Arch City Theatre performs for JDRF

BY LOIS CAPLAN

THE ARCH CITY THEATRE GROUP consists of a cast of 40 youngsters, all under the age of 18, a diverse group from some 20 different schools.  Every summer since 2004 the Arch City Theatre Troupe has performed free musical review to raise money (no, this is not an oxymoron) for diabetes research.  It all started when 10-year-old Turner Rapp was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and his older sister Helen, then age 13, decided to find a way to help.  Since she and her friends were already involved in St. Louis theater, they decided that was the way to go. So after rehearsing all summer they presented a musical review to raise funds to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Such a success story! The first year they raised $1,000, quadrupled it in 2005, doubled the next year and doubled again in 2007. The bottom line is that by last year’s performance these kids had raised a total of $75,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, whose mission is to treat, cure and ultimately prevent this disease. The troupe hopes that this year’s event will put them over the $100,000 mark. 

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None of this is from ticket sales, as admission is free.  The troupe accepts donations, has a bake sale at the time of the show and a silent auction. Helen Rapp, the creative force behind the Arch City Theatre Troupe, now 18, has graduated from high school and will enter Vanderbilt University in the fall. Her company, though she does not think of it as “hers,” will perform selections from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Music Man,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Shrek,” “Hairspray” and more in a show they have named “Ain’t Life Fine!”

Performance, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13 and Saturday, Aug. 14 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, take place at the Center for Creative Arts (COCA), 524 Trinity Avenue in University City.  This is a great opportunity to introduce kids to theater while also supporting special fundraiser to help children with Juvenile Diabetes.

ST. LOUIS SHOW STOPPERS run the age gamut from 4 to 88. The musical troupe, now in its 14th year, was founded by Babe Rosenberg, who has directed and produced the show since its inception.   “I have a wonderful cast of 40 performers – older adults and young children – who dance and sing beautifully the much beloved works from Broadway shows,” Rosenberg explains. “Included in the cast are old timers like Marge Hermilin and Marvin Cohen who have been with me since the beginning.”  The 2010 Show Stoppers musical review features songs from “Easter Parade,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Anything Goes” and “Kiss Me Kate.”

This year’s production will be held at COCA (Center of Creative Arts), 524 Trinity on 8 p.m. Saturday, July 31 and Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8. Tickets are $16 each.  For tickets send your check payable to St. Louis Show Stoppers with the show date desired to Mike Sander, 12130 Mirror Lake Drive, St. Louis, Mo., 63146 and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.  Net proceeds go to BJC hospital for cancer research.  Need more information?  Call Babe at 636-532-5501 or Mike at 314-432-5581.

STAGES, that delightful professional company which keeps our toes tapping all summer with a varied selection of Broadway musicals, will host its cabaret production of “Together Again — An Encore” starring Jack Lane and Ben Nordstrom. Originally planned as a one-night stand and fundraiser for the group’s Education and Outreach programs, 2009’s “Together Again” was such a success, financially and artistically that Lane and Nordstrom decided to do a reprisal of the format with a brand new show. It will be held 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9th at the Robert Reim Theatre in Kirkwood, and again proceeds will go to Stage’s education and outreach programs.  Ticket prices range from $75 per person to $150 and offer different benefits like a choice of better seats and post show parties. To purchase tickets call the box office at 314-821-2407.

Both Lane, Stages’ Executive Producer for 24 years and Nordstrom, a regular cast member since 2001, are well known to Stages’ audiences.  Although most of us think of Lane as the one who takes the stage to introduce the show, some of us remember that he was a very good actor and last appeared as Lt. Cable in “South Pacific.”  Nordstrom, the one with the ebullient personality, has appeared in Stages’ productions of “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Footloose” and “She Loves Me.” Having seen last year’s “Together Again” I can promise that this encore performance will be a nostalgic and fun evening.

MY FRIEND AL UKMAN reminds me that life is not all fun and games and that there are men and women in our community needing our help. He is an active volunteer with Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (MEAAA), which makes it possible for them to hold on to their independence through programs such as Meals on Wheels and the Supply Bank for Senior Independence. According to Ukman, “the Missouri State legislature has cut about one-third of a million dollars from our meals budget for the next year. We are hoping that everyone will once again be generous and make it possible for our hundreds of volunteers to keep bringing hot, nutritious lunches to our mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.” To do your part, send your contribution to MEAAA, 14535 Manchester Road, Manchester MO 63011-3960.