The St. Louis Theater Circle Awards were held on Monday, March 26 at Webster University’s Lorreto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts. These awards honor excellence in St. Louis-area professional theater.
Variety St. Louis was present that evening to receive a special award for the Variety Theatre program. While awards such as “Outstanding Set Design,” “Outstanding Ensemble,” “Outstanding Actor” and more are handed out each year, this award is only presented when the Theatre Circle feels a production is truly deserving of it.
Eleanor Mullin, who introduced Variety at the event, spoke to Variety Theatre’s mission of inclusivity and breaking down barriers. She reminded attendees of the old-fashioned clichés of the theater world, before going on to say that many theaters in St. Louis and around the country are working to debunk these stereotypes.
But, Variety, she continued, goes above and beyond.
“One theater here defies a particularly persistent stereotype: the assumption that only able-bodies people can perform in musical theater,” Eleanor said. “In recognition of their eye-opening, audience-delighting productions, we are very happy to present our ‘Special Award for a Body of Work’ to Variety Theatre.”
Jan Albus, executive producer and Variety’s CEO, and Lara Teeter, production director and choreographer, accepted the award on behalf of Variety Theatre. Mallory Lankford, former Variety Kid and executive producer intern, and Christopher Sumner, current Variety Kid and production director/choreographer intern, joined them on stage.
As they headed to the stage, the audience was on their feet in the first of many standing ovations dedicated to Variety over the course of the evening. Jan and Lara shared a brief background of Variety and Variety Theatre before recognizing all those involved with the production over the years, whether on stage or behind the scenes, many of whom were present that evening to receive awards for other works. Twelve event attendees have been with Variety Theatre since its inception in 2009.
This award means the world to us here at Variety, especially as we head into our 10th anniversary production this year. When we began, Variety Theatre, which features an inclusive Children’s Ensemble performing alongside a professional adult cast, was the only program of its kind. Now, seven other organizations are working on similar programs around the world, modeled after this one.
Thank you, Theater Circle, for this prestigious honor, and for recognizing the work Variety Theatre does to ensure all children and teens have a chance to shine, no matter their ability. And congratulations to all of the nominees and winners.