Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of February 26, 2016

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.  I'm publishing early this week since some of these shows

Share on Google+:

New This Week:

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents Beautiful—The Carole King Musical opening on Tuesday, February 23, and running through March 6. "BEAUTIFUL - The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King's remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Abby Mueller shines in the title role of this bright, fast-paced jukebox musical loosely based on the early years of Carole King's songwriting career, culminating with her emergence as a singer in her own right with her best selling Tapestry LP in 1971. The performers playing pop idols like The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva, and The Righteous Brothers, though, really steal the show. There's just enough plot to keep things going without getting in the way of a nostalgic score that highlights hits by King and her first songwriting partner (and first husband) Gerry Goffin as well as equally well-known tunes by their fellow songwriters at Adlon Music, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Go and enjoy.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents Molière's comedy The Miser Wednesdays through Sundays through February 28. "Molière's classic comedy introduces us to Harpagon, a man so consumed by greed that he is set on sacrificing the happiness of his children in marriages of convenience. But Harpagon's son and daughter, Valère and Mariane, will plot against their father to marry those they love instead. Molière treats the age-old conflict between love and money with unparalleled and sparkling wit." Performances take place in the studio theatre at the Loretto-Hilton center on the Webster University campus. For more information, or call 314-968-7128.

My take: The Webster Conservatory is one of the best college theatre groups in town, often producing work of real professional quality. As Steve Callahan writes in his review for KDHX, "director Rick Dildine and his student cast are placing before us a toothsomely light soufflé...As usual with Conservatory productions there are very strong performances—and excellent diction—from the student actors."

The Presenters Dolan present Ken Haller in The TV Show on Friday, February 26, at 7 p.m. "Ken performs songs written for TV from "Sesame Street" to "Smash," from "Cinderella" to "Animaniacs," from "Moonlighting" to "The Monkees." And of course, there will be songs with lyrics you love ("Mary Tyler Moore"), lyrics you never knew existed ("Bewitched"), and lyrics you can't get out of your head (the Barry Manilow Commercial Jingle Extravaganza!). KDHX's Chuck Lavazzi calls it "a tremendously entertaining and often extremely funny romp through TV land." The performance takes place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: A cabaret show based on classic TV songs and themes? Like activating the Bolonium Interface Device on "Star Trek", it's a crazy idea but it just might work! Since Ken has already quoted me in his promotional material, you might as well read the complete review of the first performance of this show in 2012 at the KDHX web site. Ken has been a fixture of the local cabaret scene for a while now and is one of our most reliably polished performers.

The Stage@KDHX presents Tim Schall: 1961 on Friday, February 26, at 8 PM. "In 1961 the Beatles debuted at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, Bob Dylan entered the Greenwich Village folk scene, 19 year old Carole King wrote her first #1 hit, Moon River won the Oscar for Best Song and in February of that year Tim Schall was born! Join Tim as he celebrates his birthday in a show dedicated to the music of his natal year." Carol Schmidt is pianist and music director for the show, with Michele Isam on percussion, vocals, and sax and Ben Wheeler on bass. The Stage@KDHX is in the KDHX building at 3524 Washington in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: I saw this show the first time around back in 2014. It was a polished, well-paced, and exceptionally entertaining evening back then. Since then Tim and music director Carol Schmidt have been refining the arrangements and have added the multi-talented Michele Isam (with Ms. Schmidt, the other half of the local jazz/pop/rock duo Jasmine from many years ago), so this is clearly one you don't want to miss.

Held Over:

And in This Corner...Cassius Clay
Metro Theatre Company and the Missouri History Museum present And in This Corner...Cassius Clay by Idris Goodwin through February 28. "This is the story of young Muhammad Ali as he struggles with racism and segregation in Jim Crow Louisville, Kentucky, how a chance encounter with police officer Joe Morgan (later to become his first coach) sets him on the path toward becoming a legendary boxer and how finally he learns that it is not enough to achieve personal success, one must also work for the good of others." Performances take place in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information:

My take: "Goodwin's script is crafted to draw in audience members of all ages," writes Shannon Cothran at KDHX, "and he has succeeded with "In This Corner...." A mixture of poetry and prose, the play manages to tell the story of a boy who becomes a champion despite living within a culture of hate while showing us the flaws that make him human." I've been very impressed with Goodwin's work at the Humana Festival in Louisville in 2012 and in 2014, so I'm not surprised to hear that the playwright has struck gold again.

Photo: Peter Wochniak
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar through March 6. "Successful corporate lawyer Amir Kapoor comes from a Pakistani family, but he long ago distanced himself from his roots to embrace life as a slick New Yorker. On course to become a partner at his law firm, Amir's carefully constructed world begins to unravel when unexpected events cause him to question his own beliefs. Raw, turbulent and unsettling, this smart drama reveals hidden attitudes toward modern culture and faith. Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for 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: The playwright who gave us the brilliant Invisible Hand at the Rep Studio back in 2012 it again with a powerful portrayal of the problems immigrants face, especially when they're part of a demonized and poorly understood minority. How much can you assimilate before you lose your own identity? And is it ever enough for people who will always see you as the "other" no mater what you do or say? We learn from history that we do not learn from history, which makes this a very relevant play these days.

The Dispute
Photo: Valerie Goldston
YoungLiars present The Dispute: A Spectacle for Lovers and Fighters running through February 26. "It's 1744 (sort of) and an exasperated playwright with a wicked case of writer's block accidentally launches the world's first reality entertainment. Four self-absorbed teenagers, raised in total isolation, are turned loose on each other to figure out who committed the first infidelity - men or women. Baroque Farce, Euro-Dance, and The Dandy Warhols collide in this new adaptation of Marivaux's classic comedy where Courtship Etiquette turns into Mortal Combat and the only true love is the one in the mirror. The creative team that brought you Whammy! The Seven Secrets to a Sane Self and other HotCity favorites make their debut as YoungLiars. Performances take place in the fourth floor ballroom at the Centene Center for Arts and Education, 3547 Olive Street in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Composed largely of young actors who were part of the late HotCity Theatre, YoungLiars is certainly taking risks with this innovative first production, which decants an 18th century comedy into some colorful new bottles. "All in all," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX, "this debut promises great things from The Young Liars. It's filled with quite wonderful style and artifice. "

Gidion's Knot
Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents Gidion's Knot through February 28 at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. "Over the course of a parent/teacher conference, a grieving mother and an emotionally overwhelmed primary school teacher have a fraught conversation about the tragic suicide of the mother's son, Gidion. Gidion may have been bullied severely-or he may have been an abuser. As his story is slowly uncovered, the women try to reconstruct a satisfying explanation for Gidion's act and come to terms with excruciating feelings of culpability." For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit

My take: This appears to be a good weekend for hard-nosed dramatic examinations of big social and political issues, with both this show and the Rep's Disgraced. "Director Lee Anne Mathews has tackled the difficult script with sensitivity and a subdued confrontational approach," writes Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis. "It works well in easing the audience into this slippery subject matter and gives the proper amount of tension on stage. Playwright Johanna Adams has fashioned a difficult script that opens a lot of conversation about a problem that is all too often ignored- the high suicide rate among younger people." "Playwright Johnna Adams has written a compelling and riveting if also highly disturbing drama that pushes the two performers in its one act and 75 minutes to emotional exhaustion, along with the audience," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News.

No comments: