Monkey Business | A Chat with Donna Northcott

theat_monkey_sm.jpgWhat Northcott calls “The Monkey Treatment” is given to well-known, usually highly dramatic (or melodramatic) pieces.







theat_monkey.jpgFor over a decade, Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre, St. Louis Shakespeare’s crazy little sibling, has been entertaining audiences of all ages with parodies of iconic movies. On April 24, they will unveil The One-Hour Lord of the Rings Trilogy. That’s all three films. In one hour. Really.

Donna Northcott, g\founder of both St. Louis Shakespeare and Magic Smoking Monkey, will direct from a script by John Wolders and Liz Henning. Henning is also in charge of the costumes for the sizeable cast. The running time may be short, but a large group of Monkey regulars and some new folks will be trying to manage destroying the ring and restoring the king in record time. I interviewed Northcott for this article, and she suggested that theater-goers might want to come in costume. There could be prizes involved, “My Precioussss.”

What Northcott calls “The Monkey Treatment” is given to well-known, usually highly dramatic (or melodramatic) pieces. A few examples from the past: KISS and Phantom of the Opera have been sent up (KISS Meets Phantom of the Park), along with such films as Plan Nine From Outer Space, Reefer Madness, Glen or Glenda, The Ten Commandments…in fact, a whole evening from Charlton Heston’s oeuvre provided fodder for another show. This isn’t even the Monkey’s first one-hour trilogy; that honor belongs to Star Wars.

Northcott said she was inspired by seeing these kinds of shows in storefront theaters in Chicago and wondered if their style of humor would play in St. Louis. It does. She believes hers is still the only local company doing this kind of parody, which is outrageous and generally hilarious, but also affectionate. Like your mom always told you, people don’t make fun of you if they don’t like you. That, of course, is a lie. But it’s true that being sent up by this crew is genuine Monkey love.

Magic Smoking Monkey’s Lord of the Rings is an evening for the whole family. Ticket prices are a fraction of what you have to pay at the big venues. MetroLink is less than a block away, and the whole Delmar Loop is right outside the door for those who want to make a night of it.

This is a landmark year for St. Louis Shakespeare, too. It is the 25th anniversary season, and the lineup of shows is something special. It includes The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Treasure Island (which will be performed at the History Museum). For more information, visit

Plan to get your tickets for The One-Hour Lord of the Rings Trilogy in advance. An extra weekend has already been added because demand is always high, and the seating is limited. Two shows (8 and 10:30 p.m.) will be performed on Friday and Saturday evenings April 24 – May 9 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. For tickets, call MetroTix, 314-534-1111 or visit online at If available, tickets can also be purchased at the box office one hour before each show. Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for students 18 and under.

So don your robes or rags and scamper down to the RAC on your big hairy feet to enjoy the “Monkeying around.” You’ll have a great time whether Middle Earth is your second home or if you’re just casually acquainted with Hobbits, and Elves and Orcs, oh my. | Andrea Braun

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