Friday, January 22, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of January 22, 2016

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:

Winter Opera St. Louis presents Mozart's comic opera Cosi fan Tutte Friday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM, January 22 and 24. 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: While this is not my favorite Mozart opera by any means (the libretto has not worn well, in my view), it's certainly one of his big hits, and Winter Opera has a pretty good track record with the mainstream operatic repertoire. Plus, their space at the Viragh Center is one of the best musical theatre venues in town.

Photo: Deen van Meer
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Disney's Newsies, opening on Tuesday, January 19, and running through January 31. " They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines. Direct from Broadway comes NEWSIES, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Based on true events, NEWSIES tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It's a rousing tale about fighting for what's right...and staying true to who you are." The Fox Theatre is at 517 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, or call 314-534-1678.

My take: In her review for KDHX, Missy Heinemenn says that musical adaptation of a not-very-successful film offers "a nostalgic treat for some and a high-energy theatrical experience for all." "Disney's crowd-pleasing musical includes triumphant tales of woe that will melt cold hearts," writes Lynn Venhaus at the Belleville News-Democrat, "while the robust dance routines have the touring show's rabid fan base cheering loudly." The show copped two Tonys when it opened on Broadway in 2012 (for choreography and score). If my week hadn't been so booked, I would have certainly been at the Fox on opening night to catch this one myself.

Circus Harmony presents Giocoso Saturdays at 2 and 7 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, January 23 - 31. Performances take place at City Museum, 701 N. 15th Street. Show admission is free with museum admission. For more information:

My take: Circus Harmony does excellent outreach work that demonstrates how the arts can make a big difference in the community. If you've ever seen a Circus Flora show, of course, you've seen some of Circus Harmony's students at work as The St. Louis Arches, but the organization's reach and mission go far beyond that. "Circus Harmony," according to their web site, "teaches the art of life through circus education. We work to build character and expand community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds. Through teaching and performance of circus skills, we help people defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time." Since their 2001 Circus Salaam Shalom, which brought Jewish and Muslim kids in St. Louis together, Circus Harmony has been advancing its philosophy of "peace through pyramids, harmony through handspirngs" to "inspire individuals and connect communities."

Sunset Baby
Photo: Stewart Goldstein
The Black Rep presents the drama Sunset Baby through January 31. "Kenyatta Shakur is alone. His wife has died, and now this former Black Revolutionary and political prisoner is desperate to reconnect with his estranged daughter." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information:

My take: The Black Rep has often delivered new and important plays that speak to the black experience, and this appears to be a case in point. "The Black Rep's production of Dominque Morisseau's searing contemporary drama", writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a tense show that suffers no fools and offers no easy answers. Set in an urban neighborhood rife with gun crime, prostitution, and drugs, the show avoids simple stereotypes and pat responses. Instead we see authentic people, with significant flaws and genuinely admirable qualities combined, who are trying to make their way to a better place." "Sober, strong and striking," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "Sunset Baby is a powerful study of both the past and the present."

Held Over:

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.

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