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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Safe House: Rep's Latest Considers the True Price of Freedom

Categories: Arts

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Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Take refuge in the Rep's Safe House.
The Pedigrew family is in a state of suspended animation. As free blacks in 1843 Kentucky, they own property and can work for wages. But they can't be outside at night, they can't close the doors on their home or storage shed, and they can't cross Lincoln Creek — in fact, none of them can even dip a toe in the waters which border the county. Freedom clearly isn't always as free as you'd think.

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Story of Race and Hypocrisy Still Merits a Telling at the Rep

Categories: Arts

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Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Richard Prioleau and Shannon Marie Sullivan are the happy couple whose parents don't approve of their interracial romance in the Rep's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis continues its season with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Todd Kreidler's richly conceived stage adaptation of the 1967 film.

Starring Katherine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier in the roles of Joanna "Joey" Drayton and John Prentice, Jr., the film served as a cultural touchstone in the country's evolving civil rights movement. William Rose's screenplay detailed with granular precision the struggles of Joey's white and liberal parents to accept their daughter's African-American fiancé over the course of an afternoon. It was heady stuff, as the Draytons owned up to their liberal hypocrisies, eventually summoning the courage of their convictions.

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COCA Hires Acclaimed Dancers Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd to Head Youth Program

Categories: Arts

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Kelly Glueck
Antonio (left) and Kirven Douthit-Boyd at a press conference announcing their new roles at COCA.
Last week's announcement that St. Louisan Antonio Douthit-Boyd would take a full-time position at Center of the Creative Arts was both a humbling and unusual homecoming for the artist. Humbling because it was at COCA that Antonio, at the age of sixteen, took his first leap toward a career that today has landed him as one of the most celebrated contemporary dancers in the word. Unusual because, in many ways, Antonio feels that he's never really left St. Louis.

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Forty Years of the Brown Sisters: Decades-Long Photo Series Leaves Family Narrative to Viewer

Categories: Arts

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Nicholas Nixon
The Brown Sisters, Truro, Mass., 1984. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery.
A curious thing occurs midway through Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of the Brown Sisters, the intimate and overwhelming series of photographic portraits now on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Starting in 1975, Nixon began taking a group portrait of his wife, Bebe, and her three sisters each year at family gatherings. In those early portraits, the young women, who ranged in age from 15 to 25 at the project's inception, look defiantly at the camera. With the exception of Bebe (who, no doubt trying to be supportive of her husband's whim, looks openly at Nixon's lens), the sisters seem skeptical — jaws set, lips tight, arms crossed.

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A Christmas Story, the Musical: Ralphie and His Red Ryder Aim to Please at the Fox

Categories: Arts

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Gary Emord Netzley
Ralphie and his BB gun in A Christmas Story, The Musical.
Who knew I was such a sap?

When the film version of A Christmas Story hit theaters back in 1983, I hardly took notice. I was about the same age then as the movie's star, Ralphie. But did I care? No. I was chasing my own versions of Ralphie's Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thingamajig that tells time.

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Ring of Fire: The Rep's Tribute to Johnny Cash Falls Short

Categories: Arts

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Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Principals Jason Edwards, Allison Briner, Trenna Barnes and Derek Keeling.

Fresh off its glimmering success with A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis returns with Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, a shallow-end tribute to the life and work of the Man in Black.

Neither a retelling of Cash's life nor a straight holiday concert, the hokey, Branson-style show tips its hat to the performer's biography, jumping around the Cash songbook to deliver polished renditions of Cash standards.


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High-Flying Pippin Brings Magic to the Peabody

Categories: Arts

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Terry Shapiro
The cast of Pippin.
Rolling into the Peabody Opera House, the touring production of Pippin is a show that seeks to delight on every front, delivering a lush sensory experience where song, story, costume and choreography compete for attention. The rollicking tuner, whose Broadway incarnation won last year's Tony Award for "Best Revival of a Musical," can be almost overwhelming at times with the sheer amount of action that unfolds onstage.

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Blithe Spirit: St. Louis Actors' Studio Convincingly Channels Afterlife Comedy

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Nancy Bell, Michael James Reed and Lee Ann Mathews.
"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit," quips Charles Condomine, the arch novelist at the heart of Blithe Spirit, Noël Coward's sparkling comedy of séances, spouses and spectral bigamy now being presented by the St. Louis Actors' Studio.

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Becoming Dr. Ruth: New Jewish Theatre's Boringly Rigid Play on Sex Guru

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Dr. Ruth is in session at New Jewish Theatre.
The New Jewish Theatre continues its eighteenth season with Mark St. Germain's Becoming Dr. Ruth, a comfy but torpid tale of survival.

Starring Susie Wall as Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist whose call-in radio show made her a household name in the 1980s, the one-woman show seeks to tell the human story behind the persona. What Becoming Dr. Ruth delivers, on the other hand, is a saccharine, overly detailed but two-dimensional portrait of a remarkable life.

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