12 Reasons Why The World Is Watching St. Louis Theater
St. Louis’ rich tradition of love for theater goes back more than 100 years for institutions like The Muny, and as early as 2001 for the beloved Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, where attendees can see professional productions of original Shakespeare plays for free in Forest Park. A number of avant-garde theater companies have developed in the city at several yearly junctures in between, keeping the scene fresh and vibrant.
Kranzberg Arts Foundation
With the motto, “The soul of a city is shaped by its artists,” the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is a vital component of the city’s arts community, with a strong emphasis on theater. The organization houses several separate theaters and performance spaces, including .ZACK, The Grandel, The Marcelle and more.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
As an internationally renowned opera company, Opera Theatre brings audience members from 45 states and 12 foreign countries annually. This year’s main-season productions will be “La Traviata,” “Regina,” “An American Soldier,” “Orfeo ed Euridice,” and the annual Center Stage Show, which showcases the talents of emerging opera singers from all over the country.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
As a world-class nonprofit organization with more than 50 years running, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, better-known as simply The Rep, is the perfect place to see a variety of well-crafted, Tony Award-winning shows. The Rep frequently pays tribute to the classics, with productions like “Hamlet,” as well as featuring modern groundbreakers like “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” while also inviting nationally acclaimed playwrights the opportunity to debut scripts.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
St. Louis’ Shakespeare Festival pays tribute to the city’s zest for the master of theater himself, William Shakespeare. Since 2001, when the festival was founded, the organization has been putting on acclaimed productions of a new Shakespeare play every year in the city’s crown jewel, Forest Park, where attendees can bring a lawn chair and watch top-tier theater—for free. Past productions have included “The Winter’s Tale,” “Hamlet,” “The Taming Of The Shrew” and more.
Tennesee Williams Festival St. Louis
Few playwrights have ever mastered their art as well as Tennessee Williams, who also happens to have spent most of his formative years in St. Louis and attended Soldan High School, which would later inform one of his finest plays, “The Glass Menagerie,” which solidified Williams’ status as a bonafide playwright. St. Louis’ annual Tennessee Williams Festival pays tribute to this influential playwright, and will take place this year May 10–19 at the Grandel Theatre.
The Fox Theatre
Originally built in 1929 as a movie theater, the intricate detail and architecture of The Fox is its own artful feat. Better yet, The Fox frequently hosts touring productions of classic Broadway shows like “Chicago,” “Wicked,” “Rent” “The Phantom Of The Opera,” “The Book of Mormon” and soon “Hamilton.” The venue also frequently hosts internationally acclaimed musicians and entertainers.
This years marks the outdoor theater venue’s 100th season and CEO Dennis Reagan’s 50th year at the organization. Reagan began back when he was a trash-picker and in high school, and has been at The Muny ever since. A range of stars from Debbie Reynolds to Justin Guarini and more have graced The Muny’s stage, and this year’s season includes productions of “Annie,” “Gypsy,” “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” “Jersey Boys,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Wiz.”
The Black Rep
The Black Rep, founded in 1976 by producing director Ron Himes, continues to impact St. Louis audiences year after year. This theater company’s show have been met with acclaim, including the latest season which included “Dot,” “Fences” and “Torn Asunder.” The organization is also focused on local theater education and appreciation, with a performing arts workshop and summer performing arts program, as well as events throughout the year.
New Line Theatre
Founded in 1991, New Line Theatre offers a break from traditional theater and embraces challenging avant-garde topics. The theater company is currently in the midst of the classic musical “Anything Goes,” running now through March 24, and is also gearing up for a summer run of the eccentric musical comedy “Yeast Nation: The Triumph Of Life.” As the theatre company’s “about” page says, ” … a lot of four-letter words. And every now and then, a little nudity. And lots of rock and roll.”
That Uppity Theatre Company
Founded by playwright, director and educator Joan Lipkin, That Uppity Theatre Company is one of St. Louis’ well-respected homes for the development of contemporary theater. Original shows in response to tragedies and political events, like the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, are often incubated here. The theatre company even has a unique group of performers who participate in the DisAbility Project, offering original material that grapples with cultural misconceptions about disabilities.
Metro Theatre Company
This local professional theater company is a sanctuary for performance art-lovers, students, parents, actors and playwrights. The company’s last year of programming included productions of “Bud, Not Buddy,” “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” and “Games Dad Didn’t Play.” Metro Theatre Company is also highly invested in developing new work, developing relationships with playwrights and producing original pieces.
STAGES St. Louis
With a strong focus on musical theatre, STAGES St. Louis is a regional nonprofit organization that brings the best national talent available to St. Louis, by holding auditions here and in New York City. This year’s lineup of productions includes “I DO! I DO!”, “Madagascar,” “Mama Mia!” and “Oklahoma,” which will begin during the summer of 2018.
Cover image courtesy of Connor Limbocker.