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New This Week:
You can read more about all the upcoming operas at OTSL in my preview post.
|Alice in Wonderland|
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: Looking for theatre that's fun for the whole family? Stages has a deal for you. Children's theatre can sometimes feel like it's aimed not so much at children as at simple-minded adults. Such is apparently not the case here. "Children will likely be enthralled by the clever dialogue, catchy songs, and abundantly joyful tone of the show" writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "so much so that the simple but effective lesson about being true to yourself can easily sneak its way into their brains. Parents and older kids have not been forgotten, and most will appreciate the pop culture references, fast pacing, comic choreography, and high quality singing that ties the show up in a delightful bow."
|An Inspector Calls|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: I haven't seen this production, but the play itself is a powerful indictment on the smugness and moral rot that can accompany material comfort. As such, it's as relevant now as when it was first performed in 1945, if not more so. Writing for the Post-Dispatch, Judy Newmark calls it an "intriguing drama" and notes the way in which it subverts the conventions of drawing-room drama to deliver a radical message.
|It Shoulda Been YouPhoto: Peter Wochniak|
My take: This world premiere musical has gotten considerable praise from my fellow critics. "Strong actors abound in the production," says Laura Kyro at KDHX, "and most have excellent singing voices." At Broadwayworld, Chris Gibson calls it a "superbly rendered presentation" and strongly recommends it.
|Ariadne on Naxos|
Photo: Ken Howard
My take: Your mileage may vary, but I have always found the comic carrying on of Zerbinetta and company to be some of the best bits. That said, the concluding love duet for Bacchus and Ariadne shows Strauss at his most rhapsodic. Look for distinguished St. Louis-based actor/singer/playwright Ken Page in the role of the Majordomo. In his review for KDHX, Steve Callahan says OTSL has done "a simply perfect production of this work. It's entire sensibility -- staging, costumes, sets, lights, and especially the acting style -- expresses a profound empathy with Strauss's subtle blend of classicism and parody."
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: "A long forgotten but important historical figure gets his due in the zealous rock musical Atomic,'" writes Lynn Venhaus at the Belleville News-Democrat, "which bursts with passionate performances, an expressive score and combustible conversations. New Line Theatre's smart production features a synergetic ensemble fully committed to telling this complex, fascinating story about Leo Szilard. We Americans should know of him, but unfortunately many of us don't." New Line is once again breaking new ground in St. Louis musical theatre.
Photo: Ken Howard
My take: Pretty much everything I want to say about this fine production is in my 88.1 KDHX review!. There are some minor aspects of this particular La Bohème that I find less than ideal, but the production as a whole is so very good so often that I have no hesitation in recommending it.
|Broken Bone Bathtub|
Photo: Kimberly N.
My take: This is Siobhan O'Loughlin's second St. Louis appearance (her first was at last year's St. Lou Fringe Festival). I didn't catch her show, The Rope in Your Hands, back then, but I did see her display her considerable talents as a storyteller as part of a performance by the improv comedy group Sorry, Please Continue. “Broken Bone Bathtub is unlike anything you've ever seen before, says New York Theatre Now. "It will change your perspective.” And the supposedly haunted Lemp Mansion is a pretty fascinating space in any case. In her KDHX review, Tina Farmer says M. O'Loughlin "succeeds spectacularly by taking a very intimate act and showing us the universal connection."
Clayton Community Theatre presents the drama Inherit the Wind Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through June 26. "Inherit the Wind is far more than a dramatic retelling of the Scopes Trial of 1925. It is a parable about attempting to mold society by enforcing a specific worldview or philosophy. It seeks, instead, to celebrate the individuality of man as a reasoning being, capable of living life according to his own personal convictions." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.
My take: I haven't seen any reviews of this production, but the play itself is, I'm sorry to say, as current now as when it was written. Attempts by the religious radicals to replace science with superstition continue to poison our educational system but here in the USA and abroad as well. The war on science, alas, isn't limited to any one religious system.
Photo: Ken Howard
My take: I haven't seen this yet and won't get the opportunity to do so for a few weeks, but I'm recommending it anyway because I have always liked this economical and dramatically charged operatic version of Shakespeare's terse tragedy. Yes, it's more Italian than it is Scots or English, but it's rattling good yarn all the same.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream nightly except for Tuesdays through June 26. "It's time for a comedy! Last seen at the Festival in 2002, Midsummer will feature a diverse cast of actors portraying some of Shakespeare's most beloved characters as they get lost and fall in and out of love in the woods around Athens." Beginning at 6:30 the Green Show presents pre-play entertainment a variety of local performers on multiple stages. The play begins at 8 p.m. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. For more information, visit shakespearefestivalstlouis.org.
My take: I've had a soft spot for this play every since I appeared as Oberon in the St. Louis Shakespeare production many decades ago. Ann Lemmons Pollack says the production "is particularly easy-going and understandable. At times, it feels rather like a screwball comedy, not, goodness knows, that there’s anything wrong with that. ..The play is a delicious, somewhat elaborate pastry." Go and enjoy.
My take: Although I was born and have spent most of my life in St. Louis, there are some local traditions and institutions that I never have and probably never will understand. White Castle, for example, or the business about asking where you went to high school. What's THAT all about, anyway? Circus Flora, though, is a St. Louis tradition that anyone can embrace. And what could be more St. Louis than a show inspired by baseball? Happy 30th birthday, Circus Flora. The elephant after which you are named may have retired to Florida long ago, but you're still going strong.