The year in local theater

Jent: For me there wasn't a single event, but I was encouraged by a series of collaborations that took place throughout the year. It began at the end of 2004 with HotCity's production of The Exonerated, which featured many of the city's finest actors, including Ron Himes, the artistic director of the Black Rep. Actors ventured outside their typical homes, with Stages regular Steve Isom appearing in Bug for the Rep and Alan Knoll, a longtime member of the Rep's Imaginary Theatre Company, appearing in the Black Rep's production of Intimate Apparel. Linda Kennedy moved from her usual onstage role at the Black Rep to directing I'm Not Rappaport at New Jewish, while Stages managing director Ron Gibbs directed Jesus Christ Superstar at the Muny. This intercompany collaboration is set to continue in this month as the Black Rep and HotCity Theatre co-produce Caroline, Or Change.

The most discouraging event?

Brown: Perhaps not a specific event, but rather the fact that HotCity did not follow up its auspicious beginning in 2004 — The Exonerated — with a more substantive season. There were any number of reasons for this, but surely one was that the Rep's new Off-Ramp series seemed to deprive HotCity of titles that were right up their alley. At some point someone might want to ask, just how many plays does the Rep need to do in a given season? And when does growth become greed?

Jerry Vogel in Merchant of Venice
Jerry Vogel in Merchant of Venice

Jent: The most discouraging event was the abrupt closing of Historyonics Theatre. Whether you liked the format or not, it was a company with a history, a loyal subscriber base and a positive economic impact on St. Louis theater artists. In a season with some of their most promising productions to date (Eagle and Child and Dancing on Air), the clandestine termination of the company was the stuff of government conspiracy movies. The silence of the board left the arts community with nothing but questions: If the company was in financial trouble, why didn't the board appeal to the public for help? Why close the company just before its final production, a baseball play that was sure to be a success? In a town that is sorely lacking theatrical spaces, the stage in the History Museum sits dark. Who would dare to venture in?

Any New Year's resolutions for 2006?

Brown: I'd like to be able to resolve to not read any more playbill biographies that tell me how "thrilled, delighted, excited, thrilled, pleased, happy and thrilled" actors are to be working in St. Louis. But that probably won't happen.

Jent: I resolve to finally see a play at the Muny. Maybe Urinetown?

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