Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of October 21, 2016

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

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That Uppity Theatre Company presents Every 28 Hours, and evening of one-act plays inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, on Monday, October 24, at 8 p.m. "The One-Minute Play Festival (Dominic D'Andrea, Producing Artistic Director), and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Claudia Alick, Producer) collaborated to create a collection of 71 one-minute plays from across the country called “Every 28 Hours”. This national partnership focuses on the widely shared statistic that every 28 hours in America, a black person is the victim of systemic violence and is killed by the police, vigilante, or security guard. The performance takes place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University. For more information:

My take: I think the importance of the issues dealt with here pretty much speaks for itself.  I realize Monday isn't part of the weekend, but I wanted to make sure this got a shout out from me nevertheless.

Anna Blair
The Emerald Room at the Monocle and The Presenters Dolan present Anna Blair in I Am Reddy, Hear Me Roar on Friday, October 21, at 8 p.m. "This show will be a tribute to one of Anna's childhood heroes, Helen Reddy. Featuring the songs of Helen Reddy, some pop, some showtunes, some iconic, these songs will bring back memories of the 70's and 80's." The performance takes place in the Emerald Room at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: Anna and I have shared theatrical and cabaret stages numerous times over the last 15 years or so. She's as gutsy on stage as she is in real life and seeing her on stage is always a pleasure. Reviewing her Fran Landesman show back in 2009, Andrea Braun had this to say: "She has a supple, melodic voice, and she looks like she was born to wear a red dress (and proves that redheads needn't avoid that color) and lean against a baby grand. She is sultry, playful, sad, straight-forward, and she provides the audience with an altogether lovely evening." Anna was still relatively new to cabaret back then and has only gotten stronger over the years. I cant think of a more appropriate performer to celebrate the music of Helen Reddy.

The Rocky Horror Show
Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical The Rocky Horror Show through October 29. “The cult classic is back! After a flat tire has them stuck in a storm, sweethearts Brad and Janet come upon the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Once inside, a houseful of colorful characters take the couple on a bizarre journey they will never forget. This raucous musical is an over-the-top tribute to mid-20th century science fiction and horror B-movies." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Get ready for Halloween with this now venerable R-rated send-up of cheesy horror movies. Great art is ain't, but it is great fun if done well, and judging from Steve Allen's review for his Stage Door STL blog, the folks at Stray Dog have, in fact, done it well. "Nothing says Fall and Halloween better than a production of 'The Rocky Horror Show' and Stray Dog brings it back with all of the zaniness, crowd reactions and scantily clad lads and lassies. If you’re familiar with the stage show or the movie (and who isn’t?), you’ll have a great time." I was in Stray Dog's first production of this show back in 2009 and the audience was having at least as much fun as we were on stage. I'd expect the same this time around.

Storm Large
The Presenters Dolan presents Storm Large on Friday, October 21, at 8 p.m. as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival. "You sit back and you sometimes just can't believe what you are hearing. An astonishing singer and incandescent beauty who is this funny? With a killer band? In an extraordinary new show? It just never comes together like this!" The performances take place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information:

My take: While I haven't seen this particular show, I did review Storm Large's appearance at the Gaslight Cabaret Festival this past November and was mightily impressed. Back then I described her as a one-woman entertainment conglomerate (rock star, author, actor, and songwriter whose work was entertaining, raucously and bawdily funny, entirely genuine and utterly theatrical. If you haven't seen her before, you really should not deprive yourself of the opportunity.

Until the Flood
Through November 6, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Until the Flood. Writer, performer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith spent a week in St. Louis interviewing people from every corner of the region about recent social unrest. From these conversations, she has crafted a play that reflects the complexity of St. Louis. Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

My take: While some reviews for this remarkable one-woman show have been mixed, I'm including it because it shines theatrical light on issues that have remained too long in the darkness in American in general and here in St. Louis in particular. "Through eight sharply drawn characters and a moving spoken word closing," writes Tina Farmer in a soon-to-be-published review at KDHX, "Orlandersmith challenges easy assumptions while making the case for continued conversation. As an actor, she is thoroughly engaging, with a clear purpose and focused action. Her characters are distinct and teeming with authenticity". This show is a remarkably courageous choice for the Rep's main stage and deserves our support.

Held Over:

Golda's Balcony
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Golda's Balcony through October 30 "This is a strong show about a strong woman, Israel's fourth Prime Minister, Golda Meir. We meet her as she struggles with what became known as the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and which was very nearly a disaster for the State of Israel. The play asks us to consider what happens when idealism becomes power." Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

My take: Lavonne Byers, who has so many impressive roles to her credit on St. Louis stages, appears to have another hit on her hands with this one-woman show. In her upcoming review for KDHX, Tina Farmer says Ms. Byers "goes both broad and deep when capturing the life and motivation of one of the twentieth century's most popular and divisive female leaders" and that the show "gives us a terrifyingly real and decidedly unromantic view of those who seek to balance power and idealism. The one-woman biography is a stunning success and fitting tribute."

Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the musical Celebration Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 22. "With words by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade), CELEBRATION tells a wild, adult fable set on New Year's Eve, centered on Orphan, an idealistic and cheerfully optimistic young man, who reminds the wealthy and jaded old man William Rosebud Rich of his younger self; Angel, a sweet but not so angelic erotic dancer who longs to be Somebody; and the cynical Potemkin, who serves as narrator, commentator, and instigator. At the story's core is the primal, often comic struggle between youth and old age, innocence and corruption, love and ambition, poverty and wealth, as Angel tries to decide if she would be better served by her feelings for Orphan or Rich's willingness to fulfill all her material dreams." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit or call 314-534-1111.

My take: Everybody knows Fantasticks, but other Jones/Schmidt shows like I Do, I Do and 110 in the Shade get less attention than they deserve, so it's good to see New Line take on this adventurous 1960s period piece. "Part fable, part love triangle, and part 1960s hippie/Brechtian/Fantasticks-style love-in," writes Richard Green at Talking Broadway, "this seldom-seen show succeeds brilliantly thanks to its post-Vietnam urgency, its post-Civil Rights egalitarianism, and perhaps even a soupçon of pre-Watergate naivetĂ©—along with excellent leads and the sheer wit and exuberance of the whole ensemble."

Photo: ProPhotoSTL
Upstream Theater presents the world premiere of Suspended by Israeli playwright Maya Arad Yasur, through October 23. "The play shows two refugees who have fled their war-torn country and have landed in a wealthy city where they work as window washers. As their day progresses we learn how deeply they are connected, and why they are suspended between a world they can see but cannot join, between a past scarred by violence and an uncertain future." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, including show times:

My take: Upstream has presented some pretty inventive and daring theatre over the years, and their current production appears to be solidly in that same line. "As usual," writes Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis, "Upstream Theater brings us provocative and thoughtful theatre. “Suspended” is a story that unfolds slowly but gets to the heart of the matter. Thanks to two outstanding performances and excellent direction, “Suspended” becomes a show that you shouldn’t miss." At the Belleville News-Democrat, Lynn Venhaus says the show is "an absorbing character study with more layers than even the premise implies." Other critics have had good words for it as well.

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