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The B List: Five plays with lots of buzz going into a new season

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 6, 2013 - With dozens of theater companies opening the curtain on a new season, how do you decide which productions make your social calendar? We emailed artistic directors and others in local theater to name the plays they’re most looking forward to this year, and compiled this list of the most frequently cited, in order.

1. “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”: In this HotCity Theatre production, running Sept. 6-21 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, a sordid life becomes more so, thanks to a landlady, played by one of St. Louis' favorite female actors. “[It’s] sure to have crackling direction from Bill Whitaker with a cast including Lavonne Byers, who is going to kill in this.” - Joe Hanrahan, Midnight Theatre artistic director.

2. “Cabaret”: The Loretto-Hilton Center’s mainstage theater will be transformed into the Kit Kat Club, whose burlesque parallels the rise of Nazi Germany, when The Rep opens its season with “Cabaret,” Sept. 11-Oct. 6. “Growing up, it was one of the first productions I saw that proved how theatre can be a visceral experience as well as entertaining.” - Kim Furlow, Dramatic License executive producer.

3. “Freud’s Last Session”: The Rep’s Studio Theatre season opener, running Oct. 30-Nov. 17, brings home a native St. Louisan to play Christian author C.S. Lewis, who wrangles with Sigmund Freud over love, sex, science and faith. “[I’m looking forward to it because] Jim Butz is in it, and he's an incredible STL actor.” - Rick Dildine, Shakespeare Festival artistic director.

4. “Our Town”: Insight Theatre’s Sept. 12-29 rendition of the Thornton Wilder classic, about the lives and afterlives of two small-town families, features veteran local actor Joneal Joplin, but he's off-stage, not on, at Nerinx Hall’s Heagney Theatre. “[It was] one of the 1st Professional Productions that I acted in ... saw Paul Newman do it and now am looking forward to [Jop being the stage manager].” - William Roth, St. Louis Actors’ Studio producing director.

5. “Falling”: Back from its Off-Broadway run, this story of a family with a severely autistic son, that speaks to the challenges of loving any hard-to-love person, will be reprised by Mustard Seed Theatre, April 4-27, with its original cast including Michelle Hand as the mom. “The first time it was produced I fell in love with the work.” - Gary Bell, Stray Dog artistic director.

More local theater resources

St. Louis area theater calendar

New Line Theatre’s “Upcoming Musicals” page

ALIVE magazine’s fall arts preview

RFT’s fall arts guide

St. Louis Magazine’s fall arts guide

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

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