Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 17, 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:

The Royale
Photo: John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Royale through March 26. "The brutal rhythm of boxing underscores this brilliantly stylized drama. Rising black prizefighter Jay "The Sport" Jackson dominates his opponents, but the harsh social realities of the early 1900s force him to fight twice as hard to earn recognition outside of the ring. Loosely based on iconic fighter Jack Johnson, The Royale brings us ringside to one man's quest for victory against all odds." Performances take place in the studio theater at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit

My take: The Rep has been presenting consistently provocative and usually very compelling new plays in its intimate studio space for many years now. The Royale appears to be right in that groove. "The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' production," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a dynamic and captivating interpretation of Marco Ramirez's tightly wound play, teaming with purpose, raw emotion, and rhythm."


Held Over:

Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret through Sunday, March 19. "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, through Sunday, March 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 her 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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