ArtFul Living: Summer in St. Louis is Synonymous with Performances

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts
Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Local parks offer free concerts; the Shakespeare Festival enlivens Forest Park for the 15th year, followed by the Muny’s marvelous season. Circus Flora again brings family fun to Grand Center under the Big Top through June 28 with its wonder-filled performances. These St. Louis traditions remain everyone’s favorites, but look over the following to discover a new summer delight:

Lindenwood University is home to the Resident Summer Repertory Company. Now in their 35th season of theater, the group presents “Play it Again, Sam,” by Woody Allen, June 12-14, 27-28 in the Emerson Black Box Theater at the gorgeous J. Scheidegger Center on Lindenwood’s St. Charles campus. I was recently treated to a tour of this J. Scheidegger Center and was totally impressed by this hidden gem of performance space, not to mention the convenient, ample parking! June 19-21 and 26-27 offers Agatha Christie’s “Love From a Stranger.” Performances are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. Visit www.actincstl.com or call 636-949-4433; all tickets are $20.

“Black and Blue” is an original play by Gitana Productions that explores the complex relationship between the African American community and the police. The play includes music by TBeats Entertainment and encourages cross-cultural understanding and healing. According to Gitana Executive Director Cecilia Nadal, “Admission is free to eliminate cost barriers.”

Following the events in Ferguson last summer, Nadal made a point of talking with people of different nationalities and races. “I was looking for something,” she said. She found people’s unique stories, and enlisted playwright Lee Patton Chiles to “weave those stories into a spoken-word performance,” presenting a compilation of viewpoints.

A question-and-answer session with community leaders follows each performance. Experience the play in the Terry M. Fischer Theater at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, June 19-20 at 7:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. on June 21. Reservation are required: www.gitana-inc.org or call 314-721-6556.

Through June 28, Stages St. Louis celebrates its 100th production with “Smokey Joe’s Café,” from the legendary rock ‘n roll team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Featuring 40 chart-topping hits that span a three-decade era, “Smokey Joe’s Café” presents a nostalgic exploration of the lives, loves and aspirations of a group of friends. The song presentations are electrifying.

The play made its debut in late 1994 in Los Angeles, continuing on Broadway for an unprecedented 2,036 performances, making “Smokey Joe’s Café” the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.

Performances are in the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer in Kirkwood, range from $20-$57. Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.StagesStLouis.org to reserve your seat.

StagesStLouis also announces some great new offers: Free Tix @ Six offers new patrons (not in the Stages’ reservation system) one free ticket, as available, from 6-6:30. Student Rush offers students under 25 (with student ID) tickets for $20. Senior Rush offers the same for those 65 and older.

If you yearn to calm your inner self, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation offers Press Play Mediations, from 6-7:30 p.m. on June 11, 18 and 25. Angela Malchionno, artist and director of The Enamel Project, and 18andCounting leads a meditative drawing and walking experience inspired by exhibiting artist Richard Tuttle’s wire pieces, set to a hip-hop soundtrack. For more info and to register, contact Philip Matthews, Programs Coordinator, at pmatthews@pulitzerarts.org.

The Family Day Block Party, hosted by the Pulitzer and the Sheldon Art Galleries, offers those with energetic 3-12 year olds some arts-focused activities, performances, storytelling and more from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 20. Details at www.pulitzerarts.org, or just show up at 3716 Washington for summer family fun.

You can see “ArtFul Happenings” at TheHealthyPlanet.com