Friday, September 16, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of September 16, 2016

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

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Am I Black Enough Yet?
Photo: Brittanie Gunn
Tesseract Theatre Company presents Am I Black Enough Yet?, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through September 18. "Presented in skit comedy form, with titles of vignettes ranging from "Honorary Black Folk" to "Two Black Girls, One of Them White" to "International Slang Council", this play will get you laughing, but will also get you to thinking. Through the power of theatre the audience is transformed into an "all black" audience. The non-black audience members are now regular black audience members, while regular black audience members are now über-black, 'Shaft level black'. And with an all black audience anything can be talked about, mixed in to the conversation. Right?" Performances take place at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. For more information:

My take: Tesseract has been tackling new and adventurous material for many years now. The company's current production is a reprise of the first show they ever presented, and it's getting good notices. "Still relevant," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "the entertaining show is the perfect choice to revisit as the company prepares for its next chapter, in the new .Zack Arts Incubator."

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Stephen Sondheim's musical Follies through October 2. “Featuring an all-star cast that includes three Tony nominees, Broadway stars and local favorites, Follies is the biggest Rep production in more than a decade. Join us for our 50th anniversary season opener as we present a breathtaking rendition of this Stephen Sondheim classic!” Performances take place on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit

My take: One of Sonheim's more intellectualy ambitious works (the book is by James Goldman, best known for the brilliant Lion in Winter), Follies uses the age-old device of mismatched lovers to reflect on the fragmentation and disintegration of American culture in the years following World War II. It's a complicated and frankly expensive piece to produce, which is probably one reason why it hasn't been seen here since the original Broadway cast played the Muny in 1971. Reviews for the Rep production have been uniformly excellent and I'm looking forward to seeing this myself this weekend.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the musical A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder opening Tuesday, September 13, and running through September 25. "Coming direct from New York, where a most gentlemanly NPR critic said he'd “Never laughed so hard at a Broadway musical," Gentleman's Guide tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by - you guessed it - eliminating the eight pesky relatives (all played by one fearless man) who stand in his way. All the while, Monty has to juggle his mistress (she's after more than just love), his fiancée (she's his cousin but who's keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance... and be done in time for tea." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Speaking of rave reviews, this hit Broadway musical has been gather them for some time now, copping the 2014 Tony for Best Musical along the way. This tour has gotten great notices locally. "Sometimes people complain that theater isn’t 'fun", writes Judy Newmark at "These people need to see 'A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,' the blithe treat that opened Tuesday at the Fox Theatre. If that doesn’t make them change their minds, nothing will."

Love? Actually...
Photo: Michael Young
R-S Theatrics presents Love? Actually..., an evening of three one-act musicals, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through September 18. Performances take place at The Westport Playhouse, 635 Westport Plaza. For more information:

My take: R-S continues to go its own unique way, this time with a trio of one-act musicals that take a wry look at love and its discontents. "Director Christina Rios and musical director Leah Luciano have put together an evening of completely engaging entertainment that looks at love from the failed perspective" writes Tina Farmer at KDHX.

Miss Julie, Clarissa and John
Photo: Phillip Hamer
The Black Rep presents the drama Miss Julie, Clarissa And John through September 25. "Inspired by August Strindberg's groundbreaking 1888 naturalistic drama Miss Julie, Mark Clayton Southers relocates the action from Sweden to a Reconstruction-era Virginia plantation.The dangerous attraction between the landowner's daughter and his top servant takes on new shades as its taboo nature expands from crossing boundaries of social class to also encompass racial lines. The situation is heightened further by Southers' extensive development of the third onstage character from Strindberg's play, who in this searing version becomes central to the conflict through her identity as the mulatto daughter of a slave woman. The result of the Midwest premiere production is an intense struggle that illuminates cultural dynamics of two key moments in U.S. history: then and now." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information:

My take: Rewriting Strindberg's 1888 tragedy and moving it to the post-Civil War South could be an invitation to disaster, but Mr. Southers appears to have pulled it off, based on the reviews. At Stage Door STL, Steve Allen says the script is "is nothing short of brilliant" while the production itself is "powerful theatre, well directed and a splendid cast who exemplifies the quality and longevity of the Black Rep."

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Remember Me as its Shakespeare in the Streets 2016 production nightly at 8 PM, Friday through Sunday, September 16 - 18. "Local beer, donuts, bowling and the Bard will all come together as Shakespeare in the Streets heads to Maplewood. This year's production, Remember Me, will feature a mash-up of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth, with a little Romeo and Juliet thrown in." The production will feature the combined talents of professional actors performing alongside local residents and students. Performances take place in the streets of Mapelwood, MO. For more information:

My take: The Shakespeare in the Streets project is a remarkable if not unique example of how theatre can be a community event. Each summer, the company produces an original script in and around the streets of a particular St. Louis neighborhood, relying heavily on the particular aspects of that neighborhood for inspiration. This time around there are Maplewood ghosts and, of course, live music by local performers.

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