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New This Week:
|Pride of Dummies at Spectrum 2016|
My take: This annual collectin of new plays by local authors is always a mixed bag, but worth seeing if you're insterested in finding out what St. Louis playwrights are all about. "First Run Theatre and the local artists involved in their productions," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "offer a unique opportunity to see live theater in its nascent form, to be among the first to be moved by a new work. Or not. Not every show will hit all your buttons, but there's plenty to like. Theatergoers who enjoy a deeper dig into the art and craft of storytelling are sure to find a lot to discuss after seeing Spectrum 2016."
Photo: Joan Marcus
My take: Originally designed for a much smaller theatre, this small-cast show may not be an ideal match for the Fox's immensity, and the story is also somewhat out of the Fox's usual Broadway hit mainstream. Like Ms. Bechdel's original graphic novel, Fun Home leaps forward and backward in time to tell the story of how she and her two siblings helped out at the small town funeral home (the "fun home" of the title) run by her father, Bruce, who was also the local high school English teacher. Still, it’s exceptionally well done by a uniformly excellent ensemble cast. And in light of the dark strains of resentment let loose in the recent Presidential campaign. It reminds us that families can be difficult and that love is not always easy regardless of anyone's sexuality. Being human can just be hard sometimes, and we all need (as the old song goes) to "try a little tenderness."
|Brooke Michael Smith|
My take: A local girl who made good retruns to show us what has made her the toast of San Francisco. Her Friday night show is already sold out but a few tickets remain for Saturday. The Emerald Room is a very cool space and the bar at The Monocle has a great drink selection.
|Hamlet: See What I See|
Photo: Tina Farmer
My take: This immersive, audience-participation deconstruction of Shakespeare is clearly not for everyone, but if you're wiilling to abandon any preconceptions, Tina Farmer at KDHX suggests it might be worth your attention. "From private tours of the castle Elsinore to the immediacy and proximity of the story's action, the audience is fully enveloped by the show," she writes. "The St. Louis production integrates music and social media into the entertainment, and audience members are encouraged to take and share photos from their experience. Shakespearean purists will find plenty to criticize in the production. Yet I found the deconstructed script delightfully enigmatic and the forced focus on the visceral impact of the story completely captivating. Though I did not always have clear sight lines at the performance I attended, there were very few moments when I missed a line, and the overall effect of the show is a truly immersive experience."
|The 2015 cast of All is Calm|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: All is Calm has become an annual winter tradition at Mustard Seed. With a script by Peter Rothstein and musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, this story of the remarkable Christmas truce of 1914—a spontaneous outbreak of peace that occurred at multiple points along the trenches in France—combines splendid and often quite complex a cappella singing with readings of letters from soldiers and other historical documents. At a time when opportunistic politicians are pushing an agenda of hate, fear, and eternal war, this is a play that everyone needs to see. As we used to ask back in the 1960s, "what if they gave a war and nobody came?