St. Louis Theater Circle Nominations

With 30 nominations across many categories, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis brings a substantial presence into the 2016 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

Now in their fourth year, the awards honor outstanding work in St. Louis professional theater. The awards are voted on by members of the Circle, an organization of critics who cover theater here. (I am one of the founders.)

The Rep received the most nominations, followed by the Muny with 15 and Stray Dog Theatre with 14. In all, 21 theater companies received nominations for 50 different shows that played here in 2015.

In many categories, the nominations go to individual artists. This year, two of them received three nominations each.

Rob Lippert is nominated for outstanding set design in a musical for “Dogfight” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Stray Dog Theatre and for “Heathers” at New Line Theatre. Rusty Wandall is nominated for outstanding sound design in a play for “Angel Street” and “I and You” at the Rep and for “Antony and Cleopatra” at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

In a curious twist, married actors Kari Ely and Peter Mayer are nominated for parallel awards in a pair of dark comedies that played at the St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Ely, who played Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” is nominated for outstanding actress in a comedy, and Mayer, who played a grouchy resident of an assisted-living center in “The Gin Game,” is nominated for outstanding actor in a comedy.

To make things more complicated, the couple’s onstage partners, William Roth and Linda Kennedy, are nominated in the same categories.

The nominees are:

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy

Betsy Bowman, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Shinnerrie Jackson, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Erin Kelley, “The Killing of Sister George,” Max & Louie Productions

Shannon Nara, “The Killing of Sister George,” Max & Louie Productions

Jeanitta Perkins, “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler,” St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy

John Bratkowski, “The World Begun,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Michael Brightman, “Mr. Marmalade,” West End Players Guild

Jeffrey C. Hawkins, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Pete Winfrey, “Bad Jews,” New Jewish Theatre

John Wolbers, “Wild Oats,” St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding actress in a comedy

Lavonne Byers, “The Killing of Sister George,” Max & Louie Productions

Kari Ely, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Suzanne Grodner, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Linda Kennedy, “The Gin Game,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Em Piro, “Bad Jews,” New Jewish Theatre

Outstanding actor in a comedy

John Feltch, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Peter Mayer, “The Gin Game,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Antonio Rodriguez, “Bad Jews,” New Jewish Theatre

William Roth, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Jeremy Webb, “Buyer and Cellar,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama

Em Piro, “Sight Unseen,” New Jewish Theatre

Kelly Taffe, “Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Jennifer Theby-Quinn, “Afflicted: Daughters of Salem,” Metro Theater Company

Cassia Thompson, “Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Elizabeth Van Pelt, “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” West End Players Guild

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama

Will Cobbs, “Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

John Flack, “Sublime Intimacy,” Max & Louie Productions

Andrew Kuhlman, “One Flea Spare,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Michael James Reed, “All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Chris Tipp, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding actress in a drama

Shirine Babb, “Antony and Cleopatra,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Emily Baker, “Sight Unseen,” New Jewish Theatre

Danielle Carlacci, “I and You,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Amy Loui, “The Amish Project,” Mustard Seed Theatre

Lisa Tejero, “The Kiss,” Upstream Theater

Outstanding actor in a drama

J. Samuel Davis, “Bashir Lazhar,” Upstream Theater

Brian Dykstra, “All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Daniel Morgan Shelley, “Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Jerry Vogel, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Upstream Theater

Eric Dean White, “The Kiss,” Upstream Theater

Outstanding new play

Nancy Bell, “The World Begun,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shualee Cook, “An Invitation Out,” Mustard Seed Theatre

Neil LaBute, “Kandahar,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Ken Page, “Sublime Intimacy,” Max & Louie Productions

Alec Wild, “Off the Record,” OnSite Theatre

Outstanding lighting design in a play

Joseph Clapper, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Upstream Theater

Patrick Huber, “Sublime Intimacy,” Max & Louie Productions

Bess Moynihan, “One Flea Spare,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Peter E. Sargent, “Angel Street,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Nathan Schroeder, “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” R-S Theatrics

Outstanding sound design in a play

Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Upstream Theater

Fitz Patton, “All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Rusty Wandall, “Angel Street,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Rusty Wandall, “Antony and Cleopatra,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Rusty Wandall, “I and You,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding costume design in a play

Beth Ashby, “An Invitation Out,” Mustard Seed Theatre

Dorothy Marshall Englis, “The Winslow Boy,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

JC Krajicek, “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler,” St. Louis Shakespeare

Cyndi Lohrmann, “The Killing of Sister George,” Max & Louie Productions

David Toser, “Angel Street,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding set design in a play

Wilson Chin, “Angel Street,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Scott C. Neale, “Antony and Cleopatra,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Paul Shortt, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Peter and Margery Spack, “Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Mark Wilson, “An Invitation Out,” Mustard Seed Theatre

Outstanding supporting actress in a musical

Eileen Engel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

Heather Headley, “Into the Woods,” the Muny

Sydney Mancasola, “La Rondine,” Opera Theatre of Louis

Sarah Porter, “The Threepenny Opera,” New Line Theatre

Zoe Vonder Haar, “The Full Monty,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding supporting actor in a musical

Dan Fenaughty, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Joneal Joplin, “The Fantasticks,” Insight Theatre Company

Rob McClure, “Beauty and the Beast,” the Muny

Milton Craig Nealy, “The Full Monty,” Stages St. Louis

Sam Weber, “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” the Muny

Outstanding actress in a musical

Julie Cardia, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Shannon Cothran, “Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

Erin Dilly, “Into the Woods,” the Muny

Joyce El-Khoury, “Emmeline,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Anna Skidis, “Heathers,” New Line Theatre

Outstanding actor in a musical

Andy Christopher, “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” the Muny

Ben Davis, “Oklahoma!,” the Muny

Evan Fornachon, “Heathers,” New Line Theatre

Gerry Love, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

Jordan Shanahan, “Rigoletto,” Union Avenue Opera

Outstanding musical director

Jeffrey Richard Carter, “The Threepenny Opera,” New Line Theatre

Charles Creath, “Once on This Island,” the Black Rep

Michael Horsley, “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” the Muny

George Manahan, “Emmeline,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Chris Petersen, “Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding choreographer

Stephen Bourneuf, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Denis Jones, “Holiday Inn,” the Muny

Dan Knechtges and Jessica Hartman, “Hairspray,” the Muny

Susan Stroman and Ginger Thatcher, “Oklahoma!,” the Muny

Keith Tyrone Williams, “Once on This Island,” the Black Rep

Outstanding lighting design in a musical

Christopher Akerlind, “Emmeline,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Tyler Duenow, “Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

John Lasiter, “Oklahoma!,” the Muny

Sean M. Savoie, “Once on This Island,” the Black Rep

Sean M. Savoie, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding set design in a musical

Shoko Kambara, “The Barber of Seville,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Rob Lippert, “Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

Rob Lippert, “Heathers,” New Line Theatre

Rob Lippert, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

James Wolk, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Outstanding costume design in a musical

Eileen Engel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

Andrea Lauer, “Into the Woods,” the Muny

Brad Musgrove, “Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

Sarah Porter, “The Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre

Alejo Vietti, “Holiday Inn,” the Muny

Outstanding ensemble in a comedy

“Bad Jews,” New Jewish Theatre

“Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” R-S Theatrics

“The 39 Steps,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

“Wild Oats,” St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding ensemble in a drama

“All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

“Antony and Cleopatra,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

“One Flea Spare,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

“Safe House,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

“The Winslow Boy,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding ensemble in a musical

“Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

“Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

“Into the Woods,” the Muny

“Heathers,” New Line Theatre

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

Outstanding director of a comedy

John Contini,” Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

Michael Evan Haney, “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sydnie Grosberg Ronga, “Bad Jews,” New Jewish Theatre

Jacqueline Thompson, “The World Begun,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Kirsten Wylder, “The 39 Steps,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Outstanding director of a drama

Deanna Jent, “The Amish Project,” Mustard Seed Theatre

Jane Page, “I and You,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Ellie Schwetye, “One Flea Spare,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Patrick Siler, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Upstream Theater

Steven Woolf, “All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding director of a musical

Justin Been, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

Michael Hamilton, “Anything Goes,“ Stages St. Louis

Scott Miller, “The Threepenny Opera,” New Line Theatre

Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy, “Heathers,” New Line Theatre

Rob Ruggiero, “Oklahoma!,” the Muny

Outstanding production of a comedy

“The Gin Game,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

“The Killing of Sister George,” Max & Louie Productions

“The 39 Steps,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” St. Louis Actors’ Studio

“Wild Oats,” St. Louis Shakespeare

Outstanding production of a drama

“All the Way,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

“I and You,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

“One Flea Spare,” Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Upstream Theater

“The Winslow Boy,” Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Outstanding production of a musical

“Anything Goes,” Stages St. Louis

“Dogfight,” Stray Dog Theatre

“Heathers,” New Line Theatre

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Stray Dog Theatre

“The Threepenny Opera,” New Line Theatre

2016 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

The awards will be presented on March 21 at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School, 425 South Lindbergh Boulevard. They also will be carried live on HEC-TV; HEC and stltoday.com will stream the ceremony, too. The Circle Awards are open to the public. Tickets, $15, are available at brownpapertickets.com. For more information, visit the St. Louis Theater Circle on Facebook.

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25 Years of New Line Theatre!

RFT Names “The Threepenny Opera” at New Line Theatre the Best Musical of 2015

Best MusicalThe Threepenny Opera, New Line Theatre
Staff Pick

Jill Ritter LIndberg Macheath’s gang celebrate the boss’ wedding.

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera has everything you could want from a musical: a jazzy score, a diverse cast of shady characters and a ruthless compunction for wallowing in vice, sin and corruption. New Line Theatre mounted a savage production of the show that rubbed our faces in society’s filth and failings, and made us enjoy it despite the horrors on display. Threepenny is a sharp, cynical work that subverts your expectations at every turn, and the New Line cast embraced this ethos thoroughly. Scenic designer Rob Lippert built a grimy nocturne for them to play in, and the cast gleefully cheated and backstabbed their way through it. Familiar tunes such as “Army Song” and “Jealousy Duet” sounded fresh and intoxicating — so fresh that Brecht’s mordant lyrics were shocking all over again. Consistently surprising, eminently rewarding and endlessly fascinating, New Line’s Threepenny Opera was the show that set a new standard for St. Louis musical theater. http://www.newlinetheatre.com.

RFT Best Of 2015

Ladue News Review of “The Threepenny Opera”

The granddaddy of dark, decadent musicals, The Threepenny Opera still packs a punch with its biting social commentary that has remained relevant through the ages. The current production being staged by New Line Theatre is fresh, vital and deliciously subversive, underscoring author Bertolt Brecht’s sly observations that crime does indeed pay, whether for a rogue like Macheath or for the pillars of a society that diminishes the humanity of the less fortunate.

Full Article

Belleville News-Democrat Review of “The Threepenny Opera”

New Line customarily features a tight ensemble, showcasing some of St. Louis’s shrewdest musical theater performers, while also debuting a few new artists. Their strong voices tackle the masterful jazzy score under Jeffrey Carter’s expert music direction…

Full Article

The Telegraph Review of “The Threepenny Opera”

Another stand-out: Luke Steingruby as Bob the Saw, one of Macheath’s imbecilic gang members. Steingruby’s facial expressions and mumblings (particularly with mouthfuls of food) garnered big laughs from the audience; his comedic timing is impressive.

Full Article

KDHX Review of “The Threepenny Opera”

One of the magical qualities of theater, and a characteristic that makes dark comedy so thoroughly enjoyable, is its ability to take characters you would avoid in real life and transform them into oddly sympathetic and completely likeable anti-heroes. Such is the case with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s deftly nuanced, purposefully amoral comic musical “The Threepenny Opera.”

 The cast is rounded out with strong performances from Reynaldo Arceno, Brian Claussen, Todd Micali, Kimi Short, Margeau Steinau, Luke Steingruby, and Larissa White. Each adds distinct quirks and qualities to their characters and the entire cast impressively harmonizes, uses dissonance, and flits through the shifting melodies.

Full Article

RFT Review of “The Threepenny Opera”

For the next three weeks you have a choice in how you stay informed about current events: You can either suffer through another local newscast as the tone whiplashes between banal levity and grim images of oppression, crime and human misery — or you can soak up the horrible truth at New Line Theatre’s near-perfect production of The Threepenny Opera.

Full Article