Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 14, 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:

Emily Johnson
The Stage at KDHX presents Emily Johnson in Duet on Saturday, April 15, at 8 p.m. "Emily Johnson hosts, "Duet," a cabaret showcasing Saint Louis' biggest and brightest young artists through pop duets and group numbers. "Duet," similar in form to her last cabaret, "Solo," derives themes from pop music, while adding a focus on duets. "I'm thrilled to present something unlike I've ever tackled before," she shares, "an ensemble cabaret showcasing several performance mediums: song, dance, spoken word, and more." The performances take place at The Stage at KDHX, 3524 Washington in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Ms. Johnson has made several appearances at The Cabaret Project's open mic nights, and has consistently impressed me with her talent and professionalism. Plus, The Stage at KDHX is a great cabaret venue, wiith top notch lights and sound. The adjoining Magnolia Cafe has a good assortment of drinks and munchies as well.

Sex With Strangers
Rebel and Misfits Productions presents Sex With Strangers Wednesdays through Sundays at 8 p.m., through April 15. "How far will you go to get what you want? Will you be the same person if you do? When twenty-something star sex blogger and memoirist Ethan tracks down his idol, the gifted but obscure novelist Olivia, he finds they crave what the other possesses. As attraction turns to sex, and they inch closer to getting what they want, both most confront the dark side of ambition and the trouble of reinventing oneself when the past is only a click away." Performances take place at a private home in the Central West End at 4632 McPherson Avenue. All attendees in the play's small, intimate audience of 50 people, must be age 18+. For more information:

My take: Reviews of this show have been mixed, but the unusual choice of venue and provocative nature of the play make it worth a look, in my view. "Set in an appropriately appointed private space in the Central West End," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "love and attraction are explored intellectually, physically, and in close proximity to the audience. In this space, the intimacy, manipulation, and intensity of the fractured relationship are clearly visible and the emotional arc reverberates with immediacy...For me, the compelling show is thoughtful and provocatively authentic. If you enjoy nighttime cable television drama and are comfortable with the situations presented, you are likely to enjoy the immediacy and intensity of Sex With Strangers and the uninhibited, persuasive performances from [cast members Kelly] Hummert and [Christopher] Tipp."  

Sweeney Todd
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Thursdays through Saturdays through April 22. "A macabre musical tells the tale of Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, who returns to London seeking vengeance. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, proprietress of a failing pie shop, whose luck improves when the demon barbers thirst for blood inspires a new ingredient for her meat pies. Londoners start queuing up for a taste of her unique delectable treats!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: I suppose I shouldn't be including this. It's not that the reviews haven't been great; exactly the opposite in fact. Tina Farmer at KDHX seems to be speaking for the majority. "Gleefully discordant and filled with strong performances," she writes, "anchored by outstanding leads from Jon Hey and Lavonne Byers, the tragically comic musical is fantastic and fun." No, the reason I probably shouldn't include this is that all performances are now sold out. Still, people do cancel and I expect they'll be happy to put you on a waiting list. A good production of this rattling great yarn is worth waiting for, in my book.

Held Over:

Seven Guitars
The Black Rep presents the drama Seven Guitars by August Wilson through April 23. "Set in 1948 in the backyard of a Pittsburgh apartment house, Seven Guitars follows Floyd " Schoolboy" Barton's circle of friends and neighbors-the play's seven voices-as they spin a rich tale of the deck that's stacked against them, what they've lost and all they dream of. Part murder mystery, part memory play, Seven Guitars depicts the events leading up to the untimely death of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a gifted blues guitarist. Released from jail after serving time for the crime of "worthlessness," Floyd tries to retrieve his guitar and get to Chicago to make a record. He believes he is on the brink of a career breakthrough, but bad decisions and worse luck prevent him from leaving Pittsburgh. " Performances take place in the Emerson Performance Space on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in midwotn. For more information:

My take: The Black Rep has always done well by the deep, literate works of August Wilson, and this production appears to be no exception. "As always with Wilson," writes Bob Wilcox at KDHX, "Seven Guitars satisfies with its rich language and its deep humanity." In her review at, Judy Newmark praises the acting ensemble and singles out Black Rep founder Ron Himes as "giving the performance of his career."

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