Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of August 28, 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:

One Flea Spare
Photo: Joey Rumpell
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble presents One Flea Spare through August 29. "A wealthy couple is preparing to flee their home in plague-ravaged 17th Century London when a mysterious sailor and a young girl sneak into their boarded up house. Now, quarantined together for 28 days, the only thing these strangers fear more than the Plague is each other. Definitions of morality are up for grabs and survival takes many forms in this dark, fiercely intense and humorous play." Performances take place at The Chapel Venue, 6238 Alexander Drive. For more information:

My take: Slightly Askew has once again brought local audiences a local premiere that has critics buzzing. "Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble," write Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "currently offers a brilliant interpretation for the St. Louis premiere of this powerful and poignant story about the dangers that wreak ruin not only on the human body but its fragile psyche as well." "In their latest production," says the Snoop's Theatre Thoughts blog, "the SATE team uses their usual performance space at The Chapel to its fullest potential, presenting an intense, disturbing and remarkable production that’s sure to keep audiences thinking." And, of course, The Chapel provides its venue free of charge to the artists, so every dime you spend goes right to SATE.

Gordon's Entertainment presents St. Louis Legends on Sunday, August 30, at 3 p.m. The show is a cabaret performance the pays tribute to some of the celebrated performers "who have graced the stages of St. Louis with songs, dance, musical compositions, poetry, [and] comedy". Narrated by Linda Kennedy, the show stars Joe Mancuso, Uvee Hayes, Davey Dave, Wendy L. Gordon, Jeanne Trevor, Tish Haynes Keys, J. Samuel Davis, and KDHX's own Deborah Sharn. The performance takes place at the James Egan Theatre in the Florissant Civic Center in Florissant, MO. For more information: or call 314-921-5678

My take: I know enough of these performers, personally and/or professionally, to predict that this will be a killer evening of local jazz and cabaret all-stars. 'Nuff said.

Wild Oats
Photo: Kim Carlson
St. Louis Shakespeare presents Wild Oats by James McLure Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., through August 30. Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood. For more information, call 314-361-5664 or visit

My take: This seems to be St. Louis Shakespeare's season for parody. First we had the wittily revisionist Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, and now comes a revisionist take by James McClure on a 1791 comedy by the Irish dramatist John O'Keeffe. Moved to the Wild West, the show is aims for broad comedy and appears to be succeeding. At the Belleville News Democrat, Lynn Venhaus writes that "St. Louis Shakespeare has produced a daffy delight, a refreshing tonic at summer’s end." "Wild Oats rolls from bit to bit and from scene to scene on sheer laughter, plus a little song," writes Judy Newmark at "Don’t hesitate to join in."

Held Over:

Alexandra Walker LoBianco as Brünnhilde
Union Avenue Opera presents Wagner's Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, August 21 - 29. "A suspenseful tale of courage and sacrifice, Wagner's tale of gods, mortals and giants draws to a close in Götterdämmerung - Twilight of the Gods. The heroic Siegfried gifts Brünnhilde with the ring as a token of their love, but they are soon caught up in events beyond their control. Brünnhilde steps forward to return the universe to its natural order in the ultimate act of self-sacrifice. Watch as the Rhine overflows, Valhalla burns, and the kingdom of the gods is destroyed." Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union at Enright in the Central West End. The opera is sung in German with projected English text. For more information, visit or call 314-361-2881.

My take: Union Avenue's ambitious presentation of Wagner's complete Ring cycle concludes with this final opera in the series. The company is using reduced versions of the opera prepared by British composer Jonathan Dove and director Graham Vick, but even so this has been a very big and very risky project for them, and it deserves our support. Chicago's Lyric Opera starts another Ring cycle next year, but it's unlikely that you will see another one in St. Louis, reduced or not, for a long time. Happily, as I note in my review for KDHX, it's a strong production, thanks to tremendous performances by the singers and clear, focused stage direction by Karen Coe Miller. Yes, I miss the big moments only a full-size orchestra can provide, but to a certain extent the lack of theatrical flash sharpens the focus on the plot, the characters, and their implicit commentary on matters of morality and power. Which is a good thing.

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