Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of August 12, 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 Muny presents Elton John and Tim Rice's musical Aida opening on Monday, August 8, and running nightly at 8:15 pm through August 14 in the outdoor theatre in Forest Park. "A decade ago, Muny audiences fell in love with an unforgettable tale. Set in ancient Egypt, this timeless saga of forbidden love between the Ethiopian princess Aida and her Egyptian captor has been re-envisioned for this enchanting production. Expect to be captured yourself by Elton John's soaring melodies including “Written in the Stars,” “The Gods Love Nubia” and “Elaborate Lives.” Aida is the thrilling finale to the Muny season." For more information, visit or call 314-361-1900.

My take: When I reviewed the tour of the Broadway production back in 2001, I found Aida to be pretty entertaining but rather thin stuff overall. But reviews for the Muny's version have been good and this is certainly a show that allows the Muny to display its glossy tech. "Surely any story involving ancient Egypt has the potential for good visuals," writes Ann Lemmons Pollack, "and the opening scene, taking place in the dessert, pyramids in the background, gives us to understand that this is all fantasy, simply by creating a scene that evokes something from Tatooine in Star Wars." And given the weather lately, you won't have to try very hard to imagine you're in Egypt.

Bat Boy
Stray Dog Theatre presents Bat Boy: the Musical Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, through August 20. “This offbeat comedy/horror musical is a big-hearted satire about prejudice. As ripped from a bizarre tabloid headline and set in a tiny West Virginia town, a strange, deformed boy is found alone in a cave. Once the “bat boy” is brought to light, dark - and hilarious - secrets emerge, shaking the community to its core. A clever, playful pop/rock score highlights the show's delirious take on American eccentricities._For MATURE AUDIENCES: In an effort to keep the selection of shows engaging and dynamic, this production may not be appropriate for all ages." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: This is not the first local appearance of this odd little musical which first saw the light of day in London in 1997, and I expect it won't be the last. Reviews have been good, which is not surprising, given that this is just the sort of ensemble cast thing Stray Dog does so well. They show is also a kind of memorial to Stray Dog's late production manager Jay Hall, who died during rehearsals.

Amy Ogle
The Emerald Room at the Monocle presents singer Amy Ogle in Nick of Time on Friday, August 12, at 8 p.m. "In her all new show, Amy explores the realization of a dream. And ours." The performance takes place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: Amy is a genuinely talented performer with a wide range and a solid voice. She can make you laugh as easily as she can bring a tear to your eye. I've seen her do great work at the St. Louis Cabaret Conference and at the open mic nights at the late, lamented Tavern of Fine Arts.

David Giuntoli
The Emerald Room at the Monocle and The Presenters Dolan present David Guintoli in Sinatra...The Man and His Music on Saturday, August 13, at 8 p.m. "David Giuntoli sings songs that Frank Sinatra made famous. He would have been 100, if alive, and although he was from a different era, his musical stylings are a as swinging today as they were in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when he was at his peak. Sinatra had a gift of taking songs from great composers like, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, and, along with his fantastic arrangements, giving them that “Sinatra” stamp. The show includes these songs; I've Got the World on a String, All or Nothing at All, The Best is Yet to Come, I've Got You Under My Skin, The Way You Look Tonight, Angel Eyes, Fly Me to the Moon, Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp and more." The show features Adam Maness on piano and Ben Wheeler on bass. The performance takes place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: No, this is not the David Giuntoli who stars in Grimm, but rather my fellow Cabaret Project board member in his first solo show. The focus on Sinatra makes perfect sense, given that Mr. Giuntoli is a baritone with a crooner's sensibility and an affection for the Great American Songbook.

Held Over:

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.

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