Friday, January 20, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of January 20, 2017

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:

Lina Koutrakos
Mariposa Artists presents Rick Jensen and Lina Koutrakos in their new cabaret show After All These Love Songs on Friday, January 20, at 8 p.m. "Master performance teachers, singer/songwriters and rave reviewed musical director Rick Jensen and director Lina Koutrakos kick off their teaching weekend in St. Louis with the show "After All Those Love Songs." Jensen and Koutrakos have been together - both teaching and performing - for many years and bring that ease and skill to their shared show about life before and after all the love songs, the ballads, the shows, the reviews, the traveling, the awards and the accolades. Not only is the show a reason to come out and join them but it's a great way for Rick and Lina to see the people they have grown to love over the last decade in St Louis." The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand and Olive in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen have become familiar figures on the local cabaret scene over the years, first as regular faculty members in the St. Louis Cabaret Conference, and then as directors and advisers for many local performers. And, as I wrote in my review of their appearance at the Gaslight Theatre back in 2015, that fact that they have been performing as creative partners for decades, giving their work on stage the kind of easy camaraderie that comes only with experience. It makes for an evening that easily draws the audience into their musical conversation and quickly dissolves the fabled fourth wall. Together, they unfailingly deliver a mix of passion, wit, and polished musicianship that's just unbeatable.

The cast of Bravura
Circus Harmony presents Bravura Saturdays at 2 and 7 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, January 21-29. "Bravura is a musical term whose definition also describes our youth circus performers: exceptional agility and brilliant style. Our theme this year is archetypes. Follow our King as he searches for the Trickster who stole his crown and finds out that one person can wear many hats." Performances take place at City Museum, 701 N. 15th Street. Show admission is free with museum admission. For more information:

My take: Circus Harmony does excellent outreach work that demonstrates how the arts can make a big difference in the community. If you've ever seen a Circus Flora show, of course, you've seen some of Circus Harmony's students at work as The St. Louis Arches, but the organization's reach and mission go far beyond that. "Circus Harmony," according to their web site, "teaches the art of life through circus education. We work to build character and expand community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds. Through teaching and performance of circus skills, we help people defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time." Since their 2001 Circus Salaam Shalom, which brought Jewish and Muslim kids in St. Louis together, Circus Harmony has been advancing its philosophy of "peace through pyramids, harmony through handspirngs" to "inspire individuals and connect communities."

Sarah Porter
New Line Theatre presents Sarah Porter in her new cabaret show Don't Make Me Name This on Saturday, January 21, at 8 p.m. as part of the company's Off Line at the Monocle series. "After a successful run in her one woman show, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me on a Sunday in August, Sarah Porter jumps into the cabaret world. Come join Sarah in her first solo cabaret, as she shares some of her favorite songs from many different genres. She is sure to entertain with a night of laughter and bewitching charm.The show is directed by Mike Dowdy-Windsor, with music direction by Sarah Nelson." The performance takes place at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove. For more information:

My take: The St. Louis cabaret scene has really taken off in recent years, with many new performers joining established local stars like Tim Schall and Ken Haller. I think it's important to support young cabaret artists taking their first steps in the genre, and I'm also a big fan of The Monocle's Emerald Room space. It's intimate and classy with just a touch of kitsch. Go and enjoy the music, the drinks, and the snacks.

Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents the comedy Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs by St. Louis playwright Steve Peirick January 20-29. "Some would say Cameron Dobbs is a loser who never gets a break. He's turning 30 and all he wants is a quiet birthday dinner with his brother, Owen, and sister-in-law, Abby. Unfortunately, they have different plans. Unknown to Cameron, Abby has decided to fix him up with her friend, Natalie, and Owen has invited their loving but neurotic mother, Helen. Cameron is not thrilled by these surprise guests, and to add to his chagrin, the dinner menu is a list of food to which he is allergic. After an unenthusiastic introduction, Natalie convinces Cameron to leave the dinner party and celebrate with her. As his family awaits his return, Cameron begins the journey toward recreating his life and embracing manhood." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre of the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road. For more information, call 314-821-9956 or visit

My take: I haven't seen Kirkwood's production, but having worked on the world premiere of this very funny play at West End Players several years ago, I can attest to the high quality of the script. Although it's essentially a situation comedy, Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs goes in unexpected and very smart directions. This is at least it's third local production, and I expect there will be more as time goes by.

Held Over:

All My Sons
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Arthur Miller's drama All My Sons through January 29. "Miller's breakthrough play is a searing and deeply personal search for morality with shattering repercussions. During World War II, factory owner Joe Keller makes a questionable business decision that costs the lives of American airmen overseas. His misdeed leaves his family fractured as they grapple with the consequences of his actions." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

My take: Given the current depraved state of our national morality and what would appear to be our appalling acceptance of war as just another product, it seems almost quaint to raise the issue of war profiteering these days—which is why it so desperately needs to be done. Miller's play, in contrast with war-mongering politicians, has a strong moral core and is getting what Bob Cohn in the Jewish LIght calls "a powerful, riveting production." I'm not entirely happy wih some of director Seth Gordon's choices, but for me the importance of this play's message is what really counts.

Menopause the Musical
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Menopause the Musical, "a celebration of women and The Change," through February 12. The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information:

My take: This popular ensemble show has been around for a while now, having premiered in 2001 in Orlando, Florida, in a 76-seat theatre that once housed a perfume shop. It's last visit at the Westport Playhouse was ten years ago, and it seems to have lost none of it's comic shine. "Who will enjoy this," asks Ann Lemmons Pollack in her blog, "beyond women of what the call un age certain? People of both genders around them unless they have no sense of humor. That includes family, friends and co-workers. One of life's cruel jokes is that the menopause hits many households about the same time adolescence does. Here's something to tide us over."

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