Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 28, 2017

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

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New This Week:

August: Osage County
Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts through April 30. "A vanished father, a pill-popping mother and three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you've got a major new play that unflinchingly - and uproariously - exposes the dark side of the Midwestern family." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

My take: While I'm not usually a big fan of dysfunctional family plays (the genre has become something of a cliche these days), there's no doubt that August: Osage County is widely regarded as the Lexus of the line, with its operatic lenghth (nearly three hours) crammed with vital characters and compelling themes. The SLAS production has gotten good notices as well.


Saturday, April 29, at 11 a.m. The Sheldon Concert Hall presents vocalist Ben Nordstrom: Singing Gershwin. "One of St. Louis' favorite musical theatre performers, Ben Nordstrom, returns to The Sheldon stage with the luminous vocalist Julia Hanson Battaglia to sing the classic songs of Gershwin! Hear favorites such as "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "I Got Rhythm," and more!" The Sheldon Concert Hall is on Washington in Grand Center. For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

My take: Ben Nordstrom is one of our best singing actors, having distinguished himself in both musical theare and non-musical drama, and Gershwin is one of America's very best composer/songwriters. I don't see how you can go wrong here.


Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the one-man show Cry Havoc Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., April 29 and 30. "Actor/veteran Stephan Wolfert will lead his audience on an interactive journey to meet Shakespeare's veterans, and confront the difficulties today's soldiers face in leaving military service to rejoin the civilian world. The powerful one-person play speaks to the impact of theater as a tool for social change and the way the themes of Shakespeare's 400-year-old works resonate meaningfully in modern life." The performances take place in the auditorium at the St. Louis City Library Headquaters at 1301 Olive downtown. For more information: sfstl.com.

My take: Looking for evidence that The Bard of Avon remains relevant centuries later? Look no farther then this remarkable look at how little the dilemma of the former soldier trying to re-enter civilian has changed over the years. Shakespeare has much to teach us, if we will but listen.


Kristin Chenoweth
The Touhill Performing Arts Center presents Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth in concert on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. "In a career that spans film, television, and stage, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor and songstress Kristin Chenoweth is perhaps best well known for her work on the ABC series Pushing Daisies, FOX's hit comedy Glee, and NBC's political drama, The West Wing. However, fans of Broadway know the "popular" Hollywood Walk of Fame performer as smash-hit Wicked's original Glinda the Good Witch." The Touhill Center is on the campus of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. For more information: touhill.org.

My take: If you only know of this exceptionally talented actor/singer from her TV appearances, you really owe it to yourself to see her live. She didn't get those Tony and Emmy awards for nothing, folks.


Equally Represented Arts presents twelfth period, or not another twelfth night Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (except for April 29, when there is no performance) through May 6th. "Created and Presented by Equally Represented Arts, eratheatre.org An experimental, multi-space, theatrical production From William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and high school, circa 1999 Welcome to Illyria Preparatory Academy - 'Where some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.'" Performances take place at Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive in Grand Center. For more information: eratheatre.org.

My take: Twelfth Night in a 1990s high school? Sounds crazy, no? But if you step back and look at the social relationships (including the obvious use of bullying) it makes more sense than you might think. And it looks like ERA has done a smart job witht he adaptation. "The dialogue is Shakespeare interspersed with lines which the program credits to various sources from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to American Beauty," writes Ann Lemmons Pollack on her blog. "It’s way too fun, clearly not taking much of anything seriously." The storytelling style is ingeniously unconventional as well; designer/director Gabe Taylor divides the audiende up into four "teams," each with different "class schedules". That means each group sees the scenes in different order and don't reunite until the end.


Held Over:

Dancing at Lughnasa
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through April 30. “Set in 1936 Ireland, the play explores the potential for romance and the lure of pagan rituals in a family's day-to-day life.” There is no performance on Easter Sunday, April 16. Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

My take: Brian Friel's 1990 memory play of life in rural Ireland has always been highly regarded, and it looks like Mustard Seed has mounted a very successful production. At Ladue News, Mark Bretz describes it as "a heart-rending rendition of Brian Friel’s haunting Irish drama, featuring superb performances by an ensemble cast given affecting direction by Gary Barker." Ann Lemmons Pollack agrees. "Mustard Seed Theatre has put together an ensemble for Brian Friel’s 1990 play that enlivens an already sparkling script," she writes at her St. Louis Eats and Drinks blog. There's basic benevolence at the heart of Dancing at Lughnasa that makes it a welcome antidote to the toxic spite that dominates the daily news cycle these days.


The Lion King
Photo: Daniel Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents Disney's The Lion King running through May 7. "Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. This is Disney's The Lion King, making its triumphant return to the Fabulous Fox. More than 85 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring visual artistry, the unforgettable music, and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular - one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

My take: How could I not include this? Making its fourth or fifth trip (but who's counting?) to our city since its first appearance here in 2003, this ingenious stage adaptation of the popular Disney film remains a stunning piece of theatre. For those of you who have yet to see this remarkable show, know that the spectacular opening number sets the tone for the entire evening. As a giant red-orange sun rises over the African plain, the first sounds you hear are not those of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Anglo-American pop, which makes up the majority of the score, but rather the distinctly African melodies of Lebo M. Led the baboon Shaman Rafiki and answered by actors high in the side balconies, the call and response changes into “The Circle of Life” as the animals gather at Pride Rock, which slowly rises from the center of the stage. Tall, elegant giraffes, a lumbering elephant, leaping gazelles, a graceful cheetah, colorful birds—they stream in from every aisle and across the stage, surrounding the audience in light, sound, and color. And that's just the beginning of this extraordinary bucket of brilliance from the seemingly bottomless well of Julie Taymor’s genius. Go, take the kids, and enjoy.


Oedipus Apparatus
Photo: John Lamb
The West End Players Guild continues its 106th season with the world premiere of Oedipus Apparatus, written and directed by Lucy Cashion, based on Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, April 21-30. There will also be a show on Thursday, April 27, at 8 PM. "Lucy Cashion is one of St. Louis's most exciting and creative young theatre artists. Her Equally Represented Arts Theatre Company is well-known for cutting edge works such as Trash Macbeth, Make Hamlet and The Residents of Craigslist. Now Lucy brings to our stage the world premiere Oedipus Apparatus, her original work inspired by Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. It is most definitely NOT the version of this classic tale you read in freshman English!" Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

My take: [Full disclosure: I'm on the board of West End but have not worked on this show.] This wildly inventive and wholly original potpourri combines the general outline of the Oedipus legend (including bits and pieces of the Sophocles tragedy) with classical mechanics, plane geometry, Freudian psychology (naturally!) and contemporary pop culture. A site-specific piece composed with West End’s location in mind, Oedipus Apparatus includes live Philip Glass-ish music by Joe Taylor (who also, of course, plays Apollo), ritualistic dance that reminded me of Pina Bausch, a mobile industrial set by Kristin Cassidy and Jacob Francis, live video, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Although there might have been one of those in the loopy junk-shop set from which the oracles of Delphi broadcast their vacuous chat show in a style reminiscent of "The View" or "Fox and Friends," with Athena the oleaginous hostess. At just under two hours with no intermission, it could use some editing, but as this is a world premiere that's not very surprising. It gets superb performances, in any case, from a very fine ensemble cast. You might love it or hate it, but you won't soon forget it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: John Storgårds and Nikolai Lugansky deliver the goods in an evening of Rachmaninoff and Bartok

This review originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Pianist Nikolai Lugansky
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Nearly all of the longer than usual St. Louis Symphony program this past weekend (April 22 and 23) consisted of two big early-twentieth-century concerti, one for a single virtuoso and one for an orchestra full of them. Happily, both were on hand at Powell Hall.

The first major event was Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30, from 1909. Known as "Rach 3" to its friends, of whom I am one, is widely regarded as one of the most challenging concerti out there. Fiercely difficult, it's a reminder of what a superhuman pianist Rachmaninoff was. For many years after its premiere, its only real advocate was the composer himself.

Here in Mound City there has been no shortage of great Rach 3's over the past few years, including a real stunner by Steven Hough and Peter Oundjian in 2012. The soloist this time was the remarkably talented Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky, who recorded all four of the Rachmaninoff concerti in the early 2000's and whose CD of Rachmaninoff piano sonatas copped multiple awards.

He clearly knows this material well, and it showed in the easy familiarity with which he approached the music. He and guest conductor John Storgårds took an expansive view of the concerto that highlighted the strong differences among its many moods. In the opening movement, for example, the brisk and authoritative opening stood in sharp contrast to the more lush treatment of the second theme group, while the titanic cadenza had all the flash and power you could ask for.

The second movement was extraordinarily passionate, and the finale raced ahead at breakneck speed to its power chord coda, capped with the composer's characteristic four-note signature ("Rach-man-in-OFF"). Done properly, this never fails to get a standing ovation—which is exactly what happened when we saw the concert Saturday night.

It was a superlative performance, marred only by an unusual murkiness in the overall sound of the orchestra—many woodwind passages, for example, were nearly inaudible—and what sometimes seemed to be a less than ideal balance between the soloist and orchestra, with Mr. Lugansky sometimes swamped by the ensemble. The work that he played as an encore, on the other hand—Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G-sharp minor, Op. 32 No. 12—was crystalline perfection.

Let's turn now to that piece that needs an orchestra full of Nikolai Luganskys: Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra. Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra's famed music director Serge Koussevitzky in 1943 when the composer's finances and health were both bottoming out, the composition process worked like a tonic. Bartók threw himself into the project and the final result has been part of the core orchestral repertoire ever since.

Conductor John Storgårds
The work's title refers to the fact that throughout the piece individual groups of instruments or even entire sections of the orchestra are given difficult, attention-grabbing passages which highlight them. This is most apparent in the "Giuoco delle coppie" ("Game of couples") second movement, in which the melody is tossed about among pairs of bassoons, oboes, clarinets, flutes, and trumpets, but there are neat little solos for trombone and oboe in the first movement and the strings get a real workout in the fiery finale. Pretty much every section gets a chance to join in the fun.

It's only fun if the orchestra and conductor are up to the task, of course—which Mr. Storgårds and the band certainly were Saturday night. The second movement was both jaunty and whimsical, the third movement "Elegia" was piercingly intense, and the interjection, in the third movement "Intermezzo interotto" ("Interrupted Intermezzo"), of a theme from the Shostakovich Seventh Symphony (which Bartók heard in a live broadcast while composing the "Concerto") was comically precise. The opening movement had all the ominous drama one could hope for and the whirling finale built a tremendous head of steam and hurtled towards its conclusion, propelled by great slashing gestures from the podium.

This is, as René Spencer Saller writes in her program notes, a work that "boasts brisk contrasts and strange symmetries...a storehouse of stylistic touchstones: Bach fugues, peasant folk songs, angular tonal experiments, birdsong, night music." Mr. Storgårds let us hear all of that in a performance that allowed the music to breathe without sacrificing forward momentum. The players responded with some of the best work I have heard from them in some time. Every section was at the top of its game.

The concerts opened with a brief work for strings getting its local premiere: Valentin Silvestrov's haunting Hymne 2001. The delicate work is a beautiful piece of gossamer sonic filigree that uses silence—or as much silence as one can get in a live orchestra hall, anyway—as an important compositional tool. This is music that begins softly and ends with a prolonged hush. It is, in its own way, every bit as demanding as the far more massive Bartók in that all the lines are very exposed and the players need to be flawless. The SLSO strings proved that they were exactly that, with a performance of surpassing radiance.

Next at Powell Hall: David Robertson conducts the orchestra in two programs. On Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. he'll conduct an evening of popular classics, including Tchaikovsky's Capprico Italien, the overture to Weber's Der Freischütz, and Walton's Crown Imperial march, along with James Stephenson's bass trombone concerto The Arch performed by the SLSO's own Gerard Pagano. On Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., April 29 and 30, Augustin Hadelich joins the orchestra for the Brahms Violin Concerto. Performances take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center.

Monday, April 24, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of April 24, 2017

August: Osage County
Photo: John Lamb
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St. Louis Actors' Studio presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts through April 30. "A vanished father, a pill-popping mother and three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you've got a major new play that unflinchingly - and uproariously - exposes the dark side of the Midwestern family." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

Saturday, April 29, at 11 a.m. The Sheldon Concert Hall presents vocalist Ben Nordstrom: Singing Gershwin. "One of St. Louis' favorite musical theatre performers, Ben Nordstrom, returns to The Sheldon stage with the luminous vocalist Julia Hanson Battaglia to sing the classic songs of Gershwin! Hear favorites such as "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "I Got Rhythm," and more!" The Sheldon Concert Hall is on Washington in Grand Center. For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents A Big Easy Murder through April 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

The Gateway Men's Chorus presents Cabaret Risque, its annual fundraiser, on Saturday, April 29, at 7 p.m. The show stars The Kinsey Sicks in Chicks With Shticks, the "latest and greatest dragtastic a cappella musical! This collection of new songs is an equal mix of appalling original songs and unforgivable parodies of such favorites as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; A Whole New World; What Does the Fox Say; a Carole King number; two Grammy-award winning hits: Happy and the Disney sensation Let it Go. In other words, this show has something to mortify everyone! The performance takes place at the Boo Cat Club on North Union in the Central West End. For more information: gatewaymenschorus.org.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the one-man show Cry Havoc Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., April 29 and 30. " Actor/veteran Stephan Wolfert will lead his audience on an interactive journey to meet Shakespeare's veterans, and confront the difficulties today's soldiers face in leaving military service to rejoin the civilian world. The powerful one-person play speaks to the impact of theater as a tool for social change and the way the themes of Shakespeare's 400-year-old works resonate meaningfully in modern life." The performances take place in the auditorium at the St. Louis City Library Headquaters at 1301 Olive downtown. For more information: sfstl.com.

Dancing at Lughnasa
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through April 30. "Set in 1936 Ireland, the play explores the potential for romance and the lure of pagan rituals in a family's day-to-day life." There is no performance on Easter Sunday, April 16. Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

KTK Productions presents The Dixie Swim Club Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., April 28 - May 7. "Five Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every August to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other's lives. THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of thirty-three years. As their lives unfold and the years pass, these women increasingly rely on one another, through advice and raucous repartee, to get through the challenges (men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce, aging) that life flings at them. And when fate throws a wrench into one of their lives in the second act, these friends, proving the enduring power of "teamwork," rally 'round their own with the strength and love that takes this comedy in a poignant and surprising direction." Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: kurtainkall.org or call 314-351-8984.

Act Two Theatre presents the comedy murder mystery Drop Dead Wednesdays through Fridays at 7:30 and Sundays a 2 p.m., April 26 - May 7. "A cast of has-been actors plan to revive their careers in 'Drop Dead!,' a potboiler murder mystery directed by 'Wonder Child of the Broadway Stage' Victor Le Pewe (a psychotic eye twitching megalomaniac). At the dress rehearsal the set fails, props break, and the producer and an actor are murdered. During the opening night performance, the murders continue. The remaining thespians must save the show and their careers, solve the mystery and stay alive for curtain calls." Performances take place in the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre at 1 St Peters Centre Blvd, St. Peters, MO 63376. For more information: act2theater.com.

The Touhill Performing Arts Center presents Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth in concert on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. " In a career that spans film, television, and stage, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor and songstress Kristin Chenoweth is perhaps best well known for her work on the ABC series Pushing Daisies, FOX's hit comedy Glee, and NBC's political drama, The West Wing. However, fans of Broadway know the "popular" Hollywood Walk of Fame performer as smash-hit Wicked's original Glinda the Good Witch." The Touhill Center is on the campus of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. For more information: touhill.org.

The Lion King
Photo: Daniel Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents Disney's The Lion King through May 7. "Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. This is Disney's The Lion King, making its triumphant return to the Fabulous Fox. More than 85 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring visual artistry, the unforgettable music, and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular - one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Live through May 7. "The Off-Broadway hit comedy Men Are From Mars - Women Are From Venus LIVE!, is a one-man fusion of theatre and stand-up, and is a light-hearted theatrical comedy based on the New York Times #1 best-selling book of the last decade by John Gray. Moving swiftly through a series of vignettes, the show covers everything from dating and marriage to the bedroom. This hysterical show will have couples elbowing each other all evening as they see themselves on stage. Sexy and fast paced, this show is definitely for adults, but will leave audiences laughing and giggling like little kids! " The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

The University Theatre at Saint Louis University presents Monster by Neal Bell Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. April 28-30. "Adapted from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Monster takes a disturbing yet poignant look at one man's obsession with creating life and the destructive after effects of abandoning his creation." The University Theatre is located in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall. For more information: slu.edu/utheatre.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Murder at the Abbey through April 29. "Welcome to the world of Downton Abbey! A world full of aristocracy, old money but never anything as droll as murder! Congratulations! You've been invited to the dinner party held by the Earl of Grantham himself! Some would kill for the opportunity to meet the Crawley family. They'll all be there! The Earl, his beautiful wife and three daughters...not to mention all the other characters in, (and around), the Grantham house. That's right! All the family, staff and townsfolk will be there. You'll meet lots of fun characters...and you'll play as big, (or as small), of a part as you wish. Up to you. Hope nothing bad happens...but if it does...we might need you to help us figure it out? Or perhaps you're the killer?" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

UMSL Theatre and Cinema Arts presents My Country: A Devised Work Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 30. "What does your country look like? Inspired by the poem written by Sam Beadle, My Country, delves into how we view our country as citizens of different races, creeds, religions, gender, etc. And through it all, how do you define your country, how do you maintain empathy and your own humanity?" Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: kranzbergartscenter.org.

Curtain's Up Theatre presents Neil Simon's The Odd Couple Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., April 28 - May 6. "This classic comedy opens as a group of the guys assemble for cards in the apartment of divorced Oscar Madison. And if the mess is any indication, it's no wonder that his wife left him. Late to arrive is Felix Unger, who has just been separated from his wife. Fastidious, depressed, and none too tense, Felix seems suicidal, but as the action unfolds, Oscar becomes the one with murder on his mind when the clean freak and the slob ultimately decide to room together with hilarious results as The Odd Couple is born." Performances take place at the Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City, IL. For more information, visit curtainsuptheater.com.

Oedipus Apparatus
Photo: John Lamb
The West End Players Guild continues its 106th season with the world premier of Oedipus Apparatus, written and directed by Lucy Cashion, based on Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 27-30. There will also be a show on Thursday, April 27, at 8 PM. "Lucy Cashion is one of St. Louis's most exciting and creative young theatre artists. Her Equally Represented Arts Theatre Company is well-known for cutting edge works such as Trash Macbeth, Make Hamlet and The Residents of Craigslist. Now Lucy brings to our stage the world premiere Oedipus Apparatus, her original work inspired by Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. It is most definitely NOT the version of this classic tale you read in freshman English!" Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

Equally Represented Arts presents twelfth period, or not another twelfth night Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (except for April 29, when there is no performance) through May 6th. "Created and Presented by Equally Represented Arts, eratheatre.org An experimental, multi-space, theatrical production From William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and high school, circa 1999 Welcome to Illyria Preparatory Academy - 'Where some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.'" Performances take place at Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive in Grand Center. For more information: eratheatre.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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of April 24, 2017

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The Bach Society of St. Louis presents A Young Artists Concert on Sunday, April 30, at 4 p.m. as part of the St. Louis Bach Festival. "The Young Artist Scholarship Program was established in 1989 to provide performance experience and enhance professional training for career-oriented soloists, some of whom now sing in concert halls and opera houses across the country. The 2016-2017 award recipients present a FREE recital with a variety of music from Bach to favorites from operatic and musical theatre repertoire. Enjoy hearing soprano Madalyn Mentor, mezzo soprano Katherine Menke, tenor Kurtis Heinrich, and baritone Tyler Green accompanied by Sandra Geary." The free concert takes place at Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster. For more information: bachsociety.org.

The Chamber Music Society of St. Louis presents All Beethoven All the Time on Monday and Tuesday, April 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. " The Chamber Music Society St. Louis brings you Beethoven…Need they say more?" The concerts take place in the Sheldon Ballroom at 3648 Washington. For more information: chambermusicstl.org.

Eliot Unitarian Chapel presents a Friends of Music concert on Sunday, April 30, at 3 PM. The program includes music by Bach and Prokofiev. The concert takes place at Eliot Unitarian Chapel is at 100 South Argonne in Kirkwood. For more information: fomcstl.org.

Tomas Fujiwara and the Hook-Up
New Music Circle and KDHX present Tomas Fujiwara's The Hook Up on Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m. "A drummer working along jazz music's fringe, Tomas Fujiwara's résumé boasts memberships in the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet and the cooperative trio Thumbscrew, featuring acclaimed guitarist Mary Halvorson and veteran bassist Michael Formanek. Fujiwara's flagship ensemble, The Hook Up, performs rhythmically upbeat tunes, their music often alluding to the aesthetic qualities of Wayne Shorter or Miles Davis of the 1960s - sleek, enigmatically post-bop, more suggestive than demonstrative, complicated but never random. 2016 saw the release of After All is Said, The Hook Up's third album, which was honed extensively in 'live' performance, emphasizing Fujiwara's nuanced arrangements while honoring the dynamics of its virtuosic soloists: guitarist Halvorson, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and bassist Formanek." The performance takes place at The Stage at KDHX, 3524 Washington. For more information: newmusiccircle.org.

The St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra presents a concert of music by Schumann, Weber, and Stravinsky on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. The program includes Schumann's Symphony No. 1, the overture to Weber's opera Der Freischütz, and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. The concert takes place at the Skip Viragh Center on the Chaminade Preparatory School campus in Ladue. For more information: stlphilharmonic.org.com.

Davide Robertson
David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, along with soloists Julie Thayer, French horn, and Gerard Pagano, bass trombone, in a Whitaker Foundation Music You Know Concert of popular classics on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. The performance takes place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and violinist Augustin Hadelich in the Brahms Violin Concerto, along with Elgar's Serenade in E Minor and Georges Lentz's haunting Jerusalem, a piece dedicated to those lost in the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370. Performances are Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., April 29 and 30, at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org. The University City Symphony Orchestra presents The USA Cultural Confluence on Sunday, April 30, at 2:15 p.m. The program, which includes music by Copland, Verdi, and Mozart will feature the premiere of On Eagle Mountain by St. Louis composer, Todd Mosby, and also the winners of the 2017 Schatzkamer Young Artist Competition. The performance takes place at All Saints Catholic Church, 6403 Clemens in University City. For more information: ucso.org.

The Washington University Department of Music presents The Washngton University Wind Ensemble in concert on Thursday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. The concert includes the Overture to Colas Breugnon by Kabalevsky, music from Star Wars, and contemporary pieces by Rossano Galante and Michael Markowski, and takes place the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information, music.wustl.edu.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 21, 2017

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

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New This Week:

Dancing at Lughnasa
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through April 30. “Set in 1936 Ireland, the play explores the potential for romance and the lure of pagan rituals in a family's day-to-day life.” There is no performance on Easter Sunday, April 16. Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

My take: Brian Friel's 1990 memory play of life in rural Ireland has always been highly regarded, and it looks like Mustard Seed has mounted a very successful production. At Ladue News, Mark Bretz describes it as "a heart-rending rendition of Brian Friel’s haunting Irish drama, featuring superb performances by an ensemble cast given affecting direction by Gary Barker." Ann Lemmons Pollack agrees. "Mustard Seed Theatre has put together an ensemble for Brian Friel’s 1990 play that enlivens an already sparkling script," she writes at her St. Louis Eats and Drinks blog. There's basic benevolence at the heart of Dancing at Lughnasa that makes it a welcome antidote to the toxic spite that dominates the daily news cycle these days.


The Drowsy Chaperone
Photo: Eric Woolsey
Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the musical The Drowsy Chaperone Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 21-23. "It all starts with a man in a chair, who is feeling a little bit blue. To cure his sadness, he throws on one of his old favorite records: the original cast recording of the fictitious 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone. He paints us the picture of a hilarious wedding between famous actress Janet Van De Graaf and oil tycoon Robert Martin. The wedding is expected to run smoothly, but toss in an aspiring starlet, a desperate Broadway producer, a couple of suspicious pastry chefs, an erroneous womanizer, and a rather tipsy chaperone and well...things get a little complicated. Sit back and cure any of your 'non-specified sadness,' with this wildly humorous, Tony Award-winning musical." Performances take place on the Browning Mainstage Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.

My take: There are actually two productions of this delightful "musical within a play" this weekend but I'm giving the nod to the one on this side of the river (the other is at SIU-Edwardsville) with musical direction by the estimable Larry Pry. Possibly the most elaborate insider gag ever placed on the stage, The Drowsy Chaperone is a very smart and very funny parody of musical theatre and, to a certain extent, the very concept of theatre itself. Don't think you have to be a musical theatre geek to enjoy it, though; the in-jokes are general enough to appeal to just about anyone who has ever seen a Fred Astaire film or a Rogers and Hammerstein show. I expect that includes most of you.


The Lion King
Photo: Daniel Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents Disney's The Lion King running through May 7. "Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. This is Disney's The Lion King, making its triumphant return to the Fabulous Fox. More than 85 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring visual artistry, the unforgettable music, and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular - one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

My take: How could I not include this? Making its fourth or fifth trip (but who's counting?) to our city since its first appearance here in 2003, this ingenious stage adaptation of the popular Disney film remains a stunning piece of theatre. For those of you who have yet to see this remarkable show, know that the spectacular opening number sets the tone for the entire evening. As a giant red-orange sun rises over the African plain, the first sounds you hear are not those of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Anglo-American pop, which makes up the majority of the score, but rather the distinctly African melodies of Lebo M. Led the baboon Shaman Rafiki and answered by actors high in the side balconies, the call and response changes into “The Circle of Life” as the animals gather at Pride Rock, which slowly rises from the center of the stage. Tall, elegant giraffes, a lumbering elephant, leaping gazelles, a graceful cheetah, colorful birds—they stream in from every aisle and across the stage, surrounding the audience in light, sound, and color. And that's just the beginning of this extraordinary bucket of brilliance from the seemingly bottomless well of Julie Taymor’s genius. Go, take the kids, and enjoy.


Oedipus Apparatus
Photo: John Lamb
The West End Players Guild continues its 106th season with the world premiere of Oedipus Apparatus, written and directed by Lucy Cashion, based on Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, April 21-30. There will also be a show on Thursday, April 27, at 8 PM. "Lucy Cashion is one of St. Louis's most exciting and creative young theatre artists. Her Equally Represented Arts Theatre Company is well-known for cutting edge works such as Trash Macbeth, Make Hamlet and The Residents of Craigslist. Now Lucy brings to our stage the world premiere Oedipus Apparatus, her original work inspired by Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. It is most definitely NOT the version of this classic tale you read in freshman English!" Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

My take: [Full disclosure: I'm on the board of West End but have not worked on this show.] This wildly inventive and wholly original potpourri combines the general outline of the Oedipus legend (including bits and pieces of the Sophocles tragedy) with classical Newtonian mechanics, plane geometry, Freudian psychology (naturally!) and contemporary pop culture. A site-specific piece composed with West End’s location in mind, Oedipus Apparatus includes live Philip Glass-ish music by Joe Taylor (who also, of course, plays Apollo), ritualistic dance that reminded me of Pina Bausch, a mobile industrial set by Kristin Cassidy and Jacob Francis, live video, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Although there might have been one of those in the loopy junk-shop set from which the oracles of Delphi broadcast their vacuous chat show in a style reminiscent of "The View" or "Fox and Friends," with Athena the oleaginous hostess. At just under two hours with no intermission, it could use some editing, but as this is a world premiere that's not very surprising. It gets superb performances, in any case, from a very fine ensemble cast. You might love it or hate it, but you won't soon forget it.


A 2014 Shake 38 show
Photo: J. David Levy
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shake 38, a city-wide performance festival in which all 38 of Shakespeare's plays are performed by 38 different groups in a variety of neighborhoods and locations. Performances take place Wednesday through Sunday, April 19-23. For a complete schedule: sfstl.com.

My take: For sheer variety, it's hard to beat Shake 38, the Shakespeare Festival's annual city-wide celebration of The Bard on the week of his birthday. There are performances of the plays themselves at local venues, including Anthony and Cleopatra at Crossroads College Prep, Henry VII at St. Paul United Church of Christ, and Love's Labours Lost at St. Louis Univeristy. But there are also less conventional productions, such as Two Gentlemen of Lebowski at Ryder's Tavern and Equally Represented Arts' twelfth period at the Centene Center. And this week there's a parallel food festival, 38 Eats, with 38 dishes inspired by themes in the plays and created by local chefs For a complete list (because, trust me, there's a lot more): www.sfstl.com/in-the-streets/shake-38.


Held Over:

Seven Guitars
The Black Rep presents the drama Seven Guitars by August Wilson through April 23. "Set in 1948 in the backyard of a Pittsburgh apartment house, Seven Guitars follows Floyd " Schoolboy" Barton's circle of friends and neighbors-the play's seven voices-as they spin a rich tale of the deck that's stacked against them, what they've lost and all they dream of. Part murder mystery, part memory play, Seven Guitars depicts the events leading up to the untimely death of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a gifted blues guitarist. Released from jail after serving time for the crime of "worthlessness," Floyd tries to retrieve his guitar and get to Chicago to make a record. He believes he is on the brink of a career breakthrough, but bad decisions and worse luck prevent him from leaving Pittsburgh. " Performances take place in the Emerson Performance Space on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in midwotn. For more information: theblackrep.org.

My take: The Black Rep has always done well by the deep, literate works of August Wilson, and this production appears to be no exception. "As always with Wilson," writes Bob Wilcox at KDHX, "Seven Guitars satisfies with its rich language and its deep humanity." In her review at stltoday.com, Judy Newmark praises the acting ensemble and singles out Black Rep founder Ron Himes as "giving the performance of his career."


Sweeney Todd
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Thursdays through Saturdays through April 22. "A macabre musical tells the tale of Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, who returns to London seeking vengeance. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, proprietress of a failing pie shop, whose luck improves when the demon barbers thirst for blood inspires a new ingredient for her meat pies. Londoners start queuing up for a taste of her unique delectable treats!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

My take: I suppose I shouldn't be including this. It's not that the reviews haven't been great; exactly the opposite in fact. Tina Farmer at KDHX seems to be speaking for the majority. "Gleefully discordant and filled with strong performances," she writes, "anchored by outstanding leads from Jon Hey and Lavonne Byers, the tragically comic musical is fantastic and fun." No, the reason I probably shouldn't include this is that all performances are now sold out. Still, people do cancel and I expect they'll be happy to put you on a waiting list. A good production of this rattling great yarn is worth waiting for, in my book.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of April 17, 2017

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St. Charles Community College presents the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Wednesday through Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 19-23. “Follow us down the rabbit hole for this contemporary adaptation of Alice's Adventures! You can expect the time-honored cast of the usual characters, nonsensical interpersonal exchanges, and Jefferson Airplane-influenced soundtrack in this devised, collaboratively created production that won't follow too many of the usual rules we've come to expect when we go to the theatre." Performances take place in the FAB Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building on the campus at 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, MO. For more information, call 636-922-8050 or visit stchas.edu.

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts through April 30. "A vanished father, a pill-popping mother and three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you've got a major new play that unflinchingly - and uproariously - exposes the dark side of the Midwestern family." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents A Big Easy Murder through April 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Chuck Lavazzi
The Cabaret Project and The Curtain Call Lounge at the Fox present the monthly Broadway Open Mic Night on Thursday, April 20, 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. Your host is KDHX Senior Performing Arts Critic and Cabaret Project board member Chuck Lavazzi. 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.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through April 30. “Set in 1936 Ireland, the play explores the potential for romance and the lure of pagan rituals in a family's day-to-day life.” There is no performance on Easter Sunday, April 16. Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents the musical The Drowsy Chaperone Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 19-23. "During a very fancy wedding reception five, reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with their own reason to avoid the proceedings below. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women, joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent, and touching celebration of women's spirit." 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.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the musical The Drowsy Chaperone Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 19-23. "It all starts with a man in a chair, who is feeling a little bit blue. To cure his sadness, he throws on one of his old favorite records: the original cast recording of the fictitious 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone. He paints us the picture of a hilarious wedding between famous actress Janet Van De Graaf and oil tycoon Robert Martin. The wedding is expected to run smoothly, but toss in an aspiring starlet, a desperate Broadway producer, a couple of suspicious pastry chefs, an erroneous womanizer, and a rather tipsy chaperone and well...things get a little complicated. Sit back and cure any of your 'non-specified sadness,' with this wildly humorous, Tony Award-winning musical." Performances take place on the Browning Mainstage Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.

The Performing Arts Department at Washington University presents Gossip Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., April 20-23. "Who killed Jane “The Bitch" Nelson while dozens of celebrities sipped champagne? It's a sleazy mystery indeed, implicating many of the city's movers and shakers, and it's a gold mine for any newspaper covering it. Baxter, owner of the biggest paper in town, wants an answer to that question and he tags T.M. Power for the job. “I'm a political journalist” Power protests, “Not a gossip columnist!” But his boss prevails, and our hero suddenly finds himself in the underbelly of big city corruption, knee-deep in lawyers, actors, and hookers, all scheming and conniving in a comedic web that leads to one of the biggest stories Power has ever covered. In Gossip, George F. Walker skewers our appetite for celebrity and fame with this film noir-inspired puzzle of a play." The performances take place in the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information, call 314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu.

The Lion King
Photo: Daniel Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents Disney's The Lion King, opening on Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m., and running through May 7. "Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. This is Disney's The Lion King, making its triumphant return to the Fabulous Fox. More than 85 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring visual artistry, the unforgettable music, and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular - one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Live April 19 - May 7. "The Off-Broadway hit comedy Men Are From Mars - Women Are From Venus LIVE!, is a one-man fusion of theatre and stand-up, and is a light-hearted theatrical comedy based on the New York Times #1 best-selling book of the last decade by John Gray. Moving swiftly through a series of vignettes, the show covers everything from dating and marriage to the bedroom. This hysterical show will have couples elbowing each other all evening as they see themselves on stage. Sexy and fast paced, this show is definitely for adults, but will leave audiences laughing and giggling like little kids! " The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

The University Theatre at Saint Louis University presents Monster by Neal Bell Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. April 21-30. "Adapted from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Monster takes a disturbing yet poignant look at one man's obsession with creating life and the destructive after effects of abandoning his creation." The University Theatre is located in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall. For more information: slu.edu/utheatre.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Murder at the Abbey through April 29. "Welcome to the world of Downton Abbey! A world full of aristocracy, old money but never anything as droll as murder! Congratulations! You've been invited to the dinner party held by the Earl of Grantham himself! Some would kill for the opportunity to meet the Crawley family. They'll all be there! The Earl, his beautiful wife and three daughters...not to mention all the other characters in, (and around), the Grantham house. That's right! All the family, staff and townsfolk will be there. You'll meet lots of fun characters...and you'll play as big, (or as small), of a part as you wish. Up to you. Hope nothing bad happens...but if it does...we might need you to help us figure it out? Or perhaps you're the killer?" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

UMSL Theatre and Cinema Arts presents My Country: A Devised Work Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m, April 21-30. "What does your country look like? Inspired by the poem written by Sam Beadle, My Country, delves into how we view our country as citizens of different races, creeds, religions, gender, etc. And through it all, how do you define your country, how do you maintain empathy and your own humanity?" Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: kranzbergartscenter.org.

The West End Players Guild continues its 106th season with the world premier of Oedipus Apparatus, written and directed by Lucy Cashion, based on Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, April 21-30. There will also be a show on Thursday, April 27, at 8 PM. "Lucy Cashion is one of St. Louis's most exciting and creative young theatre artists. Her Equally Represented Arts Theatre Company is well-known for cutting edge works such as Trash Macbeth, Make Hamlet and The Residents of Craigslist. Now Lucy brings to our stage the world premiere Oedipus Apparatus, her original work inspired by Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. It is most definitely NOT the version of this classic tale you read in freshman English!" Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

Lion's Paw Theatre Company presents Plays on the Menu, a reading of the plays Running in Circles Screaming by Jeni Mahoney, Breakfast and Bed by Amy Fox, and The News from St Petersburg by Rich Orloff on Tuesday, April 18, at noon at The Hearth Room at The Hawken House, 1155 South Rock Hill Road and on Wednesday, April 19, at noon at St. Louis Artists' Guild, 12 North Jackson in Clayton. The readings include lunch. For more information: lionspawtheatre.org.

Seven Guitars
The Black Rep presents the drama Seven Guitars by August Wilson through April 23. "Set in 1948 in the backyard of a Pittsburgh apartment house, Seven Guitars follows Floyd " Schoolboy" Barton's circle of friends and neighbors-the play's seven voices-as they spin a rich tale of the deck that's stacked against them, what they've lost and all they dream of. Part murder mystery, part memory play, Seven Guitars depicts the events leading up to the untimely death of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a gifted blues guitarist. Released from jail after serving time for the crime of "worthlessness," Floyd tries to retrieve his guitar and get to Chicago to make a record. He believes he is on the brink of a career breakthrough, but bad decisions and worse luck prevent him from leaving Pittsburgh. " Performances take place in the Emerson Performance Space on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in midwotn. For more information: theblackrep.org.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shake 38, a city-wide performance festival in which all 38 of Shakespeare's plays are performed by 38 different groups in a variety of neighborhoods and locations. Performances take place Wednesday through Sunday, April 19-23. For a complete schedule: sfstl.com.

St. Louis Community College at Meramec presents Spinning Into Butter Wednesday through Sunday, April 19-23. "Set on a Vermont College campus, Spinning Into Butter explores racism in America today. The playwright presents ideas about race relations as we see a liberal dean of students, Sarah Daniels, investigate racist comments written to one of the college's few African American students. As a result, Sarah, along with other faculty members and students, explore their own personal ideas about racism leading to surprising discoveries and insights. Who is racist? This performance promises to spark lots of relevant discussion." The production is recommended for mature audiences. 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.

Sweeney Todd
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Thursdays through Saturdays through April 22. "A macabre musical tells the tale of Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, who returns to London seeking vengeance. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, proprietress of a failing pie shop, whose luck improves when the demon barbers thirst for blood inspires a new ingredient for her meat pies. Londoners start queuing up for a taste of her unique delectable treats!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Equally Represented Arts presents twelfth period, or not another twelfth night, opening on Wednesday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. and running Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (except for April 29, when there is no performance) through May 6th. "Created and Presented by Equally Represented Arts, eratheatre.org An experimental, multi-space, theatrical production From William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and high school, circa 1999 Welcome to Illyria Preparatory Academy - 'Where some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.'” Performances take place at Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive in Grand Center. For more information: eratheatre.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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of April 17, 2017

The Bach Society at St. Stanislaus Church
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The Bach Society of St. Louis presents The Spiritual Bach on Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m. "This unique concert presents Bach's organ works alongside African-American Spirituals with soprano and St. Louis native Marlissa Hudson and organist Marvin Mills. Both genres of music have a deep connection to the love of God at their core, which fuels them with meaning beyond the music on the page and provides a common depth of sentiment- a spiritual connection. The program pairs pieces of similar moods and rhythmic or melodic ideas. Presented at, and in collaboration with, Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church." The concert takes place at Ladue Chapel Rpesbyterian church, 9450 Clayton Road. For more information: bachsociety.org.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Opera Tastings on Saturday, April 22, at 7 p.m. "Get the perfect introduction to opera with this unique culinary concert experience! Dlight all of your senses as music from across the history of opera is paired with delicious food and drink crafted specially by Chef Jack and Mixologist Misha Sampson of Culture Catering to complement the flavors of the music.. All-inclusive tickets are just $20! Featuring Nicolette Book, soprano; Stephanie Sanchez, mezzo soprano; Geoffrey Agpalo, tenor; Justin Austin, baritone; and Ben Malensek, pianist, as well as emcee Ryan McAdams, Conductor." The event takes place at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, 210 Hazel Avenue on the Webster University campus. For more information: experienceopera.org.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Opera Tastings on Sunday, April 22, at 3 p.m. "Get the perfect introduction to opera with this unique culinary concert experience! Dlight all of your senses as music from across the history of opera is paired with delicious food and drink crafted specially by Chef Michael Gallina to complement the flavors of the music.. All-inclusive tickets are just $20! Featuring Nicolette Book, soprano; Stephanie Sanchez, mezzo soprano; Geoffrey Agpalo, tenor; Justin Austin, baritone; and Ben Malensek, pianist, as well as emcee Ryan McAdams, Conductor." The event takes place at Vicia 4240, 4240 Duncan Ave. in midtown. For more information: experienceopera.org.

The St. Louis Brass Band
The St. Louis Brass Band presents High, Fast, and Loud on Sunday, April 23, at 2:30 p.m. "The final concert of the 2016-17 season of the Saint Louis Brass Band will be exciting and special as it will feature J.D. Shaw, Professor of Horn at the University of South Carolina and French Horn of the Boston Brass. The Brass Band has performed musical arrangements of Mr. Shaw's in the past and is very excited to be able to bring him to the St. Louis audience for this concert. Music from throughout the season, as well as new offerings, will bring this season to a rousing conclusion. The Saint Louis Youth Brass Band will make its final appearance of the season as well. You won't want to miss a concert with so much to offer!" The concert takes place at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 100 E. Adams in Kirkwood, MO. For more information: stlbb.org.

John Storgårds conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and pianist Nikolai Lugansky in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, and Valentin Silvestrov's Hymne 2001 for string ensemble. Performances are Friday at 10:30 a.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m., April 21-23 at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Yefim Bronfma
Sangeetha presents a North Indian (Hindustani) style vocal concert by Dr. Ram Deshpande accompanied by Sri Ajay Joglekar (Harmonium) and Sri Sanjay Deshpande (Tabla, a percussion instrument) on Saturday, April 22, at 7 p.m. The concert takes place at the Midwest Music Conservatory, 15977 Clayton Road in Ballwin, MO. For more information: sangeetha.org.

The Washington University Department of Music Great Artists Series presents pianist Yefim Bronfman on Sunday, April 23, at 7 p.m. The concert includes music by Bartok, Schumann, Debussy, and Stravinsky and takes place the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information, music.wustl.edu.