New This Week:
The International Brotherhood of Magicians presents their annual Active Military, Veterans and First Responders Tribute Magical Holiday Show on Sunday, December 8, at 3 pm. "The Active Military, Veterans and First Responders Tribute Magical Holiday Show will be a fantastic magic show for the whole family. Both children and adults will embark on an unforgettable journey of comedy and magic with a special tribute for all those who help keep America free! You will enjoy the magic of an impressive list of Professional Magicians: Christian Misner, Terry Richison, Steve Zuehlke and more. Close up magic will be performed in the lobby prior to the show by several of the best close up magicians in St Louis." The show will be held at the Kirkwood Community Center Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: ibmring1.com.
My take: I love a good magic show, and this one features a number of local professionals. First responders, active military, and veterans get in free, and you won't want to miss the close up magic in the lobby; personally, it's my favorite kind since the apparently impossible happens right under your nose.
My take: Here are a couple of back-to-back holiday shows that look like great fun. The effervescent Debby Lennon will be familiar to local audiences from her many stage appearances, including a stunning portrayal of Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir two years ago. Mr. Christopher is also be familiar from his stage work here, including multiple appearances at the Muny. I will be in the audience for both of them, rest assured.
My take: St. Louis's own Craig Pomranz has made a nice career for himself on the international theater and cabaret stage, but that doesn't mean he neglects the home town crowd, as his repeated visits to local stages attest. When he played the Kranzberg Center back in 2011 I wrote that he had "impressive vocal technique with an enviable head voice, easy falsetto, and solid breath control " along with the theatrical skill necessary to convincingly act a song.
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents That High Lonesome Sound Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm, December 3-8. "Bluegrass has a long and winding history, from Scottish ballads to African-American work songs, from Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. In a lively theatrical album of scenes created for the Acting Apprentice Company of the Actor's Theatre of Louisville, four writers respond with playfulness and poignancy to the signature sounds, inherited stories, and cultural impact of this very American--and very Kentucky--music tradition." Performances take place in the Metcalf Theater on the campus in Edwardsvile, IL. For more information, call 618-650-2774 or visit siue.edu.
My take: While I haven't seen this production of That High Lonesome Sound, I was very taken with the play when I saw it at the Humana Festival in 2015, so I'm recommending this show strictly on the strength of the material. The show's title, according to Hannah Rae Montgomery's essay in the original Humana program, "comes from a phrase commonly used to describe the wistful tenor twang of many bluegrass singers." I'd say it also describes the way this music conjures up the remote woods and mountains where bluegrass originated, and where the membrane separating the worlds of the living and the dead seems more permeable. Ghosts put in regular appearances in traditional music, and at least three of these plays contain elements of the supernatural. They're a varied and beautifully written collection of comedy and drama. Most involve some live music, and all of them use music as a dramatic element.
My take: I haven't seen this particular tour, but in my review of the 2005 tour I noted that composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and book author Winnie Holtzman have done a remarkable job of simplifying and reducing the story of Gregory McGuire's original novel while still remaining true to the original characters and their relationships. The score is one of Schwartz's best, and that's saying something.
|It's a Wonderful Life|
Photo: Jennifer Lin
My take: Well, it wouldn't be the holidays without someone doing a stage version of this beloved movie. Metro's approach has the advantage of treating it as the basis for a story that's less about the original film and more about the intrepid group of employees of a fictional radio station doing their best to work together to bring it to life over the air. "Metro Theater Company's It's a Wonderful Life brings an hour or so of a captivating and classy good time to an appreciative audience, a terrific start to the holiday season," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News. "Don't forget to clap on cue."