Thursday, January 14, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of January 15, 2016

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

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Topper Productions presents Christy Simmons in Ain't We Got Fun on Sunday, January 17, at 2 and 5 p.m. The show is a "rollicking romp through the Roaring 20s." Paul Westcott is pianist and music director for the show, which takes place at The Boom Boom Room, 500 North 14th Street, downtown. For more information:

My take: This one's a no-brainer. I'm a sucker for music from this period, and featured quite a lot of it in my one-man show Just a Song at Twilight. And Christy Simmons is a great entertainer with a big, powerful voice. You can't go wrong.

Deborah Sharn
The Tavern of Fine Arts presents Bridgette Kossor, Tim Schall, Deborah Sharn in a cabaret evening on Friday, January 15, at 8 p.m. "Three dynamic singers who individually have played some of St. Louis' top venues come together for an evening of jazz standards and sophisticated pop. Rocky Tucker at the piano. The Tavern of Fine Arts is at 313 Belt in the Debaliviere Place neighborhood. For more information:

My take: This is another easy call. I don't know Bridgette's work, but Tim and Deborah are old hands at this. Expect a solidly entertaining evening is one of our city's coolest musical event spaces. Come early and check out the menu and wine list.

The Lion in Winter
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents James Goldman's The Lion in Winter through January 31. "During Christmas of 1183, King Henry II of England plans to announce his successor to the throne. But in this amusing and high-spirited romp, other members of the royal family have their own opinions of who should be crowned king. As he feuds with his estranged wife, Eleanor, and attempts to navigate the minefield of his bickering sons, all of whom have a stake in the game, it's open season on the English throne, bringing a whole new meaning to dysfunctional family drama." 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: This is a tough call for me. I'm not very persuaded by director Edward Stern's approach to the text. I think he rushes it a bit and misses many nuances in Goldman's witty dialog. Reviews, however, have been very positive. "The Rep's production," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "finds more humor in the script than I remember, and the subtle differences in inflection and emotion expertly counter the frequently ambiguous actions of the characters. The effect is mesmerizing, giving the well-known show a fresh, vibrant energy and suspenseful tone that propels the story." And over at, Judy Newmark calls it a "satisfying, well-seasoned, wonderfully witty drama — perfect fare for a cold winter's night." It has been a while since we've had a solid professional production of this literate and intelligent script and this one has an excellent cast and great production values, so I'm giving it a qualified thumbs up.

First Run Theatre presents the comedy The Other Side by David Hawley Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, through January 17. "Stan and Kevin are two post graduate Psychology students from England and Ireland working on their doctorate thesis in Boston. they decide to combine their research into spiritualism with the need to make a few extra bucks by setting up as mediums themselves. Things are going very well for them until a client who wants to contact her father turns out to be the daughter of the local mafia Don. Things start going crazy when she has them confirm he's dead and her brother now demands to know who killed him. How do our boys get out of this mess and evade the overly large strong-arm for the brother who also happens to be a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard? We will find out." Performances take place at De Smet Jesuit High School Theatre 233 N. New Ballas Rd. For more information, call (314) 352-5114 or visit

My take: In the years after World War I, con artists found fertile ground in the despair of those who lost loved ones in the conflict. Mediums claiming the ability to contact "the other side" and relay messages from the dead bilked many grieving families. First Run's script plays the hustle for laughs and generally gets it right according to Tina Farmer at KDHX. "First Run Theatre," she writes, "is committed to staging productions of original, premier plays, primarily by St. Louis area playwrights. As a result, their productions can often be more enjoyable when viewed as a 'work-in-progress.' In this spirit, I applaud the company's efforts and more thoroughly enjoyed a script that, while problematic in places, is interesting and engaging, with likeable characters and a solid story arc."
The Emerald Room at the Monocle and The Presenters Dolan present magician Zi in Playing With Impossibilities on Friday and Saturday, January 15 and 16, at 7 p.m. "When was the last time you were truly blown away by a Magic show? Curious about what Mentalism means? There will be no rabbits in hats or doves from sleeves here! Instead, come experience jaw-dropping moments as Zi amazes and delights with feats of the mind, and makes you reconsider the true depths of what we are capable of! Watch as everything from how we think to how we connect with each other become charged with an element of the supernatural, and come witness as things happen that should be utterly impossible. Watch as the impossible becomes a playground. " The performances take place in the Emerald Room at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: Magician Zi Teng Wang is a board member of the Skeptical Society of St. Louis, so it's a safe bet he won't be claiming any supernatural powers. As a former magician myself, I love a good magic show, and local performers don't get nearly enough chances to show their stuff. The cabaret space at The Monocle should be a good fit for a show like this.

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