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New This Week:
|Alexandra Walker LoBianco as Brünnhilde|
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.
|The Mighty Wurlitzer|
My take: The Fox Mighty Wurlitzer is second in size only to the one at Radio Music Hall. It is original to the theatre and was first played on opening night in 1929. Opportunities to hear the legendary theatre organ in action are sadly rare these days; the last time it accompanied a silent film was in 2007 when the legendary Stan Kann accompanied a showing of The Phantom of the Opera. If you're a fan of these remarkable instruments with their many voices and special effects, you won't want to miss this event, the proceeds of which go o to the Stan Kann Memorial Scholarship which encourages young aspiring organists.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Written by Stray Dog founder Gary F. Bell and Robert L. White, Spellbound! is a big step forward for this gutsy company. In her review for KDHX, Tina Farmer writes that the show "doesn't tell a new story, and it never pretends to be more than the lovely, fantasy-laden fable that it presents. But it is richly layered, with several memorable tunes that successfully mix musical genres into a fresh, uplifting story. The effect is immersive and cathartic, encouraging audiences to let go of their cares and embrace a delightfully new interpretation of a much-loved tale." I'm a great admirer of Stray Dog's work, both as an actor and audience member, so I have no hesitation in recommending this first foray into presenting original material.