October 23, 2008
Fran Landesman @ The Gaslight
Over the past half-dozen years, there have been a few different Gaslight Square-themed events and projects: plays, films, concerts and, yes, even a book. I don't know, though, that any took me back to that magical time as well as last night's performance by Fran Landesman at the Gaslight Theater. Landesman, who with husband Jay, ran the legendary Crystal Palace club in the Square was onstage with: her son Miles, who backed her on guitar; vocalist Anna Blair, who handled some of the trickier vocal work; and a pianist, who was name-checked quickly onstage, but wasn't credited on the program.*
The diminutive Landesman's performance was a mix of spoken poetry, much of it delightfully salty, sprinkled alongside some tunes of hers, both old and new. As noted above, Blair stepped in for some of the songs, like the "hit" from the Beatnik musical "The Nervous Set," the lovely "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most." Miles usually accompanied her on the tracks she sang, while orchestrating the flow of the evening, giving his mom quick cues before and after each cut.
The audience certainly seemed to enjoy the opening night performance, which ran about 90-minutes, including a slightly late-start and longish intermission. If the night wasn't about quantity of material, it definitely didn't lack for quality, as Landesman hit the stage with an understated gusto. For starters, her red Colonel Sanders t-shirt had a certain "wow" factor, which was a bit unexpected. But even more amusing was an early line, which she uttered after checking the setlist she held close all night.
"I suffer from craft," she said. "Have you heard of it? Can't Remember a Fucking Thing."
From that moment on, you knew that things were going to only kick, and Fran Landesman provided just that, with songs and stories that were either: simple and lovely; or simple and devastatingly witty.
The audience, made up of members of the Gaslight past (Joe Pollack, Jack Parker, Al Becker, Jeanne Trevor, Bill Christman, Jorge Martinez, etc.) were contemporaries of Landesman, and certainly knew enough of her acclaimed backstory to understand how utterly cool this event was. But for someone who missed the glory days, Landesman's wit and poise and thorough sense of hipness was more than enough to carry the night.
We may not be treated to many, if any, more trips by Landesman to St. Louis from her longtime home in London. It says here that you'd be lucky and smart to snap up a ticket for the remainder of the weekend's gigs. (Call 314-531-4607 and grab a seat the bar of the West End Grill and Pub before, or after, the show.) I know that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Landesman's time on the intimate stage of the Gaslight.
And on it, I think, she sprinkled a little pinch of magic, there for all who'll follow.
(* That very piano player was kind enough to write a note. He's Joe Dreyer, the same fellow who worked on "Cool and Hip: Gaslight Square," a few years back; that revue was performed at the Missouri Historical Society and will hopefully be revived at some point in time. Thanks for the contact and great set, sir.)
September 26, 2008
Frost/Nixon @ The Rep
Despite being a lifer at Webster University, I've totally underutilized the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Last night, though, I succumbed to guilt feelings and the need to expand my cultural outlook, by attending the season's debut production, "Frost/Nixon," an amusing, energetic look at the David Frost/Richard Nixon interviews of so many years ago.
1. The play would appeal to all those already knee-deep in the spirit of the election season. Good, political theatre's all over town right now and this production can only enhance the dialogue. Smart, funny, admittedly fictional, but definitely a choice way to spend a "thinking evening." And, it should be noted, it's only at the Rep for the duration of the weekend.
2. While not sure what kind of ticket I could score at the last-second, I found myself at the box office window at 7:10, 50-minutes ahead of the curtain time. Wound up with a sixth-row seat, for a very reasonable $16.50. Everyone chatting around seemed to indicate that they were season-ticket holders, so I felt strangely in-the-know, despite being an interloper to their party.
3. Those folks were not young. It's amazing to hit those moments in which you feel really, really young. When, in fact, you're really, really not. To guess, 90% of the audience was over 60. And, outside of the youthful ushers, very few were under 30. Like so many arts organizations, it's obvious the Rep's crowd has grown gray. Maybe the subject matter had a bit to do with the audience's collective age. But it is striking to see how different the Rep's crowd skews, in comparison to other, newer companies.
Anyhow. I recommend the play!
August 01, 2008
George Malich on the Boards
Our main man, George Malich, a lifetime subscriber to 52nd City, which shows his great taste, is taking part in the latest NPTCO show, under the guise of Gavin Tartowski. Apparently, we can only blog about Off Broadway's events this weekend, so here're the basics on the show.
WHO: The NonProphet Theater Company’s comedy show, The Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine!
WHAT: Critically acclaimed sketch comedy, right here in St. Louis!
WHEN: Sunday, August 3 at 8:00pm
WHERE: Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63118
HOW (MUCH): $10 admission at the door
WHY: Why not? AND we have special guest host, George Malich!
June 10, 2008
Got nothing witty to add. Here's the release:
WHAT: The NonProphet Theater Company's 300th Episode of the Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine
WHEN: Saturday, June 14 at 8:00pm at Off Broadway
WHO: Special guests include comedians Kevin Hogan & Kevin White; past cast members Rachel Tiemann and Kirsten Wylder; guest performer Brian Hyde; and guest host Lola van Ella
WHERE: Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63118
HOW (MUCH): $10 admission at the door
WHY: Because if you miss this, you'll be kicking yourself for years to come
May 16, 2008
STLAS: Next Season Announced
The 2008/09 season of the St. Louis Actors Studio has been announced, with a season-ticket packet available here.
And while we're in the building, has anyone eaten at the West End Grill and Pub? Any thoughts?
May 08, 2008
A few weeks back, I went to a play at the Tin Ceiling. This might not seem remarkable, but it struck as somewhat cool (quite cool, really) that there's a live theatre within walking distance of my house. The Non-Prophets have been working in the room lately, and Tyson Blanquart of the NPs sends along word of a show being produced by the Tin Ceiling and the NPs, which, if I'm reading correctly, will take place a couple other blocks from my house.
Here's the info:
St. Louis, MO – The Tin Ceiling- producers of engaging and original theater in St. Louis for nine seasons- announce an exciting collaboration with The NonProphet Theater Company for their annual 24 hour play festival, seven/24.
seven/24 is a mad dash to write, cast, rehearse and perform seven 10 minute plays in the course of 24 hours. Fourteen writers will be paired up into seven teams, and will have 12 hours to write a short play. Once the plays are completed, they are handed over to seven directors, who then cast the shows from auditions held the night before. The cast and directors then have 12 hours to get the play ready for a public performance at 8:00pm that night, come hell or high water. It's always exciting, it's always fun, and you never know what will happen.
This is the seventh installment of seven/24 that the Tin Ceiling is producing, and joining them on this adventure will be the NonProphet Theater Company, known in the St. Louis region for producing critically acclaimed theatrical productions, as well as their award-winning sketch comedy show which is now celebrating its 11th year.
"This collaboration is absolutely perfect for our two companies," says NonProphet Managing Director Tyson Blanquart. "The Tin Ceiling is one of the most daring theater companies in St. Louis, and the manic energy that goes into these shows fits the NonProphet motif quite well."
Auditions for seven/24/seven will be held the on Friday, May 23 at the Tin Ceiling Theater, located at 3159 Cherokee Street at Compton Street, St. Louis, MO 63118. Those auditioning will be asked to read from a side, or a monologue may be prepared if desired. Head shots and resumes are welcome but not required. Those auditioning without a head shot will have a picture taken for casting purposes. Casting calls will begin the morning of Saturday, May 24. If auditioning, please be available beginning at 9:00am. Rehearsals will continue until show time.
seven/24/seven will be produced on Saturday, May 24 at 8:00pm at Sidney Street Theatre located at 2600 Iowa St. in St. Louis, MO 63118 .
Admission is $10, and tickets are available at the door. For more information on seven/24/seven, including ticket info and reservations, contact Maria Straub at 314.374.1511, or visit The Tin Ceiling's Web site at http://tinceiling.org/.
May 02, 2008
EXCLUSVE Six Question Interview with Jimmie G. Ousley of the Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre's "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park"
All the info is in the title! Let's go!
1. To establish a fact: is there a bigger KISS fan in St. Louis than yourself? Yes or no. If "yes," who?
If there is a bigger KISS fan in St.Louis, it would be hard to believe. As a member of the KISS Army, however, it's not about competition...it's about a rock and roll love affair that has lasted 35 years and counting. Everyone should be a KISS fan.
2. What scenes, gags, riffs resonated with the audience last weekend?
Lots! Chris Jones growling as Gene, Colin Preciado "Acking" it up as Ace, me posing up a storm as Paul, and Ben Ritchie being a cooler Peter Criss than anyone has a right to be. The romantic angle that Rory Flynn and Aaron Orion Baker bring to their roles is also undeniable. Sickening, but undeniable.
3. Tell us about the blend of performers this time out. A bit of old-school, a bit of new-school from the Monkey, it seems.
This has been a really terrific and fun cast. Lots of veteran Monkey actors like Julie Layton, Amy Elz, Diane Wittling, Roger Erb and the legendary Rory Flynn. Mixed in with newer Monkeys like Adam Thenhaus, Luke Lindberg, Kurt Jarvis, Kim Sansone, and Colin...well, that is dangerous cocktail, my friend.
4. Were there any obvious "issues" in staging this one? How did the Monkey crew go about creating the visual spectacle of the original film on a fixed budget, in a small house?
Through the miracle of theatre, we really didn't have any issues. We have a set designer by the name of Dave Froeckmann, also a lifelong member of the KISS Army. Dave created a set that goes well beyond Monkey sets of the past. The set consists of a row of rotating panels that allow for instant scene changes. And the giant KISS logo? Yeah, it's there, and it is bangin'. Who cares about a fixed budget when you have an unfixed imagination and a lot of talented people?
5. Because I need to know for myself: how do tickets look for the weekend? What's left? What's sold-out?
The 8:00 shows are always at capacity, so the earlier you reserve tickets, the better. Even the 10:30 shows have done well, so make sure you call 314-361-5664 to reserve your right to rock. This show seems to have created a nice buzz, and the lines have been as long as Gene's tongue. Don't be left out in the cold, all unhip and deprived of some Monkey KISS action!
6. Any advance word on what might be next for the Monkey?
There have been various ideas thrown around - a big contender seems to be Tron. Of course, any suggestions from Monkey audiences are not only accepted, but they are taken to heart. My dream would be to do Caligula, starring my favorite actor with a double-phallic name - Peter O'Toole. Something tells me that may have to stay in my dreams though.
April 17, 2008
Interview with STLAS
"The Late Henry Moss" will have its last weekend of at the Gaslight Theatre this Friday-Sunday, so we caught up with two of the three principals in the St. Louis Actors Studio, William Roth and David Wassilak. (Apologies to "Henry Moss" director Milton Zoth.) Both Roth and Wassilak are part of the cast for "Henry Moss" and they responded separately to an e-mailed list of questions about the show, STLAS and the arrival of the West End Grill and Pub, which is now firmly attached to the theatre. We blend the Q's-and-A's below.
52nd City: How has this particular performance gone for you? Seems that there's been more buzz around this show than some previous works. Or is that just me listening a bit more closely?
WR: Like a dream come true. I saw premiere with Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin, James Gammon, Shelia Tousey and directed by Sam in San Fran in 2000 and have been talking about this show and dying to do it ever since... I think the combination of doing Shepard with the fact that this is the first show that all three of us are in together has raised expectations some... (not to mention burning holes in our stomachs).
DW: This one's been good. But more difficult than I first thought. I really like Shepard's writing, because it is not only naturalistic but, has a rhythm to it also. That can make it more difficult to learn, but rewarding in the end. Not sure if there is more buzz for this show. Seems our whole season has gotten a lot of attention. Probably because we're new and folks want to see what we're up to.
52nd City: The restaurant seemed to land in your lobby in no time at all, though I know that's not the case. Are other people having the same response, along the lines of "wow, when did the Grill and Pub arrive"?
WR: It has all been in the plans from Day one, we worked on the theatre first because we had a production date for "A Delicate Balance"... the restaurant owners have been patiently tapping their fingers ever since... construction delays, you know how it is...
DW: Actually people have been asking all along when it was going to open. (Edit: Ouch!)
52nd City: You had a very unusual opening night. Have either of you been involved in a situation in which a show was stopped, before beginning again? How do you as a performer shift back into the mood of the show?
WR: I have seen a show stopped but not been in one and lucky for me I was in the green room at the time of this incident.
DW: Well... I've sort of stopped a show, or at least stalled it a bit when a cell phone rang during a production of "Waiting for Godot" that I was in. The phone rang and not only did the person take a long time picking it up, but she went to the back of the house to answer it. So I stopped what I was saying and using a line from another character in the show said loudly "That's enough." Since this didn't stop the cell conversation, another actor interjected another line from the show "Enough is enough." The audience laughed and applauded and then we continued. Hopefully it was a lesson to all about public rudeness. As for the interruption during "Henry Moss," it was a bit surreal, as the person obviously was in pain of some sort. I was stunned, but John Pierson who plays Taxi in the show, whispered me a show business joke, I had a quick laugh and we started back up. The audience was right with us a couple of lines in.
52nd City: Can you tell a bit about the Party Politics Gala on May 10? How is the last show shaping up? And what kind of feedback have you been getting from your regulars, in terms of what they're expecting from that program?
WR: You mean our first attempt at writing a script that will engage and excite a world wide audience? Like everything we are doing, creating new material is important to us and I suspect it will be well received.
DW: It' still in the writing process, so we're all looking forward to seeing how it will turn out. Our regulars are looking forward to it as much as we are. (I hope!)
April 16, 2008
The St. Louis Rep: Change, change and more change.
The first time I saw a woman "strip" was on a large stage with hot lights and hundreds of other people around me, including a few of my best friends (at the time). She went by "Gypsy" and had fun playfully beleaguering the men in the audience.
Seeing the musical "Gypsy" was probably the first time I had stepped into the Loretto-Hilton Center, home of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. It was 2002 and a rare field trip during a normal school day. It was exciting because I didn't have school. The main stage didn't have that much of an impact on me. I was told to appreciate the acoustics and the voms and that there would be a quiz on the show interior of the theatre.
There was never a quiz.
Let's fast forward a bit. It's late 2003 and I'm touring Webster University with a bum ankle and the Loretto-Hilton Center has chairs. Thank you! My mom had parked nearby, so we opted to end the tour early... But not without a good rest for my ankle in the lobby. I looked around, appreciated the spacious entry way and wondered what they did with all the food from that very morning, since the campus tour was just one part of an all day campus event for potential students. That day I decided Webster felt like a homey campus. That day I filled out an application.
I had the priviledge of moving into the dorms a week early. For anyone who has helped with a move-in day on campus, you will know how relieved I was. This was August of 2004. Because I had time, I wandered around the Loretto-Hilton Center. The doors were unlocked to the main stage. I looked around, but I didn't step foot on stage. I sat in the theatre for a few minutes before leaving, trying to get a sense of the building.
That needs explaining.
During high school, the auditorium we used for our drama productions was a piece of junk. But it was an awesome piece of junk, if not a little smelly. The third floor of the three story building was condemned and the second floor wasn't looking too good. The fire escapes looked like Death would look if Death were a fire escape. The actual stage wasn't too bad if you missed the nail heads from a past production that didn't get hammered into the floor all the way. Backstage was a mess, as were the dressing rooms.... well, they were more like dungeons. The building would sigh. He was an old man, just waiting for his time to get condemned, much like his sister elementary school.
And here I am in the Loretto-Hilton Center. She (felt like a she) is aging gracefully and still full of life. I like her. The professional productions on her main stage attract a diverse group of patrons, sometimes as interesting as the shows itself. For the past four years I've appreciated the diversity and memories that the theatre has given me.
It was upsetting to learn that the Rep wanted to move locations. Since 1966, she has been home to many Rep productions. I'll admit that I wasn't devastated by the news. My exact reaction was, "Really? I wonder why they would want to go to the trouble of having to move all over again..." I get discount tickets to all the Rep shows for being a student. I enjoy that perk. But I'm also graduating in May, which means I graduate to full price tickets. Let 'em move. It's not going to affect me much. Right? I'd like to think.
One of the attractions of WU's Conservatory is the fact that the Rep makes their home in the Loretto-Hilton Center. Because of this, they have a dead period in their season. The main stage is not used strictly for the Rep, but also for a couple student productions and a few other things. There's a lower stage, the Emerson Theatre, that both the Rep and the conservatory uses. Compared to the 763-seat main stage, the Emerson holds 125 people and is the very definition of intimate theatre. There isn't a horrible seat in the main stage theatre, but the left and right wing seats do make it where you are staring at the back ends of the actors for some of the time.
The officials at the Rep, they want to move for good reason. For four and a half months a year they can't hold shows in the theatre because of other organizations using the building. As a business move, I see their desire to change perfectly acceptable... almost. From the stories I've read, I gather they want to construct a new building, which would be around the same size as the Loretto-Hilton Center. Their new facility could potentially go in the Grand Center arts and entertainment district.
New York has Broadway, St. Louis has Grand Avenue.
What is it about Webster that warrents such a change? There's plenty of parking (because they block off lots specifically for the Rep) and a few restaurants in the area to have a decent dinner. It's all intimate-like, akin to the normal theatre experience (unless you're at the Fox and then it's just an"I'm sitting next to a sweaty man who looks uncomfortable in his sweater vest, I should have brought opera glasses..." experience). The convenience of not having to deal with school politics would be attractive, yes, that I do believe.
Whatever their choice, I can't be angry. Whenever the Rep does get its own facility, the rules can change. The schedule they maintain is strict. The freedom gained from moving is certainly attractive, from a business point of view. More shows, more money. More advertising, more money.
WU officials said that they support the Rep with whatever decision is made. That’s to be expected, for the bridge between the two would be a large one to burn. The students who are aware of the potential move are confused and wanting to know what’s going on, but the news has died down about it. Not many seem to voice an opinion aobut it these days. I’ve become apathetic over it. Maybe it’s the looming graduation ceremony talking...
This all makes me wonder, though, about the annex. A small building on the campus was demolished last year, the music annex, and in its place is nothing but a green lawn. It housed pianos, drums and practice rooms for music students. It was an ugly building, which one could see from the lobby of the Loretto-Hilton Center. Officially, it was said that it was old and cost too much maintain. The rumor on campus was much different. The building, an eye sore, was supposedly torn down because people of the Rep didn’t like it and we had this big new Community Music school with rooms to spare. So why not get rid of it? That’s strictly my speculation, though. I tend to think it was because yes, it wasn’t very pretty and maybe it did cost money that could go elsewhere.
To be honest, this whole business with Rep, it sort of confuses me.
From the Platform: Repertory Theatre considers moving to Grand Center
Oh, there are you are. Hi, Surfacing, you popped up kind of suddenly didn't you? Maybe it's my fault for not noticing you hanging around. But I'm not going to blame myself this time. I scour the bulletin boards, and you did not appear.
But that's okay. I found you, despite your crafty attempts to hide.
Facebook, inform the lovely people of my discovery:
Surfacing: Emerging Playwrights Festival
Surfacing is an annual production of student works. The shows are, from start to finish, entirely done by students of Webster University.
Surfacing is free to all. The shows will be held in Nerinx's EAC Auditorium. The EAC is easily accessible through the school's back entrance, which is labeled by a wooden sign that says "ENTRANCE". The space is then to your left and on your left.
The show times are:
Friday, April 18 at 7:30p
Saturday, April 19 at 7:30p
Sunday, April 20 at 2:00p
Last year "Surfacing" included a lot of comedy and a few serious things. I'm still saying the words "soul balloon" and "sweatpouch." Both words from a particularly funny short with a genie. Even my normally stoic other half laughed out loud at some of the productions, so that in itself is testimony to me that, hey, production quality is pretty damn good for a student run event. And it's free.
In most cases, the students involved in the show are not in WU's conservatory program. It's neat to see the theatre enthusiasts of WU acting, writing and directing. (Okay, maybe I have some friends that are involved.) I don't know if I'll like this year more than last year, considering the superhero sketch, the Brauny man and Scorpion-Hands were present... but, eh, I'll give it a try.
March 31, 2008
Oklahoma! The musical. With the singing and dancing and cowboys and pretty women in big dresses.
The Webster University Department of Theatre and Dance is putting on the show, and this time the students get the main stage at the Loretto-Hiliton Center (home of the St. Louis Rep and parking space theft).
I love the student shows. I love them more than professional shows. Maybe it's because I see the actors on campus? That might be it, but the quality of the student shows are on par with professional productions at Webster. As a student, I can get into shows for much less than the actual ticket price, so I take advantage of it. Over the past few years I've developed a habit for picking student productions over the others, even if the story doesn't greatly appeal to my interests. I don't care much for musicals, but putting that dislike aside for a night won't hurt (much).
April 23 - 27
7:30 p.m. all days, except 2 p.m. on Sunday
Not sure about the ticket prices, but it's not much. Maybe $10? Will edit with actual price later.
March 13, 2008
Improv Trick on Cherokee
Bill Chott's moved his Improv Trick classes to a new space in the Cherokee Street Incubator, near the corner of Cherokee and Iowa, in beautiful South St. Louis. The actor and instructor will be jetting off to LA for a resumption of the California half of his life next week, but he's offering a spate of classes this weekend, in the meantime. Here's a rundown of those:
Bill Chott teaches "The Trick" to Improv. This highly recommended class is a comfortable and supporting environment, suitable for people who have never been onstage before. Beginning Students find this work easier than they thought and Advanced students find Bill's approach fresh and inspirational. This 2 hour workshop is only $30. Free to Students of The Improv Trick Improv School. Sunday March 16th 4-6
Comedy Writing Workshop
Bill Chott, who has written for Saturday Night Live, The Second City, and countless TV, film and radio projects teaches the basics in comedy writing and coaches you as you create funny, lively and quick copy! This 3 hour workshop is only $50 and only $25 for currently registered students of The Improv Trick Improv School. Sunday March 16th 12-3
The basis of great characters and great scene work includes building your character’s status and learning how to initiate status transactions and raise or lower your status in an improv scene. This three-hour sampler lays out the process for you, step by step. This 3 hour workshop is only $50 and only $25 for currently registered students of The Improv Trick Improv School.
Saturday March 15th 12-3
February 17, 2008
Seats to Fill: 763
Last year, something amazing happened for Webster University's Campus Activities: an event attracted such a huge crowd that a few hundred people had to be turned away. Perhaps it can be said that members of the student body at WU are a little apathetic when it comes to events... (but!) there is evidence that particular trend is changing. When Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happiness, spoke at Webster, he drew students, staff, faculty and outside attention. Hundreds of people, not enough seats. You can read about it at The Journal.
And now, trying to follow their Gardner success, Campus Activities is proud to bring British comedian John Oliver to the Loretto-Hilton Center on Monday, Feb. 18. The event is open to anyone, admission is $10.
Oliver is a correspondent on The Daily Show and is doing a slew of stand-up gigs across the country. WU's campus activities members are hoping to fill the main stage at the Loretto-Hilton Center, which has 763 seats. This guy, he's a funny guy. You should go see this guy.
Here is a nicely informative website with everything you'll need to know.
February 10, 2008
Q/A, re: Bill Chott Presents Comedy on Parade
Tomorrow, Monday, Mad Art, 8 p.m.
Those are the details, here's the backstory.
I'm assuming the writer's strike has affected you. How much and how much of that has brought this show into being?
Firstly, I was very happy to see the silver lining to the cloud of the Writer's Strike. I have a lot of projects that I'm looking to getting back to once the strike is over. For example, Bob Odenkirk and Eric Hoffman from Mr. Show are developing a funny throwback to the Red Skelton show and I have a pretty big part in that. We put on a live version of the show over Christmas, which was the only time I had been in LA since the strike.
Also on hold is a project I'm hoping to develop with NationalBanana.com a new website from Jerry Zucker who produced Naked Gun and Airplane!
In the meantime, my comedy school The Improv Trick has really grown. Because I've been in St. Louis full time for the strike, I've been here for some great comedy events. Improv for the Christmas Jam, and Burlesque shows at Atomic Cowboy! My improv students are getting a lot of work doing shows and corporate events, and I've been teaching communication skills to area businesses and groups of speakers.
This project is a direct result of all the great comedy I see when I'm in town. I wanted to bring that comedy to one place where people who are going to "get it" can enjoy it together. Hopefully soon there will be a way to let people know about the great independent acts in town. 'Til then you can come out to Mad Art for the first ever series of Comedy on Parade.
How do you balance out the talent from week-to-week, in terms of having a variety pack of performers?
This show is going to be a different show each week. One week we'll have stand up and improv. Other nights we'll have sketch and solo performers, comedy poets, physical comedians. The talent is all there. Thanks to alternative publications like yours, and Sauce and KDHX, people are getting to know about the great scene that's there. I'm just hoping I can see all the great acts in town so I can put them up on my stage and know that they're the very Best of St. Louis. So, to balance it I just put the best together in the best order I know how. That's just something you learn putting up shows in Chicago, NY, and LA.
Who are some of your favorite stand-up performers in St. Louis?
I've known Josh Arnold for a while and he just steps up there with this cool that puts an audience at ease and ready to laugh. I'm so glad he could be a part of the first night. You know that's a loaded question to ask anyone hosting a night of comedy right? Now if I forget one name, I'm screwed! We comics have a very brittle ego. Have you seen Searching for Comedy in the Muslim World?
To what degree with your Improv Trick students be involved in the shows?
To a really big degree. They'll be the only constant in the show. Everything else will be changing... every show will feature IT. I'm really proud that students who have been studying with me for under two years will have a wide showcase for their talent. Some of my students were responsible for an award winning film, "A (Anonymous)" and we'll be selling those DVD's there all three nights.
Each week will feature the talents of Improv Trick improvisers like George Malich, John Stumpf, Michael Fitzgerald, Steven Vance, Adrienne Lamping and more guests. Feb. 25th will feature an opening act made up of some of my students, some guests and then even more longform improv from The Improv Trick.
Can you tell us about the notion of "alternative" comedy, in a world in which that phrase is often bastardized?
If comedy were permitted to be punk, that's what "alternative"comedy would be. It's surprising; it's not jokes about airline food and New York versus LA. If you're often watching comedy and you think to yourself.... "wait, didn't I hear this before?" Then you're awake enough to really appreciate this show.
This show isn't just for people who "like to laugh," it's for real comedy nerds.
January 31, 2008
Reggi's Classes Start
Ed Reggi, the noted improv facilitator and teacher, is offering up new classes and he's got this to say about it:
"My Improv Acting classes start in less than two weeks. Remember: Monday February 11th at the Black Cat Theater in Maplewood. Spolin-based acting is not only great for the actor but also an important learning skill for anyone.".
Event: Spolin Improv Acting with Ed Reggi
When: Monday, February 11 at 6:00 pm
Where: Black Cat Theater, 2810 Sutton, 63143
January 25, 2008
KISS, Live, Onstage
If you're like me, you believe there should be much more adapting of KISS into the theatrical world. In that case, you'll be equally excited by the Magic Smoking Monkey's latest show announcement. Penned by KISS uber-fan Jimmie Ousley, the show is the only logical extension of the man's healthy obsession with the '70s greatest painted rock band.
Don't believe me? Check: http://www.52ndcity.com/2007_10_ousley.htm.
So, then, the show announcement:
On April 25th, prepare yourself for the biggest and cheesiest Magic Smoking Monkey show yet - "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park"! Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre brings to life the epic saga of the rock band KISS and their efforts to thwart a diabolical plan by amusement park engineer turned mad scientist Abner Devereaux. After uncovering his plans to use a KISS concert to unleash his evil robot clones, the band must use their special powers and exciting rock music to stop him!
In addition to KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park, Magic Smoking Monkey will also present a short "trailer" for "The Star Wars Holiday Special," before the main program.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre offshoots of St.Louis Shakespeare was the formation of the Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre, which specializes in some of the strangest and wackiest theater in St. Louis. This strange cousin of SLS was co-founded by Donna Northcott and Mitch Herzog, SLS' former Managing Director, and is completely independent from its parent company. The company performs in the late-night realm, and its first production was an all-live on-stage version of Ed Wood's classic "Glen or Glenda?"
This premiere production attracted sellout performances, and audiences have been genuinely appreciative of these truly goofy productions. In 2005, members from Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre released the award-winning indie comedy "Hooch & Daddy-O" which is available for purchase online and to rent through Netflix. Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre has been a mainstay of underground St.Louis theatre since 1996.
April 25 & 26, May 2 & 3, 2008
Friday and Saturday at 8pm and 10:30pm.
For more information, visit us on the web at:
January 21, 2008
Comedy on Parade: Mons. @ Mad Art
I'm unfamiliar with this Bill Chott character, but his new, Monday night series at Mad Art sounds like an interesting experience. It's also a nice way to incorporate more into our "theatre & improv" sub-section!:
Did you know that St. Louis is the birthplace of one of the most physically and mentally challenging performance mediums known to mankind? We're speaking of improvisational acting. Or, as we know it today, improv.
The scene was set in the 1959 when improv legend Del Close came to St. Louis along with Elaine May and Mike Nichols and refined improvisational acting techniques into the art form we know it as today. The three were part of the St. Louis branch of Chicago's Compass Players, which were a direct precursor to the most legendary improvisation and sketch comedy group in the United States, The Second City . The company performed at the Crystal Palace in the heyday of Gaslight Square to great acclaim before its various members went on to groundbreaking careers in movies, television, books and Broadway.
Bill Chott- himself a native St. Louisian and an alumnus of Second City- wants St. Louis to embrace its comedy roots, and as such, is bringing the funny back to The Lou with a fervor not seen since the 50s and 60s.
Starting Monday, February 11, 2008, Bill is excited to present a whole new experience in St. Louis comedy: the debut of a weekly showcase aimed at spotlighting the burgeoning sketch comedy and improv scene that's alive and kicking right here in the Heart of the Midwest. It's called Bill Chott's Comedy On Parade.
This weekly independent comedy showcase will feature some of the best edgy comics in St. Louis including Gabe Kea, Josh Arnold, a video featuring Bob Odenkirk and Paul F. Tompkins (both of the acclaimed HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David), sketch and improv from The NonProphet Theater Company, The Fingerbreaker Brothers, Brand X, East County and many more surprises. Start setting Mondays aside for the best comedy in town!
The show will be produced weekly at the MAD ART Gallery in Soulard, located at 2727 South 12th St. at Lynch St., right next to the AB Brewery. It was a jail, then an Art Gallery....now a Comedy Funhouse!
Tickets are $10 at the door and include two free drinks. Join Bill and his guests in this exciting experiment in local comedy.
Doors open at 7:00pm and the show begins at 8:00pm (subject to change).
You may know Bill from various appearances in some of the most hilarious films and television shows in the last ten years, including The Ringer, Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse and the late, great Dana Carvey Show. Bill as also made notable appearances on Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Invader Zim, Third Rock From The Sun and Monk.
For more information, please visit www.theimprovtrick.com, or email email@example.com.
December 20, 2007
Q/A with Bill Chott: re. Christmas Improv Jam
Bill Chott is hosting his Christmas Improv Jam at Mad Art Gallery this Sunday night, with all the details available at The Improv Trick's site. We sent Bill five questions yesterday about the event and his continuing teaching efforts.
Q: For people who typically don't attend improv shows in town, what might they expect on Sunday night?
A: People should expect to see St. Louis's best improvisers onstage having a lot of fun. There will be performers from all over who'll be joining us onstage, and audience members will be welcome to step onstage and be a part of the fun. Anything can happen, and usually does. A lot of people realize that improv is neccessarily what they thought it was.
Q: What's the appeal of Mad Art to you, such that you've moved your classes and this event there.
A: I love Mad Art because it's big and my improv events are big. I also love that the crowd there is coming to expect a bit more than just quick laughs. They're looking for substance and improv really hasn't had that kind of breathing room in town since Gaslight Square.
A: I'm sure you want to mention that this has a charitable component, too?
Q: Yes, please bring as many canned goods as possible. This is all to benefit the St. Louis Food Bank, America's Second Harvest. Food Banks this time of year are sapped and this is the time of year when they should be overflowing. You can also donate and buy tickets to the 50/50 Raffle.
Q: You frequently mention St. Louis as a birthplace or early hub of improvisation. Why's that important for you to say?
A:It's important to me because we have a rich heritage of being the place where Del Close came to improvisation. Del went on to create SCTV, was a director on the original Saturday Night Live and he taught most funny people you see on TV today. From Will Ferrell to Tina Fey, and everybody they work with. I think that the more St. Louis recognizes it's own history, we'll have more and more people in town studying and watching improv.
Q: With the work you're doing, the work Ed Reggi's been doing and all of the varied troupes in town, where do you see improv heading in STL over the next three, or five, years?
Let me be clear about this. I couldn't be doing the work I'm doing today if Ed Reggi hadn't been teaching and performing here in St. Louis for the last ten-plus years. There is a strong base here thanks to him and I'm glad to pitch in and do what I can do to see us claim our true mantle as the birthplace of longform. I forsee many more people learning and performing and I see a sustainable improv club and independent comedy scene. St. Louis is the kind of town where independent comedy with a point of view and message can thrive. Moreso than Chicago, LA and New York. It's easier for comedy club chains to take hold there and strangle creativity.
November 29, 2007
NPTCO's "second" Opens Next Week
Dug the first show by the Non-Prophets and I'm looking forward to the next one. It'll be nice to catch a show at the new Ivory Theatre, too.
Hot on the heels of their critically acclaimed season opener Corleone ~ The Shakespearean Godfather , The NonProphet Theater Company closes out 2007 with the second production of their second season with a play entitled- appropriately enough- second.
second was written by Neal Utterback and first produced by the Horse Trade Theatre Group in New York City in 2004. The NonProphet Theater Company is proud to present the regional premiere here in St. Louis.
The story is an unusual mix of comedy, drama, crime noir and love story, with themes that touch on faith, love, loss and the quest for salvation. The play is told in a non-linear fashion as the lives of six New Yorkers and a mysterious man intertwine on a fateful Christmas Eve. Three separate stories that all have one common bond combine in this innovative tale, and it prompts the questions: what are the defining qualities of hope, faith and trust? To what lengths would a person go to protect those things?
After the death of her mother, Lauren and her partner Vick find themselves second guessing their life together. John hires T, a prostitute, as he finds himself facing the seemingly endless seconds of his days. Jake and Davey work on a deal that could be each other's second chance. second is an exciting "comedy with questions" for the new millennium where science and religion collide, and the play is as entertaining as it is intriguing. What will you believe?
second, by Neal Utterback, will be presented by The NonProphet Theater Company, December 7—16 at the Ivory Theater. Performances will be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with all show times at 8:00pm. Tickets are $15 for general audiences and $12 for students and seniors.
Deanna Jent directs the cast:
Kelley Ryan as Lauren, Kirsten Wylder as Vick, Robert A. Mitchell as Jake, Adam Flores as Davey, B. Weller as John, Bess Moynihan as T, and Tyson Blanquart as The Man.
Set design by Nick Uhlmansiek. Lighting design is by Dominique Gallo. Sound design is by Robert A. Mitchell. Props and Stage Management by Katie Donnelly.
The Ivory Theater is located at 7622 Michigan Ave. at Ivory St. in the Carondolet neighborhood of St. Louis. Click here for directions.
Reservations can be made by calling 314-752-5075 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Payment is received at the Box Office. At this time, only cash or checks are accepted.
For more information on The NonProphet Theater Company, visit their Web site at http://www.nptco.org or on MySpace at http://myspace.com/nptco.
November 20, 2007
Improv Trick @ Mad Art
Local actor and improv coach Bill Chott's spent a good chunk of the last year working in LA, but he's back in town for the holidays. With that, his popular class series, dubbed The Improv Trick, will also be back for a December-into-January run of dates at a new venue, Mad Art Gallery.
I've taken his classes and have told plenty of other folks exactly this: you don't even need to have a desire to be an actor or comedian to benefit from his courses. It's just a great way to open up your head to new ways of communicating in public settings. Quality stuff, for sure, and I look forward to catching up on some work with Bill in the next li'l while.
Join me, yeah? Details here:
Free Improv Class
Sun, Nov. 25th 1-4 pm
Explore your creative side. This class is a supporting and comfortable environment, suitable for people who have never been in front of an audience before. Get ready to have fun with group creativity exercises.
Saturday January 5th and Sunday January 6th - Noon-2 pm
Discover your hidden talent to create and be spontaneous. Great for professionals looking to explore their creative side and gain a competitive edge or artists who want to overcome creative block. Play creative games and interact with other creative people. Get in the creative habit!
How to Break into Show Business
Monday January 7th 7-9 pm
What are the secrets to a successful career in show business? Bill Chott of The Improv Trick reveals "The Trick" to breaking into show business and making money with your acting skills. For a complete listing of Bill Chott's professional work including hit film and TV work, visit the Internet Movie Database.
Saturdays in Dec. from 10-12 pm
Young Improvisers know Bill from his work on Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, and hit teen movies. Students in this workshop will perform with Bill Chott in a showcase December 23rd!
Cost: $150 for four weeks
Saturdays in Dec. from 1-4 pm
Explore your creative side. This class is a supporting and comfortable environment, suitable for people who have never been in front of an audience before. Get ready to have fun with group creativity exercises. Students in this workshop will perform with Bill Chott in a showcase on December 23rd.
Cost: $150 for four weeks
Intermediate Workshop: Introduction to Longform
Wednesdays from 7-10 pm
Dec. 5, 12, 19th and Jan. 9th
Students with over a year's experience in improvisation or continuing students of The Improv Trick can learn Longform Improv from a professional improviser. Learn "The Trick" to creating instant theater. Students will perform long form improv to a packed house on December 23rd.
Cost: $150 for four weeks
All classes at the MAD ART Gallery
2727 S. 12th Street
St. Louis, MO
Class sizes are limited . . . Register now!
Email: The Improv Trick
October 20, 2007
Every year, the same resolution: see more local theatre. Every year, the same result: meh, tried but didn't make it. Does it count if I see a re-staging of the same play, across town, with a new lead? I may have to find out.
A couple weeks back, I took advantage of the NPTCO offering of "Corleone: The Shakepearean Godfather," at RAC's theatrical space. After getting my head around the concept for the first few minutes, this life-long "Godfather" fan settled in and enjoyed the production, with its' bare-bones set, gilded language and numerous allusions to subplots of the first "G" film. Enjoyable and it counted
against my resolution.
If you share the same goal for '07 and beyond, get started with this one:
Just when you thought you were out, The NonProphet Theater Company pulls you back in!
The NonProphet Theater Company is proud to present a special encore presentation of their critically acclaimed production of Corleone ~ The Shakespearean Godfather. Due to popular demand (and six sold-out performances) this wonderful combination of the Bard and La Cosa Nostra will run for a limited engagement at the new Ivory Theater in South St. Louis for two weekends only.
Performances awill be November 9—18, with shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00pm.
Corleone - The Shakespearean Godfather is author David C. Mann's brilliant adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel and Frances Ford Coppola's film The Godfather. Mann, however tells the familiar story with a twist: with Shakespearean language. Mann saw many elements of a fine Shakespearean tragedy in Puzo's creation that it was almost a no-brainer to translate the Cosa Nostra classic into something that could have flowed from the pen of Shakespeare himself. Elements of family struggle, good vs. evil, deceit, murder, and a cast of untrustworthy characters kept you riveted to your seat in the theaters, and now they take on a new dynamic at the hands of David Mann.
Performances will take place at the new Ivory Theatre, located at Michigan and Ivory in the Carondolet neighborhood in South St. Louis (7622 Michigan Ave., St. Louis, MO 63111. Parking is available in a secure, lighted parking lot behind the theater. The theater is wheel-chair accessible.
For reservations either call 314-752-5075 or send an email to email@example.com, and be sure to include the following information: which performance you'd like to attend, how many seats you would like to reserve, and a contact number and/or email address. We will contact you with a confirmation.
Ticket prices are $15 for adults, and $12 for students and seniors.
The show is directed by Robert A. Mitchell, and reprising their roles will be Nicole Angeli, Aaron Orion Baker, Tyson Blanquart, Joseph Garner, Chuck Lavazzi, Jared Nell, Julie Venegoni, and B. Weller.
Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, Andrew Michael Nieman- who originally played the role of Michael Corleone to rave reviews- will not be able to return for this encore presentation. Filling the role of Michael will be Richard Strelinger, who is no stranger to Shakespeare (having crafted and directed the last seven installments of Hydeware Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park) or to Mario Puzo's classic story and character.
Lighting and set design by Nick Uhlmansiek. Costumes by Russell J. Bettlach. Fight Choreography by Whitney Elmore.
August 31, 2007
Sketch All-Star Team Forms
So we really dig the Art Outside festival and we also enjoy a bit of sketch comedy. Why not help promote the birth of a new trio (or is it sextet?), which will be debuting at the next AO?
Hard to believe the event's coming up so quickly, but it, in fact, is:
THE FINGERBREAKER BROTHERS, a new sketch comedy group created by some of the St. Louis' top sketch writers and performers, are set to debut September 7 & 8 at Art Outside at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, MO.
THE FINGERBREAKER BROTHERS COMEDY SHOW—co-founded by and starring Tyson Blanquart, Christian Lawrence, and Drew Somervell— will debut their new show, which is an homage of sorts to legendary comedy shows such as The Smothers Brothers Variety Hour, The Muppet Show, and Robot Chicken. The show will also feature Laura Coppinger, Leah Schumacher and Joey Walsh. The show was written by Blanquart, Lawrence, Somervell and Jim Caskanett.
With a fast paced tempo and irreverent tone, THE FINGERBREAKER BROTHERS COMEDY SHOW will make you laugh 'til your socks fall off. Every comedic line is freshly squeezed for maximum effect, nothing is taboo, and oh yes, there will be a giant rabbit! The show will integrate a live stage show with pre-taped segments, all flowing seamlessly into one half-hour long show that is set to make you chortle a bit.
Tyson Blanquart has been a writer and cast member of the NonProphet Theater Company's award-winning sketch comedy show THE MILITANT PROPAGANDA BINGO MACHINE since 2002. Christian Lawrence co-founded, co-wrote, and co-starred in the sketch comedy group The Zim Zam Kok Show, which offered up award-worthy theme based shows since its inception in 2004. Drew Somervell is the unifying factor, as he has been a member of both groups since 2005, and a darn nice guy.
The FINGERBREAKER BROTHERS will be performing two shows each night. The show times are:
Friday, September 7 at 7:00pm and at 8:30pm & Saturday, September 8 at 6:00pm and at 8:30pm.
Admission is FREE!!
The show will take place in the Crown Room inside Schlafly Bottleworks, located at 7260 Southwest Avenue at Manchester in Maplewood, MO 63143.
For more information on THE FINGERBREAKER BROTHERS, visit their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/fingerbreakerbrothers.
For more information about Art Outside, please visit http://www.schlafly.com/.
August 21, 2007
A Gaslight Preview
William Rother, co-founder of the St. Louis Actors' Studio and developer of the Gaslight Theatre, sends us a note about a unique open house taking place this Friday. Fans of the old entertainment, local theatre and some venerable St. Louis musicians will want to take notice:
If you are contemplating buying season tickets for the inaugural season of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio, then please come on by the offices of The Eleven this Friday:
360 N Boyle
6 – 8 pm
Food and drink
See the progress of the new Gaslight Theatre
And best of all...
Musical guest and Gaslight Square celeb, Jeanne Trevor with special guest Willie Akins!!
Please come and help fill the Gaslight!!
July 09, 2007
Mad Art Radio Hours Strikes Again
The Mad Art Radio Hour is back this week with two all new radio plays written by Jaime Gartelos and James Foehner. Last fall’s Radio Hour was a real hit and I expect nothing less this time out as much of the same talent is involved including George Malich, Sarah Jones, Doug Golden, and Soozi Hall. Presented in just one hour will be Intergalactic Space Squad: High Drama in Deep Space AND The Hands of Bret Verlorn: A Tale of Art, Artists and Suspense.
Shows are at 8pm on July 11, 12, 13, 14th with an additional 2pm matinee show on the 14th. The 8pm performance on Saturday, the 14th will be taped for future broadcast on KDHX. All happening at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 S. 12th Street in Soulard for just $5.
June 12, 2007
Sherman George Does Shakespeare
I'm a low-brow kinda guy. No problem admitting that. Have not a lot of time for The Bard, but have plenty of time for Ed Wood. So, in recognition of an event supporting both St. Louis Shakespeare and the Magic Smoking Monkey, we note this upcoming event... which features our favorite Fire Chief!
It's St. Louis Shakespeare like you've never seen it before! Please join us on Saturday, July 7, as local celebrities and St. Louis Shakespeare/Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre actors perform favorite scenes from past productions - everything from HAMLET and RICHARD III to THE ONE-HOUR STAR WARS TRILOGY and SPEED RACER! Featuring the dramatic stylings of...
Darwyn Apple (St. Louis Symphony Orchestra), Bill Chott (Film actor, Comedian), Ruth Ezell (KETC-TV), Alfonso Freeman (Film and Stage Actor), Sherman George (St. Louis Fire Chief), Darlene Green (St. Louis Comptroller), Jill McGuire (Executive Director, Regional Arts Commission), McGraw Milhaven (KTRS Radio), Judith Newmark (Theatre Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Alvin Reid (Editor, St. Louis American), Vince Schoemehl (President of Grand Center and former Mayor), Jim Shrewsbury (former St. Louis Alderman), Dianne White (Television Personality). With special guest appearances by: Drew Bell, Dave Cooperstein, Chris Jones, Julie Layton, Oscar Madrid and Jim Ousley!
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Show starts at 7pm
Admission: $50 in advance, $65 at the door (tax deductible). Proceeds benefit St. Louis Shakespeare with a portion supporting SLS' educational programming with Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School . For tickets or more information, call (314) 361-5664.
St. Louis Shakespeare and Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre have been a proud part of the local theatre community for a combined 30 years. We hope you'll help us celebrate this great tradition and ensure that St. Louis Shakespeare and Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre will continue for many years into the future.
June 03, 2007
Non-Prophet Trivia, Saturday @ Mad Art
Compliments of Tyson Blanquart, the 2006 Kick Ass Award-winning Non-Prophet Theatre Company will be hosting another trivia night at Mad Art. It's coming up quick. Here're the pertinent details:
Just when you thought it was safe… The Non Prophets are back with another pop culture trivia smack down!
SUBJECT OF SMACK DOWN! :
Non Prophets Trivia Night 2: Electric Boogaloo
DATE OF SMACK DOWN! :
Saturday, June 9th. Doors open at 6:30pm. Game at 7:00pm
LOCATION OF SMACK DOWN! :
Mad Art Gallery 2727 South 12th Street , St. Louis , MO
COST OF SMACK DOWN! :
$20.00 per person or 200.00 for your team of 10 ringers
This time, it's personal! Ten rounds of hardcore trivia! Music! Theatre! Television! Dead Celebrities! Movies! Oh yes, there will be movies! Door prizes, raffles and an OPEN BAR! All to benefit the second season of the Kevin Kline Award nominated Non Prophet Theatre Co. Blood will be shed! Hearts will be broken! Obscure references will be made… Many teams will enter, but in the end there can be only one (winner). Did I mention the open bar?
First prize will be DVD prize package and season tickets. The second and third place teams will get free passes to one show.
10 Rounds of trivia, plus Dead or Alive & 50/50 raffles.
There are plenty of Soulard eateries that deliver to Mad Art, and we'll provide phone numbers and menus so you can get your grub on!
For individual and team reservations, contact the Quizmaster (David) 314-304-0548 or firstname.lastname@example.org (please put Trivia Night in subject line).
May 27, 2007
Low Cost/No Cost Improv
It appears that a new improv night is kicking off at Lemmon's this week, with Bill Chott's Improv Trick students taking the lead in getting things moving. Here's some info from the Improv Trick's website:
Tuesday, May 29th at Lemmon’s (5800 Gravois Ave.) come on out for the “First Weekly Tuesday Night Improv Session” (after that it will just be called “The Tuesday Night Improv Session”). Sessions run from 7:00 until 10:00. Actors, game-facilitators, spectators, and interested parties are welcome.
Do you miss saying "Yes, and ..." in your every day life? Are you itching to shift left or perhaps shift right? Well, have I got something for you. Several members of Bill's intermediate class are attempting to put together a weekly practice of all things improvisational - short forms, long forms and of course improvised singing. Our long term goal is to perform, but right now we just need a place to practice all that we've learned and to flex our improvisation muscles.
May 21, 2007
Midnight Company: Shows & Wire Interview
Just returned from KDHX, where our guest this evening was Joe Hanrahan, a founder of the Midnight Company and writer of two short plays that will be produced in coming weeks. If you didn't have a chance to catch the show, these twin productions might be of interest to you, with a central City venue, affordable ticket prices and provocative themes.
Check the website hotlinked above, or listen to the interview here.
November 16, 2006
Worth it. Worth it. GO!
It is one hour that you really should not miss. The Mad Art Radio Hour. I saw it tonight and it was highly entertaining. The Martian Hunter was played by the excellent George Malich and was a very well done skit combining the elements of old time gum-shoe detective stories with modern art hyperbole, including hilarious sarcasm about art critics. Former cop Ron Buechele expertly played an Irish police sergeant. The sound effects, executed by Eric Hall and Jeremy Brantlinger, were fantastic. The I Love Sylvia skit, a spin off of I Love Lucy, included especially fun exchanges between poets Sylvia Plath, played by Sarah Jones, and Anne Sexton, played by Soozi Hall. Doug Golden was a very convincing and bombastic Ted Hughes. What made the hour really enjoyable was the attention to detail. The room was more intimate than I’ve ever experienced it. The “applause” and “on air” signs were a great touch. Swing Set provided musical accompaniment and they were the perfect choice. All the details added up to a really special evening. Local establishments, such as Schlafly, The Royale, and Lemmons, sponsored the show and Jaime Gartelos wrote the ads and jingles, with the most memorable and entertaining being for the divorce attorneys Knight and Tomich. The entire program was very well planned out and I cannot recommend highly enough. By the end of the night I was inspired to try my hand at writing a radio show—although I’d love to see more from Gartelos and fellow writer James Foehner. Only $5 and just one hour on a Friday night. Tomorrow’s program is being recorded by KDHX and will be broadcast on Brett Underwood’s The No Show, midnight on Thanksgiving. Doors 7pm/Show 8pm. This kind of thing is really what makes St. Louis special folks. Don’t miss it. More at Mad Art.
October 19, 2006
"Girl Gone" by Ass Kicking NPTCO Begins Tonight
I tend to be a completist, which I why I anticipate making it to "Girl Gone," the third fall production of the Non-Propeht Theatre Company's three-show season. The fact that the show has scenes contained in a strip club shocks my sensibilities, but, again, there's that completist mentality, which compels me to put aside my Puritan reservations in lieu of a trip to West County for this NPTCO joint.
(And before I give details on "Girl Gone," which begins tonight, have I mentioned that the Non-Prophets will be performing for a half-hour at the Kick Ass Awards on November 9th? Remind me to do that, sometime.)
Here's the relevant data:
NonProphet Theater Company's "GIRL GONE"
DUE TO ADULT SITUATIONS, THIS SHOW IS INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
Directed by Christopher Limber, the play is set against the backdrop of exotic dancing. When Tish, a novice dancer, loses her friend and mentor Jean to a brutal murder, she sets out to find who killed her and why. Her search takes her along the seedy underbelly of the city, and the action drifts in and out of Tish's mind as she flashes back to past incidents in an attempt to unmask the killer. With a rapid pace, the scenes shift from the strip club, to a smoky jazz lounge, to a male hustler's pad, to Jean's apartment. She eventually finds the answer she's looking for, but is she ready to handle the truth?
This production, in addition to being the final entry in the NonProphet's inaugural season, is part of the St. Louis Political Theatre Festival. With tones of feminism, free speech, race, and sexual freedom, Reingold has crafted a dark yet moving story that flows seamlessly from one scene to the next, and subtly speaks to political and social issues of the day, while maintaining a bite-your-nails sense of suspense.
The show stars Kimberly C. Mason as Tish, Margeau Baue Steinau as Jean and Robert A. Mitchell as Bobby. The show also features B. Weller, Leah Schumacher, Paula Dean, Kiné Brown, and Jared Nell.
The NonProphet Theater Company promises that this will be the most ambitious production to date, with a dazzling array of lights designed by Jim Dolan, sound design by Dave Toretta, and set design by Dan Steinau. In addition to being a cast member, Leah Schumacher, of the Albino Alley Cat Burlesque Revue on Washington Avenue, is also acting as choreographer for the dance numbers.
The show is performed October 19 through October 28 in the Sarah & Abraham Wolfson Studio Theater, located in the JCCA (2 Millstone Campus Drive; Creve Coeur, MO 63164).
Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. There are no Sunday matinees.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for students and seniors. Student rush tickets will also be available for $10. Student rush tickets are available 15 minutes prior to show time, and will be released only if the show is not sold out. Valid ID is required.
August 09, 2006
Militant Bingo Propaganda Machine
I've been to this show, during its two-year run at the Hi-Pointe. Four times, methinks. On a good night - which is as dependent on the audience as the performers - it's a pretty entertaining gig. This weekend's is a fundraiser, so the ticket price has a little extra starch, but that could be offset by the cast and crew blasting into the material for the first time in a while, along with newly-written bits.
Here's the info:
This is a reminder that the NonProphets have a special show coming up this Saturday. The show is a fundraiser to help raise money for our inaugural season of plays that will begin next weekend (August 17) with AMERICAN BUFFALO by David Mamet.
THE MILITANT PROPAGANDA BINGO MACHINE returns to the Hi Pointe with a show on Saturday, August 12 at 9:00 pm. Doors open at 8:00 pm. The show, if you're not familiar with it by now, is comprised of 24 original sketches played out by audience demand. Throw into the mix a few drinks and some BINGO, and you have yourself an evening of fun you won't soon forget.
Tickets are $10, and all proceeds and donations during the show go to help us produce our first season of plays. Tickets are available at the box office and reservations can be made by calling 314-752-5075 or emailing email@example.com.
We have a new cast in place for this special show, and they will be starring in the BINGO MACHINE throughout the rest of the season. They are Sarajane Alverson, Arron Orion Baker, Tyson Blanquart, Paula Dean, Theresa Masters, Cary Miller, Ben Ritchie, Suzanne Roussin, Corey Stulce & Gary Wells. Other cast members for the season include Alice Kinsella, Bob Mitchell, Jim Ousley, and B. Weller. The show was written by the cast, in addition to Byron Kerman, Jill Barrett, and Mike Orr.
The Hi Pointe is located at 1001 McCausland, at the intersection of Clayton, Oakland, Skinker, McCausland and Highway 40. The venue is 21+. The Hi Pointe now serves food! Wolf down a Bison Burger or "The Cardiac" (a hot dog with bacon, cheese and chili) during the show, and wash it down with your favorite suds. The Hi Pointe boasts the city's best bartenders, who are guaranteed to treat you right.
So, if you're jonesin' for some great sketch comedy, come check us out this Saturday. Seating is limited, so arrive early, then stay late and party with the NonProphets after the show.
August 08, 2006
Interview with Joe Hanrahan of "ThomPain"
Joe Hanrahan's one-man play "ThomPain (based on nothing)" is set to run this weekend, at Balaban's. After a stint on last night's The Wire, I sent Joe a few questions via e-mail, relating to this show, and he quickly responded with his thoughts.
For full info, check his website: www.midnightcompany.com.
Allow the info below to help whet your appetite for this unique, intimate show.
What's your standard, walk-around description for the simple question that people might ask you this week: What's "ThomPain" all about?
Standard description, if I have a few seconds, is a melange - one man, one hour show (a marketing essential); very different, contemporary; 2005 Pulitzer finalist, First Fringe Award winner at Edinburgh (if I want to impress). If I don’t have a few seconds, I say, existential stand-up. Larry Dell had a good handle last night: stand-up tragedy.
What was your introduction to this material?
My introduction to the material was a review in the NY Times of its off-Broadway premiere – absolutely the most reverent, gushing, rapturous rave I’ve almost ever read of the show; plus the fact that it was a one-man show (one of those doable productions our company is always on the lookout for), and that, last but not least, it seemed to portray the profoundly poignant human condition in a very entertaining one hour of theatre. I then obtained a manuscript copy of the script, and pursued the rights for a year-and-a-half 'til they granted them to me.
Beyond yourself (as the sole actor) and director Larry Dell, how many people are involved in this production?
Larry and I are the production team; behind the scenes, box office help, plus designers, photographers and a post-production video house to help with the all-important marketing.
What's unique about your venue at Balaban's? Along those lines, which unorthodox space that you've used has been the most and least accommodating rooms?
At Balaban’s, we perform in a very small party room – capacity about 40. Besides a few lights (possibly sound, but not in this show) the venue is good for this kind of small one-person piece. Very intimate for the audience (we also presented "St. Nicholas" there two summers ago – another one man show that worked well there). Hopefully one of the good things about the space is that a lot of people know where it is – an essential when trying to attract St. Louis audiences. The Midnight Company has presented “Dracula,” taking up an entire abandoned warehouse at the Lemp brewery – that was very challenging in terms of little us making such a big production work. The History Museum was a great place to work, as has been Technisonic’s soundstage (three shows), and the original Contemporary Art Museum was good, too, partly because we produced shows that worked in that space. Least accommodating probably has been when we’ve done our “Jesse James” show at Innsbruck – on the porch of an old house, outside on a warm Missouri evening. But we made that work for our eventual performance of the show on the porch of the James Farm near Kansas City. We did it again this past June, and that was a memorable experience, performing the show right where a lot of it happened, using the historic James home as our dressing rooms.
How much of your spare time is given over to thinking about the production, esp. when you're this close to the opening?
As much spare time as possible is being spent right now; aside from formal rehearsal, and mini-rehearsals that happen in my head sporadically throughout the day, for this show, particularly, I’m spending a lot of time thinking, imagining, trying to feel the right attitude, approach for this character. Also, for myself anyway, as I get this close to performance, I do consciously try to indulge myself with the little creature comforts or intellectual distractions that will help keep me relaxed and refreshed for the stage.
You mentioned on the radio show that you'd be working the entire room during this show, that people would be right in the mix of your work. Do folks generally enjoy this type of intimate, set-free approach?
I don’t think audiences generally think they’ll enjoy or anticipate this type of show. I think most of us like the safety zone of the fourth wall – they’re up there acting like they’re in Chicago or ancient Greece, and I’m out here separate and safe and observing. (I think that’s why movies are so easy and likable and preferred to stage – ultimately non-threatening.) But this show engages the audience directly. If folks attend a Friday, 7:30 pm show at Café Balaban, that’s where and when it’s happening. My character is stepping in to the room and talking to them, eye-to-eye, at that moment. But I do think this script is structured and written to the point where audiences will be drawn in, captivated and ultimately appreciate it. The show has a lot going for it, including some very, very smart and often beautiful language.
July 12, 2006
Always a sucker for circus arts, I'm super curious about the next production by the The Tin Ceiling Theatre Co., Zombozo, "an original circus/zombie play done in a silent film style" written and scored in-house. It opens this weekend, and since it's billed as a "silent tale of romance, murder, zombie clowns & bloody death," I am even more impressed with the scriptwriter, since I imagine it's subtitles and stage directions.
Yet another reason to amble down to Cherokee...
May 22, 2006
Let Me Entertain You!
Lots of folks admit to dabbling in theatre at some point. Perhaps it was a little Bye Bye Birdie in high school or maybe Plaza Suite in college. It was fun, right? But as we get older careers and families become more important than creative expression.
Ladies and gents, brush off your character shoes because there's a new theatre company in town just looking for people like you! Marble Stage Theatre put on a very successful run of Fiddler on the Roof last summer and will be presenting Way Back on Broadway for its second show.
Lucky for you, auditions are just around the corner. You can show 'em your stuff June 2nd from 6pm-10pm and June 3rd from 11am-5pm. Rehearsals start June 19 with the show being performed August 3-6.
Here's an abbreviated synopsis from one of the audition flyers.
"Way Back on Broadway" is an original music review. The story follows the story of two girls who meet up with Grandma Sally, the oldest living broad on Broadway, as she takes them through the history of Broadway musicals. The show features songs from every decade of Broadway from Johnny One Note, Oklahoma, Girl Crazy and Anything Goes to more current hits like Pippin, Les Miserable, Rent and Wicked plus many other favorites.
To schedule an appointment to audition, please call Marble Stage Theatre at 314-732-4003.
Here's the great part-they do not accept professional actors. It's a quality company for regular ol' members of the St. Louis community who want to make some music, play a role and goof off a little bit during rehearsal breaks.
See you there.
March 14, 2006
Video Press Release: "The Ballad of Jesse James"
Yo, you gotta love the trend of video press releases. (And this is written by a true Luddite.) Just got one from Joe Hanrahan of the Midnight Company, re: the upcoming production of his "The Ballad of Jesse James," a quick piece done in a rather Ken Burns-ey style, at that.
And you gotta love the fact that Dave Wassilak is a cast member. Don't know how much comedy is this piece - can't imagine a ton, what with all the killin' and gunplay - but this is one funny, funny man.
November 24, 2005
"Reefer Madness": Q/A w/ Donna Northcott
It's the final weekend for the latest Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre production, "Reefer Madness." It'll be playing two shows a night on both Friday and Saturday evenings at the MSMT's now-regular venue at the Regional Arts Commission.
We decided to bug founder/director Donna Northcott on Thanksgiving with five questions about the current show, cast and crew. She was kind enough to put aside the holiday traditions for a bit of impish, cyber-chat.
What was the initial appeal of "Reefer Madness," in regards to a Monkey reworking?
It's classic Monkey: late 1930's, overly intense, a film that takes itself way too seriously. We almost did "Reefer" a couple of years ago, but at that time Scott Miller was planning to do "Reefer Madness: The Musical" with New Line, which would have been running immediately after our production, with both shows at the ArtLoft. =Since we hadn't yet officially announced "RM," I agreed to go with my back-up plan: "The One Hour Star Wars Trilogy." Which worked out well for everyone. So, RM has been on a back burner for awhile, and I was glad to finally give it the Monkey treatment.
Any new actors this time around? Any long-timers taking this one off?
There are a lot of new actors this time around - almost half the cast. I was concerned when several of the regulars (Amy Elz, Julie Layton, Drew Bell, Dave Cooperstein, Donna Weinsting, Oscar Madrid) were not going to be available due to a variety of schedule conflicts. But it worked out very well, and we discovered some excellent new actors: Jessica Jackson, Roger Erb, Jamie Pitt, Kimmie Mason, Leo Barzcewski, Jeremy Thomas, and Kine Brown.
My guess is that a lot of people know of the movie, but haven't actually seen it. Is that true, or are people well-versed with the original?
I think you're right - almost everyone knows the title, but not that many have actually seen the movie. Some are now familiar with it, after having seen the musical version. And some recognize a couple of rather iconic images: Hot Fingers Maloney, the drug-addled piano player, and Ralph Wilkie laughing maniacally while hopped up on reefer.
Any particularly good anecdotes from show nights, to this point? No one's fallen of the stage or lost their wigs or any such thing?
Nothing catastrophic - no walls falling down or anything. But in the final week of rehearsal, there are the odd moments of actors shouting "bang!" before remembering that we now have a sound system, or worrying about Abe Lincoln getting stuck in a doorway. But hey, we have one more weekend left, so we're not out of the woods yet.
Have any of your actors "gone method" and smoked up the mad cheeba to get in the proper frame-of-mind each night?
We have a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. What happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room. Really. I hear all sorts of frightening, other-worldly noises coming from backstage before the show - some don't even seem human. And the smells... don't ask. My feeling is, the less I know, the better. As long as the show goes on, I don't ask any questions.