Friday, July 28, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of July 28, 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:

Mamma Mia!
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Mamma Mia!, based on the songs of ABBA, Friday through Sunday, July 28 - 30. The Fox Theatre is at 517 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: As I wrote in my review of the 2002 USA tour of this show on its first visit to the Fox, I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of the 1970s pop quartet ABBA. When they were cranking out hits like "Dancing Queen", I was sneering at them and listening to Elvis Costello and The Ramones. But when I first saw Mamma Mia! in London back in 2001 surrounded by wildly enthusiastic Brits (who apparently feel about ABBA the way the French feel about Jerry Lewis), I had to admit it was great fun. I found it a completely captivating evening of musical theatre, mostly because Judy Craymer, director Phyllida Lloyd and playwright Catherine Johnson (all from Britain, where this show began) have put together a fast-paced, funny, and occasionally even touching show that can send even a die-hard ABBA hater like yours truly out of the theatre with a smile on his face and a handful of those bouncy, hook-laden melodies rattling around in his brain. So enjoy it, already.

"Sin Titulo"
Photo: Patrick Huber
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents the Neil LaBute New Theater Festival, Part 2 through July 31 at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. The festival features professional, new and previously unproduced one-act plays 45 minutes or less in length, chosen from submissions to the festival over the previous year. . The plays in Part 2 are "Hate Crime" by Neil LaBute, "How's Bruno?" by Cary Pepper, and "Sin Titulo" by Tearrance Chrisholm. For more information call 314-458-2978 or visit

My take: Actors' Studio continues to do local theatre a big service with its yearly survey of new plays, always anchored by a Neil LaBute piece. The Carter Lewis play is a trenchant satire which is very current, which might mean its shelf life is not long; catch it while you can. Writing for Ladue News, Mark Bretz says said the first part of the festival "offers some intriguing works for consideration...check it out both for entertainment and education." "Though they may benefit from a little tightening", writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "the three plays featured in part two deliver intriguing, thought provoking theater."

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