Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of October 30, 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:

Matilda the Musical
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents Matilda the Musical, based on the novel by Roald Dahl, through November 1. "Winner of 50 international awards including 4 Tony Awards  and seven Olivier Awards including Best Musical, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life. Armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, Matilda dares to take a stand and change her destiny." The Fox Theatre is at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Everyone seems to be enjoying Matilda immensely. The Belleville News-Democrat's Lynn Venhaus says the show "celebrates the power of imagination as it unfolds the inspiring tale of a magical little girl." KDHX's Amy Burger says it's "an enchanting piece of musical theatre for Broadway fans of all ages." "It's truly magical," writes Chris Gibson at, "and definitely a must-see, for families, and even those who don't have them."

Winter Opera St. Louis presents Gilbert and Sullivan's comedy/drama Yeomen of the Guard Friday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM, October 30 and November 1. Performances take place at The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School, 425 S. Lindbergh. For more information, visit

My take: Winter Opera remains one of the better practitioners of musical theatre in St. Louis. They also have the distinction of being the only one of our three opera companies to be working in a space that wasn’t retrofitted to present opera—a virtue not to be taken lightly. Their productions haven't always been entirely successful, but overall I have come to think of them as The Little Opera Company That Could. Yeomen of the Guard is an interesting choice in that it's the only Gilbert and Sullivan operetta that does not have a happy ending. It also has one of Sullivan's most ambitious scores, which is what makes it so attractive to opera companies.

Held Over:

Angel Street
Photo: Eric Woolsey
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama Angel Street through November 8. Mrs. Bella Manningham is going mad. Confined to an old and dark London home, her suave husband and caretaker, Jack, accuses her of playing wicked pranks and tricks that she can't recall, tormenting Bella and making her question her own sanity. Frightened, Bella believes everyone is against her, until one evening when a keen police inspector pays her a visit, shedding light on information that could save her life. Equal parts mystery, psychology and sin, Angel Street is one of Broadway's longest running plays. " Performances take place on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit

My take: Sometimes a play's film adaptation will completely eclipse the original—just ask Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, whose 1940 drama Everybody Comes to Rick's would achieve fame as Casablanca. In the case of the 1938 thriller Angel Street, the 1944 film adaptation Gaslight (as the play was originally name in Britain) has become so familiar that the Rep adding it to the title. In any case, the original seems to have retained its suspense, despite the fact that pretty much everybody on the planet now knows the plot twists. "This is expertly crafted entertainment that will surely get you in the mood for the Halloween season," writes Chris Gibson at, "and I highly recommend it!" At KDHX, Sarah Richardson says it's "an enjoyable, diverting show with a delightful cast and fantastic design." I agree about the cast, although it seems clear to me that the director has asked both leads to overact, esepcially in the final scene, with detracted from my enjoyment of what is, overall, a good production.

The Sunshine Boys
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theatre presents Neil Simon's comedy The Sunshine Boys through November 1. "Al Lewis and Willie Clark, as 'Lewis and Clark' were top-billed vaudevillians for over forty years. But they haven't spoken in over a decade. Now CBS is inviting the team to reunite for a 'History of Comedy' retrospective. A grudging reunion brings them back together, along with a flood of memories, miseries and laughs. Classic Neil Simon, a lot of it is epically funny and all of it is cheerful." Performances take place at the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theatre at the JCCA, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. For more information, call 314-442-3283 or visit

My take: As a local actor remarked to me the other night, this production has been "snake bit," with both of the original actors replaced for health reasons. Which makes it that much more impressive that the result is, in the words of KDHX reviewer Tina Farmer, "a sweet tribute to the era of vaudeville that's also an honest look at aging in an American culture increasingly focused on youth. Engaging performances and a pleasantly amusing script ensure this show is entertaining even for audiences with no recollection of the uniquely American variety of entertainment known as vaudeville." Chris Gibson at agrees, saying that "this version of the show has a certain poignancy and emotional affectation that provides the play with additional depth...Go see this wonderfully fresh take on THE SUNSHINE boys, you'll certainly be glad you did."

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