Soul of the City (Volume 2: Spring/Summer 2019)

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Compose Your Own Series Familiar Classics. Blockbuster Films. Iconic Artists. FAMILY FEBCONCERT 15-16


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HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. J.K. ROWLING`S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s18)

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Season packages & single tickets to COCA’s signature performance series are now on sale. For tickets, visit

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PG. 4

PG. 18

PG. 41

State of the Arts

Heart & Art

Must-See Shows

PG. 8

PG. 22

PG. 44

On a Mission

A Jazz Revival

Resource Guide

PG. 10

PG. 26

Ain’t Life Grand?

Center Stage

PG. 12

PG. 32

The High Life

A New Movement

A letter from Kranzberg Arts Foundation trustee Nancy Kranzberg

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has a vision for the city of St. Louis.

Discover all that the Grand Center Arts District has to offer.

A forthcoming literary center promises to be a reader’s paradise.

Community and visual arts intersect in Grand Center.

The St. Louis jazz scene is thriving with help from the community.

Grand Center’s theater scene continues to grow.

A preview of the cultural calendar, from March through August

Kranzberg Arts Foundation resident companies


The stars of dance guide St. Louis into the future.

PG. 14

Fresh Faces

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation welcomes three new residents.

Photography by TKTK

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Photography by Kranzberg Arts Foundation

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Cover and above: Artist Oscar Murillo’s work on display at The Gallery at The Kranzberg, Fall 2018

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Recently I had a morning filled with culture, starting with a stop at The Field House Museum in downtown St. Louis. In March 2007 the Eugene Field House was designated as a National Historic Landmark by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. Eugene Field was best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays. I think of the light-hearted “Wynken, Blyken, and Nod.” The museum has a library filled with Field’s works and has special exhibitions and a wonderful collection of antique toys. From the museum, I traveled to the Central West End to Project + Gallery, an affiliate of Barrett Barrera Projects, and met with the new associate director of Curatorial and Program Development, Jessica Baran. She is a curator, art writer, and poet who has authored three poetry collections and whose poems and art criticism have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. In 2013, she received Lost Roads Press’ first Besmilr Brigham Women Writers Award for her book, Equivalents. She currently serves as a lecturer at Washington University and teaches in Saint Louis University’s Prison Arts and Education program. She also co-curates the 100 Boots Poetry Series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation; the list and accolades go on. I asked Baran to comment on St. Louis’ literary community, and she said, “St. Louis’ literary community is unique in that its quality is matched equally by its accessibility. An astonishing number of exceptional writers live and work here, which is not a readily known fact by the broader national public. Everyone from established writers like Mary Jo Bang and Carl Phillips to emerging ones like Nathaniel Farell, Eric Lundgren, Stepha4 | The Soul of the City

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nie Schlaifer, and beyond. The list is lengthy and includes all of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; experimental and realist approaches; and the cultivation of remarkable, author-run small presses. I’ve never found such an inviting and vigorous literary culture.” Kevin Nance wrote an article for Poets and Writers titled “Late December’s New Beginning.” He writes, “Literary journals come and go, and once they go, they almost never come back. But December, a magazine founded in 1958 by students at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop that published early work by a generation of important writers including Donald Justice, Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, and Raymond Carver is being resurrected after nearly three decades on the literary scrap heap.” Of course, St. Louis’ own Gianna Jacobson is the person who revived the journal, which includes poetry, prose, and visual art by new writers and artists as well as many of its original contributors. “In fiction and nonfiction, I’m looking for that exceptional balance of compelling language and a great story,” says Jacobson. “I’m not willing to take a beautifully written piece of work that doesn’t tell an interesting story or a compelling story that isn’t beautifully told.” And St. Louis’ nationally awarded Jan Greenberg has recently published Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon. Greenberg says, “St. Louis has an amazing literary history of strong female writers. Think of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, certainly one of the first novels in American literature to explore women’s issues. Think of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Pulitzer-winning author Maya Angelou. Think of Pat McKissack, whose books about the African-American Photography courtesy of Dave Moore and Kranzberg Arts Foundation

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The High Low

Jazz at the Dark Room

Consuming Kinetics

experience received the highest honors in children’s literature. I’m proud to be a part of this great tradition.” You may be a scholar or a neophyte or somewhere in between and partake of the services of the St. Louis Poetry Center. Not only does the center have readings of locally and nationally acclaimed artists, it has excellent educational programs for all ages. It’s truly not a snobby group. Its goal is to promote poetry for all to hear and enjoy. You might find yourself reciting your own poem after taking a workshop at the center. Folks often think of River Styx as an organization that publishes poetry and hosts a reading series, but it also offers much more and crosses boundaries to offer programs, which include music and the visual arts. The organization has published works of Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott and other Pulitzer Prize winners, and works by the late national poet laureates, Mona Van Duyn and Howard Nemerov. One of the founders of River Styx, the late Michael Castro, St. Louis’ first poet laureate, was referred to by Charles Guenther of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a legend in St. Louis poetry. Castro had been publishing continuously since the early 1970s and has won honors and awards both nationally and internationally. Let’s also not forget our beloved Eugene Redmond, poet laureate of East St. Louis, who recently gave an incredibly moving reading at the Missouri History Museum. The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival continues to present stellar performances in Forest Park every summer and Carrie Houk, St. Louis’ premier acting coach and casting agent and founder of the Tennessee Williams Festival, tells us to look forward to the fourth season of the festival this May. St. Louis is a very literary city and can hold its head high. The Soul of the City | 5

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Photography by TKTK

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Photography by TKTK

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T H E A T E R ,




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On a Mission THE KRANZBERG ARTS FOUNDATION HAS A VISION FOR THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS. We believe our artists, communities, and cultural experiences represent the heart and soul of our city—and we are committed to providing the opportunities and resources necessary for the arts to thrive now and in the future. Since 2006, we have been passionately committed to providing local artists and arts organizations with the vital space and tools to perform and showcase their work, thus fulfilling the collective vision not only to be part of a vibrant and growing arts ecosystem but also a premier arts and entertainment destination. Through the development of performing 8 | The Soul of the City

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arts venues, visual arts galleries, free music programs, and workspaces for nonprofit arts organizations, we nurture the growth of artists while working with emerging and leading arts institutions to engage with St. Louis’ greater community in ways that are relevant, inclusive, and inspiring. Our need-based, ground-up approach to giving is at the heart of our mission to make St. Louis a true destination for artists to thrive and to foster a more inspiring, interesting place for us all to live. Learn more at or email Photo on previous page: “Colorism” by Work/Play

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Beyond the lights of the Fabulous Fox and the symphonic sounds of Powell Hall, there’s a world of unexpected experiences waiting for you in Grand Center Arts District. More than just a place to see a show, it’s an innovative media and education hub, where all ages are invited to make, experience, and connect with the vibrant world around them. This spring, we challenge you to spend the day with Grand Center Arts District and see what you can discover.

First, fuel up by getting breakfast. Snag a croissant and coffee at Like Home / Comme A La Maison, St. Louis’ signature French bakery (helmed by mother and daughter duo Clemence and Marie-Christine); a traditional spread at Stage Left Grille; or mouthwatering farm-to-table fare from David Kirkland’s seasonally focused eatery, Turn. Don’t worry about eating too much, you can always walk it off at one of 15 museums and galleries. From contemporary and modern art to photography, pop-up shows, and religious

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relics, nearly every block has something to explore. By now, you’ll be ready to put that inspiration into action. Get hands-on by taking one of the dozens of classes and workshops. Try metalwork at Craft Alliance, explore dance fitness at The Big Muddy Dance Company, or enroll your drama-loving child in Metro Theater Company’s immersive Summer Camp. Music education for all ages is prevalent too. Check out programs like the Folk School at KDHX, the Master Class Series by Chamber Music Society and Jazz St. Louis’ Jazz U. If exercising the mind is more your speed, Catalyst Conversations presents an exciting series of casual discussions in the Arts & Education Council’s Catalyst Innovation Lab, where creative leaders explore thought-provoking (and fun) topics that range from innovation to exploring the paranormal. And if design and architecture pique your interest, you will definitely want to check out Creative Exchange Lab. Here, you can take part in workshops, lectures, and connect with a community of like-minded creatives. No matter your curiosity, creative entrepreneurs, kids, adults, and families alike will find something to connect with. Plan your visit, see what’s new, and find your passion today.

The Big Muddy Dance Company

The Sheldon Gallery

Urban Chestnut Biergarten

Photography by Grand Center Arts District/Carmen Troesser

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St. Louis has an undeniably rich literary history. Such greats as T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Jonathan Franzen, and William Gass were either born here or drew inspiration from the city. And not only is the city’s past chock full of beautiful writing, but so is its present. Fiction writers like Andrew Ridker, author of The Altruists, set scenes here. Local poet Justin Phillip Reed won the National Book Award with his first collection, Indecency. The city hosts an MFA program, three literary magazines, several

poetry series, a handful of indie bookstores, and book festivals. But soon, something completely different is coming to the city’s literary scene—and it’s unlike nearly anything else in the country. Slated to open this summer, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is launching The High Low, a combination literary center, library, gallery, writers-in-residence program, collaborative work space, performance space, and café, located in two stories, at 3301 Washington. The High Low will make it possible for writers to find a

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new community, for fans to poke around a library and then take in a reading—all in the same place. “St. Louis is a literary city,” says Kranzberg Arts Foundation trustee Nancy Kranzberg. “The High Low will fill a niche that we feel is needed to create a place where writers and literary institutions can collaborate to further the literary arts.” The High Low will be designed by local architecture firm SPACE Architecture + Design. The first floor will host a 1,500-square-foot library. The library’s selection will rotate, focusing on four to five topics and 75–100 books per topic. The first theme will be “The St. Louis Response” featuring recommendations from St. Louis educators, artists, business leaders, activists, and community members who are leading conversations about how to “move our city forward in a more inclusive and equiRenderings by SPACE Architecture + Design

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table way,” says Chris Hansen, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s executive director. A 2,000-square-foot performance space dedicated to poetry readings, storytelling, literary series, and book signings is also planned for the first floor, as well as a 600-square-foot gallery space that will host five or six exhibits per year. They will each revolve around the literary arts. Also on the first floor: a café. James Beard–nominated chef Rob Connoley, whose foraging-focused restaurant Bulrush will be located right around the corner on Washington, will curate the menu, and Blueprint Coffee will run the coffee program. Perhaps most exciting about The High Low is the forthcoming writers-in-residence program, a Kranzberg Arts Foundation initiative that will aim to support local writers and attract national and international talent. Upstairs, The High Low will feature a writers’ suite, which will serve as the home for the program. Desks and partitioned work areas will also be available to rent on a weekly or monthly basis. “St. Louis has a strong literary arts tradition. It continues to produce some of the greatest authors, poets, and literary arts professionals in the world,” says Hansen. The High Low, which was designed after consulting with the local literary scene, he says, “seeks to uplift and nurture that strong tradition, ensuring that there is always a space, time, and place where the literary arts can start and graduate.”

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Fresh Faces NEW RESIDENTS AT THE KRANZBERG ARTS FOUNDATION BALLROOM DANCE ACADEMY OF ST. LOUIS Ballroom Dance Academy of St. Louis shares the joy of ballroom dancing, offering weekly ballroom and social dance group classes and monthly dance socials. The academy also sponsors community outreach programs for children and seniors, participates in regional dance performances, and organizes an annual weeklong dance camp for adults. The nonprofit awards ballroom dance scholarships to talented students in need. Not only is ballroom dancing a cultural event, it is also a form of exercise that teaches social skills, musicality, concentration, fall prevention, balance, and sequential memory. Ballroom dancing is a lifelong activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. ballroom FLY NORTH THEATRICALS Fly North Theatricals produces new, accessible, high-quality musical theater works. Established in 2017 as a vocal studio and publishing house for local composer Colin Healy, the company finds its roots in ferocious originality while promoting education through performance. After headlining the 2018 St. Lou Fringe Festival, Fly North

was born of the notion that St. Louis craves new stories. Now, as the organization gears up for its inaugural season, it is committed to the notion that theater is a fundamental right and that local audiences deserve access to new stories. It is these ideals that Fly North will bring to the stage beginning in January 2020. MID COAST MEDIA Mid Coast Media is a group of creative brands specialized in the production and promotion of entertainment-centric conversations and experiences. The team concepts, produces, and emcees events; sources

comic talent; creates audio/ visual content; executes publicity; and designs merchandise. The popular podcast We Are Live! is recorded in a state-ofthe art studio at .ZACK (available for booking) and features Midwest-centric news, as well as in-depth interviews with comedians and entertainers. Specializing in entertainment and events, Redsaw Publicity elevates Mid Coast’s projects through PR and social-media strategy. ByJack creates custom merchandise and apparel with no set-up costs, no art costs, no minimum, fast turnaround, online store hosting, and transparent pricing.

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ROCK OF AGES • March 1-3 BEAUTIFUL–The Carole King Musical • March 12-17 RAIN - A Tribute to the Beatles • March 24 WAITRESS • March 26 - April 7 THE STRING CHEESE INCIDENT • April 19 & 20 MISS SAIGON • April 23 - May 5 Tyler Perry’s MADEA’S FAREWELL TOUR PLAY • May 10-12 COME FROM AWAY • May 14-26 “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC • June 22 AVETT BROTHERS • July 12-13 TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND • July 30 with Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope

Visit for more information and a full calendar.

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Community and visual arts intersect in Grand Center Arts District. By Melissa Meinzer

Photography by TKTK

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Photography by TKTK

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rt is a two-way street at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s visual-arts venues: Patrons experience new works, and under-the-radar artists are elevated into the limelight. It’s a synergy that curators foster at both The Dark Room and The Gallery at The Kranzberg Arts Center, where visual arts spur dialogue and community in distinct ways. Gina Grafos, director of visual infrastructure for the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, suggests the term “community” is an important jumping-off point in any discussion about the arts. It immediately begs the question: Who is being served? “That’s really where we’re at now with expanding those points,” says Grafos. “It’s not just the artists we have on the walls or the stages but also thinking about who is coming to see the work and performances. “There is this activation happening for different companies and performances,” Grafos continues. “Some people are just there because they’re going to the Fox and want to have cocktails, or they go because they’re buddies with the artist.” At The Dark Room, it’s likely a combination of factors. The venue houses nightly


jazz performances and an acclaimed restaurant, where fine art hangs on the walls (part of an open-submission model). If you’re drawn to a particular work, it’s likely available for purchase. “My hope for our local artists who aren’t getting the exposure they’ve perhaps desired is to get them to understand that selling work is a possibility in this city,” says Grafos, who works to reach artists by attending openings, visiting commercial spaces, and following them on social media. The Gallery at The Kranzberg Arts Center is equally community-driven—and, by definition, different than other art spaces. “We are not a commercial gallery,” says Diana Hansen, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s director of galleries. With a focus on local and regional work, the gallery strives to highlight how art relates and exists in conversation with the community.

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Last spring, for instance, Melissa Stern’s The Talking Cure showcased witty, provocative sculptures with plenty to say—literally, via performed monologues queued up by visitors’ smart phones. Afterward, the gallery allowed students to share works in response to the show. “We’re really trying to showcase the work of artists who perhaps haven’t had an opportunity to be seen,” says Hansen. Works are chosen via a rotating jury of artists, academics, and other “responsible and informed” community members. “There isn’t one person or one point of view or one set of eyes deciding what art is; it’s people who are in touch enough with the community that they can reflect on how an artist might make a contribution,” Hansen says. “Every exhibit is an opportunity to showcase another point of view.” This spring, from April 17 to May 15,

Photography by Orlando Thompson and Kranzberg Arts Foundation

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that point of view comes from artists Saj Issa and Kiki Salem, first-generation Palestinian-Americans who live in St. Louis and frequently travel between the U.S. and Palestine. As the second iteration of a fivepart series on the theme of chaos, their show highlights ways in which the artists feel segregated in both locations. “We want to create a conversation around the current struggle,” says Issa. “We have family members and people in our community in Palestine who are undergoing massive, tragic issues.” The pair will examine the conflict through Salem’s tapestries, based on studies of traditional Palestinian embroidery; a companion GIF will also explain the patterns. Through beautiful ceramic dinnerware, Issa also hopes to explore deeper layers of meaning. “There’s going to be peeling and revealing the underlying story that is hidden,” she says, “but finally being revealed.”

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A JAZZ REVIVAL With help from a supportive community, the St. Louis jazz scene is thriving. By Alexandra Vollman Photography by TKTK

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Photography by TKTK

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Kasimu Taylor

rowing up in Forth Worth, Texas, Bob DeBoo had to resort to desperate measures to pursue his calling as a jazz musician. “When I was in high school, I had to either sneak into clubs to see music and to sit in and play or find other ways to get live music,” he recalls. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do.” Now DeBoo is doing his part to help young and aspiring St. Louis jazz musicians get the experience and exposure to top talent that he lacked as a teenager. As a music artist-in-residence with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, he’s long hosted a free jam session at the Kranzberg Arts Center as part of the Wednesday Night Jazz Crawl in Grand Center. This weekly all-night event celebrates the best in local jazz with per-


formances by some of the city’s top artists across multiple venues. “I invite in different musicians from the St. Louis area,” says DeBoo, who plays upright bass, “or if there are more established musicians who I know are going to be in the area, I’ll invite them to come in and play the opening set so that the younger crowd can see more established musicians and get up on stage with them.” While St. Louis has always been a center for jazz, producing such greats as Miles Davis and Willie Akins, support for the jazz scene here has been growing in recent years with more opportunities for musicians. “A lot of that growth is centered in Grand Center, and a lot of it is directly related to what the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is doing,” says DeBoo.

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Through the Music Artists in Residence program, both young and seasoned musicians are gaining access to resources that help them advance their careers. For its roster of nine artists, the foundation offers performance opportunities, including at the Kranzberg Arts Center and The Dark Room at The Grandel, as well as rehearsal space, marketing support, networking opportunities, studio time, and pro-bono accounting and legal services. With more opportunities to perform, the jazz scene is attracting a passionate following and inspiring the next generation of musicians. These up-and-coming artists, guided by the region’s jazz history and influenced by contemporary music, are infusing new styles to make the music their own. “Jazz is an art form that grows upon itself. It can be so many different things,” says DeBoo, who adds that he enjoys hearing different generations’ take on jazz, which has included infusions of rock, hip-hop, and Latin music. “That’s keeping the music alive and fresh.” One rising musician, Kranzberg Arts Foundation music artist-in-residence Tonina Saputo, is a bassist and singer-songwriter who performs both original songs and covers in English and Spanish. Although she doesn’t classify herself solely as a jazz musician (her work is influenced by soul, funk, classical, and a host of other genres), she’s become well-known for her eclectic arrangements here and far beyond St. Louis. (President Barack Obama listed her song “Historia De un Amor” among his favorites of 2018.) “What I try to do is blend everything that I like to listen to and make it my own, regardless of genre,” says Saputo. “I think that enables us to be creative and put our own spin on the music and mix some innovation with tradition.” She says The Dark Room—where she played every Tuesday night in the past—welcomes different styles of jazz, helping attract a younger, more diverse audience. Both Saputo and DeBoo credit the Kranzberg Arts Foundation with providing experiences to grow as musicians and to gain Photography by Kranzberg Arts Foundation and Arica Foster

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exposure. Being a music artist-in-residence, DeBoo says, has allowed him to embrace a leading role: “It enables me to be more of a band leader and to get my original music played and performed; to be at the front of the stage instead of the back.” The Kranzberg Arts Center remains DeBoo’s favorite place to play music in town, particularly during his Wednesday-night jam session. The intimate venue allows him not only to witness the development of young musicians but also to interact with an engaged audience. “And you never know who’s going to be there,” DeBoo adds. For Saputo, the community’s support for jazz musicians is proof that the scene is alive and well. “Some say it’s a dying genre, but St. Louis is one of the founding cities of American popular jazz and traditional jazz,” she says. “A lot of people forget that Miles Davis was playing here, that Charlie Parker was coming through here. We have such a rich history, and I think that history only repeats itself, especially in music.”


Bob DeBoo


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n a chilly Friday night, the pavement in Grand Center glistens under the evening lights. It’s early enough that the sidewalks are still quiet. In a darkened theater at the .ZACK, Tesseract Theatre artistic director Taylor Gruenloh makes minor technical adjustments before the opening of Facing, a show about a character diagnosed with a debilitating illness. A couple blocks north, the bar is set in the lobby of The Marcelle, where R-S Theatrics is performing Perfect Arrangement. The house lights at the black-box theater in the Kranzberg Arts Center are warming for Black Mirror Theatre’s Of Human Kindness: An Evening of Short Plays. At The Grandel, patrons wait for the doors to open for Metro Theater Company’s Wonderland: Alice’s Rock n’ Roll Adventure. Ben Bain, the Kranzberg Art Foundation’s technical director, lingers in the lobby. He wants to make sure that each company has what they need for the night’s performances. Farther south, 60 youth performers with Ignite Theatre Company rehearse “Be Our Guest” in a church basement. The floor is taped to mimic The Grandel’s stage, where Beauty and the Beast will open in less than a month. The actors, some on roller skates, position themselves as the director has blocked for each scene. Take a look around Grand Center, and you realize how the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is helping expand the theater district. The foundation provides infrastructure and other resources that allow companies to focus on their work, not the daily upkeep of a theater space. Already, of course, the district has long been known for its theatrical history. The Fox Theatre serves as an ornate backdrop for world-class productions. Each summer, the Grand Center Theatre Crawl, founded by Peggy Holly, brings a veritable buffet of theatrical offerings to the neighborhood, with more than 30 local companies presenting bite-sized performances throughout the neighbor-


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Metro Theater Company’s Wonderland

Photography by Ron James

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New Line Theatre’s The Zombies of Penzance

hood. And Saint Louis University’s theater program has used the Grand Center Arts District as an extension of its program, with no shortage of arts opportunies in students’ own backyard. Today, they’re joined by other theater companies that were once in search of a home. New Line Theatre Company, for instance, shuffled around for years before landing in Grand Center in fall 2015. “The Kranzbergs were actually looking for a space for us and then found the building that is now The Marcelle,” recalls New Line artistic director Scott Miller. “They created a theater for us and other companies.” R-S Theatrics moved to Grand Center in 2017. “It’s nice not to be nomadic,” says R-S artistic director Christina Rios. Before moving to the neighborhood, the company performed in a variety of locations, and Rios and her husband had to dip into their per-

New Line Theatre’s Yeast Nation

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sonal savings to front shows. “It’s nice to have some stability,” she adds. For Metro Theater Company artistic director Julia Flood, being in Grand Center has provided more opportunities for collaboration. Metro partnered with two departments at SLU and with Jazz St. Louis on the show Bud not Buddy, produced at The Grandel Theater last year. “That was a piece that I wouldn’t have considered if it weren’t for Jazz St. Louis wanting to do it,” she says. “There are a lot of things happening naturally because we’re in proximity to each other,” Flood continues. “The Kranzberg Arts Foundation is creating a landscape that allows artists to do the work that they want to do, and that can only benefit everyone in the city.” So many companies performing in one area could breed competition, but that’s not the case. “Everybody has their own audience,” explains Gruenloh. Ignite is a youth theater company, Metro provides theater for a young audiences, R-S Theatrics performs thought-provoking work that’s new to the area, and New Line Theatre produces socially and politically relevant musicals. What the companies have in common is a shared a desire to serve the community. “Grand Center is a place where everyone feels welcome,” says Flood, who was drawn to youth theater because of its accessibility. Ignite’s work also aims to foster inclusivity. Its mission promotes the development of “great people first and great performers second.” The company teaches collaboration over competition. “This year, our mantra is ‘All ships rise on a high tide,’” says executive director Libby Pedersen. In developing great people, Ignite prioritizes service to the community. For a recent production of Beauty and the Beast, for instance, student staff chose to donate to KidSmart, a nonprofit that provides school supplies to teachers in underprivileged districts. The students took their cue from the play’s protagonist. “Belle wants to teach everyone to read,” says actor Daphne Kraushaar, who’s a freshman at Clayton High Photography by Michael Young and Jill Ritter

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R-S Theatrics’ Light in the Piazza

School and began acting with Ignite two years ago. “It’s not like every other theater company, because it’s not all about competition. Kids aren’t worried about being the best or getting the best role; it’s about supporting each other.” Costume manager Sophie Sowell agrees: “It’s like a family.” Jamie McKittrick, director of Metro’s Wonderland, says she lucked out with the ensemble. “They’re all incredibly talented artists, coming from so many different backgrounds, and they all get along really well,” she says. “It’s my job to create the space for that type of camaraderie, because I think the art we make is better.” That family feeling transcends the companies. “There’s a lot of cross-pollination,” says Miller. For example, Rios has been in several New Line productions, and Zach Farmer, who performs a lot with New Line, has done shows with R-S Productions. Several of the actors working with Metro and R-S Theatrics serve as guest teachers for Ignite. Miller recalls a conversation he once had with Kranzberg Arts Foundation trustee Ken Kranzberg. “Ken said he wanted to create a theater district, a destination,” says Miller. “Not that long ago, Ken and Nancy were at one of our shows, and I reminded him that he said that. I told him, ‘Ken, you’ve done just that. We have a theater district.’” The Soul of the City | 31

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Photography by TKTK

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Photography by TKTK

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Consuming Kinetics Dance Company

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hree years ago, The Big Muddy Dance Company moved into The Marcelle and exulted, “Look at all this space!” Two years later, the company had grown from 12 to 16 dancers plus seven trainees and a six-day slate of classes. A rehearsal of arabesques and grands jetés was starting to feel more like a bumper-car race. In December, Big Muddy moved to a bigger studio, at 3305 Washington, but kept its original studio and office, essentially doubling its floor space. Sunlight spills into the new studio, “which feels enormous,” says Erin Warner Prange, the company’s executive director. It’s sandwiched between the coolness of the new Bulrush restaurant and the forthcoming High Low literary space, and it has extra-high ceilings and sprung floors with a cushy black rubberized coating. The exposed brick is painted white, and one wall in the lobby is Big Muddy’s trademark bright turquoise. Classes span all levels: Some students have never danced a day in their lives; some took ballet as teenagers; some are professionals who want to polish their technique and stay in condition while off contract. “Dance exercises your brain and your body,” Prange notes. “The combinations in a ballet class can be quite intricate, so it keeps your mind engaged. Also, dance works on your body in a very specific way: It’s aerobics and strength and stretch all at once, working everything simultaneously.” Big Muddy does three mainstage productions in St. Louis every year, interlaced with community performances and touring. Next up: Footnotes, a celebration of St. Louis music on April 6 and 7 at The Grandel. “We’ve been here eight years,” says Prange, “and the surge of excitement in the Grand Center Arts District has brought a lot of visibility to dance. The possibilities available in terms of style and genre are really exciting now.” As an art form, dance itself is finding new ways of moving, weight-sharing, and partnering, she adds. “We’re exploring what the body can do, and what bodies can do together.”


Photography by Bob Morrison, Dave Moore Photography, Kranzberg Arts Foundation

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Wewolf presented by Dance St. Louis

THE NEW LEADERS “Movement was the original language,” points out Arica Brown, artistic and executive director of the Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, “and it’s still considered to be a language of its own.” All of CKDC’s concerts are unique, never to be recycled, and they all begin with an umbrella idea. Choreographers for the spring concert (Bloom, April 26, 27, and 28 at The Marcelle) worked from the idea of “bloom,” creating pieces about new beginnings and rebirth. “It makes our concerts cohesive,” Brown says, “and lets them send a message.” Now in its tenth season, Consuming Kinetics is pushing toward national touring and recognition, but it’s equally committed to reaching more underserved students here at home. “We have adult scholarships,” says Brown, “because adults with kids tend to put their children’s activities first and forget to be creative. Also, we’re all tethered to our electronics and living crazy-busy lives. Adults say the classes are therapeutic for them; it’s the one time they can just tune out.” For younger students, the classes are “a creative outlet, a second home, a safe place, a community and a family they can rely on. Young people are written off a lot of the time, but we really value them as artists. Our The Soul of the City | 35

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kids have lots of opportunities to improvise and compose, and this year we’re doing something new: We’re offering a number of our choreographic slots for our professional concerts to students ages 11 to 13. They’ve come back with exceptional work, and we don’t see any reason we have to follow an imaginary rule that only adults can do this.” Ashley Tate, artistic director of the Ashleyliane Dance Company, also focuses hard on education, and she’s begun having professional dancers collaborate onstage with the young people they’re mentoring. “On May 24, the kids are going to have their own show at The Kranzberg and be able to have some professional dancers in their pieces,” she says. “It’s great for the students—they’re onstage with professionals—and the pros get shaken out of their comfort zone.” Tate’s all about shaking things up. For 12 years, she’s been fusing various styles of dance—contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, tap, even influences from classical ballet—into concerts that, no matter how abstract, are driven by an internal narrative, because that’s how she creates. Now she wants to make that narrative more explicit, choreographing dance theater pieces with a complete, original storyline. (See Into the Fire at The Grandel on March 10). “It’s a struggle all over the world to get people to see things in person,” she says. “But it’s just so different when you’re seeing it unfold in front of you. And when you have this hybrid of text, costume, lighting, and movement, it can appeal even to someone who has no knowledge of dance. It keeps audiences engaged because they have to follow the story and figure out how it all connects.” Karlovsky & Company’s artistic director, Dawn Karlovsky, choreographs with narratives that are deeply personal, all the while sifting through everyday life to find the universals. For Remembrance, she interviewed people her parents’ age about their experiences in World War II: “The sirens, the running, the hiding in tunnels. I took from those stories the energy, the struggle.

The Big Muddy Dance Company

It wasn’t a literal translation, but I used those ideas to create movement.” When people ask the chicken-or-the-egg question, Karlovsky’s answer is clear and firm: “The dance comes first. Then I work with a composer. That allows for surprise, letting the choreography grow and breathe” before building music around its scaffold. Her newest work tackles time itself, because “it’s something that consumes us, yet there’s nothing tangible about it.” Inspiration for the concert (March 29 and 30 at The Grandel) came from philosophy texts and the concepts beneath Japanese butoh, a fluid form of dance theater that also explores the dimension of time. THE NEXT 50 YEARS And while we’re contemplating time, it’s been more than half a century since Dance St. Louis set out to bring world-class

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dance here—and encourage other dance companies to grow here. Now Dance St. Louis is surrounded by many companies, “all of them carving their own niche,” says Christopher Mohnani, managing director of programs and community engagement. “It’s a testament to not only how generous the city is but how sophisticated.” St. Louis audiences “tend to rely on what they already know or have seen before,” notes Mohnani. “Whether or not that’s changing depends on the next generation of dance makers and dance artists.” But even when the forms remain traditional, dance “will involve more artists you don’t expect to be doing stuff like that,” he predicts. “That’s exciting, especially for a city like St. Louis, which has a lot of people of color. They will be very well represented. We’re not going to be fighting about whether all dancers should wear

Photography by Matthew Washausen

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white tights anymore. We’re not going to be talking about ‘minorities’ or ‘cultural companies.’ Everything will just be dance.” Mohnani also foresees “more collaboration and more experimentation, mixing technology with movement,” as the Royal Ballet’s Wayne McGregor did in February when he used his own genome’s DNA patterns to choreograph dance movements. “But 50 years from now, people will still flock to Swan Lake. There’s a reason it’s a classic.” Gen Horiuchi, executive and artistic director of the St. Louis Ballet, has steadily built a repertoire of those classics. “When I first came here in 2000 from New York, I don’t think St. Louisans knew what a professional ballet organization could offer,” he says. “They felt like, ‘Oh, ballet, that’s for teenagers. It’s recitals.’” At the time, St. Louis Ballet’s biggest production was The Nutcracker. “Still is,” Horiuchi grins. “But it drew 1,500 people at the most. Now we do five performance series a year—four at The Touhill and one weekend at The Grandel in March—and if you total the audiences, we’re close to 20,000.” Dance itself is moving into a new era, he says. “Choreographers like George Balanchine and Paul Taylor and Martha Graham have all passed away, and we are finding young choreographers using different stories, more contemporary music, stronger characters. Technique is improving, too: Dancers are jumping higher and spinning faster. They’re using their bodies more scientifically.” Audiences are delighted—especially here. Horiuchi loves the enthusiasm of St. Louis audiences. He’s seen it in both baseball and ballet: “I was a New York Yankees fan for many years. But New York fans will boo you. St. Louis fans are cheering you even if you’re about to strike out. That’s what happens in ballet, too. Of course the dancers are performing well, but once in a blue moon, if somebody falls or something doesn’t go right, the audiences are still warm.” The next half-century won’t change that.

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Photography by TKTK

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Photography by TKTK

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U P C O M I N G S H O W S A N D M A K E I T A L L H A P P E N.


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Open Tuesday–Sunday, Always free


James Little, American, born 1952; Double Exposure (detail), 2008; oil and wax on canvas; unframed: 39 × 50 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Thelma and Bert Ollie Memorial Collection, Gift of Ronald and Monique Ollie 190:2017 © June Kelly Gallery / James Little

BSI Constructors is proud to be part of the ongoing redevelopment of the Grand Center Arts District.

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FEBRUARY February 1–March 15 The Riot Show by Michael Faris and Unique Hughley The Gallery at The Kranzberg February 28–March 3 University Theatre at Saint Louis University: The Misanthrope Kranzberg Arts Center Februray 28–March 23 New Line Theatre: La Cage aux Folles The Marcelle

MARCH March 1–2 Saint Louis Ballet: Ballet Beyond Borders The Grandel March 8–17 The Tesseract Theatre Company: Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist .ZACK March 9 Ballroom Dance Academy of St. Louis: The Luck of the Irish Social The Grand Hall at The Grandel March 9 HEARding Cats Collective: Keith Fullerton Whitman The Kranzberg

March 10 Ashleyliane Dance Company: Into the Fire The Grandel

March 22 Mariposa Artists: Love & Marriage–Beverly Brennan The Kranzberg

March 12 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel

March 22–24 Jung Society of St. Louis: Answer to Joe The Kranzberg

March 14 American Voices: Music Across Borders: Alash The Kranzberg March 15 The Ready Room Presents Jason Robert Brown The Grandel March 15 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg March 15–17 Seven Music Group The Kranzberg March 21 Saint Louis Story Stichers Artists Collective: Peace in the Prairie .ZACK March 22–April 12 Creative Exchange Lab: The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion: St. Louis Edition The Gallery at The Kranzberg

March 23 Mariposa Artists: A Celebration of Jewish Broadway– Ari Axelrod The Kranzberg March 23 The St. Louis Sound Project The Grandel March 28–April 14 Insight Theatre Company: Daddy Long Legs The Marcelle March 28–April 13 Midnight Company: Popcorn Falls by James Hindman The Kranzberg March 28 St. Louis Storytelling Festival: ”Story Lounge: Springing Forward“ with MC Ken WolfeSophie’s Artist Lounge March 29–30 Karlovsky & Company Dance: Shifiting Time The Grandel

Dates are subject to change. Visit for the latest calendar. Photography by TKTK

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APRIL April 5–6 Ronnie Burrage and Holographic Principle .ZACK April 6–7 The Big Muddy Dance Company: Footnotes The Grandel April 9 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel April 15 HEARding Cats Collective: Andrew Dewar and Rich O’Donnell The Kranzberg April 17–May 15 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: “Back Home in Your New Home” by Sajed Issa and Kiki Salem The Gallery at The Kranzberg April 18–20 Ignite Theatre Company: Disney’s Aladdin Jr. .ZACK April 19 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg April 20 Open Heart Productions The Marcelle April 25–28 University Theatre at Saint Louis University: Godspell The Grandel

April 25 St. Louis Storytelling Festival: ”Story Lounge: Livin’ Life in the Lou“ with MC Sahara Sista S.O.L.S. Sophie’s Artist Lounge April 25–May 4 St. Louis Storytelling Festival: 40th Anniversary St. Louis Storytelling Festival, a University of Missouri Community Arts Program Various Locations April 26 St. Louis Storytelling Festival: “Forged in the Stars” with Jay O’Callahan The Kranzberg April 26–May 4 The Black Mirror Theatre: Translations by Brian Friel .ZACK April 26–May 12 Upstream Theater: SALT, ROOT AND ROE by Tim Price Kranzberg Arts Center April 26–28 Consuming Kinetics Dance Company: Bloom The Marcelle

MAY May 9–19 Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis: A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur by Tennessee Williams The Grand Hall at The Grandel May 9–19 Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis: The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams The Grandel

May 14 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel May 17–June 7 Craft Alliance: Crafting Futures The Gallery at The Kranzberg May 17 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg May 18 4 Hands Brewing Co.’s 8th Annual Lupulin Carnival The Big Top May 24–June 2 The Tesseract Theatre Company: The 2019 Festival of New Plays .ZACK May 24 Ashleyliane Dance Company: UNBOUND Mentoring and Training Program–Spring Showcase The Kranzberg May 30–June 22 New Line Theatre: Be More Chill The Marcelle

JUNE June 1–2 Ashleyliane Dance Company: The Human Experience The Grandel June 6–30 Circus Flora: The Caper in Aisle 6 The Big Top

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June 7–8 Ignite Theatre Company: Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids .ZACK June 8 Afriky Lolo: The Goddess Zaouli The Grandel June 9–15 Hope Creates: Hope Creates Gallery Show The Gallery at The Kranzberg June 11 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel June 20–30 Max & Louie Productions: Indecent The Grandel June 20–23 Gitana Productions: An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri The Kranzberg June 21–July 26 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: Rise: New Works by Paula Lincoln and Olivia Lahs-Gonzales The Gallery at The Kranzberg

June 28–29 Grand Center Theatre Crawl June 28–30 Ignite Theatre Company: Guys And Dolls Jr. .ZACK

JULY July 9 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel

August 9–25 R-S Theatrics: A Man of No Importance The Marcelle August 13–18 St. Lou Fringe: 8th Annual St. Lou Fringe Festival .ZACK & The Kranzberg August 13 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel

July 18–21 JPEK CreativeWorks Theatre: A Deeper Shade of Blues .ZACK

August 16 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg

July 19 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg

August 29–September 15 Insight Theatre Company: Shakespeare in Love The Grandel

July 25–28 Ignite Theatre Company: Chicago High School Edition .ZACK

August 30–September 8 TLT Productions: Karmatic The Play The Marcelle

July 31–September 3 Invitational Community Programming: Poems at an Exhibition: Print and Poem Pairings–New and Selected Works by Byron Sletten and Ted Kooser The Gallery at The Kranzberg

September 6–27 Creative Exchange Lab: $2M Ideas The Gallery at The Kranzberg

June 21 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg


June 27–July 14 Insight Theatre Company: The Revolutionists The Marcelle

August 4 Ashleyliane Dance Company: Junior Training Program Summer Showcase The Marcelle

August 3–4 Aerialympics The Grandel

September 10 St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: Grandel Theatre Ghost Tours The Grandel September 20 The Gallery at The Kranzberg: PopOut The Kranzberg

Dates are subject to change. Visit for the latest calendar. Photography by TKTK

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Artists for a Cause 772-419-8778 @ArtistsforaCauseInc @a4ac_inc

Ashleyliane Dance Company 314-346-3187 @AshleylianeDance Company @AshleylianeDance Company @ADCDance

Ballroom Dance Academy of St. Louis ballroomdancestl@gmail .com 314-367-1001 @BDASL room-Dance-Meetup

The Big Muddy Dance Company ewarner@thebigmuddy 314-338-4058 @TheBigMuddyDance Company @BigMuddyDanceCo

The Black Mirror Theatre blackmirrortheatre@gmail .com 314-740-6514 @The Black Mirror Theatre / Amharclann an Scรกthรกn Dubh

Building Futures @BuildingFutureSTL @BuildFuturesSTL

CEL Center for Architecture+Design STL 314-256-9317 @StlCEL

Circus Flora 314-827-3830 @CircusFlora @CircusFlora @CircusFlora

Consuming Kinetics Dance Company 314-546-1477 @ConsumingKinetics DanceCompany @CKDanceCo @ConsumingKinetics DanceCompany

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Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design 314-534-7528 @CraftAlliance @CraftAlliance @CraftAlliance

Dance St. Louis 314-534-6622 @DanceSTL @Dance_STL @Dance_STL

Ignite Theatre Company comeignitewithus@gmail .com 314-717-1851 @IgniteWithUs @Ignite_WithUs

Insight Theatre Company info@insighttheatre 314-556-1293 @InsightTheatreCompany

Metro Theater Company 314-932-7414 @MetroPlays @MetroTheater

New Line Theatre 314-773-6526 @NewLineTheatre @NewLineSTL @NewLineTheatre NewChaz64

Fly North Theatrics @FlyNorthTheatricals JPEK CreativeWorks Theatre 951-223-5735 @Joel PE King @jpek_thearts

HEAL Center for the Arts 833-229-5066 @HEALCenterfortheArts @HEALCenterfortheArts

Karlovsky & Company Dance 314-283-1851 @Karlovskyand CompanyDance

Peace Weaving Wholeness peaceweavingwholeness@ @PeaceWeavingWholeness

R-S Theatrics 314-252-8812 @RSTheatrics @RSTheatrics

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Saint Louis Ballet 636-537-1998 @StLouisBallet @StLouisBallet @StLouisBallet

St. Lou Fringe @StLouFringe @StLouFringe @StLouFringe

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective 314-899-9001 @SaintLouisStoryStitchers @StoryStitchers @StoryStitchers @StoryStitchers 30526785

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis 314-531-9800 @ShakesFestSTL @ShakesFestSTL @ShakesFestSTL

SpecDrum @SpecDrumSTL

The Tesseract Theatre Company contact@tesseracttheatre .com 314-496-4743 @TesseractTheatre @TesseractTheatr

Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis 314-517-5253 @TWFestSTL @TWFestivalSTL @TWFestSTL

TLT Productions @TLTproductionsSTL @TLTproductions @TLT_productions

University Theatre at Saint Louis University 314-977-3327 @SLUTheatre @slu_arts @SLUTheatreDept SLUTheatreDept

Upstream Theater 314-669-6382 upstreamtheater@sbc

Urban Harvest STL 314-810-6770 @UrbanHarvestSTL @UrbanHarvestSTL @UrbanHarvestSTL

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Bob DeBoo

Mo Egeston

Jesse Gannon nonmusic

Anita Jackson

Owen Ragland

Ben Reece ReeceSTLMusic

Kasimu Taylor


Ptah Williams

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Safe driving protects our family and yours. Please remember that as you enjoy your night out. – SHAUN LIESER

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