theater on the campus of Washington University and opens the new season with a sizzling one man show, Emergency. (The Black Rep was recently unceremoniously dumped from their long-time home. Hotchner will not be a permanent space for them, but was the perfect space for this particular show.)
If you like your comedy dark and twisted, irreverent and absolutely “for adults only,” you’ve probably been a fan of HotCity Theatre for ages; and their latest offering, Entertaining Mr. Sloane by Joe Orton, shouldn’t be missed. First, it’s a rare chance to see Orton’s first play, written in 1964. While no longer scandalous, it’s a great touchstone to see how far we have evolved. Second, it has some of the strongest technical elements I’ve seen to date in the Kranzberg Art Center’s black box theater. Third, the pre-eminent comic actor in town, Lavonne Byers, leads the able cast.
Little Shop of Horrors dwells on a short list of musicals that I really love and the Stray Dog production, which opened at Tower Grove Abbey last weekend, is a great example of why. If done well, Little Shop… cannot fail to please. This particular production, under keen and polished direction by Justin Been, succeeds gloriously. It is given a Stray Dog twist, in the guise of some alternative casting, which serves to enhance the tawdry setting of Skid Row.
It seems like everyone I know loves Anything Goes. My best friend in college was madly in love with Patti Lapone when she played Reno Sweeney back in 1987 and Mel Brooks says he decided to go into theater after seeing the 1934 production with Ethel Merman. The 2011 Tony winning production by Roundabout Theatre Company is making its St Louis premiere now through June 9th at the Fox with a glittering and ebullient Rachel York at the helm, channeling a bit of Mae West from time to time. The story is silly and campy with lots of puns and old jokes that are still fun.