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|The Drowsy Chaperone|
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: The Drowsy Chaperone is a very smart and mostly very funny parody of musical theatre and, to a certain extent, the very concept of theatre itself. It's fun to watch, and when I saw the local premiere at the Fox back in 2007 I found my appreciation of its cleverness increasing in retrospect - always a good sign. It's essentially the most elaborate in joke in living memory. I haven't seen the Stages production, but honestly it's hard to see how they could not do well by this very strong material. If you love musical theatre, you won't want to miss it.
The Muny presents the musical Fiddler on the Roof opening on Saturday, July 30, and running nightly at 8:15 pm through August 5 in the outdoor theatre in Forest Park. "A musical that celebrates family, tradition and community, Fiddler on the Roof is one of the greatest musicals ever written. This cherished musical is a poignant folk tale, laden with happiness and tears - a musical that grows more resonant with every passing year. See it with someone you love." For more information, visit muny.org or call 314-361-1900.
My take: Bock and Harnick's music is as engaging today as it was nearly fifty years ago. Joseph Stein's book, adapted from Sholem Aleichem, remains powerful. Its tragic depiction of the plight of refugees trying to hold on to their religion and culture as they are persecuted and driven from their homes ought to feel very relevant today. I haven't seen the Muny production, but the fact is this is the sort of big, old-fashioned Broadway chestnut that they usually do quite well. Besides, those actors wearing those bulky costumes in this sub-tropical heat really do deserve our support.
My take: These encore performances of Ken's first two cabaret shows offer a great chance to catch a local master of the form at work. A Children's Hospital pediatrician, Ken may be familiar to you form his many appearances on local TV talking about children's health issues. Or you may have seen him singing with the Gateway Men's Chorus or acting with any number of local companies. In any case, his Sondheim shows pairs Ken's passion for the work of one of our greatest living theatre composers with interesting insights into the man and his music. The TV Show, on the other hand, is an entertaining and very funny romp through classic TV themes and songs, from The Monkees to Moonlighting. And the Emerald Room is a charmingly intimate venue, ideally suited to the art of cabaret.
Photo: Dan Donovan
My take: The folks at Max and Louie must be popping open the champagne right now, given how much critical praise they're getting. Steve Allen's review at Stage Door STL is typical. "Reviewing a production is, of course, a personal viewpoint", he writes, "and every one of the several critics we have in our town will vary in their opinions. But with “Grey Gardens,” the current musical from Max and Louie Productions, I think we'll join forces in our praise for just about every aspect from casting and direction down through the technical creators. If it isn't flawless, it comes pretty darn close." 'Nuff said, I guess.