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The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

By Deborah O'Brien

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The Grandel Theatre

Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr., courtesy The Repertory Theatre

If you grew up in St. Louis, no doubt you’ve heard of the “The Rep,” or more formally, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. But most St. Louisans aren’t aware of how much The Rep has to offer, its unique history or the diversity of productions it offers each season.

Once you get to know The Rep, you’ll be hooked. Every season it delivers on its promise to be the “region’s premier live professional theatre,” and is surely a source of pride to its original founders, the Sisters of Loretto of Webster College. So, take a few minutes now to get to know The Rep, and then definitely pick a show or two to go see this year.

History of the Repertory Theatre:

The Rep’s founding came from a somewhat unlikely source – the Sisters of Loretto nuns of Webster College (now Webster University). The nuns wanted a top-notch theater and classroom for their theater students. Luckily for us, they also wanted local residents to enjoy professional performances without having to travel to Chicago or New York. With more than 400 professional Rep productions since 1966, it’s clear the dream of the Sisters of Loretto is alive and going strong.

Four Different Companies Within One:

Today The Rep offers something for nearly every taste, dividing up its productions among four series. The series are called Mainstage, Off-Ramp, Studio Theatre and the Imaginary Theatre Company. Think of each series as an almost individual theater company; each has a unique personality, its own venue and its own grouping of shows. Shows in each series run from September through April, so take a look at what each has to offer and then get out and see a Rep production!

The Mainstage Series:

As its name indicates, Mainstage shows are the big plays of the season. Each of six productions are performed on the main stage of the Loretto-Hilton Center in suburban Webster Groves. The theatre seats 763, but no seat is more than 20 rows from the stage so you’re sure to be close to the action. This is the 41st year for Mainstage performances.

The Off-Ramp Series:

If you’re craving a more urban theater experience, check out the Off-Ramp series. It’s the newest offering from The Rep, beginning in 2005. Its three productions are at the Grandel Theatre in the heart of midtown St. Louis. Built in 1884, originally as the First Congregational Church, the Grandel was transformed into a theatre in 1992. It’s a beautiful venue, with seating for 467 on two levels.

The Studio Theatre Series:

The most intimate of Rep performances are those done within the Studio Theatre series. These productions, usually three each year, are presented within the Emerson Studio Theatre, also in the Loretto-Hilton Center. The Emerson Studio Theatre sits directly below the main stage at the center and has seating for just 125. Visitors have been enjoying cozy performances in this space for the last 30 years.

The Imaginary Theatre Company Series:

For children and the young-at-heart, the Rep offers the Imaginary Theatre Company. This traveling troupe of actors brings one of two shows each year to schools, community centers and libraries throughout the St. Louis area. It’s a great way to introduce children to the arts.

For More Information:

For a complete schedule of this season's performances, to purchase tickets or for more information about each venue, visit the Repertory Theatre's website or call (314) 968-4925.

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