Spotlight: STAGES St. Louis
Local fans of musical theater have been flocking to Kirkwood since 1987 to enjoy productions by STAGES St. Louis, the region’s foremost not-for-profit company committed to preserving and advancing the art form. This year, STAGES celebrates its 32nd year of producing Broadway-quality theater, presenting 137 performances to nearly 50,000 patrons from June through October.
Talented musical theater artists from the region and across the nation will star in this season’s four diverse productions: I Do! I Do!, Madagascar, Mamma Mia! and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Oklahoma!. “The upcoming season has a little something for everyone,” says associate producer Andrew Kuhlman. “Every year, we consistently try to find shows that every audience member can relate to.”
Season opener I Do! I Do!, a love story, also opened STAGES in its inaugural season in 1987. “We’re bringing it back as a thank you to all of the amazing married couples that have come through STAGES throughout our 32 seasons and helped shape us as audience members, patrons, board trustees, ticket buyers and donors,” Kuhlman says. “All of these couples truly have made their mark on the organization, and this show is for them.” STAGES will present Dreamworks’ Madagascar as part of its Family Theatre Series, designed to introduce young audience members to musical theater, perhaps for the first time. Smash-hit Mamma Mia! appeals to a more contemporary audience, even those only familiar with the movie or the music of ABBA. Some may be familiar only with the movie or the music of ABBA. Finally, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! appeals to fans of classic musical theater at its best.
This will be STAGES’ second-to-last season at the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center. The company is happily anticipating its move in 2020 to the new Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, an approximately 500-seat performing arts center being built in downtown Kirkwood at the corner of Taylor and Monroe avenues. The new home for STAGES and the Kirkwood Theater Guild also will serve as the face of a revitalized downtown, bringing new patrons to the area’s restaurants and businesses and further strengthening the relationship between the City of Kirkwood and STAGES.
One thing that will never change is the high quality of productions. “The best thing about STAGES is its consistency,” Kuhlman says. “You will always come in and be 100-percent thrilled and surprised by what you see on stage.”
In addition to its main stage shows, STAGES educates thousands of students each year at its Performing Arts Academy in Chesterfield, the region’s only year-round arts school with a comprehensive curriculum run by a professional theater company. It also offers musical theater and performing arts summer camps from June 4 through Aug. 3 for all grade levels from preschool through high school.