Kibbitzing with Caplan

Frances Levine, who was named the new president of the Missouri Historical Society in January. 

At a recent Jewish Light event, I met Frances Levine, Ph.D., the new president of the Missouri Historical Society. Immediately, I realized what an exceptional woman she is and how fortunate we in St. Louis are to have lured her away from Santa Fe, N.M., where she directed the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors since 2002.

An anthropologist with degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder and from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Levine contributed endless hours of leadership to the growth of the New Mexico History Museum which, if any of you have been there, know that it is outstanding. She was named president of the Missouri Historical Society in late January.

Levine, a smallish, compact woman with very curly hair, slightly frosted with gray, is warm and outgoing. She is Jewish and was a board member of Temple Beth Shalom, her congregation in Santa Fe. She has been married to Tom Merlan for 36 years and she is the mother of two grown children, Stephen and Anna.

My editors at the Light say they have a full interview with Levine planned for a  future edition, so keep your eyes peeled — it should be a fascinating read. 

At the risk of incurring her wrath, I suggest that when you are at the Missouri History Museum you say hello to Dr. Levine. Maybe she will be your new friend, just as she is mine.

“THE VIOLINIST,” an original play to benefit St. Louis’ Action for Autism returns to the Gaslight Theatre for performances August 8 to 10. It’s an all new cast, plot and crew, telling the story of Thomas, a 13-year-old boy with autism who takes audiences on a thrill ride of deception and murder. He must overcome the odds to bring down the dangerous villains pursuing him. All proceeds go directly to the Action for Autism. For tickets and more information, call 314-488-9197 or log on to

“QUILLS,” a Max and Louie Production, is an erotically charged play about the conflict between the imprisoned Marquis de Sade and the keepers entrusted with silencing the perverse tales that drip from his ink-laden quill. To refresh your memory, the Marquis was the irreverent literary bad boy of 18th-century France, from whose name the term sadism is derived. You can see “Quills” at the Wool Studio Theatre at the Jewish Community Center’s Staenberg Family Complex, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, where it runs from July 31 to Aug. 17. Tickets are available online through or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

DANCE ST.LOUIS’ 2014-2015 season is outstanding — even better than this year’s, which I never thought possible. Those of you who spent some wonderful evenings at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Touhill Performing Arts Center know how beautiful the season’s performances were, including the closing weekend featuring the annual Spring to Dance Festival (which will be repeated in May, 2015). More than 25 professional dance companies from across the country will converge at the Touhill to perform for three consecutive nights. From contemporary and classical to modern, tap and ballet and more, the festival offers a great variety of ballet with a different program each night. That’s for closers.

In November, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the country’s first African-American ballet company, makes its return to St. Louis after more than 10 years. Tango Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Dance Theatre of Harlem greatest cultural export, will perform in January and Compagnie Kafig, the France-based company of all-male Brazilian performers influenced by hip-hop, bossa nova and capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) will be here in April. Check out the full lineup at

THE REP STUDIO THEATRE SEASON was announced at about the same time the Dance St. Louis season made it to us media folk’s computers. Many of you know I make the main stage productions at the Rep, but let me tell you that the Studio Theatre does an excellent, professional job with their productions. The three plays Studio Theatre will present are “A Kid Like Jake,” “Safe House” and “Buyer and Cellar,” a runaway hit in New York. It’s a one man show that takes the audience into the ultimate fantasy as a star-struck dreamer fills the oddest of odd jobs. Reasonably priced season tickets are on sale now for the Rep Studio season. Charge by phone by calling 314-968-4925 or visit