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My take: One of the great pleasures of hosting The Cabaret Project's monthly open mic night is watching someone I've never seen before walk in, sign up, and just floor me with talent. Angie Nicholson did that a couple years ago and I've been watching her develop her cabaret chops ever since. I'm happy to say that I knew her when, and I'm glad that the open mic night was able to help get her started. She certainly has major league talent supporting her; Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen are big stars themselves, and are famous for supporting and helping to develop new talent.
My take: The events in Ferguson, Missouri, last year resonated throughout the nation. This drama by St. Louis playwright Lee Patton Chiles is, in the words of KDHX theatre reviewer Tina Farmer, "a thought provoking, well-acted and strongly worded play that stirs discussion in an attempt to create a fuller, more varied and nuanced understanding of racial conflict, not only in St. Louis but across America." Theatre can educate, enlighten, and provoke as well as entertain, and it looks like Gitana has a production here that does all three.
Mariposa Artists presents In Concert: Classic Rock Reimagined and Unpluged on Thursday, June 4, at 8 p.m. The show is features 11 local singers and directed by Lina Koutrakos with Rick Jensen on piano. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: inconcertstl.brownpapertickets.com.
My take: This show features an all-star lineup of local cabaret talent. Lina Koutrakos is a cabaret star whose roots like in rock and blues and Rick Jensen is powerfully talented pianist and songwriter. I'm very familiar with ten of the eleven singers from my work on local cabaret stages and I'll guarantee that they're solid performers. Many of them have already developed their own shows and all have participated in showcases and in the Cabaret Project's open mic nights at the Tavern of Fine Arts. You can't go wrong here.
|One Summer on 2nd Street|
My take: One of the more welcome harbingers of summer in St. Louis is the appearance of Circus Flora's air-conditioned tent on the parking lot just south of Powell Hall. Once the big top is in place, you know that an evening of thrills, comedy and all-around family friendly entertainment awaits you within its pleasantly cool confines. "Circus Flora shows always tell a story," Tina Farmer reminds us in her KDHX review. "[T]his year it's 'One Summer on Second Street.' A tale of summer in the city with a nostalgic feel, the story encourages us to meet our neighbors and treat our animal friends with love and respect. Naturally, the lesson is delivered with an abundance of fantastic feats of skill, strength, and athleticism." Grab some popcorn and cotton candy, listen to the band organ before the show, and be a kid again. Or stay one, as the case may be.
|Photo: Ken Howard|
My take: La Rondine was always a bit of a problem child for Puccini. He left it in three different versions. I've seen two of them, and while in both cases the libretto was so cryptic that characters' decisions often seemed weirdly unmotivated, there was no getting around the fact that the composer lavished some truly wonderful music on that text. The music and, even more importantly, the singing actors are the reasons to see this beautifully sung, impeccably acted, intelligently directed, and all-around entertaining production. As I say in my review for KDHX, this production is a reminder of why we love opera in the first place.
|Anthony and Cleopatra|
My take: As I write in my review for OnSTL.com, 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
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.