St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR Star André De Shields, Director Carl Cofield and Sound Designer David R. Molina Win 2022 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

Rayme Cornell, André De Shields and The Company of KING LEAR. Photo by Lia Chang

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear starring Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Play On!, The Full Monty) and helmed by Carl Cofield, won 3 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards last night including Outstanding Leading Performer in a Drama for De Shields, Outstanding Director of a Drama for Cofield; and Outstanding Sound Design in a Play for David R. Molina. The production was nominated for 9 awards.

Seated: Emilee Buchheit, David R. Molina, André De Shields, Carl Cofield, Allen Gilmore, Sam Hayes. Standing: Mika Eubanks, Wilson Chin. Photo by Lia Chang

After a two-year absence, the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards returned in a virtual ceremony streamed by HEC-TV on March 28, 2022. The ninth annual ceremony celebrated recipients of awards for the 2020 and 2021 years combined, covering approximately 75 theater and opera productions. Once again, because of the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was streamed as a virtual presentation. 

1st Row: Tyler White, Christina Yancy, André De Shields, Daniel Jose Molina, Rayme Cornell, Jacqueline Thompson, Kentrell Jamison, Brian McKinley, Carl Cofield.
2nd Row: Mika Eubanks, David R. Molina, Brian Sievers, Theorri London, Jason J. Little, Atum Jones, Wilson Chin, Michael Tran, Brian Anthony Wilson, Nicole King, J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore, Carl Overly, Jr. Emilee Buchheit, Sam Hayes. Photo by Lia Chang

King Lear was the first major live theatrical event in the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Upon hearing the news of his award, De Shields shared, “On January 6, 2021, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was nearing its first anniversary, my agent, Margi Rountree, informed me of an interest and availability request from Laura Stanczyk Casting, to assume the titular role of King Lear at the Saint Louis Shakespeare Festival. You damn right I’m interested. The engagement would require my residing in St. Louis during the months of May and June; so, I disavowed the contract I had intended to sign, making myself available to assay Lear. I mean, is there a more evocative allegory for the pandemic than the descent into dementia of a sated autocrat? The production would be conceived and directed by Carl Cofield in the distinctive style of Afro-Futurism, determined by the perspective of critical race theory. Director Cofield was in such command of his concept and demand of my commitment that I learned to breathe in the absence of oxygen. Sound Designer David R. Molina’s viscerally percussive soundscape served as my out-of-body lungs, until the disarrayed and delusional king had been restored to empathic redemption by the death of his dearest child. Indeed, his own life had too long been on loan from that very Death. Thank you, Saint Louis Shakespeare Festival.”

André De Shields as King Lear. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields led an all-BIPOC company featuring some of the finest actors out of New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He was joined by Brian Anthony Wilson (“The Wire,” “The Sopranos”) as Gloucester, acclaimed Chicago and Shakespearean actor Allen Gilmore as the Fool and St. Louis legend J. Samuel Davis as Kent. The three daughters are played by Nicole King (Cordelia) and Festival favorites Rayme Cornell (Goneril) and Jacqueline Thompson (Regan). Daniel José Molina (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Leland Fowler (TFANA) play Gloucester’s sons Edgar and Edmund, respectively. The company also includes Jason J. Little (Albany), Carl Overly, Jr. (Cornwall) and Michael Tran (Oswald), as well as an ensemble of actors from The Black Rep’s Professional Internship Program: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White and Christina Yancy. Click here for the virtual playbill.

Tyler White, André De Shields, Christina Yancy, Atum Jones, Kentrell Jamison, Leland Fowler and J. Samuel Davis. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team for King Lear includes first-time Festival designers Wilson Chin (Scenic Design), Mika Eubanks (Costume Design) and David R. Molina (Music and Sound Design). John Wylie (Lighting Design) returned for his fourteenth season.

Rayme Cornell, Jason J. Little, André De Shields, Allen Gilmore and J. Samuel Davis. Photo by Lia Chang

The mission of the St. Louis Theater Circle is simple: To honor St. Louis professional theater. Other cities around the country, such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C., pay tribute to their own local theatrical productions with similar awards programs.

Tyler White, André De Shields, Christina Yancy, Atum Jones, Kentrell Jamison, Leland Fowler and J. Samuel Davis. Photo by Lia Chang
Allen Gilmore and André De Shields in St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of KING LEAR in 2021. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields and Daniel Jose Molina. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields, Allen Gilmore and Company. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields and Daniel Jose Molina. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Brian Anthony Wilson and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
KING LEAR curtain call- MIchael Tran, Brian McKInley, Leland Fowler, Daniel Jose Molina, Nicole King, André De Shields, J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore, Jason J. Little, Rayme Cornell, Jacqueline Thompson, Carl Overly, Jr. and the Company. Photo by Lia Chang
KING LEAR Director Carl Cofield, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely, and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Communications Director Allie Magee, André De Shields and Associate Producer Colin O’Brien. Photo by Lia Chang

Congrats to all of the winners. Click the article below to read about all of the winners.

Muny’s ‘Chicago’ wins big at St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

And watch the full presentation:

Photos: Opening Night with St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR Star André De Shields; St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones Presents Proclamation Naming June 4, 2021 – KING LEAR/ André De Shields Day 

Broadwayworld: Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR With André De Shields & More

St. Louis Magazine: André De Shields on playing King Lear in Shakespeare in the Park and why the tragedy is the best play for this time

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Tony winner André De Shields stars in ‘King Lear’ that engages with the times at Shakespeare Festival

Lia Chang

Lia Chang loves to tell stories – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, a performing arts photographer and an award-winning filmmaker. A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She Executive Produced and stars in the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet, was featured as Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago and has worked extensively Off-Broadway. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com

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