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My take: As I wrote in my review of her Gaslight Cabaret Festival appearance back in 2015, Ms. Kirk is a tremendously talented and charismatic performer—a classic singing actress with solid vocal technique and the acting chops necessary to inhabit a lyric. And, as a self-confessed "dyed-in-the-sequins musical theatre geek," she has an advantage in that unique form of musical theatre known as cabaret.
Photo: Ron James
My take: This "revenger" tragedy is widely regarded as one of the more graphically violent plays in the Shakespearean canon. An early work, it hasn't gotten a lot of respect over the years, although Julie Taymor's wildly successful 1999 film version helped reawaken interest in it. At KDHX, Tina Farmer writes that the St. Louis Shakespeare production "sharply focuses the complex and darkly tragic play on the intense conflict between the central characters. Bold performances are energized by a sense of rage and a well articulated story arc ensures that this production is exciting. The tension starts high and still finds several levels left to amp up the bloodstained drama." If you're having meat pies this holiday weekend, though, caution is advised.
|High tea with Uncle Vanya|
My take: This is, to say the least, an inventive approach to Chekov's play. It was not written with "immsersive theatre" in mind, of course, so the quesiton is: does it work in this revised form? At KDHX, Steve Callahan is impressed with the cast but less so with the concept. "To place Uncle Vanya in the middle of a cocktail-party, he writes, "is a disservice to the play, to the actors, and to the audience." But Judy Newmark at stltoday writes that "[n]o matter what [director Kelly Hummert] had in mind, she has mounted a superb production of a truly modern drama, a production that makes sense, that emphasizes Chekhov's wry humor and that gives two gifted actors, James Butz and Andrew Michael Neiman, rich roles that they dig into with brains and style". At St. Louis Eats and Drinks, Ann Lemmons Pollack agrees with Ms. Newmark, calling this "an utterly charming take" on Chekov's classic. The only way to know what you'll think is to see it.
|In the Heights|
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: From the Irish in the 1820s to the current wave of new arrivals from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, immigrants have brightened and enriched American culture. We are, indeed, a nation of immigrants, and In the Heights celebrates that fact. As I noted in my review of the tour of the Broadway original production of this show back in 2009, In the Heights may look and sound very contemporary, but its celebration of neighborhood and family values is also very traditional. R-S is giving this first local production of the show an "engaging and enjoyable" presentation (Mark Bretz, Ladue News) that is "a haunting reminder of the sacrifices people make when they uproot their families for a chance at a better home in a new place" (Shannon Cothran, KDHX). It's also sold out, but you can presumably be put on the waiting list.