Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of December 23, 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:

A Gnome for Christmas
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Imaginary Theatre Company presents the children's musical A Gnome for Christmas, running through December 23. "When Lulu's quirky father fails to sell yet another of his odd inventions, the pair must pack their bags and move to more meager accommodations. All they can afford is a rundown old farmhouse where the fence needs mending and the landlord's cranky, even at Christmastime! Lulu's about ready to give up, but when mysterious and magical things start happening, it seems that this farm might be home to more than meets the eye. This warm-hearted holiday musical reminds us of the importance of helping others and the happiness found in friends." Performances take place in the Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall High School, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. For more information:

My take: Children's theatre can be a mixed bag, but the Imaginary Theatre Company has a good track record of producing shows that take kids on their own terms rather than treating them like dimwitted adults. "A Gnome for Christmas," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "introduces the youngest members of the family to live theater with a mix of story and song that offers gently persuasive, positive lessons about persistence, belief, and self-confidence...The story is told with an emphasis on possibility and the benefits of helping each other, whether you're efforts are initially recognized or not. That's an important message, but it's delivered in a natural, unaffected story that doesn't make too much of the lesson."

Held Over:

A Christmas Carol
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
Through December 24, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents A Christmas Carol, adapted by David H. Bell from the novel by Charles Dickens. "On Christmas Eve, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge is given a chance at redemption as he's visited by four ghosts - his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future - who teach him it's never too late to change." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

My take: Some of my friends turn into Scrooges at this time of year. I turn into Scrooge's nephew, cheerfully singing along with every carol and enjoying the hell out of holiday gatherings. That means I'd probably recommend this even if the reviews weren't so good, but as it happens my fellow critics are in danger of running out of verbal laurel wreaths to bestow on this production. Harry Hamm calls it "a polished, warm and large-scale production". "The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge is among the most beloved of holiday stories," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "and The Rep's production delivers the spectacle of the story in a standout revival that's a welcome theatrical treat." As you can tell from my own review at OnSTL, I could not agree more.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Metro Theatre Company and the Missouri History Museum present The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane through December 30. "Edward Tulane is a toy who cares for nobody but himself. Ripped from the arms of the little girl who adores him, this privileged china rabbit is thrown into a life-changing adventure. From the depths of the ocean to the top of a garbage heap, Edward discovers what it means to love others on his extraordinary journey home. With themes of family, empathy, home and redemption, this play is the perfect way to celebrate the warmth of the holiday season." Performances take place in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information:

My take: At the other end of the spectrum from American Buffalo is this heart-warming, family-friendly show from Metro. "If you believe the holidays are about loving and being loved," writes Shannon Cothran at KDHX, "then this show is for you."

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