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St. Louis Performer Ken Page To Be Honored For Lifetime Achievement

Ken Page reprised his role as Old Deuteronomy in The Muny's 2010 production of "Cats," a role he originated the musical's 1982 Broadway debut.
The Muny

Ken Page, whose career took him from The Muny to Broadway and the big screen, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award Monday from the local Arts and Education Council.

Page is known for creating the character of Old Deuteronomy in the Broadway debut of the iconic musical “Cats” and as the voice of Oogie Boogie in Tim Burton’s film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

During a nearly 40-year career, the Fontbonne University graduate has played hundreds of roles in film and on stages in New York and St. Louis.

But he hesitates to name a favorite.

“They’ve all been really special,” Page said. “I’m really fortunate in that way.”

Listen: "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh talks to actor and singer Ken Page about his expansive career and current gigs. 

‘Award for reaching 65’

Page got his start at The Muny and after graduating from Fontbonne University in the early 1970s, went to New York. He debuted on Broadway as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in a revival of “Guys and Dolls” and as a replacement for the Lion in “The Wiz.” 

He’s also known for his role of Murray in Harvey Fierstein’s 1988 “Torch Song Trilogy.”

In addition to his theater and movie roles, Ken Page has directed several local productions and appeared in a 2014 cabaret show called "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue."
Credit Ken Page
In addition to his theater and movie roles, Ken Page has directed several local productions and appeared in a 2014 cabaret show called "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue."

Page moved back to St. Louis in 2012. Before and after his return, he appeared dozens of times on the St. Louis Muny stage. He donned the Old Deuteronomy suit again in 2010 in The Muny’s presentation of “Cats.” He played the Genie in the iconic St. Louis institution’s 2012 production of “Aladdin” and appeared in its staging of “Dreamgirls” starring Jennifer Holliday that same year.

In recent years, Page hosted the St. Louis Arts Awards host, announcing several previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s really nice; Boy, wouldn’t that be nice to get one of those one day, right?’ But I hadn’t considered that it would happen, truthfully,” he said. “It’s very impacting.”

The awards ceremony comes one day after Page celebrates a banner birthday.

“So in a way, it’s like an award for reaching 65,” Page said.

Page has no plans to slow down. He’s directing a local Max & Louie Productions presentation about the wife of legendary songwriter Cole Porter, called “Love, Linda.”

Other 2018 award recipients include Noémi and Michael Neidorff for Excellence in Philanthropy, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis for Arts Startup of the Year and Amy Freet of the Ferguson-Florissant School District for Art Educator of the Year. Kennedy Holmes, the St. Louis teenager who recently came in fourth place on “The Voice,” is among the event’s performers.

Watch Ken Page sing the "Oogie Boogie's Song" from "Nightmare Before Christmas" at the Hollywood Bowl in 2016.

Tune in to St. Louis on the Air Tuesday, Jan. 22 to hear more from Ken Page.

If you go:

Arts and Education St. Louis Arts Awards

Where: Chase Park Plaza

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, following a cocktail hour

Cost: $300 for reception, dinner and ceremony

Tickets/Information: Arts and Education Council website 

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL 

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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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