In the Spotlight
Seven critically acclaimed shows opening this month capture the citys rich theater scene.
St. Louis boasts one of the most vibrant theater scenes in the country, with literally dozens of local companies offering a diverse range of stage presentations year-round. Classical masterworks and contemporary groundbreakers, comedies, dramas, musicals and a handful of world premieres fill the calendar each year, and November is a case in point. Here are seven very different must-see shows we look forward to this month.
Upstream Theater continues the Theban cycle with the US premiere of David Slavitt’s translation of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” which derives its tragedy from the clash of irreconcilable moral claims. She’s the incestuous offspring of King Oedipus and Queen Jocasta, who is Oedipus’ mother, which means Antigone is Oedipus’ daughter, uh…sister. Daughter? Sister? The play is a Greek soap opera on steroids. Catch it quick: The show runs now through Oct. 26.
The Rep brings last year’s smash off-Broadway hit, “A Kid Like Jake,” to its Studio Theatre. The comedy centers around two Manhattan parents trying to place their precocious 4-year-old son in an elite kindergarten. His penchant for dress-up presents challenges, and acceptance takes on a whole new meaning in this stimulating production surrounding gender identity, which earned playwright Jeff Talbott the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Award. Catch it Oct. 29-Nov. 16.
Mustard Seed Theatre’s 2013 production of “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” was, by any measure, a hugely successful one, garnering five St. Louis Theater Circle Awards. Now, by popular demand, it’s coming back. The a cappella musical recounts the true WWI story about soldiers on both sides laying down their arms for a holiday truce. What’s more, every member of the original cast will return. See it Nov. 14-Dec. 14.
West End Players Guild will present “Boom Town,” written by movie and film star Jeff Daniels, who’s better known for “Dumb and Dumber” than the dozen-plus plays he has written. The plot centers around Stu, who wants to “wrap a trailer park” development around his house but has suspicions that the banker might have double-crossed him on the deal. And he might be right: The banker is having an affair with Stu’s wife. When he confronts the two of them, secrets explode in violence and betrayal. Catch it Nov. 14-23.
The Fabulous Fox Theatre will present the true American Dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy with “Motown the Musical.” More than just performances of great songs, the show follows Berry Gordy’s journey from his brief career as a featherweight boxer to a heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and more. “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” are just two of the mega-hits featured in this dazzling musical. See it Nov. 18-30.
The Black Rep opens “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic story of an African-American family’s encounter with prejudice as they strive to move into an all-white neighborhood in 1950s Chicago. Ultimately, the play is about dreams, with the title derived from a Langston Hughes poem pondering whether dreams that are forgotten or put off shrivel up “like a raisin in the sun.” The show runs Nov. 28-Dec. 21.
Peabody Opera House hosts “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” written by Stephen King, with music by John Mellencamp and directed by T Bone Burnett—an extraordinary collaboration 13 years in the making. The macabre story is an evocative tale of love, lust, jealousy and revenge, performed by an ensemble cast that is propelled by different staging styles. While there are modern, interactive storytelling techniques and music, part of the show’s charm comes from its hints of old-style radio shows. One night only, Nov. 29.
À_AntigoneÀ_ by Upstream Theater
Photo courtesy of Upstream Theater.