Best Star Creation Moment 2022 | St. Louis Repertory Theater, Dreaming Zenzile | Culture & Leisure

Courtesy The Repertory Theater / Liliana Blain-Cruz

“Dreaming Zenzile” star and screenwriter Somi Kakoma in rehearsal.

The former Repertory Theater in St. Louis has undergone a much-needed overhaul under the artistic direction of Hana Sharif. There’s perhaps no better proof of the new impresario’s ambitions in town than Dream Zenzilea dramatization of the life of singer Miriam Makeba, who wowed America with the songs of her native South Africa on The Ed Sullivan Show, to pay a heavy price when she spoke out against apartheid and married Black Panther Stokely Carmichael. The show had its world premiere in St. Louis last September before heading to the New York Theater Workshop. Winning praise in both venues was star Somi Kakoma — a Champaign, Illinois, native to parents from Rwanda and Uganda. Kakoma was simply a force, dominating the entire room with a perfect imitation of Makeba’s Xhosa-style clicks even as she brought heart and soul to the singer’s personal struggles. Reviewing the show, the New York Times called Kakoma a performer “perfectly mastering his instrument and his powers”, and who can argue with the Gray Lady? Kakoma was nothing short of sensational – and thanks to the new urgency of Sharif and the rep, we saw her here first. —Sarah Fenské

WerQFest celebrates the black queer community.

Photo by Andrea Petty, courtesy of WerQFest

WerQFest celebrates the black queer community.

The inaugural WerQfest was organized over two weeks by Tre G (Tre’von Griffith) and her husband Shelton Boyd-Griffith in 2020 as a pandemic-safe musical celebration of black and queer culture – and a way to bridge the gaps. gaps left by PrideFest. When the company returned to large gatherings in 2021, the virtual event transformed into a live music festival at City Foundry STL hosted by Maxi Glamour, featuring performances from Eric Donte, Paige Alyssa and even Tre G him. -same. The festival’s WerQ Awards for the Arts and Community Advocacy elevate LGBTQ+ creatives and activists by highlighting the impact these individuals have had through their work. Produced in collaboration with Jamo Presents, WerQfest 2022 took place in July at the Lot at the Big Top with headlining performances from The Voice season 16 winner Julian King and rapper Sevndeep alongside Bates & the Strangers of St. Louis and a range of local artists for a marked evolution of the river city’s most exciting multi-faceted festival experience. —Joseph Hesse

Blank Space also has books in the back of the room.


Blank Space also has books in the back of the room.

Artistic and musical institution Empty space (2847 Cherokee Street) highlights the adaptable nature of the people of Cherokee Street. Blank Space is a flexible concert space that can be a bar, cafe, record store, bookstore, study room or, of course, an art gallery. It’s also the best hip-hop venue in St. Louis and reflects the roots of a genre born out of musical ingenuity with an emphasis on community. While some nights are low-key by design, the venue often functions as an incubator for groundbreaking shows and parties in the heart of St. Louis, with performances by DJ Nico Marie, 18andCounting and Blvck Spvde and the Cosmos, to name a few. name only those. some. —Joseph Hesse

Mark Pagano in his video "Muscles of the heart."

Mark Pagano in his “Heart Muscle” video.

Here’s a word of warning: under no circumstances let your children listen to the debut solo album released earlier this year by longtime local singer-songwriter Mark Pagano of Fire Dog fame and now also known as Marko Polo’s name. It’s not just that they’ll love the clever and catchy tunes of mammal music, although they will certainly play them again and again and again. No, the biggest problem might be that you’ll get addicted – to the point that you’ll find yourself dropping the kids off at school and singing along to “Salamander Moves” before remembering you’re an adult and alone in the house. a car while listening to a song about amphibians. Pagano’s music is not only catchy but also educational. You’ll learn all about these salamanders (“they live both on land/and in water – amphibians!”), and you’ll be better off. Your children too. So maybe we’ll withdraw our warning. Listen to this gifted musician’s solo offering. Just do it in moderation. You’re not seven, no matter how tempting those tunes are to your ears. —Sarah Fenské

Saint-Louis musical park.


Saint-Louis musical park.

One of the newest venues in the region, Saint-Louis Music Park (750 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights; 314-451-2244) is located, literally, in a converted outdoor ice rink. No, you don’t watch a concert while skating (although that would be an experience). In the spring and summer, the park is a 4,500-seat, $9 million outdoor concert hall with a pavilion and artificial turf. In the winter, it’s an ice rink located just outside the Centene Community Ice Center, the St. Louis Blues’ training home. The venue was originally scheduled to open in 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic. Its first year of opening featured a star-studded lineup, including Trippie Redd, Machine Gun Kelly, Wilco, Rod Wave, Quinn XCII and Brett Eldredge. —Benjamin Simon

30 Deep Grimeyy In His "dead dingoes" Musical clip.

30 Deep Grimeyy in his “Dead Goofies” music video.

It’s hard for a local rapper to become a hit outside of St. Louis. Only a few have become national hits –– Nelly, Chingy, Huey and Smino are a few. Now 30 Deep Grimeyy has joined this exclusive list. A few years ago, he exploded onto the national scene, reaching millions of views on YouTube, recording a song with Lil Baby, and receiving an XXL feature film. But Grimeyy isn’t like Nelly, making pop rings with catchy, lilting choruses. In an age where Autotune reigns, Grimeyy thrives on weaving, rhyming, and molding words together. He does this while continuing to represent St. Louis – wearing his Cardinals hat, shouting his hometown, dancing on the Tandy Park playground and calling himself the “voice of St. Louis”. —Benjamin Simon

Olajuwon Davis in Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea


Olajuwon Davis (in red) in Dontrell, who kissed the sea.

In 2014, Olajuwon Davis was arrested by federal authorities for “planning and conspiring to set off explosive devices during the Ferguson protests”, a crime for which he served six years in prison. However, the truth about Davis’ case is complicated. An FBI informant promising quick and easy money persuaded Davis – on his luck at the time – to buy a pipe bomb from another FBI informant. The media described him as a terrorist leader. But he was closer to a pawn, a pigeon. Now that Davis has served his sentence, he does not hesitate to take over his agency. He reconnected with his passion for acting, taking the stage in productions at the Black Rep, including that of August Wilson Jitney and played the father character in Dontrell, who kissed the sea. From pawn in a game to star on stage, this second act has only just begun. —Ryan Krull

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