Thursday, February 09, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of February 10, 2017

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

Share on Google+:

New This Week:

A Doll's House
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents Ibsen's drama A Doll's House through February 18. “Nora Helmer once committed forgery in order to save the life of her authoritarian husband, Torvald. Years later she is being blackmailed, living in fear and shame of what might destroy Torvald's career. When the truth is revealed, Nora is shocked to learn where she really stands in her husband's esteem. Henrik Ibsen's world_renowned drama contains perhaps the most scandalous theatrical climax in all of 19th century drama." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Stray Dog seems to have done it again with a highly-praised mounting of Ibsen's once-controversial (and still trenchant) look at the battle of the sexes. "Ibsen’s prescient look at a stifling marriage in an oppressive 19th Century Norway jumps off the page in this acting showcase," writes Lynn Venhaus at the Belleville News-Democrat, "featuring possibly career-best work from four principals and seamless support from minor characters." Mark Bretz at Ladue News agrees, calling it "a richly textured and faithful rendition to the spirit of Ibsen’s classic work, bolstered with finely etched characterizations by an ensemble of players who benefit from artistic director Gary Bell’s meticulous and carefully measured direction."

Something Rotten
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Something Rotten February 7-19. "Set in 1595, this hilarious smash tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world's very first MUSICAL!" The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: This "boistrous, brainy Broadway hit" (Judy Newmark, just closed recently after a highly successful run on the Great White Way, in part because it does something that has proved very successful in recent years: make fun of the genre it represents. The fact that it does so by also sending up Shakespeare and theatre in general just adds to the fun. "The show really shouldn’t work," notes Ann Lemmons Pollack—"it’s a first effort from two brothers who had different careers, one a songwriter and the other a screenwriter for Disney, it pokes nasty at Shakespeare, and there’s plenty of mash-up in it. But the show is so deeply We-Love-Theater (another potential danger point) that the mash-up becomes homage with tongue inserted, nay, sutured, into cheek."

Yasmina's Necklace
Photo: John Lamb
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Yasmina's Necklace Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through February 12. “Fresh from its sold-out world premiere in Chicago, Yasmina's Necklace is an unlikely romance between Yasmina, a recent immigrant from Iraq and Abdul Samee, who wants to change his name to Sam and turn his back on his Iraqi and Puerto Rican heritage.” 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: With issues of immigration and the plight of refugees taking center stage these days in a political atmosphere of paranoia, ignorance, and bigotry (at least at the national level), Mustard Seed's show about the difficulty of adjusting to life in a new land could not be more timely. "Author and performance artist Rohina Malik," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "was inspired to look to the Chicago's immigrant and refugee population and ask: what might happen if the son of immigrants met a proud female refugee? The result is Yasmina's Necklace, a contemporary love story brought to life in a compelling and satisfying production that artfully weaves multiple cultures connected through a common religion and universally shared values...Mustard Seed Theatre has once again produced a thoroughly entertaining show that encourages audiences to broaden their perspective and to listen fully."

Held Over:

Intimate Apparel
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Intimate Apparel through February 12. "New York, 1905, Esther, a black seamstress, lives in a boarding house where she sews intimate apparel for clients ranging from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. As the other denizens of the boarding house marry and move away, Esther remains, lonely and longing. Through a mutual acquaintance, she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal. But Esther's heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her, but the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both. The play offers poignant commentary on an era when the cut and color of one's dress-and of course, skin-determined whom one could and could not marry, even talk to in public." Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

My take: Lynn Nottage's play has received plenty of praise since it was first performed in Baltimore in 2003. The subsequent New York production, for example, got the Outer Critics Circle award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play. The New Jewish Theatre production is getting its share praise as well. Ann Lemmons Pollack calls it a "remarkable evening of theatre." "Outstanding performances by the entire cast under Gary Barker’s meticulous and well-crafted direction," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "make Intimate Apparel a rare beauty stitched from the finest theatrical cloth." Try it on this weekend.

Rachel Tibbetts and Joe Hanrahan
The Midnight Company presents Little Thing, Big Thing Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. through February 11 " LITTLE THING, BIG THING tells the story of a nun, Sr. Martha, and an ex-con, Larry O'Donnell, who are thrown together in a desperate quest to safeguard film exposing deadly misdeeds of a powerful oil company. Chased by hired killers and corrupt cops, they risk their lives and head to Dublin to do the right thing, and deliver the film to the right hands. " Performances take place at Avatar Studios, 2675 Scott Avenue, downtown. Downtown. For more information:

My take: Joe Hanrahan's Midnight Company has mostly served as a platform for edgy one-man shows starring Mr. Hanrahan, but this time around it's a two-character show that is essentially, as Mark Bretz writes at Ladue News "a caper with heavy doses of wry comedy sprinkled along the way in the friendly if sometimes combative banter between the two main characters...Little Thing, Big Thing doesn’t attempt to be profound and that’s why it succeeds as much as it does. It’s a ripping good yarn told just right, one that will leave you in a light-hearted mood after the performance as you head toward the local pub for a pint or two to discuss." Sounds like a plan to me.

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."

No comments: