Donna Parrone has been involved with St Louis theater since moving here in the 1980's. She is one of the founders of HotHouse Theatre (now HotCity) and has been an actor, a producer, a director and an educator.
There are times when theater is truly larger than life. There are times when it inspires with the message of the story and the creativity of the production, the spectacle of theater which teaches us something about the spectacle of life and encourages us to live on a grander scale. Not in material possessions, but in our thoughts and aspirations. War Horse, which opened at the Fox Wednesday night to an enormous crowd, is just such a theatrical adventure and the audience’s pleasure was marked by a proper standing ovation at the end of the night.
In 1988 David Mamet’s Speed the Plow opened on Broadway with its skewering, shocking truths about how films get made in Hollywood. In 2013, no one is unaware of how Hollywood makes the blockbusters or the stars. (If a studio pays enough papers to say a movie or a star is “the next big thing” eventually the average person thinks it’s true.) No longer shocking, but with plenty of meat for discussion, Speed the Plow opened this weekend at the New Jewish Theatre.
Opening night at the Repertory Theatre of St Louis is always a delight, the energy is high and the audience filled with St Louis theater people. And delightful certainly describes the opening night of Jon Jory’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, not only because the direction is strong, the ensemble equally polished and the technical aspects gorgeous, but also because there are a number of St Louis actors onstage which added to the celebratory atmosphere.
Production still from Stray Dog Theatre's production of Psycho Beach Party. (l to r) Paul Edwards as Yo Yo, Jake Ferree as Provoloney, Ben Watts as Chicklet Forrest, Paul S. Cooper as Kanaka, Zach Wachter as Star Cat.
I love going to Stray Dog Theatre. I love the space, I love that Artistic Director Gary Bell greets everyone by name and with a warm embrace. I think Production Manager Jay Hall is one of the most organized, efficient, positive and kind-hearted people in the St Louis theater scene. Even the volunteers seem genuinely happy to pour you a wet one at the Bark Bar and serve the delicious baked goods (still made by Gary’s sister, Jennifer.) So I was very happy to see the opening night of their latest offering, Psycho Beach Party.