Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 12th

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

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It’s embarrassment of riches time in St. Louis, on both the theatre and concert scenes.

Angels in America, Part 1
Stray Dog Theatre presents Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, April 12-14, 26-28, and May 10-12. I'm including this one on the basis of both my admiration for the script, which is boundless, and my admiration for Stray Dog Theatre, which is based on the many positive experiences I've had as an actor working for the company.  They cast good people, in my experience, and treat them well.  Besides, the two Angels in America plays are not performed often as they are very challenging both for the audience and the producing company.  Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, call 314-865-1995.

Cavalia, its run extended yet again, continues through April 21 under the Really Big Top on Cerre Street at the I-64 Broadway exit. It’s the Rolls Royce of equestrian shows—a flashy, elegant evening featuring 48 horses, a raft of acrobats and aerialists, and some impressive multi-media effects. The show is not without its longueurs but even so, anyone who loves horses won't want to miss it. See my review at the KDHX web site. Visit or call 1-866-999-8111.

Exit the King
The West End Players Guild concludes their 101st season with Ionesco's Exit the King Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, April 13 through 22. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of directors of West End Players Guild, as well as the play reading committee. That said, this is not a script that has ever generated much enthusiasm on my part, so I was surprised at how engaging and (yes) funny I found the show to be when I sat in on a dress rehearsal this week. Credit director Renee Sevier-Monsey and her polished cast. Sets, costumes, and lights look pretty slick as well. 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 You can see some underground rehearsal video at the West End Players blog.

"It's like a musical wrecking ball"

The St. Louis Symphony has been marketing this weekend’s concerts with a clever on-line campaign emphasizing the high energy (and volume) of Prokofiev’s rarely heard Ala and Lolly (Scythian Suite), Op. 20. Written in 1915, the piece was originally intended as a ballet for Serge Diaghilev based on a legendary pre-Christian race known as the Scythians. Diaghliev turned it down—maybe it sounded too similar to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps from two years earlier—so Prokofiev turned it into an orchestral suite. Its 1916 premiere didn’t cause riots, but it did scandalize the conservative Russian musical establishment with its unapologetic dissonance and rhythmic drive. A timpanist at the premiere is said to have burst the skin of one of his drums at one especially violent moment.

The rest of the program should prove exciting as well: Rachmaninoff’s valedictory Symphonic Dances and Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand with the great pianist Leon Fleisher at the keyboard. David Robertson is on the podium. Performances are Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM, April 14 and 15. For more information, visit

Jeffrey M. Wright
The Presenters Dolan present Jeffrey M. Wright in Southern Roots Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, at 8 PM at The Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. Carol Schmidt is pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Tim Schall. In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess that I have worked with all of these folks at one time or another on stage. I have, as a result, a keen appreciation for their talents, which are substantial. I haven’t seen this particular show yet, of course, but in the past I have found Jeff to be a very engaging and skilled performer and have been impressed with Carol’s ability to tailor arrangements to a performer’s strengths. For more information, call 314-725-4200 stn. 10 or visit

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