Thursday, November 24, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of November 25, 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:

Emily Kuhn
The Emerald Room at the Monocle presents singer Emily Kuhn in her cabaret debut on Saturday, November 26, at 8 p.m. A a proud St. Louis native, Emily discovered her love for performing at a young age. She earned her BFA in Musical Theater from Penn State University in 2006 and spent the subsequent years performing in New York, on cruise ships and around the country. In addition to performing, Emily reaches music and choreographs at Villa Duchesne and teaches private voice and piano lessons at Emily Knox Studios. Steve Neale is pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Ben Nordstrom." The performance takes place in the Emerald Room at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: I haven't seen Ms. Kuhn's work, but I'm putting her debut cabaret show in the list this week because, to begin with, I want to encourage local talent as much as possible, and also because her director, Ben Nordstrom, is a very talented local actor with solid credentials in both musical and non-musical theatre. And also because the Emerald Room is a very cool venue with a solid drinks list.

Kevin Cherry
The Emerald Room at the Monocle and The Presenters Dolan present singer Kevin Cherry in You See This Guy on Friday, November 25, at 8 p.m. "Kevin Cherry takes you through 6 decades of the nearly 80 year career of Burt Bacharach. You See This Guy comes to The Emerald Room, under the musical direction of Dr. Jeffrey Richard Carter. With a recent, very successful Off-Broadway show at The New York Theatre Workshop, Burt Bacharach is experiencing a renaissance. You'll be surprised how many Bacharach compositions you'll recognize - or maybe you won't be!" The performance takes place in the Emerald Room at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: It has been a while since Kevin has brough his engaging, cheerful presence to the Cabaret Project open mic nights, so it's good to see him back on stage again. Bacharach doesn't get nearly the respect he deserves as a songwriter, as I'm sure you'll agree when you attend.

Held Over:

The 2015 cast of All is Calm
Photo: John Lamb
Mustard Seed Theatre presents the a cappella musical All is Calm Thursdays through Sundays through December 4. “Join us in celebrating the power of peace in this acapella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets.” Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at

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?

Fun Home
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Fun Home opening on Tuesday, November 15, and running through November 27. "Based on Alison Bechdel's best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood that connect with her in surprising new ways. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

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."

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