St. Louis Theater Circle Awards scheduled for Monday

The St. Louis Theater Circle Awards will honor excellence in professional regional theater Monday at the Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis. The public is invited to attend, and HEC-TV will televise the ceremony live on both cable television and its website.

The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at COCA, 524 Trinity Ave., with a reception at 5:30 p.m. that features cocktails and an appetizer buffet prepared by With Love Catering.

In their third year, the awards honor dramas, comedies and musicals staged by St. Louis professional regional theater companies during a calendar year; touring shows, college and community theater are ineligible for consideration. This year, 22 area companies are among the nominees in 31 categories for 2014.

The awards will be streamed live on the HEC website, www.hectv.org. You can access the St. Louis channel’s arts and educational programming on Charter Cable Channel 989 (with converter box), Charter Cable Channel 108.26 or 118.26 (for digital TV's), and AT&T U-verse Channel 99.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis led the way with 22 nominations in both comedy and drama, while The Muny was honored with 21 in the musical categories. New Line Theatre’s Depression-era musical “Bonnie and Clyde” and Stages St. Louis’ retro classic “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” dominated nominations, with nine apiece.

St. Louis Shakespeare’s French farce, “The Liar,” garnered eight nominations in the play categories while Stray Dog Theatre’s “Cabaret” and The Muny premiere of the colorful, whimsical “Seussical” each received eight nods in the musical division.

Longtime metro-east collaborator Rob Lippert of O’Fallon earned the most technical honors — three nominations for his set and lighting design of “Bonnie and Clyde” at New Line Theatre and set design for “And Then There Were None” at Stray Dog Theatre. He won last year for his lighting design for the musical “Night of the Living Dead.”

Belleville native Whit Reichert is nominated for the second year, as Outstanding Supporting Actor for his portrayal of blustery boss J.B. Biggley in Stages St. Louis’ “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying,” which also earned best ensemble and best musical production nods.

Previous winner Greg Fenner, who received his bachelor’s degree in theater performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is nominated for “The Whipping Man” at New Jewish Theatre.

Metro-east residents nominated as part of acting ensembles include Marshall Jennings of East St. Louis, in New Line musicals “Hands on a Hard Body” and “Bonnie and Clyde,” Terry Meddows of Fairview Heights in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Anna Skidis of Collinsville in “Hands on a Hard Body,” and Ben Watts of Belleville, “The Normal Heart” at HotCity. They are all past individual nominees, with Meddows winning last year and Skidis the inaugural year.

Actors in nominated shows include Michael Harp of Swansea in “The Addams Family” and “Hello, Dolly!” at the Muny, and Watts also in the Tennessee Williams’ premiere “Stairs to the Roof.”

Two special awards for significant contributions will be given to a prominent pair of retiring titans in local theater: Donna Northcott, founder of St. Louis Shakespeare in 1984, and Agnes Wilcox, artistic director of Prison Performing Arts. Northcott’s company is only the seventh in the U.S. to present the entire canon of playwright William Shakespeare.

The St. Louis Theater Circle, founded in July 2012, currently includes 16 local theater critics who write for print and broadcast media, and website blogs.

Theater Circle voters include Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat; Steve Allen, Stage Door St. Louis.com blog; Mark Bretz, Ladue News; Bob Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light; Tina Farmer, KDHX; Malcolm Gay, Riverfront Times; Chris Gibson, Broadway World.com; Harry Hamm, KMOX Radio; Gabe Hartwig, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Michelle Kenyon, SnoopsTheatreThoughts.com blog; Gerry Kowarsky, “Two on the Aisle,” HEC-TV; Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX senior arts critic; Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Ann Lemons Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks.com blog; Andrea Torrence, St.Louis Theatre Snob blog; and Bob Wilcox, “Two on the Aisle,” HEC-TV. The late Christopher Reilly of Cahokia wrote about theater for Alive Magazine; he died Jan. 29. Founding member Andrea Braun retired from Vital Voice and PlaybackSTL.com earlier this year.

The St. Louis Theater Circle's mission is to focus attention on dozens of area theater companies in the metropolitan area, in addition to annually honoring St. Louis professional theater.

Tickets are still available, at $15 each, and can be purchased at https://orders.cocastl.org

To pre-order food and beverage options, visit http://www.withlovecatering.com/2015_st_louis_theatre_circle_awards_reservation_form

For more information, visit the Circle’s Facebook page.