Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of January 27, 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:

An American in Paris
Photo: Matthew Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents the musical An American in Paris through January 29. "An American In Paris is the new Tony Award®-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Acclaimed director/choreographer and 2015 Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon brings the magic and romance of Paris into perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season!" The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: 'S' wonderful, 's marvelous, 's a big, splashy, colorful love letter to Paris and, more importantly, to the art of the dance. You can read my review for details, but the bottom line is that this is a pretty darn fine show that the whole family will be able to appreciate. Note, thought, that with a run time of nearly three hours including intermission, it might be a bit much for smaller children.

La Cenerentola
Photo: Wylde Brothers Productions
Winter Opera St. Louis presents Rossini's comic opera La Cenerentola (Cinderella) Friday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM, January 27 and 29. Performances take place at The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School, 425 S. Lindbergh. For more information, visit

My take: There's no fairy godmother in this version of Cinderella's story because Rossini hated the use of supernatural elements in opera and the wicked godmother has been exchanged for a pompous, social-climbing godfather, but otherwise this is familiar ashes-to-diamonds story done up with lots of patter songs and elaborate coloratura arias, mostly for low voices (even Cinderella is a contralto instead of a soprano). The opera's last appearance here was in the summer of 2011 at Union Avenue Opera, so Winter Opera's new production is welcome. The title role is sung with great charm by and she's backed up by a solid ensemble of singers with a good sense of comedy. Director is a little too fond of silly choreography in many of the ensemble numbers, but overall this is an impressive effort and well worth seeing.

The Marcelle Theater presents Alan Ox in the original one-man musical There's an Alien in My Soup opening on Thursday, January 26, and running through February 4th. The show "breaches the UFO taboo by diving headfirst into it. No holds barred. Featuring 7 military personnel coming forward, forsaking their anonymity to share what really happened behind closed doors when 'they' came to visit Earth." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater in Grand Center, three blocks east of Powell Hall. For more information:

My take: So far all I have seen of this show is one of the seven monologues and the song that goes with it—a British music hall pastiche titled "Call On the British"—but that was enough to spark my interest. The part was smartly acted by Mr. Ox and the song was a hoot. I won't get to see the show until the closing weekend but the idea of this show sounds appealing enough to merit inclusion here.

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 with some of director Seth Gordon's choices, but for me the importance of this play's message is what really counts.

The cast of Bravura
Circus Harmony presents Bravura Saturdays at 2 and 7 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, through January 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."

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 they 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."

Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents the comedy Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs by St. Louis playwright Steve Peirick through January 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.

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