Monday, December 9, 2013

StL Repertory Theatre Ends Year with a Thriller

Mousetrap Mystery at The Rep

by Dianne Beckwith

With a blizzard rapidly approaching, this legendary mystery opens with a radio announcement that a murder has occurred in London. Scotland Yard has reason to believe the killer has likely absconded to the English countryside. In Monkswell Manor, a large home-turned-country inn, Mollie and Giles Ralston are nervously awaiting the arrival of their very first overnight guests. This setting frames St. Louis Repertory Theatre’s final production of 2013, “The Mousetrap” by Agatha Christie. Paul Mason Barnes directs this classic play which runs until December 29.

The radio announcer is heard once again. This time, he gives a rather generic description of the killer on the loose, said to be wearing a dark overcoat, light-colored scarf, and a soft felt hat. As the wind howls outside, one by one, the guests begin to arrive.  Each is bundled up against the blustery late afternoon weather. The guests range from overly fussy to downright persnickety, but as they brush snow off their coats and rush toward the hearth to warm hands and backsides, it is hard to miss what they have in common: all have dark overcoats, light-colored scarves, and soft felt hats.

Shortly after an unexpected guest checks in, the blizzard is full-on and it becomes apparent to all present that no one will be able to travel on for quite some time. The hosts and their guests do their best to keep calm and carry on, but when a police detective arrives, the ambiance takes a turn.  The detective lets everyone know Scotland Yard has deduced that the murder suspect may target them soon. Now, the Ralstons and their visitors have to wonder whether there is a killer amongst them, and if so, who?

As the plot thickens, the suspense builds, and a mystery unfolds. There is a surprising twist at the end of the play. Perhaps that explains why this delicious drama, now in its 61st year, is the longest-running show in theatre history! For more information go to the Rep’s website at

Nesser-Chu Wins Prestigious Award For 2013

By Travonte Harris

2013 was an important year for Florissant Valley's Professor Janice Nesser- Chu, whose art has been exhibited nationally and internationally for the past 20 years.  Nesser-Chu has been awarded the prestigious 2013 President’s Arts and Activism award.  It’s a confirmation of talents for a woman like Nesser-Chu who is constantly working, whether she is serving as the chair of Florissant Valley’s arts program or as the the campaign director of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Women's Caucus for the Arts - or even teaching here at STLCC-FV.  

Nesser-Chu attended a small four-year Catholic college in rural Indiana called St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. It was here that Nesser-Chu published some of her poetry and became editor of the newspaper. She participated in social and political action, from the Equal Rights Amendment to anti-nuclear movements. 

Nesser- Chu believes that college had a lot to do with her success.  She explains that with class sizes small and expectations high, “you never came to class unprepared.”  Nesser-Chu further explains that she learned from Jesus and the sisters of Providence to be strong, and that the lessons taught during college have led to her success.  

She believes that community work and mentorship of young women, both on a local and national level,  have helped prepare her for her current situation. Nesser-Chu takes great pride in teaching the arts, saying that she does “not measure accomplishment by the big moments, but by the small ones.” 

Nesser-Chu does take some pride in things like the New Faculty of the Year Award, or the Emerson Award, but she firmly believes that seeing her students succeed is her greatest accomplishment in teaching of the arts. This arts professor seeks to use her teaching as a vehicle to open doors for her students and to allow them to see art and the world as a whole in a different light. In her spare time, Nesser-Chu likes to make art or work in her three-acre garden. She also likes to mentor and teach as well as be active in planning art events and activities.  

Nesser Chu appreciates awards, but she does not take any obvious pride in them. What drives her is the difference she makes in the world through her art, teaching, and activism - and that is what makes her feel accomplished.