Sunday, November 29, 2020

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of November 30, 2020

Now including both on-line and live events during the pandemic. To get your event listed here, send an email to calendar [at] stageleft.org.

The Blue Strawberry presents an open mic night hosted by Sean Skrbec and Patrick White on Sunday, December 6, at 7 pm. The Strawberry invites you to come on down and sing, play, listen and enjoy. The club is operating under a "COVID careful" arrangement with restricted indoor capacity and other precautions. The Blue Strawberry is on North Boyle in the Central West End. For more information: bluestrawberrystl.com.

The Fabulous Fox 
The Fabulous Fox Theatre presents A Dickens of a Tour, a holiday theatre tour inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol,  through December 18. "The tour depicts several of that tale’s characters including the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, Jacob Marley, Victorian dancers and more!  This unique hour-long tour includes some of the history of the Fox Theatre while it is beautifully decorated for the holiday season.  Guest will visit five stations with access to backstage and the Fabulous Fox stage.  The tours are under the direction of Lara Teeter, Creative Director and Larry Pry, Music Director."  Strict COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced during the tours. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

Fly North Theatricals presents three new free digital series. Their new digital line up includes The Spotlight Series, the Grown-Up Theatre Kids Podcast, and Gin and the Tonic. The Spotlight Series highlights the Fly North family of students and actors performing songs from previous FNT shows. In the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast you can join Colin Healy and Bradley Rohlf every other Friday as they explore life after drama club and what it means to make a living in theatre far from the lights of broadway. Gin and the Tonic is a "reckless unpacking of music history’s weirdest stories hosted by Colin Healy.” The Spotlight Series and Gin and the Tonic are available at the Fly North Theatricals YouTube channel and the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast can also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Sticher, other podcast platforms. All three are updated on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis.

Ignite Theatre Company presents Shrek the Musical, Jr. via on-demand streaming Thursday through Sunday, December 3-6. "It’s a 'big bright beautiful world' as everyone’s favorite ogre, Shrek, leads a cast of fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance. Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, Shrek JR. is an irreverently fun show with a powerful message for the whole family." For more information: www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org/calendar/

The Lemp Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents The Anti-Clause through January 9, 2021. "Ever wanted to be on a TV Christmas Special? Well, hold onto that dream because we’re just pretending. Welcome to the Judy St Judy television talk show! It’s the only daytime show that really gives Jerry Springer a run for his money. All kinds of non-functioning family skeletons will be brought to light tonight but the big news is that Judy St Judy has scored a huge guest for this year's Christmas Special. Spoiler alert, it's Santa Claus! And not everyone is happy to see him. Gee, hope nothing bad happens!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place in south city. For more information: www.lempmansion.com

And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Metro Theatre Company presents the streaming version of their critically acclaimed 2016 production of And In This Corner: Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin for online classrooms, homeschools, learning pods, and other educational settings. "And In This Corner: Cassius Clay is the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali. From his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing as a kid in Jim Crow-era Louisville to his gold medal-winning performance in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Cassius holds onto the faith that his potential is unlimited. But it is the friends from his childhood who are becoming Freedom Riders who ultimately challenge him to understand that there is more to life than personal success: he must use his gifts to work for the good of his community." All tickets include a virtual lesson plan connected to Missouri curricular standards, along with additional resources to help address the topics of civil rights, racial equity, and social justice. For more information: www.metroplays.org/virtual-field-trips.

Moonstone Theatre Company presents Moonstone Connections, a series of in-depth interviews with arts leaders by company founder Sharon Hunter. New episodes air the third Tuesday of each month; see linktr.ee/moonstoneconnections for more information.

The Muny presents Attuned: Cast Me at the Muny, a nine-part podcast that "showcases audition tips and funny stories, while offering an inside look at what makes casting a Muny show so challenging." The series is available on demand at the Classic 107.3 web site. For more information: classic1073.org/podcasts

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Carols and Cocoa, the premiere party for their on-line Holiday Concert, on Sunday, Deember 6, at 5:30 pm via Zoom. Tickets include "a wintry delivery of cookies, cocoa, and more to enjoy while you connect with OTSL artists and audiences from around the country. The Holiday Concert is available on-line through December 31st. For more information: opera-stl.org/holiday-concert.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, in collaboration with Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned short plays from some of the American theatre's most exciting and prominent playwrights. These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at playathome.org.

Adena Varner and family
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents a live video stream of the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival running until the end of the Rep's 2020-2021 season. “Step into the imagination of three young playwrights as The Rep presents professional readings of their new plays.” The production is directed by Adena Varner, the Rep's Director of Learning and Community Engagement. For more information: repstl.org.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine via on-demand video stream through the end of 2020. "The beautiful and uplifting Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine offers hope, encouragement and perspective in a time of uncertainty. Through a blend of three songs and six monologues, this heartfelt and compassionate new work, led by The Rep’s playwright-in-residence Regina Taylor, reflects on the search for light in the darkness. Featuring nationally renowned writers Octavio Solis, Connie Congdon, Dustin Chinn and Isaac Gomez, as well as local favorites Tonina, Carter Lewis, Mariah Richardson and Tre’von Griffith." For more information: www.repstl.org

Deal Orlandersmith in
After the Flood
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and All Arts present Until the Flood, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, via on-demand streaming. "On August 9, 2014, Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting ignited weeks of social unrest, propelled the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted a controversial investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Celebrated writer, performer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith traveled to St. Louis and conducted interviews with dozens of people who were grievously shaken by Brown’s shooting and the turbulent aftermath. From these intimate conversations, Orlandersmith created eight unforgettable characters who embody a community struggling to come to terms with the personal damage caused by these events." For more information: allarts.org

R-S Theatrics presents While the Ghostlight Burns, a virtual discussion series featuring R-S Artistic Director Sarah Lynne Holt in conversation with St. Louis theatre artists, Mondays at 7 pm.  Conversations will be archived at the R-S Theatrics YouTube channel. For more information: r-stheatrics.com/while-the-ghostlight-burns.html

Come Together
The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents streaming videos from the SHAKE20 festival, including re-imagined, condensed versions of classic Shakespeare plays and new takes on old favorites like Joe Hanrahan's Come Together, at the Shakespeare Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/STLShakesFest/videos

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents A Walking Christmas Carol through December 23 in the Central West End. "Inspired by the tradition of taking in the grand holiday windows at Stix and Famous-Barr, A Walking Xmas Carol is a 20-stop, audio-musical and window-display reimagining of the classic tale by Charles Dickens. Local artists from PaintedBlack STL (“Stroll”) will create large-scale window installations interpreting Scrooge’s journey from a never before seen perspective while the musical adaptation Q Brothers Christmas Carol from the Q Brothers (Dress the Part) will guide guests throughout the walk along Euclid Avenue and Maryland Plaza." For more information: stlshakes.org/production/carol/

The St. Louis Writers Group streams live recordings of previous play reading sessions at their Facebook page. For more information: facebook.com.

SATE, in collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts, presents Project Verse: Creativity in the Time of Quarantine. Project Verse presents two new plays: Quatrains in Quarantine by e.k. doolin and Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine by Maxine du Maine. The performances are streamed free of charge on SATE’s website and Facebook page. For more information: slightlyoff.org.

Union Avenue Opera offers Sneak Peeks of its 2021 season operas Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) and The Cradle Will Rock on its YouTube channel.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of November 23, 2020

Now including both on-line and live events during the pandemic. To get your event listed here, send an email to calendar [at] stageleft.org.

The Blue Strawberry presents a Pop-Up Piano Bar with Sir Stryker, "Piano Bar Star of the Holland America Cruise Line," Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 to 10 pm. There is no cover or minimum and sidewalk seating is available. The club is operating under a "COVID careful" arrangement with restricted indoor capacity and other precautions. The Blue Strawberry is at 364 N. Boyle. For more information: bluestrawberrystl.com.

The Fabulous Fox 
The Fabulous Fox Theatre presents A Dickens of a Tour, a holiday theatre tour inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, November 27 through December 18. "The tour depicts several of that tale’s characters including the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, Jacob Marley, Victorian dancers and more!  This unique hour-long tour includes some of the history of the Fox Theatre while it is beautifully decorated for the holiday season.  Guest will visit five stations with access to backstage and the Fabulous Fox stage.  The tours are under the direction of Lara Teeter, Creative Director and Larry Pry, Music Director."  Strict COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced during the tours. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

Fly North Theatricals presents three new free digital series. Their new digital line up includes The Spotlight Series, the Grown-Up Theatre Kids Podcast, and Gin and the Tonic. The Spotlight Series highlights the Fly North family of students and actors performing songs from previous FNT shows. In the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast you can join Colin Healy and Bradley Rohlf every other Friday as they explore life after drama club and what it means to make a living in theatre far from the lights of broadway. Gin and the Tonic is a "reckless unpacking of music history’s weirdest stories hosted by Colin Healy.” The Spotlight Series and Gin and the Tonic are available at the Fly North Theatricals YouTube channel and the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast can also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Sticher, other podcast platforms. All three are updated on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis.

The Lemp Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents The Anti-Clause through January 9, 2021. "Ever wanted to be on a TV Christmas Special? Well, hold onto that dream because we’re just pretending. Welcome to the Judy St Judy television talk show! It’s the only daytime show that really gives Jerry Springer a run for his money. All kinds of non-functioning family skeletons will be brought to light tonight but the big news is that Judy St Judy has scored a huge guest for this year's Christmas Special. Spoiler alert, it's Santa Claus! And not everyone is happy to see him. Gee, hope nothing bad happens!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place in south city. For more information: www.lempmansion.com

And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Metro Theatre Company presents the streaming version of their critically acclaimed 2016 production of And In This Corner: Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin for online classrooms, homeschools, learning pods, and other educational settings. "And In This Corner: Cassius Clay is the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali. From his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing as a kid in Jim Crow-era Louisville to his gold medal-winning performance in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Cassius holds onto the faith that his potential is unlimited. But it is the friends from his childhood who are becoming Freedom Riders who ultimately challenge him to understand that there is more to life than personal success: he must use his gifts to work for the good of his community." All tickets include a virtual lesson plan connected to Missouri curricular standards, along with additional resources to help address the topics of civil rights, racial equity, and social justice. For more information: www.metroplays.org/virtual-field-trips.

Moonstone Theatre Company presents Moonstone Connections, a series of in-depth interviews with arts leaders by company founder Sharon Hunter. New episodes air the third Tuesday of each month; see linktr.ee/moonstoneconnections for more information.

The Muny presents Attuned: Cast Me at the Muny, a nine-part podcast that "showcases audition tips and funny stories, while offering an inside look at what makes casting a Muny show so challenging." The series is available on demand at the Classic 107.3 web site. For more information: classic1073.org/podcasts

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents its 2020 Digital Festival with a variety of streaming content, including Opening Night Spotlights and the Spring Artists in Training Recital, available at www.opera-stl.org/season-and-events/thisisotsl-digital-festivalas well as on its YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/OperaTheatreSTL.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, in collaboration with Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned short plays from some of the American theatre's most exciting and prominent playwrights. These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at playathome.org.

Adena Varner and family
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents a live video stream of the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival running until the end of the Rep's 2020-2021 season. “Step into the imagination of three young playwrights as The Rep presents professional readings of their new plays.” The production is directed by Adena Varner, the Rep's Director of Learning and Community Engagement. For more information: repstl.org.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine via on-demand video stream through the end of 2020. "The beautiful and uplifting Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine offers hope, encouragement and perspective in a time of uncertainty. Through a blend of three songs and six monologues, this heartfelt and compassionate new work, led by The Rep’s playwright-in-residence Regina Taylor, reflects on the search for light in the darkness. Featuring nationally renowned writers Octavio Solis, Connie Congdon, Dustin Chinn and Isaac Gomez, as well as local favorites Tonina, Carter Lewis, Mariah Richardson and Tre’von Griffith." For more information: www.repstl.org

Deal Orlandersmith in
After the Flood
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and All Arts present Until the Flood, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, via on-demand streaming. "On August 9, 2014, Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting ignited weeks of social unrest, propelled the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted a controversial investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Celebrated writer, performer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith traveled to St. Louis and conducted interviews with dozens of people who were grievously shaken by Brown’s shooting and the turbulent aftermath. From these intimate conversations, Orlandersmith created eight unforgettable characters who embody a community struggling to come to terms with the personal damage caused by these events." For more information: allarts.org

R-S Theatrics presents While the Ghostlight Burns, a virtual discussion series featuring R-S Artistic Director Sarah Lynne Holt in conversation with St. Louis theatre artists, Mondays at 7 pm.  Conversations will be archived at the R-S Theatrics YouTube channel. For more information: r-stheatrics.com/while-the-ghostlight-burns.html

Come Together
The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents streaming videos from the SHAKE20 festival, including re-imagined, condensed versions of classic Shakespeare plays and new takes on old favorites like Joe Hanrahan's Come Together, at the Shakespeare Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/STLShakesFest/videos

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents A Walking Christmas Carol November 28 - December 23 in the Central West End. "Inspired by the tradition of taking in the grand holiday windows at Stix and Famous-Barr, A Walking Xmas Carol is a 20-stop, audio-musical and window-display reimagining of the classic tale by Charles Dickens. Local artists from PaintedBlack STL (“Stroll”) will create large-scale window installations interpreting Scrooge’s journey from a never before seen perspective while the musical adaptation Q Brothers Christmas Carol from the Q Brothers (Dress the Part) will guide guests throughout the walk along Euclid Avenue and Maryland Plaza." For more information: stlshakes.org/production/carol/

St. Louis University Theatre presents The Diary of a Madman, adapted from the story by Nikolai Gogol, via on-demand streaming through November 19th. "The diary entries that makeup Gogol’s work are reimagined by different groups of theatre-artists, filmed, and then curated into a final, single photodrama, creating a collage of insanity in isolation. This collaborative creation is directed by Lucy Cashion." For more information: www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org.

St. Louis University Theatre presents Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale via on-demand streaming through November 19th. "A radio drama version of one of Shakespeare’s most mysterious and beguiling plays. It tells the story of a happy family torn apart by madness and redeemed by the transformative power of forgiveness. Neither pure comedy nor pure tragedy, it contains both in equal measure and stars some of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable characters. Directed by Nancy Bell." For more information: www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org.

The St. Louis Writers Group streams live recordings of previous play reading sessions at their Facebook page. For more information: facebook.com.

SATE, in collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts, presents Project Verse: Creativity in the Time of Quarantine. Project Verse presents two new plays: Quatrains in Quarantine by e.k. doolin and Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine by Maxine du Maine. The performances are streamed free of charge on SATE’s website and Facebook page. For more information: slightlyoff.org.

Union Avenue Opera offers Sneak Peeks of its 2021 season operas Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) and The Cradle Will Rock on its YouTube channel.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cabaret Review: Steve Brammeier's warmly nostalgic "68: Then and Now" returns to the Blue Strawberry

“Nostalgia,” someone once quipped, “is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense and the past perfect.” Steve Brammeier’s show “68: Then and Now” may not find the past perfect, but it certainly does find it worth recalling fondly. A warm and cuddly evening’s entertainment was the result.

Presented at The Blue Strawberry on October 23 live and via video stream (which is how I saw it), “68: Then and Now” was a whimsical look back at the songs and pop culture of 1968. It began in a blackout with a short mashup of late 1960s commercial jingles played over the sound system. Then a pin spot came up stage left on Mr. Brammeier for Dylan’s iconic “The Times They Are a-Changin’” from 1964. Music director Rick Jensen’s arrangement and Mr. Brammeier’s singing built to a powerful close as the lights came up full for that final verse about the new world many of us thought we were building.

L-R: Rick Jensen and Steve Brammeier
It was a solid opening number that allowed Mr. Brammeier, who graduated high school here in St. Louis in 1968, to segue into a short monologue about how the songs of the late 1960s—and especially those from that pivotal year of 1968—shaped his life and the lives of so many others of his (and my) generation. It’s a theme that effectively knits together an hour or so of tunes both serious and silly from (mostly) 1968.

It’s a fun and diverse set list, interspersed with autobiographical bits that set the scene effectively and having impressive narrative economy. Unlike some “this is my life” cabaret shows, “68: Then and Now” never assumes that you find the singer’s life as interesting as they do.

A good example of his approach was his version of Shirley Bassey’s 1968 hit “The Joker,” from Anthony Newley’s 1964 musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd.” Before he gets to the final verse, Mr. Brammeier recalled how he heard about the assassination of JFK in 1963. His parents were Republicans and so he often dissed the President to his classmates.  When his teacher stopped the class to inform everyone that JFK had died, the girl next to him turned to him and said, “I hate you.” Which brings him to that last verse:

There's always a joker, that's a rule
But fate deals the hand and I see
The joker is me

It gave the song a poignant personal element, which is one of the cornerstones of cabaret. It also allowed him to move seamlessly to Dick Holler’s “Abraham, Martin, and John.” The moving tribute to JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. was originally recorded by Dion in, yes, 1968.

But let me not create the impression that the show didn’t have its fair share of smiles and laughs. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have the music of their childhood embedded in their bones,” Mr. Brammeier observed. “What were the lessons we got from the lyrics of 1968?” The answer turned out to be what he calls the “Bubble Gum Medley” of some of the more superficial songs of 1968 or thereabouts: “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” (The Ohio Express); “Mony, Mony” (Tommy James and the Shondells)”; Hello I Love You” (The Doors);  “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” (John Fred and His Playboy Band, 1967) ;“Good Vibrations” (The Beach Boys, 1966); and another Tommy James hit, “Crimson and Clover” (complete with a spot-on parody of the electronically processed vocal wobble of the original).

There were also songs that were just fun without necessarily being funny, like Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” (with the 1969 lyrics by Harry Elston) and Joni Michell’s “Chelsea Morning” with its rich urban images. Mr. Brammeier introduced that one with memories of the many trips he and his partner Hugh have taken to the Big Apple.  “One day” he recalled, “I got up at dawn and just walked around the city, feeling peaceful, autonomous, and whole.” Sounds good to me.

Steve Brammeier’s voice is one well-suited to these songs. He has a light baritone with a rough-hewn touch that reminded me of some of the notable folk-rock singer/songwriters of the 1960s, such as Gordon Lightfoot. Rick Jensen’s arrangements were, not surprisingly, a perfect match. The fine, sure hand of director Lina Koutrakos (a cabaret legend in her own right) could be seen in the expert pacing and overall shape of the show.

Every cabaret needs a big finish. This one had the medley of “Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In,” made popular by The Fifth Dimension in 1969, complete with an audience sing-along. Because, let’s face it, most of us remember the lyrics. Enough of them, anyway. Rick Jensen’s power-chord arrangement kept everything upbeat and energetic.

The obligatory encore that followed—a sensitive performance of Lennon and McCartney’s 1965 “In My Life”—was prefaced by a positive message that brought ’68 up to ’20: “We thought 1968 was crazy, Mr. Brammeier said, “and we got through it. We will get through this. Hang on.”

I missed Steve Brammeier’s “68: Then and Now” when he premiered it two years ago (when he was, in fact, 68) so I’m glad I finally got to see this charming and nostalgic bit of time travel. The performance took place at Jim Dolan’s Blue Strawberry Showroom and Lounge, where a mix of jazz, pop, and soul acts continue through December. The next scheduled cabaret performance is Katie McGrath’s “Garth and Friends in Low Places” on December 26th. Check the web site for details.

This article originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of November 16, 2020

Now including both on-line and live events during the pandemic. To get your event listed here, send an email to calendar [at] stageleft.org.

The Blue Strawberry presents a Pop-Up Piano Bar with Sir Stryker, "Piano Bar Star of the Holland America Cruise Line," Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 to 10 pm. There is no cover or minimum and sidewalk seating is available. The club is operating under a "COVID careful" arrangement with restricted indoor capacity and other precautions. The Blue Strawberry is at 364 N. Boyle. For more information: bluestrawberrystl.com.

The Blue Strawberry presents Songs for a Sunday Afternoon: A Black Tulip Chorale Virtual Cabaret via live video stream on Sunday, November 22, at 4 pm. "Virtually join a wonderful group of singers from the Black Tulip Chorale, St. Louis’ LGBTQ+ mixed voice chorale ensemble, to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon with an eclectic collection of song! This fundraising event will be ONLINE ONLY so you provide the food and drink while we bring beautiful music to the comfort of your own home, as you help to assure that voices long silenced find a place to be heard." For more information: bluestrawberrystl.com.

Fly North Theatricals presents three new free digital series. Their new digital line up includes The Spotlight Series, the Grown-Up Theatre Kids Podcast, and Gin and the Tonic. The Spotlight Series highlights the Fly North family of students and actors performing songs from previous FNT shows. In the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast you can join Colin Healy and Bradley Rohlf every other Friday as they explore life after drama club and what it means to make a living in theatre far from the lights of broadway. Gin and the Tonic is a "reckless unpacking of music history’s weirdest stories hosted by Colin Healy.” The Spotlight Series and Gin and the Tonic are available at the Fly North Theatricals YouTube channel and the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast can also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Sticher, other podcast platforms. All three are updated on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis.

Members of the GMC in rehearsal
The Gateway Men's Chorus
presents Thankful! A Virtual Cabaret via live video stream on Thursday, November 19, at 8 pm. "Join Gateway Men's Chorus as we celebrate the fall season with an evening of comfortable music, tasty food, and the company of family. Thankful features soloists from within GMC as well as the debut of TWO virtual choir pieces written specifically for the Gateway Men's Chorus. This once in a lifetime evening will also provide insight into the shape of GMC's 34th Concert Season as well as help GMC raise crucial funds to fulfill our mission throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the evening, we'll give you behind the scenes information and offer unique opportunities to support the chorus." For more information: www.gmcstl.org/thankful-cabaret.html

The Lemp Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents The Anti-Clause through January 9, 2021. "Ever wanted to be on a TV Christmas Special? Well, hold onto that dream because we’re just pretending. Welcome to the Judy St Judy television talk show! It’s the only daytime show that really gives Jerry Springer a run for his money. All kinds of non-functioning family skeletons will be brought to light tonight but the big news is that Judy St Judy has scored a huge guest for this year's Christmas Special. Spoiler alert, it's Santa Claus! And not everyone is happy to see him. Gee, hope nothing bad happens!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place in south city. For more information: www.lempmansion.com

And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Metro Theatre Company presents the streaming version of their critically acclaimed 2016 production of And In This Corner: Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin for online classrooms, homeschools, learning pods, and other educational settings. "And In This Corner: Cassius Clay is the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali. From his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing as a kid in Jim Crow-era Louisville to his gold medal-winning performance in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Cassius holds onto the faith that his potential is unlimited. But it is the friends from his childhood who are becoming Freedom Riders who ultimately challenge him to understand that there is more to life than personal success: he must use his gifts to work for the good of his community." All tickets include a virtual lesson plan connected to Missouri curricular standards, along with additional resources to help address the topics of civil rights, racial equity, and social justice. For more information: www.metroplays.org/virtual-field-trips.

Moonstone Theatre Company presents Moonstone Connections, a series of in-depth interviews with arts leaders by company founder Sharon Hunter. New episodes air the third Tuesday of each month; see linktr.ee/moonstoneconnections for more information.

The Muny presents Attuned: Cast Me at the Muny, a nine-part podcast that "showcases audition tips and funny stories, while offering an inside look at what makes casting a Muny show so challenging." The series is available on demand at the Classic 107.3 web site. For more information: classic1073.org/podcasts

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents its 2020 Digital Festival with a variety of streaming content, including Opening Night Spotlights and the Spring Artists in Training Recital, available at www.opera-stl.org/season-and-events/thisisotsl-digital-festivalas well as on its YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/OperaTheatreSTL.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, in collaboration with Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned short plays from some of the American theatre's most exciting and prominent playwrights. These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at playathome.org.

Adena Varner and family
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents a live video stream of the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival running until the end of the Rep's 2020-2021 season. “Step into the imagination of three young playwrights as The Rep presents professional readings of their new plays.” The production is directed by Adena Varner, the Rep's Director of Learning and Community Engagement. For more information: repstl.org.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine via on-demand video stream beginning on Friday, November 20, at 7 pm and running through the end of 2020. "The beautiful and uplifting Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine offers hope, encouragement and perspective in a time of uncertainty. Through a blend of three songs and six monologues, this heartfelt and compassionate new work, led by The Rep’s playwright-in-residence Regina Taylor, reflects on the search for light in the darkness. Featuring nationally renowned writers Octavio Solis, Connie Congdon, Dustin Chinn and Isaac Gomez, as well as local favorites Tonina, Carter Lewis, Mariah Richardson and Tre’von Griffith." For more information: www.repstl.org

Deal Orlandersmith in
After the Flood
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and All Arts present Until the Flood, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, via on-demand streaming. "On August 9, 2014, Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting ignited weeks of social unrest, propelled the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted a controversial investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Celebrated writer, performer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith traveled to St. Louis and conducted interviews with dozens of people who were grievously shaken by Brown’s shooting and the turbulent aftermath. From these intimate conversations, Orlandersmith created eight unforgettable characters who embody a community struggling to come to terms with the personal damage caused by these events." For more information: allarts.org

R-S Theatrics presents While the Ghostlight Burns, a virtual discussion series featuring R-S Artistic Director Sarah Lynne Holt in conversation with St. Louis theatre artists, Mondays at 7 pm.  Conversations will be archived at the R-S Theatrics YouTube channel. For more information: r-stheatrics.com/while-the-ghostlight-burns.html

Come Together
The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents streaming videos from the SHAKE20 festival, including re-imagined, condensed versions of classic Shakespeare plays and new takes on old favorites like Joe Hanrahan's Come Together, at the Shakespeare Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/STLShakesFest/videos

The St. Louis Writers Group streams live recordings of previous play reading sessions at their Facebook page. For more information: facebook.com.

SATE, in collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts, presents Project Verse: Creativity in the Time of Quarantine. Project Verse presents two new plays: Quatrains in Quarantine by e.k. doolin and Dream On, Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine by Maxine du Maine. The performances are streamed free of charge on SATE’s website and Facebook page. For more information: slightlyoff.org.

Ken Page
The Tennessee Williams Festival of St. Louis presents En Avant!, its 2020 festival season, through November 22 via on-demand audio stream at the festival web site. The festival plays are  Glass by Michael Aman, You Lied to Me About Centralia by John Guare, and The Glass Menagerie, Tom and Rose, Something Wild, and The Man in the Overstuffed Chair by Tennessee Williams. The festival is hosted by Ken Page. For more information: www.twstl.org/2020schedule.

Union Avenue Opera offers Sneak Peeks of its 2021 season operas Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) and The Cradle Will Rock on its YouTube channel.

Union Avenue Opera presents a Virtual Concert Series Sundays at 3 pm, through November 22 on its YouTube channel. Digital programs and concert links will be posted the day or each concert at the UAO web site: http://unionavenueopera.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Symphony Preview: Seconding that emotion

To what extent does a composition reflect the emotional state of its composer? Judging by the three pieces Stéphane Denève and  the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) will perform this weekend (Friday through Sunday, November 13-15), the answer is often unclear.

Dumbarton Oaks music room
By Jack E. Boucher,
National Park Service
Public Domain, Link
Let us follow the King's instructions to the White Rabbit in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "begin at the beginning" with a look at the first work on the program, the Concerto in E-flat major, "Dumbarton Oaks," by Igor Stravinsky. Written on commission for Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss in 1937 and '38 and first performed in May, 1938 at a private concert at their Dumbarton Oaks estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., this chamber concerto is a sprightly and even cheerful homage to the Brandenburg Concertos of Bach. Listening to it for the first time, you might think it came from a happy period in the composer's life.

You would, however, be dead wrong. In 1937 Stravinsky's wife Katya died of tuberculosis, followed shortly thereafter by his eldest daughter Ludmilla. The composer himself was unable to conduct the concerto's premiere because he was hospitalized for five months with the disease, during which time his mother died.

So, no, not a happy time. Indeed, Stravinsky would later describe it as "perhaps the most difficult time of my life." And yet, the music that emerged from these tribulations is a lighthearted and bracing 20th-century pastiche of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 that never descends to anything like outright imitation. As the composer recalled later:
I played Bach very regularly during the composition of the concerto, and I was greatly attracted to the Brandenburg Concertos. Whether or not the first theme of my first movement is a conscious borrowing from the third of the Brandenburg set, however, I do not know. What I can say is that Bach would most certainly have been delighted to loan it to me; to borrow in this way was exactly the sort of thing he liked to do.
No doubt, although I expect Bach would have found the astringent harmonies and constantly changing time signatures a bit weird.

The concerto follows the general format of its 18th-century inspiration, with two fast movements framing a slower Allegretto second movement. Themes are tossed back and forth among the members of the small ensemble like the ball in a fast-paced game of tennis and there's even a very traditional fugue at the end of the first movement. The score directs all three movements to be played attacca (without pause), separated by only a few series of more solemn chords to signal a break in the emotional tone, but judging by some of the recordings on YouTube conductors often take a pause between movements anyway. The entire piece runs around 12 to 16 minutes. It's fun to hear but difficult to play, and will give all the musicians a chance to test their mettle.

George Walker
You can preview the Concerto on YouTube with a synchronized display of the score (but also, alas, with intrusive commercials) or, if you're willing to sacrifice the score for a commercial-free experience, check out this excellent video by Houston's River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

Up next is the "Lyric for Strings." written in 1946 by American composer George Walker, who died just two years ago at the age of 96. Walker was first African-American to graduate from the prestigious Curtis Institute and the first African-American composer to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize—part of a string of "firsts" in a long and distinguished career. Unlike Stravinsky's concerto, the "Lyric" directly reflects a personal tragedy in the composer's life. "The piece, writes Ricky O'Bannon in program notes for the Boston Symphony, "was originally titled Lament and is dedicated to Walker’s grandmother who died the year prior."

It does share a distinctly contrapuntal texture with the Stravinsky piece, but that's the extent of the similarity. The "Lyric for Strings" is both sadly moving and uplifting at the same time. I defy anyone to come away from this seven-minute gem without a lump in the throat.

In his informative program notes for these concerts, Tim Munro writes that the last live SLSO performance of this work was in 2010. But there's also a 2020 video of the piece on the SLSO YouTube page in which former SLSO resident conductor Gemma New leads nine members of the symphony strings in a powerfully moving rendition at the Soldier’s Memorial downtown. It's part of the orchestra's ongoing "Songs of America" project and if you haven't watched this video series already, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Aleksey Sofronov (1859-1925)
The concluding work this weekend is the longest one on the program (around a half hour) and also the most famous: the Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48. Like the Stravinsky Concerto it, too, pays homage without imitation to an composer of a bygone era, but in Tchaikovsky's case it's Mozart. Tchaikovsky loved Mozart's music. "Mozart does not overwhelm or stagger me," he wrote in an 1883 letter to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, "instead, he captivates me, gives me joy and warmth. When I listen to his music, it is as if I am doing a good deed. It is difficult to convey what exactly his beneficial influence on me consists of, but it is undoubtedly beneficial, and the longer I live, the closer I get to know him, the more I love him."

No surprise, then, that there's a Mozartean elegance to the Serenade, as you can hear in this recording. The popular Valse second movement, while unabashedly Romantic, nevertheless dances along with a grace Wolfgang Amadeus would have admired. Even the somewhat melancholy third movement, marked Élégie: Larghetto elegiaco, never becomes entirely earthbound.

That said there are elements of sadness that show up throughout this generally engaging and captivating work. That's because, as Mr. Munro points out, the Serenade is not only "filled with easy, joyful moments that leave listeners humming the tunes while dancing out the door" but is also "a passionate musical love letter to a distant beloved." Specifically, it's a letter of farewell to the composer's long-time servant and lover Alyosha Sofronov, who was about to leave for military service.

If that's news to you, it's probably because commentators on Tchaikovsky's music have, at least in the past, had a tendency to gloss over the composer's homosexuality. Do a Google search on the Serenade, for example, and you'll find that, even today, Mozart's name can be found everywhere.  But Sofronov's? Not so much. Or at all, really, outside of the occasional blog post.

Which brings us back to the original question of how much a composer's emotional state (including their sexual orientation) is reflected in their music. Aside from obviously autobiographical works like Richard Strauss's "Symphonia Domestica" or openly documentary works like Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 ("The Year 1905"), the answer is perhaps best left up to the listener. YMMV ("your mileage may vary") as they say on social media.

The Essentials: SLSO Music Director Stéphane Denève conducts Stravinsky's "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto, George Walker's "Lyric for Stings" and Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm, November 11-13. Audience size for all these concerts is limited to 150 for each performance, and tickets can only be purchased by calling the SLSO box office at 314-534-1700. Only two tickets can be purchased per household. Information on the SLSOs COVID-19 safety protocols is available at the orchestra's web site.

This article originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Review: Old and new music for string quartet and octet bring the SLSO chamber music festival to a rousing close

its second and final week on Sunday, November 8th, with a high-energy afternoon of music for string quartet and octet. The octet was an old favorite by Mendlessohn, while the quartets, by a pair of contemporary composers, could very well become audience favorites once they are better known.

[Find out more about the music with my symphony preview.]

L-R: Jessica Cheng, Asako Kuboki
Andrew Francois, Alvin McCall
perform "Leyendas"
The concert began with "Strum" by Jessie Montgomery, a violinist and composer whose colorful "Starburst" was the first piece to be played on the stage at Powell when it re-opened on October 15th. Like that earlier work, "Strum" bubbles over with exuberance. It's quick to engage your interest with what the composer calls "a kind of narrative that begins with fleeting nostalgia and transforms into ecstatic celebration."

It achieves that by employing a wide variety of techniques, as the string players pluck, strum, and bow in ways that call to mind everything from Appalachian folk tunes to guitar rock. As performed by violinists Xiaoxiao Qiang and Andrea Jarrett, violist Jonathan Chu, and cellist Jennifer Humphreys, it danced its way merrily and expertly off the stage and into the hearts of the physically distanced audience.

Next were three of the six movements of "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout" by Gabriela Lena Frank, Composer-in-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a graduate of my alma mater, Rice University. Each movement is a kind of mini tone poem reflecting some aspect of Peruvian history or culture. "Chasqui" represented the titular Incan messenger runners with rapid runs and pizzicati suggesting fleet-footed speed. "Toyos" used gliding melodic lines interspersed with plucked strings to evoke the Andean panpipe. And "Coqueteos" paid homage to Peruvian troubadours known as "romanceros" with grand, sweeping gestures that suggested the open sensuality of the Argentinian tango. It made me think of the songs of Carlos Gardel or the bandoneón music of Astor Piazzolla, even though neither of them are Peruvian.

This time the quartet consisted of violinists Jessica Cheng and Asako Kuboki, violist Andrew Francois, and cellist Alvin McCall. Fine players all, they brought out all of the many moods of this music. I was sorry I couldn't hear them perform the entire piece.

The Mendelssohn Octet
The concert closed with Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat major, op. 20, written when the composer was only 16 and nearly halfway through his life. It's a remarkable work in that it's scored for, essentially, a double string quartet and, although only around 30 minutes long, it's also music of symphonic proportions. Indeed, the composer said as much, insisting that it be played "in symphonic orchestral style. Pianos and fortes must be strongly emphasized.”

They certainly were all of that in a dynamic and well-balanced performance that allowed solo lines to be plainly heard while still projecting all the required power in the large ensemble moments. The big first movement—the most ambitiously symphonic of the four—was a model of clarity. The flowing Andante second movement was beautiful, the third movement Scherzo flew like the spirits in Goethe’s Faust that inspired it, and the Presto finale crackled with energy.

Special applause is due Xiaoxiao Qiang in her performance of the difficult first violin part. Mendelssohn wrote it as a tribute to his violin teacher Eduard Rietz, and to judge by the demands it makes on the soloist, Rietz must have been a fiddler of great skill and stamina. Ms. Qiang displayed  plenty of both in her powerful and highly committed performance.

The SLSO's chamber music festival is over but the new fall program continues through November 21st. Audience size for all these concerts is limited to 150 for each performance, and tickets can only be purchased by calling the SLSO box office at 314-534-1700. Only two tickets can be purchased per household. Information on the SLSO's COVID-19 safety protocols is available at the orchestra's web site.

This article originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Review: At the SLSO, a bright wind quintet concert brings a dose of musical caffeine to Powell Hall

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's (SLSO) chamber music festival continued its second and final week on Saturday, November 7th, at 11 am with a lively, witty, and whimsical program of music for wind quintet by Jacques Ibert, Samuel Barber, György Ligeti, and Valerie Coleman. It was just the thing for a pleasant fall morning when I hadn't had quite enough caffeine.

[Find out more about the music with my symphony preview.]

The concert began with "Trois pièces brèves" (Three Short Pieces) by Jacques Ibert, a mid-20th century French composer noted for his eclectic approach to composition ("all systems are valid," he once noted) and his extensive work for the stage and screen.  In fact, his  "Trois pièces brèves" were originally part of a score for a French version of the Restoration comedy "The Beaux's Stratagem," so it's no surprise that they sparkle with wit and good humor.

L-R: Ann Choomack, Cally Banham, Julie Thayer
Andrew Cueno, Tzuying Huang
The members of the SLSO's wind quintet had great fun with it, and played the many solo bits with clarity and precision. Tzuying Huang on clarinet and Ann Choomack on flute had a lovely duet in the second movement, while Cally Banham had a terrific solo on oboe in the third. Bassoonist Andrew Cuneo and Julie Thayer on horn had more than their share of fine moments as well. The entire ensemble played with that combination of grace and accuracy that is so essential for this work.

In fact, the members of the ensemble were pretty much perfect throughout the concert, even though three of them were playing something other than their primary instruments. Cally Banham usually plays cor anglais rather than oboe, Ann Choomack usually plays piccolo, and Tzuying Huang is more often heard on the bass clarinet. That's just icing on the cake for me.

Samuel Barber's "Summer Music," op. 81 was a sharp contrast, with a primarily languorous mood set by the opening theme and Mr. Cuneo playing at the very top of his register. Barber composed this, his only work for wind quintet, in close collaboration with the New York Wind Quintet, guaranteeing that the result would be a good fit for each of the instruments and would allow the players to show off their expertise. That they certainly did, and here's an extra thumbs up for Cally Banham's contemplative oboe solo towards the end.

By way of contrast, Ligeti's "Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet" was anything but languid. This is energetic, spiky music, which is, like the work of his fellow Hungarian Béla Bartók, often drawn from folk influences, especially in the final movements. It sounds difficult to play, but the quintet more than did it justice.  Ms. Choomack deserves a shout-out for sailing through some especially tricky bits for the flute and piccolo.

The concert ended with a romp through flutist and composer Valerie Coleman's "Tzigane," which as its title implies, is an energetic take on Eastern European/Romani folk sounds—a logical segue from Ligeti's "Bagatelles." To my ears, there was more than a dash of Klezmer here as well. Ms. Coleman's score leaves room for some improvisation by the players, including a cadenza near the very end, played with virtuoso dash by Ms. Huang.

The SLSO's chamber music festival concluded on Sunday, November 8th, but the new fall program continues through November 21st. Audience size for all these concerts is limited to 150 for each performance and tickets can only be purchased by calling the SLSO box office at 314-534-1700. Only two tickets can be purchased per household. Information on the SLSOs COVID-19 safety protocols is available at the orchestra's web site.

This article originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of November 9. 2020

Now including both on-line and live events during the pandemic. To get your event listed here, send an email to calendar [at] stageleft.org.

The Blue Strawberry presents a Pop-Up Piano Bar with Sir Stryker, "Piano Bar Star of the Holland America Cruise Line," Tuesdays through Sundays from 6 to 10 pm. There is no cover or minimum and sidewalk seating is available. The club is operating under a "COVID careful" arrangement with restricted indoor capacity and other precautions. The Blue Strawberry is at 364 N. Boyle. For more information: bluestrawberrystl.com.

Fly North Theatricals presents three new free digital series. Their new digital line up includes The Spotlight Series, the Grown-Up Theatre Kids Podcast, and Gin and the Tonic. The Spotlight Series highlights the Fly North family of students and actors performing songs from previous FNT shows. In the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast you can join Colin Healy and Bradley Rohlf every other Friday as they explore life after drama club and what it means to make a living in theatre far from the lights of broadway. Gin and the Tonic is a "reckless unpacking of music history’s weirdest stories hosted by Colin Healy.” The Spotlight Series and Gin and the Tonic are available at the Fly North Theatricals YouTube channel and the Grown-Up Theatre Kids podcast can also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Sticher, other podcast platforms. All three are updated on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis.

The Lemp Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents The Anti-Clause November 13 - January 9, 2021. "Ever wanted to be on a TV Christmas Special? Well, hold onto that dream because we’re just pretending. Welcome to the Judy St Judy television talk show! It’s the only daytime show that really gives Jerry Springer a run for his money. All kinds of non-functioning family skeletons will be brought to light tonight but the big news is that Judy St Judy has scored a huge guest for this year's Christmas Special. Spoiler alert, it's Santa Claus! And not everyone is happy to see him. Gee, hope nothing bad happens!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place in south city. For more information: www.lempmansion.com

And in This Corner: Cassius Clay
Metro Theatre Company presents the streaming version of their critically acclaimed 2016 production of And In This Corner: Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin for online classrooms, homeschools, learning pods, and other educational settings. "And In This Corner: Cassius Clay is the story of the young man who would become Muhammad Ali. From his relationship with a white police officer who introduced him to boxing as a kid in Jim Crow-era Louisville to his gold medal-winning performance in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Cassius holds onto the faith that his potential is unlimited. But it is the friends from his childhood who are becoming Freedom Riders who ultimately challenge him to understand that there is more to life than personal success: he must use his gifts to work for the good of his community." All tickets include a virtual lesson plan connected to Missouri curricular standards, along with additional resources to help address the topics of civil rights, racial equity, and social justice. For more information: www.metroplays.org/virtual-field-trips.

Moonstone Theatre Company presents Moonstone Connections, a series of in-depth interviews with arts leaders by company founder Sharon Hunter. The first episode now available features guest Eddie Coffield, Artistic Director of the New Jewish Theatre and former Production Manager of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. New episodes air the third Tuesday of each month; see linktr.ee/moonstoneconnections for more information.

The Muny presents Attuned: Cast Me at the Muny, a nine-part podcast that "showcases audition tips and funny stories, while offering an inside look at what makes casting a Muny show so challenging." The series is available on demand at the Classic 107.3 web site. For more information: classic1073.org/podcasts

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents its 2020 Digital Festival with a variety of streaming content, including Opening Night Spotlights and the Spring Artists in Training Recital, available at www.opera-stl.org/season-and-events/thisisotsl-digital-festival as well as on its YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/OperaTheatreSTL.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, in collaboration with Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Public Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, present Play at Home, a series of micro-commissioned short plays from some of the American theatre's most exciting and prominent playwrights. These new plays – which all run 10 minutes or less – are available for the public to download, read and perform at home for free at playathome.org.

Adena Varner and family
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents a live video stream of the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival running until the end of the Rep's 2020-2021 season. “Step into the imagination of three young playwrights as The Rep presents professional readings of their new plays.” The production is directed by Adena Varner, the Rep's Director of Learning and Community Engagement. For more information: repstl.org.

R-S Theatrics presents While the Ghostlight Burns, a virtual discussion series featuring R-S Artistic Director Sarah Lynne Holt in conversation with St. Louis theatre artists, Mondays at 7 pm.  Conversations will be archived at the R-S Theatrics YouTube channel. For more information: r-stheatrics.com/while-the-ghostlight-burns.html

The St. Louis Black Repertory Company presents the 5th Annual Gala I Remember Harlem: A Virtual Event on Saturday, November 14. "This event supports our award winning Education and Community Programs that introduces the arts to the St Louis community and beyond. I Remember Harlem will feature a variety of dance, music, and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance performed by friends of The Black Rep including international and national artists." The VIP virtual awards ceremony begins at 6 pm followed by the performances via Vimeo and The Black Rep website. For tickets to the awards portion of the gala or more information, contact The Black Rep at 314-534-3807 or go online to theblackrep.org.

Come Together
The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents streaming videos from the SHAKE20 festival, including re-imagined, condensed versions of classic Shakespeare plays and new takes on old favorites like Joe Hanrahan's Come Together, at the Shakespeare Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/STLShakesFest/videos

The St. Louis Writers Group streams live recordings of previous play reading sessions at their Facebook page. For more information: facebook.com.

SATE, in collaboration with COCA and Prison Performing Arts, presents Project Verse: Creativity in the Time of Quarantine. Project Verse presents two new plays: Quatrains in Quarantine by e.k. doolin and Dream On,Black Girl: Reflections in Quarantine by Maxine du Maine. The performances are streamed free of charge on SATE’s website and Facebook page. For more information: slightlyoff.org.

Ken Page
The Tennessee Williams Festival of St. Louis presents En Avant!, its 2020 festival season, through November 15 on Classic 107.3 and at the festival web site. This week's performances are Glass by Michael Aman and You Lied to Me About Centralia by John Guare on Saturday, November 14, and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams on Sunday, November 15. All performances are at 3 pm. The festival is hosted by Ken Page. For more information: www.twstl.org/2020schedule.

Union Avenue Opera offers Sneak Peeks of its 2021 season operas Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) and The Cradle Will Rock on its YouTube channel.

Union Avenue Opera presents a Virtual Concert Series Sundays at 3 pm, through November 22 on its YouTube channel. Digital programs and concert links will be posted the day or each concert at the UAO web site: http://unionavenueopera.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.