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This Friday through Sunday, March 18-20, Fontbonne University Theatre Department presents Almost, Maine. Welcome to Almost, Maine, a town that's so far north, it's almost not in the United States-it's almost in Canada. One night in the middle of winter, while the northern lights hover in the sky above, Almost's residents find themselves falling in and out of love in the strangest ways. And life for the people of Almost, Maine will never be the same. Performances take place in the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre on Wydown. For further details about Almost Maine, www.fontbonne.edu/academics/departments/fine-arts-department/theatre-productions.
My take:This is a charming set of romantically comic one acts with a strong dose of a kind of magical realism. We did the local premier of this a few years back at West End Players Guild and the show has been cropping up here and there ever since. I haven't seen the Fontbonne production, but I can attest to the fact that the play itself is first-class stuff.
My take: Ms. Mulder, as I noted in my review of her Tom Waits show back in 2014, is a fine singer who is also a gifted actor, with the ability to truly inhabit the characters in her songs. If anyone can conjure up the spirit of the late Ms. Monroe (who, while not a strong singer, also knew how to really sell a lyric) it would be Ms. Mulder.
The Presenters Dolan present Jon Weber in From Joplin to Jarrett on Sunday, March 20, at 3 PM as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival. " A history of jazz piano in 70 minutes, from the host of NPR's Piano Jazz." The performance takes place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information: gaslightcabaretfestival.com.
My take: Now there's something you don't see every day, Chauncey (as they used to say on Rocky and His Friends); a cabaret show where the focus is on piano instrumentals rather than songs. As a frustrated pianist myself, I think this looks like a fascinating show. The evolution of African-influenced piano composition from the classical approach of Scott Joplin to the disciplined improvisations of Keith Jarrett covers a lot a impressive musical territory.
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
My take: What's the price of compassion? What is the extent of a citizen's obligation to oppose fundamentally evil policies by a government? How much should one be expected to sacrifice for the common good? As I write in my review, these and many other questions are raised by Tammy Ryan's gripping drama Molly's Hammer. At a time when the very foundations of our political system are being openly challenged by the forces of fascism and hysterical fear, and when the leading candidates of one of our political parties are almost drooling with pleasure at the possibility of starting a nuclear war, these questions could not be more timely.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday First Run Theater is holding its annual Play Reading Festival. This festival showcases original scripts by St. Louis playwrights interested in seeing their work produced on a state-of-the-art stage; all readings are open to the public. The performances take place in the theatre on the campus of DeSmet Jesuit High School on Ballas Road in Creve Coeur. For more information on First Run Theater's Play Reading Festival, firstruntheatre.com
On Saturday afternoon the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Ignite! New Play Festival presents Replica. In the near future, a terminally ill woman volunteers for an experimental procedure that will allow her memories and personality to live on in her clone. The performance begins at 2:00 PM at inside the Opera Center at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, on Hazel Avenue in Webster Groves. For more information about Saturday's performance of Replica repstl.org/ignite
My take: It's always interesting to see new plays—it's the main reason I attend the Humana Festival every year— and both the Rep and First Run are giving you a chance to see some newly-hatched theatrical chicks this weekend. First Run shows are by local playwrights while the Rep features writers from around the country. First Run's festival is this weekend only while the Rep has shows Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of next week.
My take: This is the first in a planned series of showcases of local cabaret talent presented in the informal atmosphere of the Tavern of Fine Arts, which is where I host The Cabaret Project's monthly open mic night. As the executive director of The Cabaret Project and the organizer of the yearly St. Louis Cabaret Festival, Tim Schall is one of the genre's leading exponents here in St. Louis, and Carol Schmidt is one of our most sought-after music directors. Their guests for this first outing are all impressive performers in their own right, so you can expect serious entertainment here. I intend to be in the audience; join me and enjoy,
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: As you can see from the description of this show, it could hardly be more relevant during the current primary campaign season, especially in light of the Republican Party's slide into drooling insanity. In her review for KDHX, Tina Farmer says this "is a fantastic production, and several scenes flash with brilliance. The cast are uniformly strong singers and the interpretations of the songs are spot on. " At Ladue News, Mark Bretz says "New Line’s presentation superbly captures the musical essence of the album and show as well as making the most of the straightforward plot."