Friday, July 29, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of July 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:

The Drowsy Chaperone
Photo: Peter Wochniak
Stages St. Louis presents the musical satire The Drowsy Chaperone through August 21. "With its laugh-a-minute script and one show-stopping song and dance number after another, it's easy to see why THE DROWSY CHAPERONE won the most Tony Awards of any musical on Broadway in 2006, including Best Book and Score. It all begins when a die-hard musical theatre fan decides to play his favorite cast album in his small brownstone apartment - a 1928 smash hit musical called "The Drowsy Chaperone." The show magically bursts to life before him as audiences are instantly transported to an earlier time and place and immersed in the glamorous and hilarious tale of a celebrity bride and her uproarious wedding day, complete with gangsters, mistaken identities, an off-course aviatrix, and an uplifting ride to the rafters. " Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information, visit or call 314-821-2407.

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 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.

Ken Haller
The Presenters Dolan and The Emerald Room Cabaret present Ken Haller in The TV Show on Friday, July 29, at 8 p.m. and Song by Song by Sondheim on Saturday, July 30, at 8 p.m. The performances take place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

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.

Held Over:

Grey Gardens
Photo: Dan Donovan
Max and Louie Productions presents the musical Grey Gardens through July 30. "Not since Mama Rose and Gypsy has there been a mother/daughter act as hilarious, as heartbreaking and as utterly unforgettable as "Big" Edith and "Little" Edie Beale - Jackie Kennedy's most outrageous relatives - in the acclaimed musical smash Grey Gardens! From the grandeur of an East Hampton high society party in 1941 to the sensational tabloid headlines that rocked the Kennedy clan in 1973, Grey Gardens is scandalously entertaining. Step into the world of Grey Gardens and see the other side of Camelot." Performances take place at the Wool Studio Theatre at the JCC, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. For more information, visit

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.

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