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My take: Lovers of Irish theatre get not one but two shows by noted Irish playwright Conor McPherson. An site-specific production of The Weir is running at two local pubs through February 11 (see below) and now Upstream has opened Shining City. In his review for KDHX, Steve Callahan calls this "a splendid evening of moving theatre."
The Looking Glass Playhouse presents the musical comedy Avenue Q Wednesdays through Sundays through February 7. "The laugh-out-loud musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life." The show is recommended for mature audiences. Performances take place at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. For more information, visit www.lookingglassplayhouse.com.
My take: I have not seen Looking Glass's production, but I can tell you that the show itself is very funny and very true to life, even though all the characters are puppets manipulated by actors who are visible at all times, in the manner of Japanese bunraku (or Disney's Lion King, for a more Western reference).
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: As I write in my review, this show could use some tweaking here and there (this is the world premiere, after all) but otherwise it's a very entertaining and educational look at an overlooked aspect of late 19th-century showbiz: the moving panorama. Arguably the precursor of motion pictures (since it was, after all, a picture that moved), the moving panorama was eclipsed by photography and then movies, but for a while it was all the rage. And this is the fascinating tale of the man who invented the genre.
|Underneath the Lintel|
Photo: Eric Woolsey
My take: As I noted in my review of the St. Lou Fringe presentation of this play in 2014 (which featured a bravura performance by Pat O'Brien), this is a terrific script. It's a fantasy, a mystery, and a wonderfully human story about the pursuit of someone who is no longer human at all. New Jewish is doing a revised version of the script in which the character is female rather than male, and Glynis Bell turns in a performance which, while very different from Mr. O'Brien's, is no less accomplished. As I write in my review for OnSTL, this .compelling and literate script offers plenty of food for thought, including implications about the nature of God that not everyone will find comfortable, and Ms. Bell's performance is a genuine gem. Don't miss it.
|The cast of The Weir|
My take: We saw McPherson's play many years ago in London, and found it a rattling good ghost story: well written with plausible characters. In his review for KDHX, Steve Callahan says that "Cocktails and Curtain Calls company gives us what, to me, must be the definitive production of this beautiful play." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz writes that the company "makes an impressive debut with a grand regaling of Irish playwright Conor McPherson's chilling drama...Setting the production in an actual tavern enhances the atmosphere immensely and, combined with director Kari Ely's careful direction of a top-rate cast, makes The Weir a fanciful tale and a tonic for a deep winter's night."