Kibbitzing with Caplan

Beverly Milder with a 1978 music class in her basement. Now in its its 35th year, Milder Musical Arts has 10 full-time teachers and 550 students weekly. As part of its anniversary year, Milder is seeking to reconnect with former students.

By Lois Caplan

THEATER AND OPERA ARE THRIVING IN ST. LOUIS. Numerous theater companies are presenting everything from Shakespeare in the Park (“Twelfth Night”) to classic Cole Porter at the Fox (“Anything Goes”). Instead of no opera in St. Louis we now enjoy the performances of two companies, Opera Theatre of St. Louis (“Pirates of Penzance” and three other operas in repertory) and Union Avenue Opera Company (“Madame Butterfly” and two other operas). There are even amateur and non-equity performances, which compete quite successfully with their more professional counterparts.

For starters let’s look at “Broadway or Bust,” Broadway Fantasies’ show tune revue, which features performers with a variety of experience, from professionals to talented amateurs, entertaining for their love of music and charity.  All profits benefit the St. Louis County Older Resident Programs (CORP), which provide services and programs to support independence and quality of life for older adults.  The show’s entire cast is passionate about theater and loves being on stage. “Broadway or Bust” opens on Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m. and continues Sunday, June 2 at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 9 at 2 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy High School, 500 Woods Mill Road. Tickets are $17, except opening night when bargain seats are available at $15. E-mail [email protected] or call 314-615- 4041.

“MRS. MANNERLY”, a contemporary comedy by Jeffrey Hatcher, premieres on Thursday, May 23 at the COCA Black Box Theatre, 524 Trinity Avenue in University City.  A Max and Louie Production, the play is described as a hilarious, poignant comedy for grownups inspired by a childhood memory of etiquette class. In our constant texting, bad driving, reality show world, good manners seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Award-winning actress Donna Weinsting stars as Mrs. Mannerly and Charlie Ingram plays a variety of parts.  Matinee and evening performances continue through Sunday, June 6.  For tickets at $30 for general admission call the COCA Box Office at 314-725-6555 ext.130.

LITTLE DID I THINK six decades ago that I would ever see a Homeric epic performed in the building at the corner of Grand and Olive.  Back then it was a big, wonderful Woolworth store with every kind if cheapo merchandise a kid might want. Today it’s the Kranzberg Arts Center, 510 N. Grand Avenue, where the Upstream Theatre is about to present the St. Louis premiere of “An Iliad” by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, based on Robert Fagle’s translation. Jerry Vogel, an Upstream regular, will play the poet who has come to enchant us, to move us, and to dare us to recognize ourselves as we peer into the bronze-tinged reflection of an ancient war. “An Iliad” premiered in 2010 and has been lauded by critics across the country. According to the New York Times, Peterson and O’Hare have telescoped the expanses of Homer’s great poem into an evening that scales the conflict of the Trojan War down to an intimate solo show illuminating both the heroism and the horror of warfare.  Tickets for “An Iliad,” which runs from May 24 through June 9, are available at

MILDER MUSICAL ARTS CELEBRATES SUCCESS –Don’t get me wrong that Milder’s Musical Arts has produced a Yo Yo Ma or a Glen Gould or an Itzak Pearlman, although it may have without my knowledge. Rather, since Beverly Milder opened the Yamaha Music School in the basement of her home with a handful of students in 1978, the school has grown exponentially in the 35 years that followed. Literally thousands of students ranging from birth to 85 years have experienced group piano and singing classes and private lessons in piano, voice and guitar.  The school currently employs 10 full-time music teachers’ with 550 weekly students. That’s what I call success and as closely as I can tell the credit belongs to Milder.

Now she is looking for help from you, those of you who were fortunate enough to be her students. Milder is looking to reconnect with students from the past 35 years as she plans a 35th anniversary celebration, which will include a community concert on Sunday, June 23.  The school is asking for all former students to visit the school’s website at to share memories of their experience at MMA and how music has impacted their life. Students, you may also “Friend” the school on Facebook at Beverly Milder’s Musical Arts.