Midnight Company
Now Playing The Company Past Productions films News Contact Us


by Daniel MacIvor
June, 2021
Kranzberg Black Box

As the planning for the 2021 Return To Theatre season started to get almost real, Midnight faced a looming decision for a run it had booked at the Kranzberg Black Box for June (the contract and timing had been set the year before, before the pandemic.)

We figured we pulled off SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL during the lock down and throw away the key time so we could do the same thing in June with another…yes another…one man show. I’d heard of a new Daniel MacIvor piece, LET’S RUN AWAY, that he had been performing. Midnight had done two of his one-person shows before - CUL-DE-SAC and HOUSE - and were big fans of his work. We checked with his Canadian agent (MacIvor is from Canada) about the script, and they were quick to say he would be doing that again, touring and the like. But they were also quick to send me a script of one of his earlier pieces - HERE LIES HENRY.

I was quick to love the script, and the stage was set for a June run. Fortunately Ellie Schwetye likes the script as well, and took over as director. She did her usually stellar job, and managed a crew that handled the simple but specific tech needs of this splendidly.

Audiences started to trickle out, and we had mostly enthusiastic crowds, outperforming in response their numbers.

We were preparing for the same strict COVID procedures we’d performed in November, but just days before we opened, we got the word to do whatever we were comfortable with. I think the audience was comfortable as well, and the new breeze of seeming freedom that ran through town in June helped raise the spirits of this sort of gentle, sort of uplifting show.


‘Here Lies Henry’ Drifts by to Deliver a Gentle, Satisfying Tale
by Tina Farmer
June 22, 2021

The latest one-actor show from The Midnight Company, ‘Here Lies Henry’ by Daniel MacIvor, is a mostly sweet reflection by an aging gay man trying to come to terms with his mortality. Starring Joe Hanrahan and directed by Ellie Schwetye, the pleasant show is strong on memory, and short on history. The rambling, gentle show touches on confused feelings, misunderstandings and awkward interactions, delivered in a kind, conversational patter.

Henry is approaching death, or perhaps he’s already recently passed. He’s a bit vague and purposefully dodgy about his circumstances, though he quickly mentions a potentially problematic dead body in the other room. It’s one of the interesting tidbits of information he sprinkles into his charming banter. But don’t be mistaken; Henry is here with a purpose. His task tonight is to tell us, the assembled audience, something that we don’t already know.

Henry, an everyman’s everyman, but nobody’s fool, is an unassuming, nondescript type. You might not notice him when he first enters a room, but he sees and remembers you. Honest, or at least true to his nature and self, Henry isn’t pretentious. But, he has gained a little wisdom over the years and doesn’t mind sharing. Though not particularly remarkable or notorious, Henry’s has been a full and mostly fulfilling life. He’s stood up for others on multiple occasions and felt his life threatened for doing so more than once. Not flashy or boisterous, Henry, nonetheless, keeps his word to support the right to love, and the pursuit of happiness and a partner of your choosing for all humans.

The character is right in Hanrahan’s wheelhouse -- down-to-earth and chatty, with clothing and a mind that’s a little disheveled, but not offensive. He’s mostly kind, though he’s got a gruff side and feathers that are easily ruffled by certain memories.

The actor and director work well together, mining the story for depth and ensuring everything wraps up with a light, hopeful tone that conveys sincerity. Schwetye does a good job of seeing the story through the emotional arc, reining in tangents to keep the pace moving while still planning necessary pauses. Hanrahan’s Henry is a guy you instantly know, and maybe had a brief conversation with once.

Henry is likeable and he’s got good stories. He eagerly engages directly with the audience from time to time, perhaps to see if we’re still paying attention. Unfortunately, none of his stories stand out with singular distinction, so he doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Henry’s burden is that he’s interesting but not necessarily memorable. This characteristic is also the show’s biggest flaw.

The Midnight Company’s ‘Here Lies Henry,’ continues through June 27, at the Kranzberg Black Box theater. While the show doesn’t introduce any new ideas or push theatrical envelopes, it is an enjoyable reverie that’s funny and not too neat and tidy. The skillfully engaging one-man performance runs just over an hour, which Hanrahan and Schwetye fill with all the important details. Luckily, they leave some questions for the viewer to settle. Including whether or not Henry fulfills his all-important purpose for addressing us tonight. After all, that’s a question only the audience can answer.

Ladue News

The Midnight Company's Founder Shows Complexity of Toying With Truth in ‘Here Lies Henry’
by Mark Bretz
June 18, 2021

Story: Henry Tom Gallery has an unusual name. He also has an unusual way of bantering with his audience. He paces back and forth, jabbering about whatever pops into his mind. He mentions that he’s prone to lying, though, so let the buyer beware.

Highlights: The Midnight Company, which had a pandemic-protocol production last fall at The Kranzberg, returns to open its 2021 season with this one-man, one-act work by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor. Midnight Company founder and artistic director Joe Hanrahan shows his mastery of one-character plays with a savvy reading of the peculiar Henry.

Henry can’t mention his father without coughing or his mother without chuckling. Both are learned responses emanating from his childhood, one would suspect. Here and there Henry drops references to his own personal background, his sexual preferences or his relationship with his mother, who was a nurse.

Or was she? Maybe she was a waitress? Or not. As for his father, it sounds like Henry’s dad was a strict disciplinarian and rather aloof and distant toward his son. If we are to believe Henry, that is.

Henry is an amiable enough chap, and he likes to weave a good yarn. He does almost all of the talking, so you’re only required to be a good listener. As to what is true and what is a lie, well, that’s up to both Henry and his audience. Who really knows?

Other Info: The Kranzberg has eased pandemic conditions in its Black Box Theater, although mask-wearing and maintaining social distance remain prudent considerations.

Tony Anselmo’s lighting design accentuates times when Henry segues into seemingly serious dialogue with a spotlight effect, even as Hanrahan’s Henry pulls back the football while the audience attempts to kick it through some heart-tugging goalposts.

With Ellie Schwetye’s carefully pinpoint direction, the production cleanly glides from one rumination by Henry to some other fleeting observation. It’s all part of the ruse.

Kevin Bowman’s production design is the leanest of creations, with only a chair and a vast expanse of an otherwise bare stage for Hanrahan to traverse as Henry chats it up with the audience. Maybe he tells a joke, but then forgets the punch line. Or perhaps he has a poignant memory to share, if indeed what he’s saying is true. Only Henry knows and he’s not giving anything away without a wink and a nod.

Hanrahan is a master storyteller, so sinking himself into Henry’s evasive character is familiar territory of legerdemain, verbal or otherwise. The title for Here Lies Henry has intentional double meaning, and so it’s up each patron to determine who’s who and what’s what. Henry wouldn’t have it any other way.

St Louis Post-Dispatch Interview

One-man show 'Here Lies Henry' opens Midnight Company season
Calvin Wilson
June 10, 2021

The Midnight Company, one of the most consistently adventurous local theater ensembles, has launched its 2021 season with the one-person show “Here Lies Henry,” starring artistic director Joe Hanrahan, written by Daniel MacIvor and directed by Ellie Schwetye. Presented at the Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center, the play runs through June 27. The company made its return to the stage during the pandemic with an October production of “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll,” a one-person show in which Hanrahan also starred at the Kranzberg.

Recently, Hanrahan spoke with Go! Magazine about “Here Lies Henry” and his ongoing interest in solo performance. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Midnight Company is largely known for one-person shows such as “Here Lies Henry.” When putting together a season, is your goal to maintain a balance between that kind of production and those requiring several actors?

Yes. I never purposely look for one-person shows unless the situation kind of demands it, or one of those scripts just pops out. I’ve been lucky in finding good one-person scripts. It’s a very convenient way to put a show together when your schedule is kind of tight. I’m always hoping to do collaborative work with multiple actors, but sometimes you run into a situation where one person is the right way to go.

What goes into deciding which one-person shows to produce?:

I have followed some of the playwrights who write them, such as Eric Bogosian, Conor McPherson and Will Eno. And now this show, this Daniel MacIvor script, that’s the third script of his that I’m doing.

How did MacIvor come to your attention?

A lot of the time, I will read a review from a major city in a major paper. My eyes light up when I see that a script for a one-person show is well-reviewed, and it seems to be something that I could possibly go after.

You’ve previously starred in MacIvor’s “Cul-De-Sac” and “House.” What is it that you like about his work?

It’s very intelligent. It’s full of surprises. Both “House” and “Here Lies Henry” are very abstract and imaginative, with very different, innovative structures. But “Here Lies Henry” has a lot more heart and soul to it. It packs a powerful punch as the show goes on.

And the “lies” in the title actually refers to not telling the truth?

Exactly. And it’s timely. We’ve fought for the last four years about lies in politics, and I think that’s invaded our society on all sides of the spectrum. Henry is a liar, and he kind of explains how he got that way. Hopefully, by the end of the play, you understand where he’s coming from.

What is the appeal of the one-person show for you?

It’s a challenge. I love two things about theater: a good story and a challenge. I want to go: “Can I pull this off? Can I do this?” And the one-person shows, just by their very nature, have that in the middle of them. They’re very challenging.

St Louis Eat and Drinks

The Midnight Company's Founder Shows Complexity of Toying With Truth in ‘Here Lies Henry’
June 12, 2021

Small-house theater has returned, too. Joe Hanrahan’s The Midnight Company (which even did a show in November) is working at the Kranzberg Black Box, with Here Lies Henry.

As usual with The Midnight Company, and Hanrahan in particular, it’s a quirky work. It’s a solo piece, sometimes referred to as a one-hander from playwright Daniel MacIvor. Hanrahan is Henry, a guy who tells his own story. Or does he? Even early on, there are discrepancies. Things bounce around, Henry is uneasy, explaining it away by saying he’s going cold turkey from cigarettes, but there’s clearly more than that. For people unused to this kind of story, it’s disconcerting, but bear with things and watch Hanrahan work. It’s the hands, the pacing around, the pauses as Henry – and it’s the character, not the actor – reaches for phrases. Irresistibly, we’re drawn into figuring out just what’s going on. Joe Hanrahan is a dab hand at this sort of thing, so sit back and let it happen.

There really is almost no set to speak of, but there’s some fine lighting work from Tony Anselmo. Production design is from Kevin Bowman Ellie Schwettye, who worked with Midnight for A Model for Matisse, among other shows, directs.

About 65 minutes, no intermission and theater, of course, with very limited capacity. It’s a fine way to get your feet wet, so to speak, with small indoor theater.

St Louis Post-Dispatch

The Midnight Company's Founder Shows Complexity of Toying With Truth in ‘Here Lies Henry’
by Calvin Wilson
June 14, 2021

In playwright Daniel MacIvor’s “Here Lies Henry,” the enigmatic but entertaining Midnight Company production running through June 27 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, Joe Hanrahan delivers a performance that’s at once disturbingly weird and disarmingly charismatic.

Hanrahan plays Henry, an unapologetic liar, mesmerizing storyteller and the only character onstage for the duration of the show, which is directed by Ellie Schwetye and presented without an intermission. Yet he’s such a compelling figure that it would be a shame if he had to compete with anyone else for the spotlight.

That’s because Henry is a big thinker, who’s only too eager to share his thoughts regarding life and what it all means. Such as: How well do the details of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden hold up to close scrutiny?

As he imparts his wisdom, Henry frequently references the song “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Not that he’s necessarily an optimist, but he’s definitely something of a showman. So at the end of the day, does it really matter whether he’s being ironic? Or if anything he says amounts to more than a provocation?

Hanrahan is the artistic director for the Midnight Company and has made a specialty of performing one-person plays. It’s an art form that suits him. Something about his stage presence persuades an audience that even when the script takes a turn for the cryptic, it’s worth hanging on his every word just to experience the spin he’ll put on it.

Schwetye maintains an intriguing balance between humor and introspection, and the contributions of lighting designer Tony Anselmo and production designer Kevin Bowman enhance the freewheeling yet slightly ominous mood.

“Here Lies Henry” has all the charm of a stranger you never expected to meet at a party but who offers some startling insight that changes the way you look at the world — if only for an evening.

Snoop's Theatre Thoughts

The Midnight Company's Founder Shows Complexity of Toying With Truth in ‘Here Lies Henry’
by Michelle Kenyon "Snoop"
June 12, 2021

Here Lies Henry is a show that’s perfect for Joe Hanrahan. Hanrahan’s Midnight Company has become known for his one-man shows (although that’s not all they do), and I can’t think of a better vehicle for Hanrahan’s talent than this one. It’s an ideal showcase, also featuring the talents of a strong technical crew and consistently excellent director.

This is kind of an odd show, but that’s par for this course for The Midnight Company, as well. When we first see Henry (Hanrahan), he’s obviously nervous, and it’s not obvious why he is there, shifting back and forth between different approaches to speaking to the audience, from telling personal stories to corny jokes, to singing a little bit of a song and, occasionally, dancing. For a while, the point of this presentation isn’t clear, and many of Henry’s comments seem random, but as the show continues, everything begins to fall more into place, as references return and return, eventually revealing their meaning, and the purpose for Henry’s speech is gradually revealed, leading to an abrupt but poignant conclusion.

The overall effect here is that the audience gets to know Henry little by little as he catalogs his history of being a great liar, which is one reason for the show’s punny title. In the midst of these lies, though, there is truth, as Henry reveals realities concerning his background, relationship with his parents, his experiences of love and personal identity, and more. There is also much truth in Hanrahan’s relatable performance. Hanrahan, as usual, is excellent, and this show gives him an ideal opportunity to display a wide range of emotions, as well as philosophizing about the meaning of life–in general, and specifically for his character.

The staging and technical aspects here are also superb, and deceptively simple, as the show is essentially Hanrahan on a mostly empty stage. Still, even though it’s simple, there’s a lot going on, as Tony Anselmo’s lighting and Kevin Bowman’s production design lend a lot of atmosphere to the story, and the overall effect is a testament to the proficiency of these artists and director Ellie Schwetye in letting Hanrahan shine as Henry tells his fascinating tale and Hanrahan embodies every moment with substance, humor, and drama.

It’s been a welcome return to theatre for me and theatre fans around St. Louis, with a variety of shows currently onstage. Here Lies Henry may seem like one of the “smaller” offerings, although it features a big performance and much to provoke thought and reflection. It’s another excellent and intriguing work from Hanrahan and The Midnight Company.

Pop Life

Take Ten: Ellie Schwetye Returns To Directing ‘Here Lies Henry’
by Lynn Venhouse
June 11, 2021

As an ever-busy presence in the St. Louis theater community, Ellie Schwetye has created a diverse body of work — acting, directing, producing and sound design for a myriad of companies. While she has been recognized for her individual achievements with multiple St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, she thrives on collaboration.

But her name associated with a project means that there will be a high bar for quality and a sharp attention to detail, from selecting a soundtrack to a Jane Austen homage, “First Impressions,” for SATE; to guiding Will Bonfiglio to a third Circle Award for Best Actor in a Comedy in “Fully Committed” at the New Jewish Theatre; to bringing haughty Mrs. White to life in SATE’s “Classic Mystery Game” play; and portraying Emily Post, one of the hostesses in ERA’s “Trash MacBeth.”

She is the co-producer of SATE and has directed and/or worked with Equally Represented Arts (ERA), YoungLiars, West End Players Guild, New Jewish Theatre, Prison Performing Arts, The Tennesee Williams Festival St. Louis, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Black Rep, R-S Theatrics, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, The Midnight Company, Stray Dog Theatre, Mustard Seed Theatre and others.

Like many other artists, Ellie was eager to return to live theater when it was safe to do so — either on stage or behind the scenes. And now, it’s happening — she’s directing the one-man show “Here Lies Henry” starring frequent collaborator Joe Hanrahan, whose Midnight Company is producing.

It runs Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. June 10 – 27, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. June 27, at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s black box theatre.

Most COVID restrictions have now lifted, so with larger capacity audiences allowed, tickets are now available at the door. Midnight was deemed MissouriArtSafe by the Missouri Arts Council, received permission from the City of St. Louis for the production, and followed strict safety protocols.

Written by Daniel MacIvor, Henry is a man on a mission to tell you something you don’t already know. It is an idyllic — sort of — miserable — sort of — storybook — sort of — nightmarish — sort of — remarkable — sort of — regular show.

Ellie said she was immediately drawn to the material.

“Initially, what I liked about “Here Lies Henry” was the opportunity to collaborate with Joe Hanrahan again. I’ve joked that Joe could hand me the phone book and I’d direct it, if it meant working with him,” she said..

“But, of course, the material of the play itself is a draw. The character of Henry is so quirky, he’s such an innocent — but trying desperately not to appear so. It’s a lovely, weird, off-beat meditation on love, life, and death. There’s a Virginia Woolf-like stream-of-consciousness quality to the text, as well as moments that have me thinking about David Lynch and Andrew Wyeth,” she said.

Ellie and Joe have collaborated multiple times. “Working with Joe is always a treat. ‘Henry’ is, I think, the sixth project on which we have worked together. Joe finds and writes amazing scripts – all of which are real studies in personality,” she said.

” As both an actor-producer and a director Joe is very laid back. He comes into every project with really clear ideas, and a great sense of play and collaboration. We experiment and laugh a lot during rehearsals. Joe has a great affinity for incorporating rock and pop music into his shows, as I do. I appreciate that he lets me sound design the shows I direct, which he knows I love doing.”

Since the pandemic forced live theater to shut down in March 2020, she said she kept her theater itch scratched with some outdoor theater, video projects and “a few, now ubiquitous, Zoom plays.”

How does it feel to be ‘back in the saddle’ again?

“It’s fantastic! This is my first in-person indoor production since March 2020. It’s pretty cool to be doing this play. Directing a one-man show was the best choice to ease back into the process. The first rehearsal was both terrifying and exhilarating,” she said.

Now she is returning to produce and sound design the play “Top Girls” with SATE — Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble,

“It’s a play we had programmed and cast since before the pandemic. Both my producing partner, Rachel Tibbetts, who is directing the play, and I really love the story, the script, and non-linear storytelling of Caryl Churchill’s text and are thrilled we finally get to bring it back to St. Louis,” she said.

And while filling up her plate after such an absence is tempting, she has reflected upon the next steps after the quarantine break.

“As for easing back into commitments, I think the pandemic taught me that being busy isn’t a virtue. I love the many facets of my work in the theatre, but I don’t need to do eleven projects a year anymore. Having said that, I am quite excited for some projects this fall including “Top Girls” with SATE, directing “The Miracle Worker” at Clayton High School, and another project with Midnight later in December,” she said.

Schwetye, 39, was born and raised in St. Louis. During the down time, she explored activities that she had an interest in, but hadn’t given herself the time to dive in — and the opportunity was much appreciated.

“Unsurprisingly, much of it has been outdoors, since that’s been the safest way to socialize. I’ve been gardening a bit. The brilliant Nicole Angeli has been my hiking guru, and it’s been lovely to explore gorgeous conservation areas in eastern Missouri and central Illinois. Last summer, I supported my sister as her ground crew while she paddled the Missouri river — 340 miles! — from Kansas City to St. Charles. Now that was the ultimate stage management gig. Being on the river for four days and the fact that our team was representing the Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper organization opened my eyes to how precious and critical the Missouri river system is to our region,” she said.

“I’ve also gotten to spend a lot of time at my family’s property in Labadie, Mo., which we affectionately and unoriginally call the Farm. We completed building a house that was inspired by a one-room schoolhouse that once sat on the property. I’ve been working with my dad for the past year on much of the finish carpentry in the house, including framing and hanging doors and cutting and installing window trim and baseboards from hemlock,” she said.

Read full article

Pop Life

Quirky ‘Here Lies Henry’ May Tell You Something You Don't Know
by Lynn Venhouse
June 14, 2021

Oh the irony. Henry, who is an off-kilter sort, likes to sing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” when his life is anything but – or at least appears that way. That sets the tone for “Here Lies Henry,” a kooky one-man show that opened by The Midnight Company at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s blackbox theatre last weekend.

Part jester, part blowhard, Henry’s personality is central to his act, a freeform stream of conscience where he wonders aloud why there are yellow fire trucks and repeats his schtick with some twists. He wants to tell you something that you don’t already know. He can rant but he’d rather get a laugh. Did he really say that? Did he commit any of the crimes he takes credit for?

Henry is an entertainer created by the fertile mind of quirky Daniel MacIvor, a Canadian playwright, actor and screenwriter. MacIvor specializes in solo pieces, just like Joe Hanrahan, a St. Louis theater veteran, who acts, directs, writes and produces. He adds the peculiar and curious Henry to his repertoire of uncommon characters.

Hanrahan likes choosing works that aren’t part of the mainstream, and as The Midnight Company’s latest one-man show, the first since the coronavirus public health restrictions lifted, it’s a good fit.

Hanrahan has previously performed MacIvor’s other works, “Cul-de-Sac” and “House,” and understands the rhythm the playwright attains in this 1995 work.

As he tackles love and death, Hanrahan displays Henry’s awkwardness, his impish penchant for odd jokes and puns, and builds more confidence as he weaves tall tales. Henry might be “not quite right,” but will we know?

Director Ellie Schwetye, who has worked with Hanrahan multiple times, is also familiar with the off-center and the screwball. There is an ease to the presentation, maintaining a mood where you don’t quite know what’s happening or where it will go, but you’re willing to take the ride.

That uncertainty is the chief tone throughout – as Henry, who admits he lies, embellishes stories about his parents and life. Is he serious? Is this a TED talk? Or is this a comedy club’s open-mic night? It has that feel of a guy telling big whoppers at a bar – but you can’t ignore him here as he is compelled to get on your good side.

As always, Hanrahan is entertaining in his unconventional, idiosyncratic way. “Here Lies Henry” doesn’t necessarily answer the Big Questions, but you’ll have fun with the asking.

Technically, the show flows smoothly, with Tony Anselmo’s lighting design and Kevin Bowman’s production design. Anselmo designed lighting for Midnight Company’s past works, “Popcorn Falls” and “A Model for Matisse.”


Alone again? Naturally
by Judy Newmark
June 14, 2021

The title, and sole, character in "Here Lies Henry" is a liar. He says so over and over. So what are we to make of his insistence on telling us something we don't already know? Why should we believe him?

Maybe we shouldn't. We're entitled to our doubts about Henry, the latest in actor Joe Hanrahan's parade of offbeat characters who hold the stage all by themselves.

After all, Henry harbors plenty of doubts of his own, from the story of Genesis to the fate of his roommate (lover?).

Written by Daniel MacIvor and directed for The Midnight Company (which Hanrahan founded) by Ellie Schwetye, "Here Lies Henry" is a curious piece of work, simultaneously elliptical and engrossing. Henry addresses questions large and small, from the meaning of life to the facts of his own life. He coughs when he mentions his father, chuckles when he mentions his mother. Sometimes he breaks into a little dance. Sometimes he speaks directly to members of the audience.

What he does not do is define his relationship to us. Why is he there with us at all? That's just one more provocative twist in this one-act drama, which might well be unbearable in other hands.

But Hanrahan, local champion of the one-man play, delivers a fascinating character whom we would be fools to trust. Maybe that's more generally true than we care to acknowledge.

Home Now Playing The Company Past Productions News Contact Us

Revised: October, 2007
Copyright © The Midnight Company