Don’t Miss The Rep’s 2015-2016 Season!

angelweb - CopyThis fall, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis kicked off its 49th season! And opening October 14, is the Rep’s production of Angel Street (Gaslight)—one of Broadway’s earliest psychological thrillers starring Janie Brookshire as Bella Manningham and Clark Scott Carmichael as her seemingly perfect husband Jack.  Confined to her old and gloomy home, Bella’s husband accuses her of playing devious pranks and tricks that she can’t remember and causing Bella to question her own sanity. Mysterious and suspenseful, Angel Street is sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Peter_Starcatcher_logo - CopyRounding out the first half of the 2015-2016 season and running December 2-27 is Rick Elice’s five-time Tony Winner Peter and the Starcatcher.  Prequel to the classic story of Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatcher tells the story of a young orphan boy and an apprentice starcatcher and the adventure they undergo while trying to protect magic starstuff.  The two young boys experience pirates, mermaids and other fantasy characters along the way.  Throughout their wonderfully strange journey to keep the trunk of starstuff safe, the boys learn the importance of love, friendship and imagination.  With its colorful props and captivating storyline, this production will be the ideal show for audiences both young and old.

lioninwinter_logo - CopyTo start out the second half of the season, the Rep will be putting on James Goldman’s The Lion in the Winter, January 6-31.  Set in Christmas of 1183, this play follows the events leading up to the announcement of King Henry II’s successor – and all of the hysterical family drama that leads up to the big event. With nothing but the goal of attaining the crown in mind, the King’s sons devote their every effort to securing their future position as King, no matter what the cost.  The continuous banter between family members creates a comical representation of what happens when competition exceeds the bonds of family.  Most importantly, The Lion in the Winter, proves that no family, no matter how royal, is perfect.

disgraced_logo - CopyNext on the Rep’s 2015-2016 Season schedule is 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Winner Disgraced.  Written by Ayad Akhtar, this play stars Pakistani-born gone New-Yorker Amir Kapoor.  Corporate lawyer and soon-to-be partner at his law firm, Kapoor seems to have everything a young man in America could ask for – at the expense of abandoning the Muslim values he was raised with.  Confronted with the choice to either appear in court to support a local imam who has been arrested based on religious persecution, Kapoor is forced to face the values he has left behind.  This dilemma is brought up at Kapoor and his wife’s dinner party. The guests are quite diverse in terms of race and religion and give Kapoor a broad perspective on the issue.  By its conclusion, the play addresses issues such as “Islamaphobia”, personal identity, and religion, making for an intellectually gripping production.

satchelpaige_logo - CopyConcluding the 2015-2016 Season at the Rep is Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan’s Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing, March 16-April 10.  Set in 1947, Kansas City Swing follows the frustration of Negro League All Star Satchel Paige and his teammates.  In the excitement surround Jackie Robinson’s feat of becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues, equally talented Paige is left fameless and discouraged. Devoting themselves to baseball during the day and jazz at night, Paige and his teammates work together to find a way to break the barrier and find their place in Major League Baseball.

As expressed by Art Director Steve Woolf, “Our 49th season is full of magic, fun, mystery, excitement, drama and captivating characters, and we cannot wait to experience it with St. Louis audiences.”

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is an Arts and Education Council Sustaining Grant recipient. For more information, go to

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GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: Meet COCA’s New Co-Artistic Directors

Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd, co-artistic directors at COCA.

Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd, co-artistic directors at COCA.

Earlier this year, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, 34, and Kirven Douthit-Boyd, 30, announced they would leave the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to become co-artistic directors at COCA (Center of Creative Arts), an A&E Sustaining Grant recipient, on August 15, where Antonio began his dance training at the age of 16. Happenings caught up with the couple while they were in Paris finishing up their final season with Alvin Ailey before moving to St. Louis.

Can you talk about your decision to come back to St. Louis and COCA specifically? How did it all come about?

Antonio: I had a long talk with Kirven after we had our first meeting with Kelly [Pollack], executive director at COCA, and a few things stuck out in my head, like why I wanted to leave St. Louis as a child and go to New York and become a dancer. When it came to returning to St. Louis, a lot of the same things came to mind. I want to come back to help other young artists achieve each and every thing that is possible for them. I want to help them see the world outside of St. Louis and be able to love what they do. St. Louis gave me so much, and when Kelly came to us with the offer we jumped on it.

You’re both leaving Alvin Ailey while still in your prime. Will you dance professionally here in addition to your work at COCA?

Antonio: Dance will always be a part of our lives and, yes, we will dance a little here and there. But our main focus for now is the young people we are responsible for. We owe so much to the Ailey Company. To think we will never dance on stage again with our friends hurts. But it’s like Mr. Ailey said, “Dance came from the people and should be delivered back to the people.” Kirven and I plan to do just that.

Kirven: Even though we’re not dancing full-time, we are still dancers at heart. We have a lot to share with young artists in St. Louis but if an opportunity presents itself in a way that’s appealing to us, I’m sure we’ll dust off our shoes and hit the stage again. I also like taking classes and going to the gym so I’m sure that these things will continue to make up parts of my days.

Antonio Douthit-Boyd performing with Alicia Graf Mack from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, at the 2014 St. Louis Arts Awards.

Antonio Douthit-Boyd performing with Alicia Graf Mack from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, at the 2014 St. Louis Arts Awards.

How did the tragedy in Ferguson impact you both and did it play a part in your decision to come here?

Antonio: Ferguson was hard for all of us outside of St. Louis to read about, but just imagine those young ones who had no say in the matter and had no clue of what was really happening. I’m sure being there and seeing that will be burned into their minds forever. And if bringing great artists and instructors into the community can help them escape for just an hour a day, we will do that. Who knows? You might find your next dance star right there.

Kirven, you are originally from Boston. How are you doing with this decision to come to the Midwest?

I’m so excited to be moving to St. Louis. I’ve grown to really love the city. There’s so much good art happening and it has a really great vibe. I will miss East Coast living for the convenience of everything but I am looking forward to settling down in Missouri.

What changes can we expect in COCA’s dance program once you two take over?

Antonio: COCA has always had a very strong dance program, but we plan to bring them things that we have learned from our travels all over the world and guest artists from some of the world’s greatest dance companies. We want to make St. Louis the dance hub of the Midwest, so keep your eyes wide open.

Both of you said you want to do more outreach, especially to young men living in communities where serious dance is not an option. What will that look like?

Antonio: We want to make dance available for everyone. If you are serious about the craft, then we want to help. In dance we always have a lot of young ladies that want to dance but never have enough partners for them. Kirven and I are hoping that by us being in St. Louis, we can help young men understand that it’s okay to dance and still be strong athletes. I was one of the 50 fittest athletes in the world in Men’s Health magazine in 2014, the only dancer on the list.

Can you each talk about your approach in teaching students? How will you get the best out of them?

Kirven: As co-artistic directors, Antonio and I share a lot of similarities in teaching style as well as the changes and growth that we see for the program. Putting together a curriculum that helps students’ development technically and artistically is key. It is important to get the training and the approach to dance to a point so we can bring in guest artists to set works that challenge the students. This will take a lot of effort on our part. We have to instill the values and discipline of the art form while learning individual students’ needs. We want to put COCA on the map as one of the best institutions for pre-professional dance training.

Antonio: Young people are very smart. You give them the information and you help them figure it out. You never dumb things down because of their age, you give it to them and you watch the growth. When they get that, give them more. Everybody can learn to dance, but we are looking to make amazing, employable artists while still having fun.

COCA is an A&E Sustaining Grant Recipient. For more information, visit

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MY ARTS STORY: Rick Dildine of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis (an A&E Operating Grant recipient), tells a terrific story about how he was first introduced to art – and Shakespeare – as a youngster.

Growing up on a crop farm in northeast Arkansas, Dildine says there was “little-to-no arts in the region, much less theater.”

While in eighth grade, Dildine saw a TV commercial advertising the touring production of “Cats” coming to the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, that city’s equivalent of our Fox Theatre about two hours from his home. He begged his father to let him see the show. “My father’s response was, ‘We’ve got cats, cows and chickens. Why do you want to pay to see some cats?”

A year later, his mother pulled him aside and said, “I’ve been saving up for a year and bought us season tickets to the Orpheum Theater in Memphis.” Dildine and his mother began to make the trip once a month to see live stage shows. “Driving there, we’d talk about what we were going to see and listen to some of the music,” Dildine recalled. “On the drive back, we’d have a conversation about what we saw, what we thought, what we learned.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' education tour.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ education tour.

“To me, that’s so much a part of what theater is about – the conversation in the car ride home. That’s the kind of theater I want to make. The arts, be it visual, music or theater, can and should trigger conversation and dialogue. The role of the arts in society is to ask ourselves who we are and what we want to be. The arts also tell future generations what was important us. The arts help record the history of mankind.”

Around the same time he and his mom were going to the Memphis Orpheum, Dildine’s English teacher promised bonus points if students read over Christmas break.

Scene from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' 2015 production of Antony and Cleopatra.

Scene from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ 2015 production of Antony and Cleopatra.

“So I went to the library and tried to find someone who had a lot of work,” he said. “I ended up in the section of library where the author’s last name started with ‘S.’ After the break, I went to my teacher and told her I read eight pieces. She was shocked and asked, ‘Who did you read?’ I told her I had no idea Danielle Steele had so many books.”

That’s when his teacher suggested he try someone else whose last name started with “S” and gave him a copy of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” By the time he finished reading the play he was smitten, and his longtime love affair with Shakespeare had begun.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is an Arts and Education Council Operating Grant recipient. For more information, visit

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GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: Sheldon Arts Foundation’s SOLID Music Project

Students from St. Mary Magdalen School with Boeing engineer and professional drummer and band leader, Tim Callihan.

Students from St. Mary Magdalen School with Boeing engineer and professional drummer and band leader, Tim Callihan.

It’s difficult for music teacher Bernadette Mooney to contain her enthusiasm when she talks about the Sheldon Arts Foundation’s (an A&E Sustaining Grant recipient) SOLID Music Project. “I’ll admit I had some concerns at first because I have all types of learners in my class and I like all of my students to be successful,” says Mooney, referring to her fourth grade class at St. Gerard Majella School in Kirkwood. “But after attending the SOLID workshop, I knew the program was going to be excellent and was I right. It really allowed for visual, auditory and tactile learners to be successful. It was highly hands-on and every one of my students absolutely loved it and excelled.”

The students invented instruments by using science and math to make music – and using music to encourage the use of science and math. The Sheldon SOLID Music Project adds the letter “A,” for “arts,” to change STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to form STEAM. Funded by a $75,000 grant from the Boeing Company, the program is the brainchild of the Sheldon Arts Foundation with input from the St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis Archdiocesan Schools, Grand Center Arts Academy and Boeing scientists.

Paul Reuter, executive director of the Sheldon, explains the SOLID Music Project began last spring in second through eighth grades at roughly twenty St. Louis area schools.

RMC_6327“The Sheldon is known for its perfect acoustics so it made sense for us to spearhead a program that uses music to teach students about creativity while incorporating math, science, engineering and design skills,” says Reuter. “Participants learn about the science of sound and how vibrations created by the three kinds of musical instruments – percussion, wind and string – are transmitted to our ears.”Reuter says students construct an instrument from found objects and common materials, making sure it can change pitch and volume while being visually appealing. “A string instrument, for example, doesn’t have to look like a violin or a guitar,” he says, adding that instruments donated by Aurelia Hartenberger from around the world helped to serve as inspiration.

“Students are challenged to use math and science skills to conceive a solution, design their instruments, build and test them and then redesign them to improve the product,” says Reuter. “They are also encouraged to work in teams.”

Mooney says that her students used lawn bags as the basis of their instruments. She called them “sound suits,” explaining that they added found materials like bottle caps, beads and cans, so when they moved they made a mix of sounds.

“We measured the size of the lawn bags to figure out how many cans we could put on the suit, how many beads to make loud sounds, how many popcorn seeds to make a lesser sound,” she says. “I worked with math and science teachers, too, so there was solid integration of all content areas. That really lent a richness to the project, collaborating with the other teachers and science professionals.” Mooney says her students were “super excited” to have a Boeing scientist come to the classroom to work with them on the project as well.

In addition to constructing the instruments, students were required to write a description of their project including their goals, the issues they faced and the solutions they found. Mooney videotaped her class performing with their sound suits and had them demonstrate the instruments for the rest of the school.

Many of the instruments created last spring will be featured in an exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries with an opening reception at the Sheldon from 5 – 7 pm on October 2. Reuter looks forward to expanding the program to include many more schools this fall.

The Sheldon Arts Foundation, an Arts and Education Council Sustaining Grant Recipient, offers a variety of performances and education programs throughout the year. For more information, visit

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The St. Louis Fall Arts Scene

“wUNDER Night in wUNDERland” at COCA.

“wUNDER Night in wUNDERland” at COCA.

As the leaves outside change color, the vibrancy of the autumn season can be felt inside at so many St. Louis area arts organizations. Fall signals the start of the 2015-16 arts season, with myriad visual art, music, dance and theater events to enjoy. Here are some of the early highlights:

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis kicks off its 49th season with main stage productions that run the gamut from politics to British royalty to the Negro baseball leagues. The curtain lifts Sept. 9 with the 2014 Tony Award-winning play, “All The Way,” running through Oct. 4. This political drama looks behind the scenes of Lyndon B. Johnson’s tumultuous first year in office as he navigates the escalation of the Vietnam War and balances his opposing interests of launching the landmark civil rights bill and winning re-election. Next up is the psychological thriller “Angel Street,” which runs Oct. 14 – Nov. 8, followed by the swashbuckling prequel to “Peter Pan,” known as “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Dec. 2-27. For more information, visit

Mustard Seed Theatre presents “The Amish Project” Aug. 28 – Sept. 13. This fictional story explores a schoolhouse shooting in an Amish community and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake. For more information, visit

"The Full Monty" at STAGES St. Louis.

The Full Monty at STAGES St. Louis

STAGES St. Louis lets it all hang out in “The Full Monty,” Sept. 4 – Oct. 4, a musical comedy about six unemployed steelworkers who hatch a plan to make some much-needed cash after their wives go wild for a group of male strippers. In the process, they discover the importance of family, friendship and the very human desire to live life to the fullest. For more information, visit

The New Jewish Theatre opens its season with a perennial Neil Simon favorite, “The Sunshine Boys,” Oct. 8 – Nov. 1. The play focuses on two vaudevillians who performed together for 40 years but haven’t spoken in over a decade. When CBS Television invites the team to reunite for a comedy retrospective, they grudgingly agree, thus igniting a flood of memories, miseries and laughs. For more information, visit

If you haven’t experienced a COCA hip-hop dance performance, Oct. 2 is our chance with “wUNDER Night in wUNDERland.” This show encourages the entire family to fall down the rabbit hole for a night of fun, food and fantastical characters, including a chance to try out your own hip-hop moves during a COCA group dance lesson. For more information, visit

Paul Taylor Dance Company at Dance St. Louis.

Paul Taylor Dance Company at Dance St. Louis.

Dance St. Louis kicks off its 50th Anniversary Season Oct. 2-3 with the world-renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company, whose seminal choreography draws from influential moments in American cultural history, such as war, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality. Roughly 120 singers, 60 musicians and 40 dancers take the stage Nov. 6-8 to perform German composer Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” featuring the Nashville Ballet, Orchestra and Singers, Bach Society of Saint Louis and the St. Louis Children’s Choirs. For more information, visit

Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis at The Sheldon.

Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis at The Sheldon.

The Sheldon Arts Foundation offers an eclectic performance line-up, including Sam Bush headlining the St. Louis Folk and Roots Festival (Sept. 26); Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis (Oct. 3); ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro (Oct. 16); Grammy-nominated harmony duo The Milk Carton Kids (Nov. 4); bossa nova pianist and singer Eliane Elias (Nov. 21) and the mischievous John Waters performing his critically acclaimed one-man show (Dec. 3). For more information, visit

Jazz St. Louis also has a season filled with musical heavy-hitters, including Jazz St. Louis @20 featuring Christian McBride, Cyrus Chestnut, Gregory Hutchinson, Russell Malone, Terell Stafford and Tim Warfield (Sept. 23-26); the Yellowjackets (Oct. 7-10); Dave Holland, Kevin Eubanks and Eric Harland (Oct. 21-24); Pancho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz band (Nov. 4-7) and Jeremy Davenport (Nov. 27-28). For more information, visit

Music Director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.

Music Director David Robertson conducts the
St. Louis Symphony.

In addition to frequent classical music performances, the St. Louis Symphony will host “Hoot & Howl at Powell” Oct. 25, a Halloween spooktacular concert for the whole family, featuring “Night on Bald Mountain” from “Fantasia” and John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme” from the “Harry Potter” films. The Symphony will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie “Back to the Future” which will play on screen while Symphony musicians perform the score live at Powell Hall Oct. 1 – Nov. 1. For more information, visit

Hurvin Anderson at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Hurvin Anderson at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis presents two new exhibitions this fall. British artist Hurvin Anderson, best known for evocative paintings of lush landscapes and urban barbershops that explore themes of memory, place, and the connection between the two, and Paris-based American artist Sheila Hicks, who has been creating handwoven, abstract fiber-based installations and sculptures for nearly 60 years, will be on view Sept. 11 – Dec. 27. Marilyn Minter’s video “I’m Not Much But I’m All I Think About” will also be projected on the Museum’s façade dusk to midnight from Oct. 2 – Jan. 10. For more information, visit

Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design is spearheading Innovations in textiles 10, a collaboration that looks at the state of contemporary textile arts. More than a dozen local arts groups will join forces to present exhibitions related to fiber art Aug. 28 – Oct. 25. For more information, visit

Raqs Media Collective at Laumeier Sculpture Park.

Raqs Media Collective at Laumeier Sculpture Park.

Laumeier Sculpture Park presents an exhibition by Raqs Media Collective, a New Delhi-based cooperative with a politically charged artistic and theoretical practice. They will create a work interpreting audience reponses to the prompt “If the World is a Fair Place Then, …” The final piece will invoke references to the early history of the ecology movement in the Himalayan region of Northern India, alongside the course histories and traces of Native American histories in our area (Oct. 16 – Feb. 14, 2016). For more information, visit

Finally, the 24th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival, presented by Cinema St. Louis, takes place Nov. 5-15 with dozens of short subject, narrative features and documentaries screening throughout the 10-day festival. For more information, visit

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