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|Black and Blue|
My take: The events in Ferguson, Missouri, last year resonated throughout the nation. Originally presented back in June, 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.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Ms. Rebeck is a prolific playwright and a darned good one. Her Mauritius, for example, was a big hit for West End Players a few years back. "The smartly written script," writes Tina Farmer in her review of Seminar for KDHX, "is complemented by solid performances from the ensemble and well-executed, if not always surprising, plot twists."
Valhalla Cemetery and The Hawthorne Players present Voices Of Valhalla: A Hayride Through History October 2-10. Hayrides through Valhalla Cemetery depart every fifteen minutes beginning at 6:30 each evening as members of the Hawthorne Players portray some of the noted locals buried in Valhalla. Valhalla Cemetery is located at 7600 St. Charles Rock Road. For more information, visit hawthorneplayers.com.
My take: I had a chance to both see and appear in this annual event for the first time last year, and I must say that I was impressed by the professionalism of both the script (assembled by director Larry Marsh from historical sources) and the quality of the performances. Here's how it works: you pile on a hay wagon and are driven through historic Valhalla Cemetery. At various points during the ride, the wagon stops and an actor portraying a historical figure buried at Valhalla steps out of the darkness and delivers a monolog on his or her life. They can be comic, tragic, or a combination of the two, but they're always well researched and informative.
|All the Way|
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
My take: If this play tells us anything, it's that the fight for justice never ends because the forces of hate, fear, and repression never go away. Brian Dyskstra heads a large and impressive cast as LBJ, beset on all sides because he decided to place principle above party and the good of the nation about political expedience by pushing through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It's hard to imagine a contemporary politician at the national level who would have this kind of courage, which does not bode well for the republic. This is great theatre and a great moral lesson. You will be sorry if you miss it. Performances continue through October 4th.
|The Full Monty|
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: Not everybody agrees with me, but I think this stage version of the classic British comedy works pretty well, with a book by noted playwright Terrence McNally that respects the original screenplay and a very effective score by David Yazbeck. Stages has demonstrated that they can be relied upon for a professional production, so I have no hesitation in recommending this.
|Venus in Fur|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Full disclosure: I'm on the board and play reading committee at West End and was a big supporter of this play. I was very impressed by the Rep's production of this smart comedy/drama/fantasy when they did it and I expect good things from this production. I have worked with both of the actors and can personally attest to their skill. Trust me, Paula Stoff Dean was born to play this part.