Sunday, June 25, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of June 26, 2017

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The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Death of a Blackheart through July 29. "Welcome aboard the largest, (and safest), cruise liner ever to sail the low seas. That's right. Welcome aboard the Gigantic! But wait! What do I hear? "Argggghhhhhhh!" Avast ye mateys and get yer gizzard ready to be robbed by the most famous pirate ever to pillage a maiden! Of course, we're talkin' Captain Jack Blackheart! He's the pirate that has cheated more people, emptied more pockets and pillaged more ladies than any politician. Gee. I hope no one kills him off. You'll meet lots of fun characters at this show. In fact audience members will get to play lots of fun characters in this show because it's "chock full" of "Fair Maidens", "Lost Boys", "Rival Pirates", and more. One thing is for sure. If you've ever wanted to stand up and shout out Arggggghhhh!...then "Death of a Blackheart" is the show for you!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

St. Louis Public Radio presents the Grand Center Theatre Crawl on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m, June 30 and July 1, at various locations in the Grand Center Arts District. Join St. Louis Public Radio for the finest offerings of the bustling St. Louis theatre scene at the Grand Center Theatre Crawl. Rotate through venues in Grand Center to get free access to 24 local theatre groups in short performances." Featured theatre companies include Gateway Opera, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, R-S Theatrics, The Midnight Company, and West End Players Guild. For more information: www.stlpublicradio.org

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Photo: Peter Wochniak
Stages St. Louis presents the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through July 2. "One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel's favorite son." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.com

JPEK CreativeWorks Theatre presents Jerome Davis and Chuck Flowers in A Legends Review: Marvin Gaye on Sunday, July 2, at 3 and 6 p.m. The performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: kranzbergartscenter.org.

The Little MermaidPhoto: Phil Hamer
The Muny presents the Disney's The Little Mermaid through the 29th. "Go "under the sea" in Disney's classic musical fantasy The Little Mermaid. One of the most popular animated films in history is now a splendid and magical Broadway musical. Headstrong Princess Ariel dreams of a life on land far from her ocean home, and she's willing to risk her Father's love and wrath to find it. Featuring Academy-Award winning hits like "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl," this spectacular Muny production will leave your entire family happy as a clam." Performances take place on the Muny's outdoor stage in Forest Park. For more information: muny.org.

The Looking Glass Playhouse presents the Disney's Peter Pan Jr. Thursday through Sunday, June 29 - July 2. " Based on the Disney film and J.M. Barrie's enchanting play, Disney's Peter Pan JR. is a modern version of the timeless tale about a boy who wouldn't grow up… with no flying required! The score includes new arrangements of classic Disney songs and a story featuring one rousing adventure after another.” Performances take place at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. For more information, visit www.lookingglassplayhouse.com.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Phantom of the Grand Old Opry through July 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Seussical the Musical
Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences presents Seussical the Musical through July 2nd. "Let your imagination run wild in this magical, musical extravaganza as you join the Cat in the Hat and enter the fantastical world of Doctor Seuss. SEUSSICAL lovingly brings to life your favorite Seussian characters including Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Maizie La Bird, and the little boy with a big imagination - Jojo, who whisk you away from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos. Based on the internationally beloved children's books "Horton Hears A Who" and "Horton Hatches An Egg", SEUSSICAL boasts a triumphant score from Tony-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and RAGTIME fame. Celebrate the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community in this not-to-be-missed musical treat for the young and young of heart!" Performances take place at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents Shakespeare's The Tempest, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through July 2. Performances take place in the Dunham Hall Theater on the campus in Edwardsville, IL. For more information, call 618-650-2774 or visit siue.edu.

JPEK CreativeWorks Theatre presents Topdog/Underdog Thursday and Friday at 8 and Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., June 29 - July 1. “Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks, is a play about two African American brothers struggling to make ends meet. Abandoned by their parents when they were teenagers, Lincoln and Booth, now in their thirties, were forced to learn to survive relying only on themselves. Lincoln, nicknamed Link, supported himself for many years of his life by hustling people at three card monte. However, after one hustle turns sour and his partner is killed, Lincoln swears off hustling and vows to earn an honest living. His wife Cookie kicks him out of their home, and Lincoln moves in with his younger brother Booth in his small, barely furnished, single room apartment. Lincoln contributes to the rent by working as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator at a local arcade, where patrons pay to re-enact Lincoln's assassination, shooting him in the back of the head with a cap gun.” The performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Time isn't the only thing that flies in Circus Flora's new show

Adam Kuchler
Photo: Steve Truesdell
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Looking for some good family friendly fun this weekend? Let me call your attention to Circus Flora's new show Time Flies.

You've got the Flying Wallendas, comic juggler Adam Kuchler (now in his third season as the principal clown), the tumbling and acrobatics of our own St. Louis Arches (choreographed by our own Jessica Henthoff), and more great acts than you can shake a stick at-if that's your idea of a good time. There's even a magician performing a pretty impressive "cups and balls" routine outside before the show. What more could you ask for?

Happily, there is more. Much more. You get Sidney "Iking" Bateman, a graduate of the St. Louis Arches, now on his own with an impressive pole-climbing acrobatic act. And, high above your heads, the Poema Family and Friends defy gravity and execute triple somersaults on the flying trapeze. The Poemas are pretty entertaining on the ground as well, with a Risley Act in which the younger (and lighter) members of the family flip and fly atop their father's feet.

The St. Louis Arches
Photo: Steve Truesdell
Kyle Driggs juggles an impressive variety of objects from rings to umbrellas and, as if that weren't enough, dances elegantly with the graceful Andrea Murillo in a routine that echoes Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Speaking of graceful, Heidi Herriott and her trained horses execute a fluid equestrian ballet. And Sasha Harrington displays a remarkable combination of strength and agility as she levitates around the ring using aerial straps.

As always, Theatre Director Cecil MacKinnon (a.k.a. Yo-Yo the Clown) narrates the story, which involves Mr. Kuchler going back and forth in time in an attempt to open a magic rainmaking box. That provides just enough of a plot line to link the different acts without bogging everything down with narrative details.

Let's face it, summer isn't our best season here in St. Louis. What with the heat, humidity, bugs, storms, and endless road construction, even we natives wouldn't be surprised to see Virgil leading Dante on a sightseeing tour. But Circus Flora is one harbinger of the season everyone can look forward to. It's a little over two hours (including intermission) music, comedy, and great circus acts. No seat is more than 42 feet away from the ring, it's fun for the whole family, and the prices are even reasonable. Performances continue through Sunday the 25th at the big top tent next to Powell Hall in Grand Center.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of June 23, 2017

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

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My hit list was on vacation while my wife and I were tooling around Italy.  Now that it's back, I realize that there is so much great theatre, opera, and cabaret in town this week that I hardly have space to list it all. Here is my very personal list, based entirely on what I've already seen or (in the case of the cabaret shows) on my experience with the performers. Your mileage may vary.

Amy Friedl Stoner
Mariposa Artists presents Amy Friedl Stoner in Dreamchaser on Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m. "Dreamchaser" is a look at life -with the love of music leading the way- through the songs of Billy Joel, Cole Porter, Jason Robert Brown and more." The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

My take: Amy is the Real Deal—a pro who can deliver the goods. The fact that cabaret legend Lina Koutrakos is her director doesn't hurt.


The Grapes of Wrath
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie, based on the John Steinbeck novel, through June 25. "When the Dust Bowl sweeps across Oklahoma, the Joad family sets out for a new life in California. But the promised land isn't all it seems. In the face of countless obstacles, can the American dream survive? Both heartbreaking and uplifting, this acclaimed opera vividly captures all the beauty of John Steinbeck's best-selling novel." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

My take: As I write in my review, this is a searing indictment of the cruel and exploitative treatment of the so-called "Okies"-subsistence farmers driven into poverty by the Depression and the Dust Bowl and driven from their homes by rapacious banks. Sadly, that indictment is still relevant as politicians continue their war on the poor.


Madame Butterfly
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Puccini's Madame Butterfly through June 24. "A Japanese geisha. An American soldier. Their attraction is immediate, but their love story can't last. When their union results in a child, Cio-Cio-San is forced to do whatever it takes to protect her son's future. Set to breathtaking music, this timeless opera pays powerful, wrenching tribute to a mother's love." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

My take: As I note in my review, this production is so good that it allowed me to forget, for nearly all of its two-and-one-half hour length, why I dislike this opera in the first place. Artistically and technically, this is such a superb piece of work that even an old Butterfly curmudgeon like yours truly got swept up in the tragedy.


Mariposa Artists presents Amy Basta in Marilyn, Uncovered on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m. "Share an evening with Singer/Performer Amy Basta as she uncovers the iconic Marilyn Monroe in this original and captivating look at one of the greatest legends of the 20th Century. Through a theatrical mix of songs, join Amy and pianist/arranger extraordinaire Rick Jensen on a compassionate journey, beginning with the life of Norma Jeane to the final days of Marilyn. Judged and misunderstood by many but loved by all, both personas ultimately came up victorious, yet not without great personal cost." Rick Jensen is pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Lina Koutrakos. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

My take: Because I still haven't mastered being in more than one place at the same time, I'm going to miss this. But what's not to like about a show celebrating the remarkable Ms. Monroe, I ask you?


Ken Haller and Marty Fox
The Stage at KDHX presents Ken Haller in The Medicine Show on Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m. Ken Haller's shows have been described as "touching," "hilarious," "intimate," and "tremendously entertaining." In The Medicine Show, where "miracle cures" are peddled, Ken weaves songs as diverse as "The Physician" (Cole Porter), "Someone to Fall Back on," (Jason Robert Brown), "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" (Stephen Sondheim) and more, into a narrative of how becoming a doctor is only the first step toward becoming a healer. The performances take place at The Stage at KDHX, 3524 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: ticketfly.com.

My take: The Medicine Show, the newest diadem in the crown of St. Louis cabaret star Ken Haller, was just what the doctor ordered. And Mr. Haller is a doctor, so he should know. Check out my review of the show earlier this spring at Cabaret Scenes to learn more.


Time Flies
Circus Flora presents its new show, Time Flies, through June 25 under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center next to Powell Hall. "Imagine that you could travel through time. Would you go back to relive historic events? What if you could alter the course of your own life? Now imagine you had the grace, power, and beauty of an acrobat or aerialist. Circus Flora's all new production uses the timeless art of circus to explore the fabric of time." For more information: circusflora.org.

My take: Circus Flora remains one of our town's great performing arts treasures. Escape the heat by joining the circus. You won't regret it.


Titus (La Clemenza di Tito)
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Mozart's Titus (La Clemenza di Tito) through June 24. "Politics turn lethal as a new emperor takes the throne of Rome, and the Capitol is set ablaze by an explosive mix of ambition, conspiracy, and romantic intrigue. With an assassin lurking in the shadows, can the world's most powerful city still be ruled with compassion? Experience this transcendent Mozart masterpiece, handpicked by conductor Stephen Lord for his final appearance as OTSL Music Director." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

My take: I'll qualify my recommendation by saying this one is mostly for lovers of Mozart and great singing in general. Besides, you should never pass up a chance to hear the heavenly voice of tenor René Barbers. Check my review for details.

The Winter's Tale
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the comedy/drama The Winter's Tale nightly except for Tuesdays, through June 25. "Written in approximately 1610, The Winter's Tale is considered to be one of a group of Shakespeare's plays defined by their tragic undertones and simultaneous use of straightforward comic situations. Other plays that are grouped in this category include Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well that Ends Well, and Timon of Athens." Beginning at 6:30 the Green Show presents pre-play entertainment a variety of local performers on multiple stages. The play begins at 8 p.m. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. For more information, visit shakespearefestivalstlouis.org.

My take: This is, as I say in my review, seriously great theatre. It's one of the best Shakespeare productions I've ever seen. Heck, it's one of the best productions of any play I've ever seen. And it's free (or, at most, $10 if you want to buy a seat; such a deal!).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: The Shakespeare Festival's "A Winter's Tale" is seriously great, even when it's not serious

The Sicilian court
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I won't mince words. The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of Shakespeare's 1610 comedy/drama The Winter's Tale, which runs through June 25th, is seriously great theatre. It demands to be seen.

This isn't just one of the best Shakespeare productions I've ever seen, it's one of the best productions of any play I've ever seen. It's superbly acted, beautifully designed, and directed in a way that shows a deep understanding of and respect for the text-something far too many Shakespeare directors seem to lack.

A Winter's Tale is often regarded as a "problem play" because of the way it shifts abruptly from tragedy to bucolic comedy to redemptive romance. Some critics have seen that as a weakness, but director Bruce Longworth, in his program notes, begs to differ. "I think it's a strength," he writes. "Life can turn on a dime and frequently does: laughter in the morning, tears at night…Shakespeare understood this and embraced it in his story-telling." Mr. Longworth goes with Shakespeare's flow, setting a brisk pace and allowing the feel of the production to change along with Shakespeare's text.

The Bohemian countryside
And those changes are significant. For its first three acts, A Winter's Tale is a dark tale of jealously and paranoia run rampant, as Leontes, the King of Sicilia, effectively goes insane and accuses his pregnant wife Hermonie of having an affair with Leontes' long-time friend Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. By the time Shakespeare's third act (and this production's first) ends, there have been multiple deaths and Leontes realizes, too late, how much damage he has caused.

The last two acts, which take place sixteen years later, are mostly taken up with rustic comedy in Bohemia, as Polixenes' son Florien woos the girl he believes to be a shepherdess but who is actually the supposedly dead daughter of Leontes and Hermonie. Everyone eventually winds up back in Sicilia for a wildly improbable happy ending.

This could all be a mess, but under Mr. Longworth's skilled guidance this outstanding cast makes it all work. Their obvious comfort with Shakespeare's language allows them to communicate every nuance clearly with the audience who, the night I saw the show, were rapt from the first scene.

Charles Pasternak perfectly conveys Leontes' madness and remorse, Cherie Corinne Rice is a perfect picture of wounded innocence as Hermonie, and Rachel Christopher makes Hermonie's gentlewoman Paulina a tower of righteous strength as she defends Hermonie from Leontes' lunacy.

Charles Pasternak, Rachel Christopher,
Cherie Corinne Rice
Anderson Matthews is a wonderfully sympathetic Camillo, torn between what Leontes wants and what he knows is right. And Whit Richert's performance as the Shepherd who rescues Leontes' infant daughter from the elements is a comic gem. Ditto for Gary Glasgow as the rogue Autolycus, deftly picking pockets and bursting into song.

In fact, there is not a weak performer in this ensemble. Rather than list them all here, I'll just refer you to the Festival's web site. Scenic Designer Scott Neale and Costumer Designer Dorothy Marshall Englis set an appropriately fanciful tone, placing the action in a kind of vaguely 18th century Neverland. And the live music by Matt Pace, Brien Seyle, and Emma Tiemann adds an extra bit of polish to the show.

The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of The Winter's Tale is performed nightly at 8 in Shakespeare Glen across from the Art Museum in Forest Park, although the pre-show entertainment starts at around 6:30. You only have a few more days to catch this beautiful and completely entertaining event; don't miss it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: At Opera Theatre,"Titus" sings a song of mercy

Laura Wilde and René Barbera
Photo: Ken Howard
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If you're a lover of Mozart's operas in general and of La Clemenza di Tito, his final essay in the form, in particular, I'd say there's a lot to like in the Opera Theatre production (retitled Titus in this brand-new English translation), which runs through Saturday the 24th.

If, on the other hand, this is not your favorite Mozart, it's unlikely that this version, for all its virtues, will change your mind.

Mozart interrupted work on one of his genuine masterpieces, The Magic Flute, to write Clemenza di Tito in response to a commission from the Prague National Theatre in 1791. They needed a ceremonial piece to celebrate the coronation of King Leopold II and since Mozart had been trying to get some patronage out of Leopold for the past year, it probably looked like a golden opportunity for the perennially impoverished composer.

The original libretto, by the ever-popular Metastasio, was an obvious choice. It's based on the historical Roman Emperor Titus who, in Metastasio's incarnation, is the Platonic ideal of the benevolent despot, routinely forgiving his enemies and ruling with wisdom and justice. Mozart had the Viennese court poet Mazzolà revise and shorten the script in keeping with then-fashionable notions of what constituted “a true opera” (i.e., one employing elements of both opera buffa and opera seria), along with some very Masonic/Christian notions of forgiveness and repentance.

Cecelia Hall and Laura Wilde
Photo: Ken Howard
The final result makes Titus/Tito look more like a saint than an earthly ruler, so it's fortunate that OTSL has someone with a (ahem) heavenly voice in the title role: tenor René Barbera. If you saw him in OTSL's Elixir of Love in 2014, you already know that he combines a clear, powerful, and pretty much seamless voice with an appealing stage presence. Tito isn't the largest role in the opera, but he has some major arias in the second act as he struggles to maintain his forgiving nature in the face of betrayal by both his friend Sesto and his empress-in-waiting Vitellia. Mr. Barbera's performance could not be better.

Sesto, whose passion for Vitellia moves him to attempt Tito's assassination, is probably the most important part in the opera. Originally written for a castrato, the role is usually played by a woman these days (that whole castrato thing being illegal). Mezzo Cecelia Hall, a former Gerdine Young Artist, beautifully conveys the character's passion for Vitellia and anguish at double-crossing his friend, and does it with a spectacular voice that easily negotiates the role's most florid passages.

Soprano Laura Wilde is the scheming Vitellia, whose lust for Tito's throne (if not for the emperor himself) nearly destroys both herself and everyone else. It's a juicy part, and Ms. Wilde does it full justice, giving her scenes with Ms. Hall real passion.

There are equally impressive performances by mezzo Emily D'Angelo as Sesto's friend Annio (another "pants" role), soprano Monica Dewey as Sesto's sister Servilia, and bass-baritone Matthew Stump as the loyal Publio.

Monica Dewey and Emily D'Angelo
Photo: Ken Howard
Director Stephen Lawless and designer Leslie Travers have moved the action from imperial Rome to Mozart's own time, with all the Romans decked out in black outfits with silver wigs. I'm not sure it adds anything, but it certainly doesn't detract. Mr. Lawless's decision to give his performers lots of comic "business" is another matter. I think it takes away from the more serious ideas that underlie the text and generates inappropriate laughter at what ought to be dramatic moments.

Still, it's all wonderfully sung, with Cary John Franklin's chorus doing their usual splendid job. Opera Theatre Music Director Stephen Lord, who is making his farewell appearance with the company, conducts with his customary authority and sensitivity, and St. Louis Symphony clarinetist Scott Andrews plays the virtuoso passages Mozart wrote for his friend Anton Stadler with real panache.

Opera Theatre's Titus might not change anyone's mind, but maybe it doesn't need to. If you love great singing then, to quote Mr. Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet III, 1), "'tis enough, 'twill serve."

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of June 19, 2017

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Act Inc presents the comedy The 39 Steps, based on the classic Hitchcock film, Saturday at 8 Sunday at 2 p.m., June 24 and 25. "A beautiful spy tells a lethal secret to a man she's just met. With that, our hero Richard Hannay finds himself embroiled in a riotous chase across England and Scotland, discovering clues, dodging police, and charming ladies at every turn. With tons of characters played by a small group of actors, the play provides actors the opportunity to perform multiple wildly creative characters in the midst of a fast-paced, hilarious evening at the theatre." Performances take place in the Emerson Black Box Theatre at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, MO. For more information, visit actincstl.com.

Clayton Community Theatre presents a workshop production of And It Shall Be Forgiven by St. Louis playwright Jason Slavik on Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 8 p.m. "In German-occupied Amsterdam in 1942, a German army clerk goes about his business. In the same room in 2007, a college student is enjoying a summer work project. Suddenly, the two find they can communicate; and each has lessons to teach the other, culminating in a transformative experience for both." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

St. Louis Community College at Meramec presents Charlotte's Web, based on the book by E.B White, Monday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., June 19-21. Performances take place in the theatre on the campus at 11333 Big Bend Road. For more information, stlcc.edu/MC or call 314-984-7500.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Death of a Blackheart through July 29. "Welcome aboard the largest, (and safest), cruise liner ever to sail the low seas. That's right. Welcome aboard the Gigantic! But wait! What do I hear? "Argggghhhhhhh!" Avast ye mateys and get yer gizzard ready to be robbed by the most famous pirate ever to pillage a maiden! Of course, we're talkin' Captain Jack Blackheart! He's the pirate that has cheated more people, emptied more pockets and pillaged more ladies than any politician. Gee. I hope no one kills him off. You'll meet lots of fun characters at this show. In fact audience members will get to play lots of fun characters in this show because it's "chock full" of "Fair Maidens", "Lost Boys", "Rival Pirates", and more. One thing is for sure. If you've ever wanted to stand up and shout out Arggggghhhh!...then "Death of a Blackheart" is the show for you!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Amy Friedl Stoner
Mariposa Artists presents Amy Friedl Stoner in Dreamchaser on Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m. "Dreamchaser" is a look at life -with the love of music leading the way- through the songs of Billy Joel, Cole Porter, Jason Robert Brown and more." The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie, based on the John Steinbeck novel, through June 25. "When the Dust Bowl sweeps across Oklahoma, the Joad family sets out for a new life in California. But the promised land isn't all it seems. In the face of countless obstacles, can the American dream survive? Both heartbreaking and uplifting, this acclaimed opera vividly captures all the beauty of John Steinbeck's best-selling novel." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Stages St. Louis presents the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through July 2. "One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel's favorite son." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.com

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Photo: Nicola Muscroft
Theatre Lab and Theatre Macabre present The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin Mcdonagh Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through June 25. "Irish terrorist "Mad Padraic" cares about one thing, and one alone, and -- despite his title as the lieutenant of Inishmore's Irish National Liberation Army -- it's not his fight for Irish independence. It's his cat. When Padraic learns that his beloved cat, Wee Thomas, has been killed, Padraic rushes home, forgoing the nipple-excising he'd planned to do on a partly-tortured Belfast drug pusher. As Padraic plows through the town in pursuit of revenge, bodies to pile up in his wake. As fierce as he may be, however, Padriac's soft spot for Wee Thomas may be the weak spot the next aspiring Lieutenant of Inishmore needs to target." Performances take place in the black box theatre at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: www.metrotix.com .

Hard Road Theatre Productions presents the Disney musical The Lion King Jr. June 22 - 25. Performances will be held at the Highland High School Auditorium, 12760 Troxler Ave, Highland IL. For more information: www.hardroad.org.

The Muny presents the Disney's The Little Mermaid opening on Tuesday, June 20, at 8:15 p.m. and running through the 29th. "Go "under the sea" in Disney's classic musical fantasy The Little Mermaid. One of the most popular animated films in history is now a splendid and magical Broadway musical. Headstrong Princess Ariel dreams of a life on land far from her ocean home, and she's willing to risk her Father's love and wrath to find it. Featuring Academy-Award winning hits like "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl," this spectacular Muny production will leave your entire family happy as a clam." Performances take place on the Muny's outdoor stage in Forest Park. For more information: muny.org.

Madame Butterfly
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Puccini's Madame Butterfly through June 24. "A Japanese geisha. An American soldier. Their attraction is immediate, but their love story can't last. When their union results in a child, Cio-Cio-San is forced to do whatever it takes to protect her son's future. Set to breathtaking music, this timeless opera pays powerful, wrenching tribute to a mother's love." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Mariposa Artists presents Robert Breig in Making Every Moment Count: The Music of Peter Allen on Thursday, June 22, at 8 p.m. Rick Jensen is pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Lina Koutrakos. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

Mariposa Artists presents Amy Basta in Marilyn, Uncovered on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m. "Share an evening with Singer/Performer Amy Basta as she uncovers the iconic Marilyn Monroe in this original and captivating look at one of the greatest legends of the 20th Century. Through a theatrical mix of songs, join Amy and pianist/arranger extraordinaire Rick Jensen on a compassionate journey, beginning with the life of Norma Jeane to the final days of Marilyn. Judged and misunderstood by many but loved by all, both personas ultimately came up victorious, yet not without great personal cost." Rick Jensen is pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Lina Koutrakos. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

Ken Haller and Marty Fox
The Stage at KDHX presents Ken Haller in The Medicine Show on Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m. "'en Haller's shows have been described as "touching," "hilarious," "intimate," and "tremendously entertaining." In The Medicine Show, where "miracle cures" are peddled, Ken weaves songs as diverse as "The Physician" (Cole Porter), "Someone to Fall Back on," (Jason Robert Brown), "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" (Stephen Sondheim) and more, into a narrative of how becoming a doctor is only the first step toward becoming a healer.' The performances take place at The Stage at KDHX, 3524 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: ticketfly.com.

Stray Dog Theatre presents the world premiere of Monsters, by St. Louis playwright Stephen Peirick, Thursdays through Saturdays, throgh June 24. "Jeremy and Davis are brothers who have masterminded a plan to commit the perfect crime. When Davis' wife finds a distraught man tied up in their basement, the fool proof plan immediately begins to unravel. In this fast-paced comedy/thriller, impulsive decisions and poorly kept secrets have dire consequences." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Next to Normal
Photo: John Lamb
Insight Theatre Company presents the musical Next to Normal through June 25. Next to Normal examines how one typical suburban family handles the slow retreat into manic depression the mother is battling. Critics call it "an emotional powerhouse" that explores "how a family deals with grief, weighs the ethics of psychiatry, as depicts family life in a suburban setting. It is presented with love, sympathy, and punch." Performances take place in the Heagney Theatre, 530 East Lockwood on the campus of Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves. For more information, call 314-556-1293 or visit insighttheatrecompany.com .

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Phantom of the Grand Old Opry through July 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Act Inc presents William Inge's drama Picnic Friday at 8 Saturday at 2 p.m., June 23 and 24. "It's Labor day Weekend in small town America, and we are in the backyards of two middle-aged widows. Flo Owens lives there with her two teenage daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder, Rosemary, a spinster school teacher. Helen Potts lives next door with her elderly mother. And then a drifter, handsome charismatic Hal Carter appears, charming ladies young and old. Will 15 year old Millie grow a bit from her crush on Hal? Will Rosemary decide to seek more than weekend dates from her long time beau? And will 18 year old Madge ignore her wealthy suitor for bad boy Hal?" Performances take place in the Emerson Black Box Theatre at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, MO. For more information, visit actincstl.com.

Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences presents Seussical the Musical through July 2nd. "Let your imagination run wild in this magical, musical extravaganza as you join the Cat in the Hat and enter the fantastical world of Doctor Seuss. SEUSSICAL lovingly brings to life your favorite Seussian characters including Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Maizie La Bird, and the little boy with a big imagination - Jojo, who whisk you away from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos. Based on the internationally beloved children's books "Horton Hears A Who" and "Horton Hatches An Egg", SEUSSICAL boasts a triumphant score from Tony-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and RAGTIME fame. Celebrate the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community in this not-to-be-missed musical treat for the young and young of heart!" Performances take place at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

Sweet Smell of Success
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Marvin Hammlisch musical Sweet Smell of Success, based on the 1957 film of the same name, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, through June 24. "It's New York, 1952. After dark. Welcome to Broadway, the glamour, power, and sleaze capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America. J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the President to the latest starlet. And everyone feeds J.J.'s appetite for scandal, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy, down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their gossip to a client that J.J. might plug. When down-and-out press agent Sidney Falco tries to hitch his wagon to J.J., all while keeping secrets about his new client's relationship with J.J.'s sister, Sidney learns that you can become no one fast when J.J. turns on you." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents Shakespeare's The Tempest, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 23 - July 11. Performances take place in the Dunham Hall Theater on the campus in Edwardsville, IL. For more information, call 618-650-2774 or visit siue.edu.

Time Flies
Circus Flora presents its new show, Time Flies, theough June 25 under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center next to Powell Hall. "Imagine that you could travel through time. Would you go back to relive historic events? What if you could alter the course of your own life? Now imagine you had the grace, power, and beuty of an acrobat or aerialist. Circus Flora's all new production uses the timeless art of circus to explore the fabric of time." For more information: circusflora.org.

The Midnight Company presents Title and Deed Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. through June 24. "Behold the newest nobody of the funniest century yet. He's almost Christ-like, from a distance, in terms of height and weight. Listen closely or drift off uncontrollably, as he speaks to you directly about the notion of home, about the notion of the world. All of it delivered with the authority that is the special province of the unsure and the un-homed, which is a word he made up accidentally. The running time, if he doesn't die or think of anything else, is roughly one hour." Performances take place at Avatar Studios, 2675 Scott Avenue, downtown. Downtown. For more information: brownpapertickets.com .

Titus (La Clemenza di Tito)
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Mozart's Titus (La Clemenza di Tito) through June 24. "Politics turn lethal as a new emperor takes the throne of Rome, and the Capitol is set ablaze by an explosive mix of ambition, conspiracy, and romantic intrigue. With an assassin lurking in the shadows, can the world's most powerful city still be ruled with compassion? Experience this transcendent Mozart masterpiece, handpicked by conductor Stephen Lord for his final appearance as OTSL Music Director." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents The Trial by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Kafka, through June 23. "It's strange enough that Josef K. spontaneously finds himself arrested on his 30th birthday ‚stranger still that no one seems able to explain why. He embarks on a year-long search for justice, encountering absurd characters and situations at every turn. Based on Franz Kafka's novel, this dark comedy comes to St. Louis after a sold-out run at London's Royal Opera House." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the comedy/drama The Winter's Tale nightly except for Tuesdays, theough June 25. "Written in approximately 1610, The Winter's Tale is considered to be one of a group of Shakespeare's plays defined by their tragic undertones and simultaneous use of straightforward comic situations. Other plays that are grouped in this category include Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well that Ends Well, and Timon of Athens." Beginning at 6:30 the Green Show presents pre-play entertainment a variety of local performers on multiple stages. The play begins at 8 p.m. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. For more information, visit shakespearefestivalstlouis.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: At Opera Theatre, "The Grapes of Wrath" is a searing indictment of American folly

The Joad family on the road
Photo: Ken Howard
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"If you're not outraged," reads a popular bumper sticker, "you're not paying attention." I can't think of a better way to describe my reaction to composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie's powerful operatic treatment of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, on view at Opera Theatre through Sunday, June 25th.

Originally created for Minnesota Opera back in 2007 and revised substantially for the current production (hence its designation as a "world premiere"), the opera (like the novel that inspired it) is a searing indictment of the cruel and exploitative treatment of the so-called "Okies"-subsistence farmers driven into poverty by the Depression and the Dust Bowl and driven from their homes by rapacious banks. It's an indictment which, as Mr. Gordon points out in a program note, "maintains its resonance today: governments and people at odds, human-induced environmental disasters, distrust between corporations and workers, passing the buck and denying responsibility."

That doesn't mean that The Grapes of Wrath is a heavy-handed Brechtian diatribe, though. Its strong moral is conveyed by an intelligent and thoughtful libretto with well-rounded, credible characters. It's the harrowing and tragic tale of the Joad family that drives the message home.

Tobias Greenhalgh and
Katherine Goeldner
Photo: Ken Howard
And then there's Mr. Gordon's immensely appealing score. It pays homage to American folk music, vintage pop tunes, and notable American composers like Samuel Barber while still sounding fresh and original. It's also filled with ingenious touches, for example when characters trying to dodge responsibility for their cruel and oppressive actions sing "it's not my fault" to the "fate" motif from Beethoven's Fifth. "I'm a victim of circumstance," as Curly Howard used to say.

Under James Robinson's sure direction, a large cast of remarkable singing actors brings Steinbeck's rich tapestry of hope and tragedy to brilliant life. Mezzo Katherine Goeldner delivers a standout performance as the long-suffering Ma Joad, trying to hold her family together as it crumbles under the weight of bad luck and oppression. Her voice is powerful and her acting impeccable. Baritone Tobias Greenhalgh is impressive as Tom Joad, trying to escape his ex-con past, and baritone Hugh Russell is a painfully tragic Noah Joad, the simple-minded brother who makes the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

There are great performances as well by baritone Robert Orth as the alcoholic Uncle John, baritone Levi Hernandez as Pa Joad, and soprano Deanna Breiwick as Tom's pregnant sister Rosasharn. Tenor Geoffrey Agpalo also shines as the lapsed preacher Jim Casy. In fact, there's not a less than stellar performance anywhere in this large cast; see the OTSL web site for a complete list.

.. The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel is often quoted as saying that “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” The Grapes of Wrath reminds us of the high human cost of stupidly repeated past mistakes. Go see it now; tickets are available at the Opera Theatre web site.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of June 12, 2017

On Friday, June 16, 2017, at 7:30 pm That Uppity Theatre Company and R-S Theatrics, in association with Pride St. Louis, St. Charles Pride Festival, Missing Bolts Productions Inc., and NoPassport Theatre Alliance, will present several excerpts from After Orlando, a collection of short plays. These plays were specifically written and curated in response to the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, that took the lives of 49 LGBTQ and allied people. The plays are roughly three to eight minutes in length. The performance takes at the Contemporary Art Museum, 3750 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: eventbrite.com.

The Cabaret Project and The Curtain Call Lounge at the Fox present the montly Broadway Open Mic Night on Thursday, June 15, from 8 to 11 p.m. Drop by and enjoy a night of great music from St. Louis cabaret artists, backed up by the pianist and music director Carol Schmidt. The special guest MC this month is Ken Haller. If you're planning to sing, be prepared to do one or two songs and bring music, preferably in your key. It's also recommend that you have your song memorized. The Curtain Call Lounge is next door to the Fabulous Fox in Grand Center. For more information: thecabaretproject.org.

The Black Rep presents a revival production of their original musical revue Crossin' Over through June 18. "From roots in Africa - from village to slave ship - through the middle passage - from auction block to plantation fields and up to the modern Civil Rights movement, CROSSIN' OVER tells its tale with traditional West African drumming, hymns, psalms and Gospel standards such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Precious Lord," and "We Shall Overcome," as well as contemporary gospel music today." Performances take place in the Emerson Performance Space on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in midtown. For more information: theblackrep.org.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Death of a Blackheart through July 29. "Welcome aboard the largest, (and safest), cruise liner ever to sail the low seas. That's right. Welcome aboard the Gigantic! But wait! What do I hear? "Argggghhhhhhh!" Avast ye mateys and get yer gizzard ready to be robbed by the most famous pirate ever to pillage a maiden! Of course, we're talkin' Captain Jack Blackheart! He's the pirate that has cheated more people, emptied more pockets and pillaged more ladies than any politician. Gee. I hope no one kills him off. You'll meet lots of fun characters at this show. In fact audience members will get to play lots of fun characters in this show because it's "chock full" of "Fair Maidens", "Lost Boys", "Rival Pirates", and more. One thing is for sure. If you've ever wanted to stand up and shout out Arggggghhhh!...then "Death of a Blackheart" is the show for you!" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie, based on the John Steinbeck novel, through June 25. "When the Dust Bowl sweeps across Oklahoma, the Joad family sets out for a new life in California. But the promised land isn't all it seems. In the face of countless obstacles, can the American dream survive? Both heartbreaking and uplifting, this acclaimed opera vividly captures all the beauty of John Steinbeck's best-selling novel." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

The Muny presents the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar opening on Monday, June 12, at 8:15 p.m. and running through Sunday. "The Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber phenomenon returns. Jesus Christ Superstar was an album that became a cultural phenomenon, then Broadway's first rock opera and remains a world-wide favorite. With classic songs like "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Heaven on Their Minds" and the title song, this bold and rocking retelling of the gospels will leave you singing nothing but heavenly praises." Performances take place on the Muny's outdoor stage in Forest Park. For more information: muny.org .

Stages St. Louis presents the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through July 2. "One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel's favorite son.‚Äù Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.com

Theatre Lab and Theatre Macabre present The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin Mcdonagh Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 15 - 25. "Irish terrorist "Mad Padraic" cares about one thing, and one alone, and -- despite his title as the lieutenant of Inishmore's Irish National Liberation Army -- it's not his fight for Irish independence. It's his cat. When Padraic learns that his beloved cat, Wee Thomas, has been killed, Padraic rushes home, forgoing the nipple-excising he'd planned to do on a partly-tortured Belfast drug pusher. As Padraic plows through the town in pursuit of revenge, bodies to pile up in his wake. As fierce as he may be, however, Padriac's soft spot for Wee Thomas may be the weak spot the next aspiring Lieutenant of Inishmore needs to target." Performances take place in the black box theatre at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: www.metrotix.com .

Madame Butterfly
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Puccini's Madame Butterfly through June 24. "A Japanese geisha. An American soldier. Their attraction is immediate, but their love story can't last. When their union results in a child, Cio-Cio-San is forced to do whatever it takes to protect her son's future. Set to breathtaking music, this timeless opera pays powerful, wrenching tribute to a mother's love." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Gateway Opera presents Mayhem a la Femme, a Celebration of Women ComposersFriday and Saturday, June 16 and 17, at 8:00 p.m. The program features music from Snow White Turns Sixty by Dale Trumbore, Cendrillon by Pauline Viadrot, and a Shell of a Trollby St. Louis native D. Jasper Sussman. Performances take place The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: gatewayopera.org .

Stray Dog Theatre presents the world premiere of Monsters, by St. Louis playwright Stephen Peirick, Thursdays through Saturdays, throgh June 24. "Jeremy and Davis are brothers who have masterminded a plan to commit the perfect crime. When Davis' wife finds a distraught man tied up in their basement, the fool proof plan immediately begins to unravel. In this fast-paced comedy/thriller, impulsive decisions and poorly kept secrets have dire consequences." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Emery Entertainment presents The Naked Magicians on Monday, June 12, at 8 p.m. "The Naked Magicians, the world's naughtiest and funniest magic show strips away the top hats and capes to promise full-frontal illusions. Starring the clever and seductive Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, two of Australia's most famous magicians, The Naked Magicians combine magic and muscles with riotous laughs that take magic to a whole new level. "Good magicians don't need sleeves and great magicians don't need pants," says Tyler." The performance takes place at the Grandel Theatre across from Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: nakedmagicians.com .

Insight Theatre Company presents the musical Next to Normal through June 25. Next to Normal examines how one typical suburban family handles the slow retreat into manic depression the mother is battling. Critics call it "an emotional powerhouse" that explores "how a family deals with grief, weighs the ethics of psychiatry, as depicts family life in a suburban setting. It is presented with love, sympathy, and punch." Performances take place in the Heagney Theatre, 530 East Lockwood on the campus of Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves. For more information, call 314-556-1293 or visit insighttheatrecompany.com .

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Phantom of the Grand Old Opry through July 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Act Inc presents William Inge's drama Picnic Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 p.m. June 16 - 18, and again on Friday at 8 Saturday at 2 p.m., June 23 and 24. "It's Labor day Weekend in small town America, and we are in the backyards of two middle-aged widows. Flo Owens lives there with her two teenage daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder, Rosemary, a spinster school teacher. Helen Potts lives next door with her elderly mother. And then a drifter, handsome charismatic Hal Carter appears, charming ladies young and old. Will 15 year old Millie grow a bit from her crush on Hal? Will Rosemary decide to seek more than weekend dates from her long time beau? And will 18 year old Madge ignore her wealthy suitor for bad boy Hal?" Performances take place in the Emerson Black Box Theatre at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, MO. For more information, visit actincstl.com.

Stages St. Louis Theatre for Young Audiences presents Seussical the Musical opening on Wednesday, June 14 at 11 a.m. and running through July 2nd. "Let your imagination run wild in this magical, musical extravaganza as you join the Cat in the Hat and enter the fantastical world of Doctor Seuss. SEUSSICAL lovingly brings to life your favorite Seussian characters including Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Maizie La Bird, and the little boy with a big imagination - Jojo, who whisk you away from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos. Based on the internationally beloved children's books "Horton Hears A Who" and "Horton Hatches An Egg", SEUSSICAL boasts a triumphant score from Tony-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and RAGTIME fame. Celebrate the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community in this not-to-be-missed musical treat for the young and young of heart!" Performances take place at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

New Line Theatre presents the Marvin Hammlisch musical Sweet Smell of Success, based on the 1957 film of the same name, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, through June 24. "It's New York, 1952. After dark. Welcome to Broadway, the glamour, power, and sleaze capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America. J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the President to the latest starlet. And everyone feeds J.J.'s appetite for scandal, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy, down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their gossip to a client that J.J. might plug. When down-and-out press agent Sidney Falco tries to hitch his wagon to J.J., all while keeping secrets about his new client's relationship with J.J.'s sister, Sidney learns that you can become no one fast when J.J. turns on you." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Circus Flora presents its new show, Time Flies, theough June 25 under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center next to Powell Hall. "Imagine that you could travel through time. Would you go back to relive historic events? What if you could alter the course of your own life? Now imagine you had the grace, power, and beuty of an acrobat or aerialist. Circus Flora's all new production uses the timeless art of circus to explore the fabric of time." For more information: circusflora.org.

The Midnight Company presents Title and Deed Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. through June 24. "Behold the newest nobody of the funniest century yet. He's almost Christ-like, from a distance, in terms of height and weight. Listen closely or drift off uncontrollably, as he speaks to you directly about the notion of home, about the notion of the world. All of it delivered with the authority that is the special province of the unsure and the un-homed, which is a word he made up accidentally. The running time, if he doesn't die or think of anything else, is roughly one hour." Performances take place at Avatar Studios, 2675 Scott Avenue, downtown. Downtown. For more information: brownpapertickets.com

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Mozart's Titus (La Clemenza di Tito) through June 24. "Politics turn lethal as a new emperor takes the throne of Rome, and the Capitol is set ablaze by an explosive mix of ambition, conspiracy, and romantic intrigue. With an assassin lurking in the shadows, can the world's most powerful city still be ruled with compassion? Experience this transcendent Mozart masterpiece, handpicked by conductor Stephen Lord for his final appearance as OTSL Music Director." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents The Trial by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Kafka, through June 23. "It's strange enough that Josef K. spontaneously finds himself arrested on his 30th birthday ‚stranger still that no one seems able to explain why. He embarks on a year-long search for justice, encountering absurd characters and situations at every turn. Based on Franz Kafka's novel, this dark comedy comes to St. Louis after a sold-out run at London's Royal Opera House." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: experienceopera.org or call 314-961-0644.

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Twisted Improv on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m. at The Steamboat Room, 314 S. Clay in Kirkwood, MO. "Join Adam and his crew for an interactive night of fun and laughter.Beer, wine and food available from Kirkwood Station Brewery." For more information: ktg-onstage.org .

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the comedy/drama The Winter's Tale nightly except for Tuesdays, theough June 25. " Written in approximately 1610, The Winter's Tale is considered to be one of a group of Shakespeare's plays defined by their tragic undertones and simultaneous use of straightforward comic situations. Other plays that are grouped in this category include Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well that Ends Well, and Timon of Athens." Beginning at 6:30 the Green Show presents pre-play entertainment a variety of local performers on multiple stages. The play begins at 8 p.m. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. For more information, visit shakespearefestivalstlouis.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditionssite.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.