Shakespeare in the Streets Reveals Grove Cast for OLD HEARTS FRESH

Local Grove/Forest Park Southeast residents will be learning staging tips from professional actors when rehearsals begin this week for Old Hearts Fresh, a play artfully adapted from William Shakespeare's The Winter'sTale. The show, part of the wildly successful Shakespeare in the Streets event, will be performed Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 19-21, at 4226 Manchester Avenue (between Tower Grove and South Boyle avenues), and will also include a nightly unveiling of a painted mural.

The hour-long free play, which will feature live music, will be performed at 8 p.m. each night. Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to watch the show. Manchester Avenue will be closed to traffic from Boyle Avenue to the Gramophone (4243 Manchester) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. Parking will be available on the surrounding streets.

The Director Alec Wild, Playwright Nancy Bell and Production Designer Justin Barisonek have been meeting with residents and community leaders of the neighborhood for the past year with the goal of developing a piece of theater that draws upon the residents' hopes and dreams for the Grove. The resulting script is a reflection of Shakespeare's play, real conversations with the residents, and Bell's own impressions.

Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is a story of loss and redemption and explores the themes of time, jealousy and healing. It concerns a king who is possessed by an irrational jealousy that tears his family apart. Many years, adventures and coincidences later, the family is reunited by the powers of time, radical forgiveness and a mysterious magic.

Bell's title, Old Hearts Fresh, comes from a line in Shakespeare's script, when two people are talking about the young Prince, Mamillius:

"It is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh..."

"We liked it because the play is about taking our old hearts, which can be full of grievances and hurts, and moving on, 'freshening' ourselves," Bell said. "The play portrays young people as the bold, forgiving, 'fresh' force that has the power to move society forward with good will and optimism."

Michael Shreves, a Grove resident and 2012 Miss Gay Missouri America winner, will be performing in the role of Time. Shreves, who is known as one of the best drag performers in the region, has performed under the stage name "Michelle McCausland" for the past 30 years. Some of the other featured residents include Kevin Williams, who works at the Adams Park Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club; St. Louis administrative law judge and Zumba teacher Karla Boresi; and Sara Figueroa, a teacher at Adams Elementary School. Several Grove teenagers will also be appearing in the show.

Professional actors include Drew Battles in the lead role of Leontes and Wendy Greenwood as Perdita. Battles, who has performed in roles throughout the Midwest and East Coast, just recently moved to St. Louis. Greenwood serves as the Artistic Director for SIUE's Cougar Theater Company and has worked locally with Mustard Seed Theatre, Muddy Waters Theatre and HotCity Theatre, among others. Don McClendon, Jacqueline Thompson, Nathan Bush, Antonio Rodriguez and Marty Casey round out the remaining professionals in the show. Rodriquez, who just recently appeared in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' educational tour, is also a resident of the Grove.

As part of the story created by Bell, a large mural painted by local artist Grace McCammond will be unveiled during each of the three performances. The mural will be painted on the side of the building located at 4226 Manchester. McCammond, who will begin creating the mural this week, has created the other familiar well-known murals in the Grove neighborhood including the "evolution of the bike" mural at Manchester and Tower Grove avenues and the St. Louis-themed mural inside Sweetie Pie's, among others.

This year's street event is underwritten by The Whitaker Foundation, PNC Arts Alive, Washington University Medical Center, The Grove Community Improvement District, Mangrove Redevelopment, Amy and Amrit Gill, and Christy and John Nickel.

In the past 13 years, the Shakespeare Festival has attracted more than 600,000 people to the performances in Forest Park. The organization has reached an additional 250,000 students through its educational touring productions, school program, summer camps and community partnerships. For more information, please visit or call 314/531-9800.

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