upcoming st. louis theatre i can’t wait to see.

Last night I saw the incredible Beth Malone, Tony nominee and the original Alison in show-of-my-heart Fun Home, in the Muny’s production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. 

I had a great time seeing her perform again, especially in a show so radically different than Fun Homeand the show itself was high energy and funny with a lot of charm.

[Image description: a photo of Beth Malone and I at the Muny.]
The Muny season finishes up with A Chorus Line and Newsies over the next few weeks, and once summer ends there will be a seemingly constant stream of St. Louis productions of plays and musicals I love, have been dying to see (or see again) for years, or both.

The number of contemporary plays being produced locally over the next year is incredible, and I’m so excited for the work of genius playwrights like Annie Baker and Stephen Karam to hit the St. Louis theatre scene.

While it’s sometimes shockingly difficult to wedge time to see local theatre into my schedule between work, classes, and everything I have to do to keep my life together, I’ll definitely be making these shows a priority over the next year.

These are only my absolute St. Louis theatre must-sees. It feels like, since I’ve moved here, every month I learn about another professional theatre company putting up work I want to see.

Many of these shows are favorites of mine that I have already seen – I’m always excited about seeing new and new-to-me work, but it seems this season is especially full of shows I already love, and I definitely want to support local theatre companies that put on shows that I know are excellent.

What St. Louis theatre companies and productions are you most excited about this year?

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let’s talk about that Spring Awakening kickstarter.

Let’s talk about the Spring Awakening Tony Awards fundraiser. Let’s talk about what it takes and what it means to perform on the Tonys. Let’s talk about what a commercial producer of a Broadway show’s job is.

I love Spring Awakening. I love the original production and I love the Deaf West revival. While the original production’s first national tour cast is the cast of my heart, the Broadway revival, performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English and featuring Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing actors was better. It told the story of the show more successfully than the original production. The layers of depth added by Michael Arden’s directorial choices filled in holes in the show’s book. It was fucking incredible. But unlike the original broadway production, it was not a financial success despite its rabid (or… passionate) young fan base.

This week, commercial producer Ken Davenport and non-profit LA theatre company Deaf West asked fans of the Spring Awakening revival to donate $200,000 to fund a performance by the show’s cast on the 2016 Tony Awards, and I have some questions and I have some concerns.

Continue reading “let’s talk about that Spring Awakening kickstarter.”

tonys 2016: will win/should win.

Let’s face it: Hamilton is going to sweep the Tonys, or come damn well close. But I can still hold out hope for my less universally lauded favorites from this Broadway season.

I’m back, and I’m borrowing an idea from the New York Times theater critics’ will win/should win Tony Awards prediction post. Granted, I haven’t seen all of this year’s nominees (though I will be doing a great deal of catching up on my trip to NYC later this month), so this is 100% biased towards shows and actors I already know I love.

Best Play
Will win: The Humans
Should win: The Humans

So, The Humans is the only Best Play nominee I’ve seen, and I thought it was phenomenal. I think Eclipsed definitely does have a chance, but my best guess, and personal choice for the win is definitely The Humans. I was surprised King Charles III and The Father were even nominated – I only heard meh to negative reviews from theatergoers – but there weren’t many new plays to choose from this season.

Best Musical
Will win: Hamilton (duh)
Should win: Hamilton

The choice is clear. The winner is clear. It has been since March of 2015. Hamilton is here, and it’s here to stay. No other musicals had a chance.

Best Revival of a Play
Will win: A View from the Bridge
Should win: Blackbird

This is a case where I am totally in disagreement with and baffled by the reviews I’ve read. I did not get A View from the Bridge. The text itself was fine, if not a tad creepy, but I could not get past Ivo van Hove’s bizarre direction decisions. It is the only Broadway show I have ever walked out of before the end of the performance. But everyone else I’ve heard talk about this production LOVED it. It seems like the frontrunner. My choice, Blackbird, blew me away. I wouldn’t exactly say that I liked it – it is an incredibly intense and relentless drama about childhood sexual abuse – but it was one of the best things I’ve seen this year.

Best Revival of a Musical
Will win: The Color Purple
Should win: Spring Awakening

I haven’t seen The Color Purple yet, but it is a high priority on my to-see list. I’ve only heard glowing raves. Another clear frontrunner. I just wish that the magical revival of Spring Awakening that completely transformed the meaning of the show and added even more depth than there was to the original would be remembered come Tony time. It’s my favorite musical, ever. This production was my favorite thing this season.

Best Book of a Musical
Will win: Lin-Manuel MirandaHamilton
Should win: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Another obvious Hamilton win. No comment necessary.

Best Original Score
Will win: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Should win: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

See above.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Will win: Gabriel ByrneLong Day’s Journey into Night
Should win: Jeff Daniels, Blackbird

I actually think it’s a very tight race between these two, in my favorite play revival of the season and the one I am most looking forward to seeing in a few weeks. I actually think almost any of the nominees could win, but these guys are my pick.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Will win: Jessica LangeLong Day’s Journey into Night
Should win: Michelle Williams, Blackbird

I know Jessica Lange’s performance has been divisive, but I think it is going to come down to her and Lupita Nyong’o for Eclipsed. I haven’t seen either, but from what I’ve heard either would be well deserving of the award. My personal favorite to win is Michelle Williams. I don’t know how she performs her role in Blackbird every night. She was compelling and exhausting to watch.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Will win: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Should win: Leslie Odom, Jr.Hamilton

It’s between these two. I think the Tony voters are going to lean towards showering Lin-Manuel Miranda with all the awards he’s been nominated for. His musical is obviously a masterpiece and seeing a creator perform in a role they have written is always amazing. But his singing and acting don’t quite live up to the overwhelming perfection of Hamilton’s book and score. Leslie Odom, Jr. is giving an incredibly humane performance as the antagonist of the show, and performs the score’s best songs perfectly.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Will win: Cynthia ErivoThe Color Purple
Should win: Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

And again, a clear frontrunner. Everyone whose reviews I’ve read have fallen in love with Cynthia Erivo’s exulting performance. But I have a soft spot for Pippa Soo who I first saw perform in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 when it was in a tent in the empty lot on 45th St.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Will win: Bill Camp, The Crucible
Should win: Reed Birney, The Humans

I don’t have a clear idea of an obvious winner, or even an obvious preference of mine, for this category. I loved The Humans. I am hearing mixed things about this revival of The Crucible but everyone, whether they love it or hate it, talks about Bill Camp as a standout.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Will win: Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Should win: Megan Hilty, Noises Off

I can see either of these two from Noises Off as winners, likewise with the two nominees performing in Eclipsed. Not a clear choice here, but if I had to bet I’d put my money on Andrea Martin.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Will win: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Should win: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

If you’ve listened to the Hamilton cast recording or seen the show and aren’t obsessed with Daveed Diggs you are clearly having some kind of personal crisis and I can’t help you.

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Will win: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Should win: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton

Just give this woman a Tony already.

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Will win: Jan Versweyveld, A View from the Bridge
Should win: David Zinn, The Humans

A tough call, I don’t feel strongly about any of these plays’ designs, really, but this A View from the Bridge production completely transformed the theatre and stage. Personally, I liked the side view of the split level apartment in The Humans better.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Will win: David Korins, Hamilton
Should win: David Korins, Hamilton

The design of the Hamilton set is genius, and none of the choreography or direction would have been able to be as excellent as it is without the incredible space David Korins built to put the show in.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Will win: Michael Krass, Noises Off
Should win: Clint Ramos, Eclipsed

Another category I don’t feel strongly about. These shows both had cool costumes. I am not confident in picking a winner or a preference, really. I think this category is pretty open for any of the nominees to snatch up.

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Will win: Paul Tazewell, Hamilton
Should win: Ann Roth, Shuffle Along

Hamilton’s costumes, like all of the pieces that make it what it is, are gorgeous. But I think the recreations of 1920s gowns and stage costumes in Shuffle Along are prettier.

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Will win: Jan Versweyveld, The Crucible
Should win: Natasha KatzLong Day’s Journey into Night

The New York theatre scene is obsessed with Ivo van Hove helmed shows this year, and I’m sort of basing this prediction on that. Natasha Katz has only ever done evocative, beautiful work and I’d love to see her win another Tony.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Will win: Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Should win: Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening

This is a “I think Hamilton will come close to sweeping” prediction. I don’t remember noticing anything particularly striking about its lighting design either time I saw the show, but it is definitely an important cog in the machine of the most popular show in the history of Broadway. Here’s another place where I wish Spring Awakening would get a little love. The lighting was beautiful, and often managed to keep a relatively dark environment on stage while lighting it well enough for all of the ASL to be clear.

Best Direction of a Play
Will win: Ivo Van HoveA View from the Bridge
Should win: Joe Mantello, The Humans

This category is another case of Broadway loves Ivo van Hove, I don’t, I thought The Humans was perfect.

Best Direction of a Musical
Will win: Thomas Kail, Hamilton
Should win: Michael Arden, Spring Awakening

Michael Arden’s concept for the Deaf West Spring Awakening revival transformed the show from something deeply, unendingly important to me but very flawed to a groundbreaking statement about communication and accessibility. He deserves this award as much as Tommy Kail, who I can’t see losing.

Best Choreography
Will win: Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Should win: Savion Glover, Shuffle Along

Both of these men are excellent, renowned choreographers. Again, I think both of them deserve this award, but I can only see Andy Blankenbuehler and Hamilton realistically winning.

Best Orchestrations
Will win: Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Should win: Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton

One more in the bag for Hamilton.

hello from my tattoos.

If you want to get to the heart of “things that are important to Richelle,” as is the case for many twenty-somethings, a good place to start would be with my tattoos. Pretty much on face value you get to musical theatre and cats –  a set piece from one favorite musical, a line from another, and a portrait of my cat (named for a character from the first show, of course).

meeeeeow

The butterfly, a set piece from the original production of Spring Awakening, and the portrait of my cat, Ilse, are by Erica Flannes of Red Rocket Tattoo; the text piece from the Fun Home musical is by Shannon Ritchie of the same studio. Every day I’m amazed at how well all three turned out, and especially at how well Erica really captured my cat’s likeness.

I feel like “what’s the meaning of your tattoo” conversations are as boring and weirdly personal as when people want to spend way too long telling you about their dreams, so I’ll keep it short, but all three of my tattoos represent really important elements of my life.

I guess this is supposed to sort of set the tone for this blog. Hi.