Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chuck's St. Louis theatre choices for the weekend of April 29, 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:

Christy Simmons
Topper Productions presents Christy Simmons in Count Your Blessings: A Tribute to Rosemary Clooney on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. "Christy Simmons reprises her critically acclaimed tribute to Rosemary Clooney, "Count Your Blessings", at the beautiful Boom Boom Room. Wonderful songs, an amazing life story, a great 3 piece band (Joe Dreyer, Dave Troncoso, and Clancy Newell), beautiful surroundings (with delicious food and drink available), and an engaging performance by "The First Lady Of St. Louis Cabaret", Christy Simmons. Come join Christy and company for this powerful tribute to a beloved star." The Boom Boom Room is at500 N. 14th St. downtown. For more information:

My take: When I reviewed this show back in 2012, I wrote that Ms. Simmons’s stage experience is obvious is nearly every moment of this remarkable mix of cabaret, biography, and musical theatre that recounts the ups and downs of the famed singer's often troubled life with a canny combination of song and story. It looks as polished and professional as it sounds, and it sounds awfully fine. The mix of songs includes plenty of Clooney’s hits along with some less familiar titles, the balance of music and biography is right, and the presentation is first-rate. The late Ms. Clooney did not have a trouble-free life, but this biography-based show avoids the maudlin and concentrates on the songs that made Ms. Clooney a major celebrity.

Ken Haller
The Presenters Dolan and the Emerald Room Cabaret present Ken Haller in Song by Song by Sondheim on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. " Pairing his passions with the songs of Stephen Sondheim, Ken Haller reprises his long ago solo cabaret debut. In songs by turn as sentimental, witty, lacerating, sweet, and rollicking as "Send in the Clowns," "The Little Things You Do Together," "Comedy Tonight," "Children Will Listen," "Not While I'm Around," "Broadway Baby," and "Putting It Together," Ken displays the gifts that led Post-Dispatch theatre critic Judith Newmark to give him a "Judy" Award." The performance takes place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: "Haller is a charming and talented performer with a voice as smooth as a brandy Alexander," wrote Robert Mitchell in a KDHX review of this show back in 2011. I couldn't agree more. Ken is an immensely talented gent with impressive credentials in both the theatrical and cabaret worlds and he has been producing top-notch cabaret here in town as well as in Chicago and New York for several years now. This love letter to Sondheim is not to be missed.

The Fox Theatre presents the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music opening Tuesday, April 26, and running through May 8. "The hills are alive! A brand new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by Jack O'Brien, is coming to the Fox. The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award® winning Best Score, including "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Edelweiss" and the title song." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: I haven't seen any reviews yet and my schedule probably won't allow me to see this, but how can you go wrong with this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic? The original stage show isn't as sentimental as the often-criticized film and a big revival is long overdue. This particular production has been gathering very positive reviews as it makes its way across the USA.

Held Over:

Bosnian-American: The Dance of Life
Photo: John Lamb
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Bosnian-American: The Dance of Life, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 1. "Born in Bosnia and raised in St. Louis - painful history meets present reality in this collaboratively created script that celebrates the true stories of our neighbors." Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at

My take: Unlike some cities I could name, St. Louis has opened its doors to Muslim immigrants—especially those from Bosnia—and experienced considerable economic growth in the neighborhoods were they have settled. Mustard Seed has turned their experiences into what Steve Callahan calls "a most heartening and hopeful evening celebrating the Bosnian-American experience." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz writes: "Bosnian/American: The Dance for Life succeeds as a tribute to the valiant spirit of a people and culture driven from their homeland to start life anew in a land a continent away."

Trash Mabceth
Equally Represented Arts presents Trash Macbeth running through May 7th. "Lady Macbeth says, 'What's done cannot be undone.' But can it be repurposed? Based on Shakespeare's iconic tragedy, ERA's experimental production Trash Macbeth resuscitates meaning within a climate of destruction, reestablishes the societal norms of America's most traditional era, and reframes the value of our revered Shakespeare, housewifery, and garbage. Trash Macbeth is a full-length, theatrical production created by an ensemble of theatre artists with text from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Emily Post's Etiquette, the book of Revelations, Dr Benjamin Spock's Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, and 1950's era advertisements." Performances take place at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive. For more information:

My take: In a review of the original St. Louis University production of this last October, 88.1 KDHX reviewer Sarah Richardson wrote that "[t]he fates that are spun and the lives unwound in this tragedy reach astounding dramatic heights thanks to a marvelous alchemy of all the elements of theatre: design, staging, performance, and text...A delicious, theatrical nightmare par excellence." Reviewing the current version for KDHX, Steve Callahan calls it "a most remarkable evening of theatre." This is a chance to see the play done by the ensemble whose founder, Lucy Cashion, created the piece for St. Louis U. last fall. Ms. Cashion has made a name for herself locally for her ingenious reworkings of classic plays.

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