Theatre is alive and thriving in St. Louis. There are some 70 small theatre production companies in the St. Louis area and a number of fine venues to see them at. Of course, two of the largest venues; the historic Muny outdoor theatre in Forest Park, which dates back to the 1904 World’s Fair, and the Fox Theatre, which was a fabulous movie house of the 1920’s, anchor the dozens of smaller playhouses that have sprung up in St. Louis in more recent years. Some of the plays are scaled down versions of national hits and some are fresh, original ones written by local playwrights and college students. Here are a few of the best:
The Black Cat ( www.blackcattheatre.org ) is a tiny little theatre that sits on Sutton Avenue in the heart of Maplewood’s upcoming arts district. Maplewood is right outside of the city proper and has been steadily growing on the art scene in recent years. The Black cat features Two Headed, which runs from February 8th, 2008 through February 22nd. Two Headed is a three-time award winning play about the Utah Mountain Meadow Massacre of the 1800’s. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was a mass killing of the Fancher-Baker wagon train at Mountain Meadows in Utah territory on Friday, September 11, 1857 by a group of Mormons and Paiute Indians. The play focuses on the lives of two women who survive the massacre. The Black Cat Theatre is located at 2810 Sutton in Maplewood. Tel: 314-963-8800. Tickets to most performances can be had for $25.
The Piwacket Children’s Theatre is also located at the Black Cat. A presentation of Treasure Island runs from October 14th through the 25th. Tickets are $10 for each show and $90 for a family season pas.
The Black Repertory Theatre (www.theblackrep.org) is the largest, professional African-American theatre company in the United States and the largest African-American performing arts organization in Missouri. Producing Director Ron Hines founded it in 1976. After moving several times, the troupe now makes its home in the beautifully renovated 467-seat Grandel Theatre located in Grand Center, the heart of St. Louis’ art and cultural center. The Black Rep will be manning a production of South African Activist and award-winning author Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena September 12th through the 23rd. This powerful story revolves around two down and out wanderers who have been evicted from their homes and are forced to live on the street.
COCA (Center of Creative Arts) (www.cocastl.org) has been providing meaningful arts experiences to St. Louisans and their families for nearly two decades. COCA has become the largest multidisciplinary arts institution and one of the most valuable community assets in the St. Louis metropolitan area. They have been recognized by the community as “Best Arts Organization” in St. Louis by the Riverfront Times.
Housed in a 60,000 square foot building designed by world-renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn, COCA attracts 50,000 area residents each year thirsting for avenues of creative expression. This year COCA features Rockapella from September 28th through the 30th. Rockapella is a unique quintet that blends soul, jazz, and pop into a exhilarating a capella show.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (www.repstl.org) is entering its 36th year of bringing professional theatre in six main stage and three studio productions in the Loretto-Hilton Theatre at Webster University in Webster Groves. The History Boys will be performed September 19th through the 30th. The History Boys is about a group of eight unruly, bright, talented and funny working class students in the north of Thatcher-era England. Alan Bennett’s The History Boys asks whether teachers should merely prepare children for tests or impart a lifelong love of learning.