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Photo: Joan Marcus
My take: Ever wonder about the path not taken? If/Then follows two parallel story lines featuring the same character but different life choices. I find this a fascinating premise and would have seen the show if a family medical emergency hadn't intervened. Originally a starring vehicle of Idina Menzel of Wicked fame, If/Then on tour features Menzel's Broadway understudy Jackie Burns in the lead role, and she's apparently an impressive performer. Writing for the Belleville News-Democrat, Lynn Venhaus says Burns "makes the role her own with tremendous poise and powerhouse vocals."
|Old Wicked Songs|
Photo: Eric Woolsey
My take: I recall being very taken with this script when the Rep did it many years ago. In the Jewish Light, Bob Cohn describes this as "a challenging, thought-provoking play." "Playwright Jon Marans has created a play that ebbs and flows like a musical composition," writes Steve Allen for Stage Door St. Louis. "Yes, the music is at the heart of the production but the real heart in the production is the strength and resolve of teacher and student and the life lessons they each learn from one another. It’s a beautiful script handled by two truly great actors."
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Ignite! New Play Festival presents Until the Flood by Daniel Orlandersmith Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m., March 25 and 26. "The Rep has commissioned celebrated writer, performer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith to write and perform a play about the recent events in Ferguson. She has fashioned a sensitive and moving portrayal of the people in our community, and how they feel about an event that placed St. Louis in a spotlight it didn't expect or relish." The Friday performance takes place at the Sally S. Levy Opera Center, 210 Hazel Avenue in Webster Groves and the Saturday performance at St. Louis Public Radio in Grand Center. For more information www.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 the shows previewed in Rep's Ignite! festival often go on to full productions at the Rep and elsewhere. This is a good chance to see art while it's being made.
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."
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.