Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of October 16, 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:

The cast of Company
Photo: Joe Angeles
The Performing Arts Department at Washington University presents the Stephen Sondheim musical Company Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM through October 18. "Phone rings, door chimes, in comes Company! First produced in 1970, Company was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical. Company takes an unvarnished look at marriage through the eyes of Bobby who, unmarried on his thirty-fifth birthday, finds himself lost in the company of his married friends. With his trademark wit and sophistication, Stephen Sondheim examines the flawed nature of human relationships as Bobby journeys towards the realization that, in spite of all of his friends' failings, there is no point in 'Being Alive' unless he has someone with whom to share it." Performances take place in the Edison Theatre in the Mallinckrodt Student Center on the Washington University campus. For more information, or call 314-935-6543.

My take: You can't go wrong with Sondheim and particularly with this show, with its trenchant and yet touching take on the difficult business of cobbling together romantic relationships. The Washington U. students are apparently doing well by this material, to judge by what our critic Sarah Richardson had to say over at KDHX. "Annamaria Pileggi does a fine job directing this enjoyable production", she writes. "The singing is strong and moving...The cast performs admirably...this is a great opportunity to see a delightful and moving production."

Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents the musical Dogfight Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 24. "A contemporary musical with timeless themes of love and compassion woven into 1960's America as our boys stand at the brink of service in Vietnam." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Based on the 1991 movie of the same name, Dogfight juxtaposes the personal cruelty of a contest in which three Marines each try to find the ugliest girl to take to a dance in hopes of winning the prize for having the biggest "dog" of a date with the impersonal cruelty of the Vietnam war. Writing for the Ladue News, Mark Bretz notes that the "youthful cast expertly conveys all the emotions of the time. Seeing that bravado so genuinely portrayed on stage makes the memories of history all that more painful and powerful". I'll admit to being a bit biased in Stray Dog's favor, having done a number of shows with them over the years, but my experience has been that you can usually count on them for professional work and innovative programming.

Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the regional premiere of the musical Heathers, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, through October 24. "New Line opens its 25th season with the regional premiere of the pitch-black musical comedy HEATHERS, written by the award-winning team of Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) and Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy, Legally Blonde). This hilarious, big--hearted, and homicidal new musical is based on the 1989 cult film, truly one of the darkest teen comedies of all time. The original screenwriter Daniel Waters called it, 'a Carson McCullers-style novel of a girl who meets the Antichrist as a teenager.'" Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit or call 314-534-1111. Read the 88.1 KDHX review!

My take: New Line is in a new space and judging from the reviews it's a big improvement over their old digs at the Washington University South Campus Theatre on Clayton. "The company's new space is comfortable," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "and offers good views from every seat in the house, a bonus when watching a show with such a strong ensemble." The show is just the kind of edgy material that Scott Miller and New Line have made a speciality for many years now.

De Kus
Upstream Theater presents De Kus (The Kiss) by Dutch author Ger Thijs, translated by Paul Evans through October 25. "When a lonely stand-up comic and an anxious housewife meet on a country path, they embark on a journey toward an unknown and surprising fate...where one kiss could change the entire world." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, including show times:

My take: The program for this show includes the following quote from the playwright: "Sometimes people discover heir purpose, their dignity, not in happiness, but in a twist of fate". As someone who found happiness as an indirect result of what most people would probably consider to be an unpleasant twist of fate, I could not agree more. Notices for the local premiere of this two-character play have been good, demonstrating that Upstream has once again demonstrated that taking on risky material can be very rewarding.

One Too Many
The Presenters Dolan present the a cappella group One Too Many on Friday, October 16, at 8 PM as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival. "Six-Man A Capella. Tight harmonies, sharp, funny, homegrown. If you like Straight No Chaser, you'll be very happy. These guys are on the move." The performance takes place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information:

My take: These guys came to the open mic night I host for The Cabaret Project at the Tavern of Fine Arts a few months ago and just knocked everybody out. Is the cabaret tent big enough to include a cappella? I'd say so, and I'd say this is just the group to prove it.

The Tavern of Fine Arts presents singers Tim Schall, Deborah Sharn, and Bridgette Kossor, with pianist Rocky Tucker, in an evening of jazz standards and sophisticated pop on Friday, October 16, at 8 p.m. The Tavern of Fine Arts is at 313 Belt in the Debaliviere Place neighborhood. For more information:

My take: Speaking of the Tavern of Fine Arts, here they are presenting an evening of great singing by some of the area's top vocalists. The Tavern's performance space is cozy and decorated with a regularly-changing array of local art, and their food and wine list has much to offer.

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