Thursday, November 11, 2010

Episode 36: After Horror Show

This appeared on one of the RFT's blogs today.


By the Boards
After Horror Show, Ivory Theatre is Alive and Well
By Aimee Levitt
Thu., Nov. 11 2010

The curtain is about to rise on the Ivory Theatre's second -- or third? -- act.

​As of last Friday, November 5, the homepage for the Ivory Theatre went dark, sparking rumors of the troubled theater's demise. But those rumors are unfounded says Scott Steele, the new general manager who replaced Donna Perrino, known to some in the St. Louis theater community as "the Ivory Theatre Horror Show."

"The Ivory Theatre is alive and well!" Steele informs Daily RFT.

So what about that website?

"When Donna Perrino was removed -- or whatever the term is -- when she ceased to be part of the Ivory family, we couldn't continue to use the old website," Steele explains.

And why is that?

"I can't comment on that. But we have a new website now." The Ivory's current online home is

"We're not going to become a country/western saloon, either," Steele adds. "Some people have been saying that."

Instead the Ivory will continue to show plays. Steele says its latest show, the Unity Theatre Ensemble's production of Ntozake Shange's for colored girls, was "totally sold out," and Unity has pledged to return to the Ivory in 2011. Family Musical Theater is also staging shows there. Steele has not, however, spoken to Scott Miller of New Line Theatre, one of the chief complainers about Perrino.

But the space will also be used as a performing arts center. Steele has been in talks to bring in comedians and concerts and opera and dance and live radio shows.

Says Steele, "We've put the controversy in the past. This will be huge for the Carondelet area."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Episode 35: The Incredible Disappearing Theatre

Just a quick note today...

The Ivory Theatre website has been taken down.

Just one more sad, weird chapter in this awful story.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Episode 34: The Public Humiliation of The Horror Show

This article was posted on the Riverfront Times website today:


Curtain Goes Down on Ivory Theatre "Horror Show"
By Aimee Levitt
published: Wed., Aug. 25 2010 @ 3:39PM

​Ever since it opened three years ago, the Ivory Theatre in Carondelet has been beset by controversy. Aggrieved theater companies have accused the Ivory, specifically its general manager Donna Perrino, of negligence and general mismanagement. Among other things, Perrino was said to have reneged on agreements to let groups use the space, ignored requests for improvements and trashed the theater. (For more, see "Stage Fright: The Ivory is turning into a horror show for some St. Louis theater companies.")

But times have changed. Perrino has left her position at the Ivory. Or, as the anonymous blogger who has been chronicling Perrino's misdeeds on the blog The Ivory Theatre Horror Show puts it, "Ding Dong the witch is dead."

Mike Allen, co-owner of Red Brick Management, which owns the Ivory, confirmed Perrino's departure.

"We were trying to find ways to broaden our range," Allen says. "Donna's focus was on musical theater. We decided to part ways."

Now Perrino has found a new home on the Goldenrod Showboat, which is currently moored on the Illinois River outside Kampsville, Illinois, about 70 miles due north of St. Louis. The century-old boat has had a long and varied history (for more, see this account by preservationist Michael Allen), but has, in recent years, lapsed into a state of decrepitude.

Steve DeBallis, who published the "historic" Globe-Democrat (the one that reprinted old G-D articles, not the current online revival), bought the boat recently and, under the aegis of his company the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association, plans to restore it to its former glory. Perrino, who is dating DeBallis, has been appointed project manager.

(Comments the Ivory Theatre Horror Show blogger: "As badly as she messed up the Ivory, imagine what she'll do to the poor Goldenrod...")

And even with the departure of Perrino, all is not well at the Ivory. Cast and crew of this summer's production of Cabaret, produced by Perrino, claim they haven't been paid. Red Brick's Allen also says that the theater didn't get paid for the rental.

Perrino herself has been telling people that her partners forced her into bankruptcy in the wake of Cabaret. (Daily RFT could find no record of a bankruptcy under her name in court records.) She did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Cindy Walker has replaced Perrino as the Ivory's general manager, but even with the change in personnel, local companies are still reluctant to stage their productions at the theater.

"It's such a terribly designed space, practically speaking, and it also got run down really fast because Perrino didn't take care of the place," alleges Scott Miller, artistic director of New Line Theatre. (Among Miller's complaints: The raised electrical outlets onstage impede choreography, the stage door was so narrow that sets had to be constructed directly on the stage and, worst of all, there was only one toilet available for the cast and crew to use during intermission.)

Allen hopes that his plan to expand the Ivory's offerings beyond musicals will improve the theater's fortunes. (So far, however, the Ivory's next two shows, Altar Boyz and The Rocky Horror Show are musicals, and the two after that, And the World Goes Round and A Country Christmas, are musical revues.)

"With outside financial support," he says optimistically, "we're even closer to breaking even."

I'll say it again...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Episode 33: Halloween, Part 33

This was posted to the St. Louis Theater chat group today:

I guess Donna Perrino (aka Horror Show) is kinda like Michael Myers...

She posted this comment a couple days ago on a blog about the late, lamented Goldenrod Showboat. Steve DeBellis, mentioned in her post below, is a guy she's been dating. He does not own the new Globe-Democrat which was recently resurrected online, as Horror Show implies, but for seveal years he has been publishing a fake version of the old G-D which reprints past G-D articles (I never understood the point of that).

As badly as she messed up the Ivory, imagine what she'll do to the poor Goldenrod...

Here's Horror Show's post...

August 22, 2010

Hello. I am the Project Manager of the GOLDENROD SHOWBOAT RESTORATION PROJECT/2010. We have just begun the long journey into the process of determining the necessary repairs needed to get this beauty back in business.

The company that currently owns this boat is the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association. It's President is Steve DeBellis, also owner of the Globe Democrat newspaper in St. Louis, MO. We are dedicated to this effort so please give us your help and support.

A new website is on the way and many fundraisers will be held. We welcome your input and information.

Please contact me, Donna Perrino, at my email address until we develop the site:

Thank you.
Donna Perrino


Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Episode 33: Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead...?

Rumors are flying around town that Horror Show has finally been fired and put out of our misery. A couple people "on the inside" confirm this, but no one has heard anything official...

Hmmmmm.... Is it possible? Has justice finally been done?

And will New Line and the other abused companies come back now?

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Episode 32: West Side Story... I mean, Cabaret...

Family Musical Theatre is currently presenting Cabaret on the Ivory stage, but of course the Ivory website says they're producing West Side Story. It's easy to see how you could get those two mixed up -- pre-war Berlin and 1950s New York...

The only review I've seen of the show complains that the sound was really awful, some of the cast didn't know what they were doing on stage, and best of all, there were no programs!

Now rumors have circulated in the St. Louis Theatre Discussion Group chat list that the Ivory will no longer be a legit theatre after Family Musical Theatre's current contract is up at the end of the year. Apparently, it's going to be just a concert venue for country-western singers.

Because Horror Show is such a profound fuck-up. Once again, no press releases were sent out for this last show, so there were listings for it anywhere. They did buy an ad in the Post with the super clever tag line: "Come see it... You'll like it..." Man, that just HAD to sell tickets, don't you think?

It's so sad that what could have been a really nice new theatre space in St. Louis -- a town where we NEED new theatre spaces -- was so badly designed, so badly managed, and put in the hands of a woman whose elevator rarely gets to the top floor.

Cabaret might be a depressing show, but it's not half as depressing as the story of the Ivory Theatre in St. Louis.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Episode 31: Bland Ambition

Anybody been keeping an eye on the Ivory website? A whole shitload of musicals has turned up on their calendar, but with no indication of who's producing them. If Horror Show thinks she's going to mount a season that ambitious, there's even more hilarity ahead than I thought...

The shows listed for production at the Ivory, all this year, are:
Little Shop of Horrors
The Cotton Club
West Side Story
Altar Boyz
The World Goes Round
The Rocky Horror Picture Show [sic]
(Will someone please tell her that the stage show is called The Rocky Horror Show, and the movie is called The Rocky Horror Picture Show? How many times has this show been produced locally?)

How on earth does she think big shows like West Side Story and Annie are going to fit on that tiny stage? And seriously, seven musicals (in addition to the Patsy Cline debacle and something named A Country Christmas which is also on the list)...? Even The Muny doesn't do that many musicals in one season!

And if producing her own show is as big a clusterfuck as the illegal Sweet Dreams of Patsy has been, then trying to pull off large-scale Broadway shows is going to make her head explode.

Which can only be a good thing.

But why don't we get to see the hilariously bad musicals she has written??? Remember that disastrous backer's audition she dressed up as a variety show back when the theatre had first opened, when a few dozen unsuspecting strangers were treated -- I'm sorry, I mean subjected -- to scenes from the awful musicals she's written, While You Were Sleeping: The Musical, Equus: The Musical (I wish I was kidding), The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao: The Musical, and most bizarrely, an awkward and clumsy "jazz opera" of some sort... The whole point was supposed to be that Horror show would produce her own shows at the Ivory, and then rich folks would throw fistfuls of money at her to take her shows to Broadway. She really told people that.

Stay tuned...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Monday, February 1, 2010

Episode 30: Hackneyed, Trite, and Implausible, Oh My!

The Sweet Dreams of Patsy review from KDHX has been posted. Sounds like the cast is good. But wait till you get to the third paragraph and the part about how awful Horror Show's unauthorized script is... and how she claims credit for arrangements that aren't hers...
There has never been anyone else quite like Patsy Cline. I've never met anyone who dislikes her, nor even anyone who claims to be ignorant of or indifferent to her legacy. If it seems dissonant to think of her as a "superstar," it may be because her persona was so wholesome, so much an Everywoman. So trying to present her on the stage for a present-day audience is obviously a challenging job. Kudos, then, to Irene Jones, whose memorable work in the title role of Sweet Dreams of Patsy, currently being presented by Perrino Productions at the Ivory Theatre, more than meets our suspension of disbelief and takes by itself nearly all the credit for making an audience very happy.

I hadn't known of Ms. Jones' work as a singer before this, and that's to my regret. Of course, if her singing could actually match that of Patsy Cline herself, she'd have left town for stardom long ago. But what Ms. Jones achieves is a surprisingly valid and compelling reproduction of Patsy Cline's interpretation: by turns subtle, energetic, contemplative, powerful, and vulnerable, always full of life, and always with a sense of ownership of whatever the song was. She hasn't quite the power at the bottom of her range or the control at the top as the real Pasty Cline had. That's a trivial observation, given how easy it is to forget about it as she channels that unique style and personality with such remarkable success.

Ms. Jones is also a talented actor, at least while she's singing. It would be enough that her physical type is comparable to Patsy Cline's, but in fact, part of what she delivers in the songs is a joy in singing that somehow seems to belong to the character rather than to the actor-singer, and that is a noteworthy acting accomplishment. But she's very poorly served by trite and implausible dialogue (written by producer Donna Perrino), and at least partly as a result of that, she comes off seeming to be less.

Steve Isom has a nice turn as Arthur Godfrey, and Judith MacDonald is entertaining as Minnie Pearl. Thom Crain, as the manager, Owen Bradley, has the burden of the dialogue and narration, and I think he does as well with it as anyone could, but again, it's too hackneyed to be acted well. The six-piece band (Justin Branum on fiddle; Tim Sullivan on piano; John Jump on guitar; Rich Smith on pedal steel; Jeremy Phieffer on bass, and KDHX's own Fred Gumear on percussion) makes the music feel effortless, which means, of course, that a lot of effort probably went into it, or a lot of talent, and the musicians' rapport with Ms. Jones seems very comfortable. The arrangements are credited to Ms. Perrino, though they mostly sound like decent by-ear reproductions of what's heard on the old Patsy Cline recordings. The sound engineering by Dan Kury is flawless. -- Daniel Higgins
Now maybe Horror Show will finally realize how profoundly untalented she is. Then again, who am I kidding -- just look who we're talking about here, a woman less connected to reality than Courtney Love. It'll be someone else's fault. Just watch.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Episode 29: Horror Show the Outlaw

Posted to the St. Louis Theatre Discusson Group this week:

The person who holds the rights to the show contacted me over a month ago and told me to remove the [Sweet Dreams of Patsy] auditions on as they had did not have any legal authority to produce the show at the Ivory Theater. Since the audition was already over I did delete the entry, but I never saw such an angry attorney who represented the estate of Patsy Cline, who apparently wants nothing to do with the Ivory Theater and you know who.
And then there's another post:

This made my laugh so hard! I received a Patsy Cline press release today, and at the top is a quote from the woman who wrote this unauthorized show and is producing it. Amazing how much she loves herself...

Here's the quote --"In this production, the GRAND OLE OPRY meets ST. LOUIS! This wonderful, heartfelt production brings back the TRUE sound and culture of Professional Live Country Music. It's surely one of the best original shows in St. Louis." – Donna Perrino, Producer

The release then calls the show "a profound and enlightening musical." Seriously? Profound?

Oh yeah, and there was this one too, from the person who oversees the theatre reviewers at KDHX radio:

Does anyone know whether this is actually happening or not? I've got a reviewer lined up but calling the phone number on the web site only gets me a "memory full" message from the voice mail and I haven't had any response to my email. The show is still listed at the site, but it would be nice if my critic knew whether or not there was going to be a show to review.

They're due to open their illegal production tomorrow night, and it looks like Horror Show fully intends to, even without permission from the rights holder. Who wants to bet that the owners of the theatre don't even know there is a legal problem...?

It'll be fun to watch this play out...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Monday, January 11, 2010

Episode 28: And Then There Were None...

Quick news from the local theatre Grapevine...

Both the leading actress and the director have apparently dropped out of Sweet Dreams of Patsy.

And I believe there might still be a legal shoe to drop before this is all over. From all reports, Horror Show still does not have the rights to Patsy Cline's song catalog. We'll wait and see...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor