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Theater

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Forbidden love often finds itself on stage. In “Conviction,” an upcoming New Jewish Theatre presentation about a real-life, ill-fated romance, the stakes are particularly high.

“Conviction” is a story-within-a-story, set during the Spanish Inquisition, a period in which Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism. It centers on the true tale of a Spanish Jew turned Catholic priest who surreptitiously married and raised a family with a Jewish woman. After Father Andres Gonzales confessed his double life to a priest, he was burned alive.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 20, 2013 - Kaitlin Niewoehner tumbled through childhood as a promising gymnast in Columbia, Mo. Competitions often brought her to St. Louis, where her family of five enjoyed going to the Zoo, the Arch and Cardinals games.

But in Niewoehner’s early teens, gymnastics’ toll on her body and her dad’s job transfer to the 49th state changed the rhythm of her life: Hello 14, hello Alaska, hello dance lessons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Remember in the 1960s when being married was a woman’s holy grail, often achieved through incessant performances of just the right “bend and snap?”

Oh, wait, that was the 21st-century musical “Legally Blonde.”

(via Flickr/ Tim Green)

In 2012, approximately 100 local professional theatrical productions were presented in the St. Louis area.

A new organization called the St. Louis Theater Circle, a group of area theater reviewers, seeks to recognize local professional theater with the inaugural Louie Awards.

The first Louie Awards presentation coincides with the suspension of the Kevin Kline Awards.  Earlier this year the Professional Theater Council of St. Louis decided not to hold a ceremony honoring 2012 theatrical productions, citing financial issues.

Review: New Jewish Theater's "Talley's Folly"

Dec 20, 2012

Talley’s Folly takes place in a decaying Victorian boathouse on the night of July 4, 1944 in Lebanon, Missouri. Matt Friedman (played by Shaun Sheley) a Jewish accountant from St Louis, comes to propose to Sally Talley, a free-spirited "southern" girl chafing under conservative home rule, whom he had fallen in love with a year earlier. It is a play about releasing secrets and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to chose love.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 23, 2012 - Anne Frank and Emmett Till both died in their early teens but the legacies of their short lives have inspired millions.

They never met, of course. Till was born in Chicago just two years before Frank went into hiding in Nazi Germany, later dying in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 3, 2012 - A new organization has announced it will pick up the baton left by the decision of the Professional Theatre Council of St. Louis (PTC) to put its Kevin Kline Awards on hold.

The newly formed St. Louis Theatre Circle, consisting of local theater reviewers, will hand out its Louies awards for the 2012 season. Nominations will be announced in mid-January, with a low-budget awards ceremony to take place this spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 4, 2012 - Theater companies are reinventing themselves after the curtain closed on a temporary arrangement providing inexpensive space to 70 arts organizations while filling thousands of otherwise-empty square feet at Crestwood Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 1, 2011 - Living in Saskatchewan, Canada, playwright Joanna Glass grew up with the concept that government provides two valuable services to all people: health care and education.

After moving to the United States as an adult, Glass realized that here, neither is a priority. Her play, "Palmer Park," opening Thursday at St. Louis' Missouri History Museum, addresses the education piece.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 27, 2011 - Female dancers not only get tutus and toe shoes, they also get something else males don't: acceptance.

Little girls who dance are called graceful and talented. Little boys are sometimes called sissies and worse. In "Billy Elliot the Musical," opening at the Fox Theatre Nov. 1, young Billy tries to hide his dancing from his father and brother, British coal miners on strike in 1984. He ultimately suffers their ridicule and that of their poor mining community.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 22, 2011 - The terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, transformed us, as a nation and as individuals, in ways both predictable and unexpected. To her surprise, it turned journalist Anne Nelson into a playwright.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 11, 2011 - After Chicago playwright Andrew Hinderaker worked through the fact that a friend had taken his own life, he discovered a startling statistic: 80 percent of completed suicides involve men.

"What is the relationship between masculinity and suicide?" Hinderaker asked himself.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 7, 2011 - If you've ever been driven to distraction -- and who hasn't? It's the American condition -- "Distraction" will provide multiple "OMG, I've so been there" moments.

Written by Lisa Loomis, who co-wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning film "Girl, Interrupted," the comedic "Distraction" is set in another kind of off-kilter institution: the suburban American home.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 2, 2011 - Why do we choose so often to watch the suffering of others? I know people who subject themselves to hours of reality television purely because of the mean-hearted satisfaction generated by feeling superior to the ridiculous and debased people featured on them. Award seasons recognize tragic dramas purely because suffering itself can be so beautiful and transcendent. Others still watch hours of news coverage of natural disasters and global crises because they feel they owe it to the victims to feel for their pain.

Newly engaged artist Arthur should be walking on air. But as a fetishist who's missing his favorite footwear, he's in a quandary.

So begins "Psychopathia Sexualis," a comedy revolving around an anxious soon-to-be groom, his wealthy socialite fiancee and his father's argyle socks.

Only within proximity to the socks is Arthur able to make love. However, in an unorthodox therapeutic move, his psychiatrist snares the potent pair.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2010 - Waiters whizzing by on skates was exactly what a scene from “Footloose” needed in the Stages St. Louis 2005 production, thought choreographer Dana Lewis.

In rehearsal after rehearsal, the performers rocked and literally rolled all over the stage without a hitch.

Waiters whizzing by on skates was exactly what a scene from “Footloose” needed in the Stages St. Louis 2005 production, thought choreographer Dana Lewis.

In rehearsal after rehearsal, the performers rocked and literally rolled all over the stage without a hitch.

But during a technical rehearsal just prior to opening night, a bad fall left actor Zoe Vonder Haar with a broken arm, and put the kibosh on the skating idea. Theater-goers never knew what they’d missed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 16, 2010 - There's no shortage of talent in the Teeter family of Webster Groves. But with four children 8 and under, it can be tough to hold onto the spotlight.

Even at two weeks old, Maggie, the baby of the family, almost stole the show last summer from her then-7-year-old sister Elizabeth during Elizabeth's St. Louis Muny debut as Tootie in "Meet Me in St. Louis." 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 10, 2010 - Temporary Theatre is probably not the first name that comes to mind for a company hoping to make a go of it in the sometimes precarious world of St. Louis theater. But founder Steve Isom, who also created the Kevin Kline Awards, was looking for some flexibility.

"If I called it the 'Permanent Theatre,' that would be so limiting, wouldn't it?" Isom said. "With 'Temporary' I have many more options. I could end it after one show or I could end it after 20 years."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 10, 2010 - New Line Theatre Company's Scott Miller recently came thisclose to homelessness after moving in and out of eight different venues in 16 years. But the artistic director got an early holiday present when Washington University unexpectedly agreed to another one-year contract for the theater inside its Clayton Road building, the former Christian Brothers College High School. The decision came after several months of worry.

"I have no idea where we would have gone," Miller said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 14, 2009 - The economic Grinch has stolen some cheer from local theater companies this holiday season. On Dec. 8, the Regional Arts Commission had a heart-to-heart with about 50 arts organizations including heads of theater companies, telling them that grant money will be cut by 15 percent or more beginning June 1, 2010.

"Metamorphoses" marathon draws unusual suspects

Aug 26, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 26, 2009 - The themes encompassed in Ovid's "Metamorphoses" play out again and again in great works of art, literature and history.

There's love, loss, betrayal and hubris.

That last one seems particularly poignant to Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis, whose cell phone battery got eaten right up with all the calls she's been getting about the very recent resignation and guilty plea of state Sen. Jeff Smith on federal charges.

Shows go on - even in a recession

Aug 21, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 21, 2009 - When the going gets tough, the tough get ... creative. St. Louis theater company owners know there's nothing comedic about the recession but their plight is no tragedy, either.

Grants are harder to come by, and some have had to cut a show or two out of formerly robust schedules. But so far, not one company has closed its curtains because of hard times.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 17, 2009 - Ten minutes into "Food Fight: A Musical Comedy for Waist Watchers," I was having a fight with myself.

"This show's funny! And clever!" one side of me said. "What's not to love about four women crooning "Botox Queen" to the tune of Abba's 'Dancing Queen'?"

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 22, 2009 - There's always more than one side to every story, which is an integral part of the comfort and counsel they offer, particularly when presented on stage. No matter what our circumstances may be, a good play reaches us where we are and holds up a mirror so we can view ourselves and society in a new light.

Walk through the lobby of any theater at intermission, and you'll hear debates and discussions among audience members drawing parallels between their lives and the lives of the characters. Nothing pleases us more as artistic directors than to hear people taking our plays personally, mulling over the story long after the lights go down.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 26, 2009 - Whether it's music, theater, dance or some unique mix of the three, each event at the Edison is intended to challenge, educate and inspire. All three intentions play key roles in determining the artists on each new season; however, it's the last that holds the truly transformative power that distinguishes Edison events.

Review: 'Blood Knot' is strong, challenging theater

Nov 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 7, 2008 - This week when Americans have elected their first president with a black skin, one can't imagine a play that resonates more powerfully than "Blood Knot." It runs tonight through Sunday evening at the Upstream Theatre, 501 North Grand Boulevard in Grand Center.

This article fist appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 17, 2008 - The Midnight Company's work has been driven by two motivations:

1) To tell a great story, an exciting and compelling story, a story that's like some breaking news, or fabulous new joke, or tasty bit of gossip -  something that makes you want to grab the first person you see and tell it.

2) And to ask yourself whether you can pull off the telling of this story. Ideally the story, the play, should scare you, challenge you and your resources, so that you are striving to try to do the story and its telling justice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 10, 2008 - Six bodies lay deadweight under fluorescent lights in the Bensinger Studio at COCA on Wednesday evening. The glow of the light bounces from grain color carpet squares to whitish walls and back onto the figures on the floor. Dusk is falling outside. Untempered by the gentle sunlight, the glow inside seems to intensify. The bodies sink deeper into the floor.

"You can't do anything onstage unless you're relaxed and focused," says Brooke Edwards. And the bodies exhale.

Spotlight on young actors

Sep 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008-  Most of St. Louis' colorful theatergoers and participants can agree that the local scene has unabashedly expanded over the past half-decade or so. From feisty breakout companies such as The Orange Girls to the ever-growing and perennially popular Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, times are good for our actors (and those of us who applaud them). Here, we introduce (or reintroduce, for savvy stage fans), five who are riding the theatrical wave in the Lou.

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