St. Louis Shakespeare's Blood Reigns Is Fit for a King

Categories: Arts

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St. Louis Shakespeare
Blood Reigns trilogy is an exhilarating, complicated saga.
History is a frantic muddle because it's made by desperate people operating in the midst of stress and woe. Consider that on Sunday, March 22, King Richard III lay in state at Leicester Cathedral 530 years after his death. At roughly the same time half a world away, Richard's bloody scheme to seize the throne of his brother was being set in motion onstage in St. Louis Shakespeare's gripping Blood Reigns: The War of the Roses. The world, she is a funny place.

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The Rep's Buyer & Cellar Looks Inside Babs' Fantasyland

Categories: Arts

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Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Jeremy Webb in the Rep's current one-man show, Buyer & Cellar.
Before Jonathan Tolins' Buyer & Cellar can actually start, the sole actor (Jeremy Webb, directed by Wendy Dann) issues a reminder that everything he's about to relate is fictitious. At first blush this seems unnecessary — you bought your tickets knowing this is a play, after all — but it's more than legalese. "Everything is fictitious" is the leitmotif of this funny and frothy play, in which Barbra Streisand hires actor Alex More to maintain the shops she's had built in her Malibu basement.

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New Line's Jerry Springer Worth Cheering For

Categories: Arts

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Jill Ritter Lindberg
This Springer show is Heaven.
Very few people admit to watching the Jerry Springer Show, which is currently enjoying its 23rd year on the air. Many people, however, will gleefully admit to watching New Line Theatre's production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Director Scott Miller's take on the lowbrow show lives up to the promise in both halves of its name. There are Springer's startling revelations, dirty secrets and white-trash fights, but in the play, this human misery is actually a battle for the soul of mankind played out across Earth and Hell (with a special guest appearance from God). Richard Wagner himself would high-five Springer after witnessing the audacity of this production, which is both hilarious and surprising in its gravity.

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Heather Bennett's Photographs in Four Stories Explore the Mysteries of Four Women

Categories: Arts

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Heather Bennett, Courtesy of Bruno David Projects
Texas, 42 x 60 inches, now on display at Bruno David Projects.
In the 1960s women gained birth control, equal pay (ostensibly) and the "no fault" divorce law, which allowed them to file for divorce without proving their spouse was guilty of wrongdoing. In the '70s, Roe vs. Wade gave women the right to legal abortions, and the first marital-rape law was put into effect in Nebraska. Women have come a long way in terms of civil and reproductive rights, but they're still subject to the pressures of domesticity.

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Slightly Askew Challenges Gender Roles New and Olde in Or,

Categories: Arts

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Joey Rumpell/Rumzoo Photography
Slightly Askew untangles Aphra Behn in Or,.
Aphra Behn was arguably the most dangerous playwright in Restoration England. A former spy who believed in personal freedom, free love and the power of the word, Behn's most unsettling trait was perhaps her gender. What sort of woman would write so openly of her sexual desires with Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan army only recently toppled from power?


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St. Louis Actors' Studio Breathes Boozy Life Into "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
A night of cocktailing turns ugly in Virginia Woolf.
After another dull faculty party, George and Martha return to their comfortably ramshackle home to prepare for guests. Newspapers and books are stacked about the floor, and the coffee table is a forest of dirty glasses hiding a single half-eaten apple and George's pipe. The only tidy place in this wood-paneled sitting room is the fastidious cocktail table off to the side, complete with sparkling glasses ready to go.

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God of Carnage: Parents Say the Darndest Things at Stray Dog Theatre

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Parents lead by example in God of Carnage.
Early on in Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, Veronica speaks of "the art of coexistence." Veronica is FOX News' idea of a liberal, only more annoying and humorless. She speaks to her guests with a nasty tone of passive-aggression, and she's writing a book about the crisis in Darfur but she's never been to Africa. As played by Sarajane Alverson, Veronica is sandpaper applied directly to the face. It's no wonder that the art of coexistence in her home quickly devolves into so much verbal poo flinging.

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Black-ish Actress, Kinloch Native Jenifer Lewis Will Give Webster U. Commencement Speech

Categories: Arts

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Publicity photo via
Jenifer Lewis is coming home for Webster University's graduation.
Jenifer Lewis has been living in LA and acting in movies and TV shows for almost three decades, but just ask her and she'll tell you her roots are in St. Louis -- more specifically, in the historically black city of Kinloch.

Or as Lewis herself told fellow demonstrators at a Ferguson protest in Los Angeles days after the death of Michael Brown: "I'm from the ghetto. Don't get this Hollywood shit twisted."

In May, the actress featured in ABC's hit comedy Black-ish and the new movie The Wedding Ringer is donning a new role: speaker at Webster University's 96th annual commencement ceremony.

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Bashir Lazhar: Upstream Theater's One-Man Show Takes Audience to Somber School

Categories: Arts

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Peter Wochniak/Pro Photo STL
J. Samuel Davis as Bashir Lazhar.
Violence is the undertow that inexorably tugs on Bashir Lazhar. It drags on his clothes, it makes his hands flicker nervously and it holds him in place, unable to move forward with his life. But we don't know any of this in the beginning of Upstream Theater's one-man show written by young Canadian playwright Évelyne de la Chenelière. All we know is that Bashir (played with verve by J. Samuel Davis) is an uncertain substitute teacher painstakingly rehearsing possible introductions to his new class, and the way he stumbles over his assignment signals the violence that clings to this new place like a caul.

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St. Louis Theater Circle's 2015 Award Nominees

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre's Cabaret, one of the nominees for outstanding production of a musical.
From tales of the Marquis de Sade to a groundbreaking production of Tennessee Williams' rarely performed early work, Stairs to the Roof, 2014 was an exciting year for St. Louis-area theater. Although the town lost one of its best theater companies when HotCity Theatre called it quits, several new companies have rushed in to fill the void. Stalwarts like St. Louis Shakespeare's Donna Northcott and Prison Performing Arts' Agnes Wilcox announced they were stepping down, while newcomers like Sarah Porter and Caroline Amos brought exciting new energy to St. Louis stages. Through it all, there have been some marvelous ensemble performances -- everything from the St. Louis Actors' Studio production of Pinter's masterpiece, The Homecoming, to new plays like Rebecca Gilman's Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976.

The best in St. Louis theater will be honored at the 2105 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards ceremony on Monday, March 23 at the COCA auditorium (for those who can't make the event, the ceremony will also be televised on HEC-TV).

Here, then, is a list of the nominees:

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