Truly sublime for St. Louisan

Vicki Bennington – The Telegraph, November 24th, 2015

‘Oogie Boogie’ voice Ken Page connects stories through dance

St. Louis native Ken Page is set to premier his original production of “Sublime Intimacy” in December at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

Page, a singer, actor, playwright and director is probably best known as the voice of the evil Oogie Boogie in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and for his role as Old Deuteronomy in the original Broadway and video production of “Cats.” He also played the role in a Muny production of the musical.

Page said he is fortunate to enjoy all of the endeavors he’s been involved with through the years, but said there is something special about filling the dual role of playwright and director on a production that will debut in his hometown.

The journey toward what became “Sublime Intimacy” began when Page bought a painting of a dancer at an antique store in 2005.

“I bought it, and later discovered that a couple of college professors I know also knew the artist,” Page said. “And there were actually two matching paintings.

“It was a real coincidence, and it made me start to think about the relationships that I, and other people I knew, had with dancers,” he said.

Some of those relationships were romantic, others — friendships or professional.

“And yes, I have based characters on people I know, but it is definitely fictionalized,” he said. “It’s fiction woven in with real people. And the cast is fantastic. We have some of the best actors in the St. Louis area.”

“Sublime Intimacy’s” dancer is played by professional New York dancer Alfredo Solivan, whom Page said he feels very lucky to have involved in the play.

“The characters are mesmerized by the dancer and their involvement with him, and Alfredo projects that interest to the audience as well,” Page said. “Beyond the superb dancing, we needed someone who is also interesting as a person — which he is.”

Other cast members include Bethany Barr as Katharine Reilly; J. Samuel Davis as Tim Pace; John Flack as Don Taylor; Michael Cassidy Flynn as Gene Donovan; and Reginald Pierre as Bill Ross.

Presented by Max and Louie Productions, “Sublime Intimacy” draws the audience into the lives of five friends (one is based on the writer) — an ex-Hollywood actor, a psychology professor, a painter, an actress and a Broadway musical performer whose lives were enchanted, elevated, touched and changed by their love of a dancer and his dance.

The stories are told in the form of a play with dance — but it’s not a musical. St. Louis musician Henry Palkes has composed an original suite of music that underscores the play.

Each section (or each character’s story) is a little different, and the dancer portrays each character’s “dancer,” with various styles of dance.

Page’s array of experience on both sides of the stage gives him insight of course, into being directed and directing.

“I hope to keep the actors calm and feeling at ease, and it becomes a real joy to see them inhabit the characters,” he said.

While the world premiere of “Sublime Intimacy” is very exciting, Page said it also is terrifying.

“It’s always a little stressful having your work put out in front of an audience,” he said. “But I definitely wanted the premier to be in St. Louis, where the play is set for the most part.”

Where it will go from here?

Time will tell, Page said.

“I would love to see it in Chicago, Los Angeles — dare I say, New York — anyplace that is interested in the subject matter,” he said.

Set design is by Dunsi Dai; costume design by Teresa Doggett; props design by Claudia Horn; lighting by Patrick Huber; choreography by David Marchant and Kameron Saunders; and sound design by Robin Weatherall. The visual artist is Marjorie Williamson, and Mary Jane Probst is the stage manager.

Solivan has worked with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and for companies such as Emery LeCrone and Dancers, Intermezzo Dance Company, and Alison Cook Beatty Dance.

Page also conceived, wrote and directed the four-time St. Louis Critics Award-nominated “Café Chanson” for Upstream Theater. Nominations included Best New Play and Best Director. And, he also wrote the book for his one-man autobiographical stage show, “Page By Page.”

“Sublime Intimacy” will be presented weekends in December starting Dec. 4 through Dec. 6; Dec. 10 through Dec. 13 and Dec. 17 through Dec. 20. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. for Sunday performances at the Kranzberg Arts Center (Black Box Theatre) at 501 N. Grand Ave. in St. Louis. Tickets cost $40; $35 for seniors and students with a valid ID. For information or to purchase tickets, call (800) 838-3006 or visit