Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of May 29, 2015

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:

Anthony and Cleopatra
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra nightly except for Tuesdays June 14. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. Curtain time is 8 PM. For more information, visit

My take: As I write in my review for, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is producing a deftly edited and superbly acted production of this late Shakespeare tragedy/comedy/history. This isn't the easiest play to do, and other companies have stubbed their toes on it in the past, but under Mike Donahue's expert direction this fine cast does very well with material that is dramatically complex and open to a wide variety of interpretations. You can sit on the grass for free, but personally I recommend springing for one of the $20 reserved seats. That's still plenty cheap for theatre of this quality.

Emily Fons as Rosina and
Dale Travis as Dr. Bartolo
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Rossini's comedy The Barber of Seville in rotating repertory with three other operas through June 27. "There's a good reason it's one of the world's most popular operas! Rossini's zany and sparkling score sets the gold standard for opera that is fresh, elegant, funny, and brimming with vocal fireworks. Delight as the young barber Figaro helps Count Almaviva steal the beautiful Rosina from under the nose of her doddering guardian." 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: or call 314-961-0644.

My take: As I write in my review for KDHX, everyone connected with this production can congratulate themselves on a job well done. Taking as his point of departure the animated and colorful films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, Mr. Shell has produced a loopy, slightly surreal, and highly engaging take this comic opera classic. The updated bits are always funny and sometimes inspired. And there aren't so many of them that they pull focus from the singers and the text and score of the opera. This is a production that respects the intelligence of its audience and doesn't assume that we need to be constantly distracted in order to be entertained.

Ben Watts
The Kranzberg Arts Center presents Wonderful Enough: Ben Watts Sings Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Jerry Herman, Peggy Lee, and More on Saturday, May 30, at 8 p.m. Carol Schmidt is music director and pianist for the program, which is directed by Tim Schall. The Kranzberg Center is at 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: As I say in my preview article, a well-constructed cabaret act is ultimately a kind of one-act play, which is why actors—who have the advantage of understanding dramatic form—often create some of the best cabaret. Mr. Watts has shown that he can do both comedy and drama, and his appearances at The Cabaret Project's open mic nights (which I host) have been very impressive. And, of course, Tim Schall and Carol Schmidt are cabaret pros of considerable standing themselves. This is likely to be an auspicious debut.

Held Over:

My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding
Photo: Eric Woolsey

New Jewish Theater presents the musical My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding May 7-31. "The surprise hit of both the Toronto Fringe Festival and New York Musical Theater Festival, My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding is the sweet, tuneful and true story of the journey of the playwright's mother as she discovered her true self. Despite its specific title, MMLJWW is a universal story about parents and children, falling in love, and finding out who you are. It has heart and soul and in today's political climate, it couldn't be more timely - plus, it's a TRUE STORY!" Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

My take: As I wrote in my review for KDHX, David Hein and Irene Sankoff's unapologetically autobiographical musical is a pleasant and pleasing little show. It's so light that a stiff breeze would blow it away, but its heart is in the right place, which counts for a great deal. Ed Coffield has assembled a great cast and directed them well. Sets and costumes are bright and colorful and the on-stage band is solid. When I saw it on its opening weekend it was sold out, so you might want to order tickets sooner rather than later.

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