Here’s WEPG Season 111
Are you big on comedy? Suspense? Romance? Whatever your taste in theatre, West End Players Guild’s 2022-23 season – the company’s 111th – has you covered.
Sept. 23-Oct. 2, 2022: Richard Greenberg’s The American Plan, set mostly in the Catskills in the 1950s, is at first blush a quaint story of blossoming young love between Nick, a guest at a Catskills resort, and Lili, a pretty young woman who summers with her mother in their cabin across the lake. Lili is emotionally frail and Nick seems to be the young man who can love her enough to help her heal. But as the relationship deepens, something seems a little off. Lili’s domineering mother is very wealthy. Is her family wealth what has attracted the handsome Nick? Or is it something more sinister? The twists and turns keep coming, leading to a denouement that, although happy in its own way, is one you won’t see coming. Nada Vaughn makes her WEPG directorial debut.
December 2-11, 2022: Lucas Hnath’s The Christians examines what happens when Pastor Paul, the leader of an evangelical mega-church, announces to his congregation that he has come to doubt a core belief of Christian doctrine. Pastor Paul expects this sermon to be controversial; he does not expect the reaction to the sermon to threaten the congregation’s destruction. Playwright Hnath, the son of a minister who was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist church, presents the story with respect and sincerity. As New York Times theatre critic Charles Isherwood noted, “none of the characters are depicted as being fanatical, hypocritical or lacking in intelligence, which is too often the case when pious Christians are depicted onstage. Mr. Hnath grants his characters the dignity of sincere belief, even as his play raises probing questions about how and why religion can be a divisive, if not abusive, social force.” Ellie Schwetye returns to WEPG to direct The Christians.
Feb. 10-19, 2023: John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar is this year’s WEPG Valentine’s Day treat. It’s the story of the somewhat awkward romance of Anthony and Rosemary, two 40-ish adults who are the only children of two Irish families living on small adjacent farms outside Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. Both have spent their entire lives on the farm and have known each other as long as they can remember. Both are painfully shy in affairs of the heart. Each quietly yearns for the other, but neither can muster the courage to express those desires. And so they live, side by side but apart, watching the years slip away, hoping something will happen – and, eventually, it does. It’s a very Irish love story – not simply about the love between two people, but also about love of the Irish countryside. It’s also one of the most delightful romantic comedies you’ll ever see. Jessa Knust will direct Outside Mullingar.
Apr. 28-May 7, 2023: The 111th season ends with the world premiere of Vladimir Zelensky’s Finale, based on the life of legendary opera composer Gioachino Rossini. It’s a brilliantly funny sex-farce; it’s also a movingly sad love story. We meet two astonishingly gifted musical talents — Rossini and singer Isabella Colbran. Their shared passion for music draws them into a passion for each other. Rossini wrote 39 operas (including The Barber of Seville, Othello and William Tell), many of them for performance by his muse and lover, Isabella. Then, at 40, at the very peak of his career – he stopped! In his remaining 40 years he never wrote another opera. No one ever knew why. In Finale, Zelevinsky offers some insightful thoughts on the mystery. Steve Callahan, who previously directed several Zelevinsky plays on our stage (including The Great Seduction and Cricket on the Hearth) returns to direct Finale.
All shows will be presented in seven performances at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End. WEPG is St. Louis’s oldest continuously-performing theatre company, presenting “Big Theatre in a Small Space” since November, 1911.