Thursday, March 09, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 10, 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:

Oprah Says Goodbye from Briefs
Photo: John Lamb
That Uppity Theatre Company and The Vital Voice present Briefs: A Festival Of Short LGBTQ Plays, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., March 9-11. "BRIEFS is a unique venture in St. Louis that brings together numerous directors and theatrical artists to showcase the work of eight different playwrights all under one roof. BRIEFS presents theatrical work that address the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning people. The festival is targeted to a diverse and mature audience that appreciates good theatre in unique settings. Each of the eight plays run about 10 minutes or less and include a variety of comedic and serious themes and genres. This year's collection of eight plays has been selected from over 250 submissions across the country and includes such themes as the caretaking of elderly family members by gay persons, the stress a lesbian couple experiences given varying responses to the Pulse massacre, the impact on family dynamics following a member's official adoption of a transgender identity, the closing of a bar that was a foundational safe haven for gay community members, and more." Performances take place at the .ZACK Performing Arts Center, 3224 Locust in Grand Center. For more information, visit

My take: I have been a big admirer of the Briefs festival since the first appearance six years ago (when I was also one of the actors). "Though several of the plays are likely to be serious in nature," writes Tina Farmer in a preview article for KDHX, "the overall tone of the production is one that encourages acceptance and positivity. At its heart, Briefs is always a celebration of voices, stories, and people." At a time when that nation is under the control of those who only want certain voices to be heard, this is more important than ever.

Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret opening on Tuesday, March 7, and running through the 19th. "In this multi award-winning musical, a young, naïve American writer arrives in 1930s Berlin and is swept away by the decadent pleasures of the sexy, seedy world that is the Cabaret. At the center of it all is the beguiling Sally Bowles, who takes the stage every night. Inside the Kit Kat Klub life is beautiful, but outside the world is about to change." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Speaking of those who want to silence some voices, this chilling musical adaptation of John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera (adapted from Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin) feels all the more relevant today as it chronicles the fascist demolition of an open, tolerant, and creative society. This tour is based on the highly praised 2013 Roundabout Theatre revival of its original 1998 production which emphasized the darker undertone of the show's literary origins.

Alpha Players present the drama To Kill a Mockingbird, based on the book by Harper Lee, March 10-19. "Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a beloved tale that still resonates today. Scout Finch is growing up in Depression-era Alabama, where poverty and prejudice dominate daily life. With the guidance of her wise father, Atticus, the rebellious Scout discovers her own path, learning the power of empathy and the struggle for justice." Performances take place at The Florissant Civic Center Theater, Parker Rd. at Waterford Dr. in Florissant, MO. For more information:, call 314-921-5678.

My take: With racism and bigotry on the rise again in America, this classic story of one lawyer's courageous stand for justice is, I'm sorry to say, every bit as relevant as it was when Harper Lee first set it down in novel form. If yo missed the Rep's outstanding production of this classic, this would be a good chance to get acquainted with it again.

Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: New Line continues to surprise us with productions of rarely-seen and (in this case) largely forgotten shows. That's a bit surprising since the team behind Zorba! produced Cabaret—one of the biggest hits in Braodway history (and now playing the Fox). In a soon-to-be-published review for KDHX, Tina Farmer calls Zorba! "the most beautifully hopeful tragedy I've seen in quite some time. The score and dancing are evocative, drenched with the sounds of Greek folk music. The lyrics are filled with exposition and storytelling reminiscent of the classics. The musical tackles the story of humanity as told through the eyes of an aging man determined to squeeze every last ounce from his own life. Tragic in nature, because we all must die at some point, the tale is nonetheless spirited and filled with love and passion."

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