Saturday, September 23, 2017

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of September 25, 2017

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St. Louis Cathedral Concerts presents a free chamber music concert on Friday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. Performers Kristin Ahlstrom, violin; Bjorn Ranheim, cello; Tzuying Huang, clarinet; and Matthew Mazzoni, piano will perform works by Beethoven, Khachaturian, and Mendelssohn. The performance takes place at St. Gabriel the Archangel church, 6303 Nottingham in south St. Louis city. For more information: cathedralconcerts.org.

The St. Louis Chamber Chorus presents Concert One: Tonight I Dance Alone on Sunday, October 1, at 3 p.m. The concert "will feature two pieces commissioned for the Chamber Chorus. In the first, Australian Clare Maclean completes the early musical drama, "Lamento d'Arianna" by 17th century Italian, Claudio Monteverdi, by contributing a new conclusion to the work.The second commission is a world premiere composed by Sweden's Mårten Jansson. "Tonight I Dance Alone" tells a poignant story written expressly for the occasion by American poet, Charles Anthony Silvestri. Each concert in the 62nd Season features collaborative work between the Chamber Chorus and an artist from a different creative medium. The poetry of Silvestri marks the first such collaboration. Both artists, Jansson and Silvestri, will travel to St. Louis for the premiere - Jansson from Uppsala, Sweden and Silvestri from Topeka, Kansas." The concert takes place at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 12345 Manchester Road in Des Peres. For more information: www.chamberchorus.org.

Emanuel Ax
Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzuco
David Robertson conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Emanuel Ax, in an all-Mozart program Friday at 10:30 a.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 29 - October 1. The Friday concert features the Piano Concertos Nos. 14 and 20 and the Symphony No. 39. Saturday and Sunday the program will feature the Concertos Nos. 16 and 17 and the Symphony No. 40. The Performance takes place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

The University City Symphony Orchestra presents From Russia With Love on Sunday, October 1, at 3 p.m. "The UCSO proudly presents the 2017-2018 Season: The Compleat Cultural Tourist II. The concert "From Russia, With Love" continues our series focused on several different world cultures. The concert will open with the energetic Overture from Mikhail Glinka's epic fairy tale opera, "Ruslan and Ludmilla," followed by the St. Louis premiere of Piano Concerto No. 4 by Anton Rubenstein, for which we welcome back pianist Richard Alston. The concert will close with Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky's wonderful Symphony No. 2, "Little Russian," which highlights Ukrainian folktunes throughout." There will be a pre-concert talk at 2:15 p.m. The performance takes place at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information: ucso.org.

Monday, September 25, at 5:30 pm, Washington University presents a concert by the Washington University Jazz Ensemble and members of the St. Louis Symphony. The performance takes place just outside the Bear's Den on the South 40 on the Washington University campus. For more information: music.wustl.edu.

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of September 25, 2017

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The Department of Music at Washington University and Winter Opera present the world premiere of Harold Blumenfeld's opera Borgia Infami Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 30 and October 1. " Borgia Infami depicts the lives, loves and crimes of the notorious Borgia family. The opera focuses upon Rodrigo, who becomes the brilliant and corrupt Pope Alexander VI; his son Cesare, whose ruthless pursuit of power is immortalized in Machiavelli's writings; and, finally, Lucrezia, the Duchess of Ferrara, Rodrigo's beautiful daughter, and alleged poisoner of the family's enemies. The action unfolds on dual levels, alternating historical fact with Victor Hugo's hyper melodramatic portrayal of Lucrezia." Performances take place in the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: edison.wustl.edu.

Church Basement Ladies
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Church Basement Ladies Thursdays through Sundays through October 1. "Church Basement Ladies, a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the book and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as we see them handle a record breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. "The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?" Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents The Feast through October 8. "Matt and Anna's relationship is going swimmingly, until the sewers under their apartment open up and begin to speak. Matt's paintings are getting stranger and every one he meets seems to know why. It could be about Anna, and it could be something much darker. An eerie comedy about what is real, what is not, and who knows the difference." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

The Looking Glass Playhouse presents the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through October 1. "Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film's Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell's new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo's gothic novel. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn't the only one captivated by her free spirit, though - the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies - and it's up to Quasimodo to save them all." Performances take place at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. For more information, visit www.lookingglassplayhouse.com.

Lizzie
Photo: Jill Ritten Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the rock musical Lizzie Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, September 28 - October 21. "A prominent businessman and his wife are brutally axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden is the prime suspect. Lizzie's trial is a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story becomes an American legend." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Jazz St. Louis and The Cabaret Project present Kyle Dean Massey on Wednesday and Thursday, September 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m. "Kyle Dean Massey is an American actor best known for his work on Broadway in Pippin, Next to Normal, Wicked and Xanadu and to television audiences as Kevin Bicks from ABC's Nashville. As a vocalist Kyle Dean has performed across the country in pops concerts with symphony orchestras and in more intimate cabaret settings with his one man show. He also tours with his concert group The Broadway Tenors." Performances take place at the Ferring Jazz Bistro on Washington just east of the Fox in Grand Center. For more information: jazzstl.org.

St. Charles Community College presents the musical Night of the Living Dead Wednesday through Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 2 p.m., September 27 - 30. Performances take place in the FAB Theater in the Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building on the campus at 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in Cottleville, MO. For more information, call 636-922-8050 or visit stchas.edu.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the musical [title of show] Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., September 27 - October 8. "Jeff and Hunter, two self-confessed nobodies in New York, make a pact: They will write an original musical and submit it to a festival. The only catch? The deadline is in three weeks! They gather their friends, Susan and Heidi, and their trusted accompanist and set off. With the team assembled, Jeff and Hunter hit another roadblock-- what should they write about? Jeff and Hunter decide to follow the old saying, “write what you know,” and set off on a unique musical adventure: writing a musical about writing a musical. As the deadline looms, insecurities creep in and jealousies flare. Will the team succeed with their musical? Could it even win a Tony?! Frequently hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, and thoroughly inspiring, [title of show] is a love story celebrating individuality and creativity." Performances take place on the Browning Mainstage Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Twisted Improv on Friday, September 21, at 8 p.m. at The Steamboat Room, 314 S. Clay in Kirkwood, MO. "Join Adam and his crew for an interactive night of fun and laughter.Beer, wine and food available from Kirkwood Station Brewery." For more information: ktg-onstage.org.

Unsuspecting Susan
Inevitable Theatre Company makes its St. Louis performance debut with the regional premiere of Stewart Permutt's one-woman play Unsuspecting Susan, through September 30. "Unsuspecting Susan portrays the tranquil village life of upper-class Hampshire divorcée Susan Chester, whose hobbies include amateur dramatics, raising Sealyham Terriers, and collecting the juiciest gossip about her neighbors. After Susan's troubled son, Simon, moves to London, her seemingly perfect world is rocked by an unspeakable act of violence." Performances take place at The Chapel on Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: inevitabletheatre.org.

The West End Players Guild opens its 107th season with the drama A Walk in the Woods Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, September 29 - October 8. There will also be a show on Thursday, October 5, at 8 PM. Lee Blessing's tale of how superpower negotiations sometimes work - and often fail - was nominated for a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize." Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Review: "South Pacific" at Stages is an enchanted evening

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To close their 2017 season, Stages St. Louis is giving us enchanted evenings with a very strong production of South Pacific. Using the slightly revised version of the original script prepared for the 2008 Broadway revival, director Michael Hamilton honors both the comedy and tragedy of the show.

Leah Berry and the company
Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
If you only know Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic as a high-gloss widescreen musical from 1958, the show's occasionally trenchant commentary on the folly and futility of war, issues of racism, and what Emile De Becque, in a moment of despair, refers to as "a mean little world / Of mean little men" might come as a surprise. We need to remember that when the show opened in 1949, the aftermath of the horror that was the war in the Pacific was still very much on everyone's minds.

We need to remember, as well, that less than a year before that opening, President Truman had issued Executive Order 9981 desegregating the armed forces—provoking a violent backlash that continues to this day. "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," Lt. Cable's bitter commentary on racism, provoked anger and accusations of indecency and Communism when South Pacific arrived in the southern USA. Rodgers and Hammerstein, to their credit, refused to cut the song.

The Stages cast is a great one, headed by Leah Berry as a captivating Nellie Forbush and Michael Halling, radiating gravitas as Emile De Becque. Matthew Hydzik is compelling as the conflicted Lt. Cable and Mark DiConzo could illuminate a small city with the comic energy he brings to role of the conniving Luther Billis.

Matthew Hudzik and Sydney Jones
Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Joanne Javien's Bloody Mary is a ball of comic ferocity and Muny Teen Troupe member Sydney Jones is the epitome of wordless grace as Mary's daughter Liat. There is, in fact, not a single performance here that isn't on target. Simple, evocative sets and atmospheric lighting add to the overall polish of the production.

So if you haven't seen South Pacific in a while, now is a good time to renew your acquaintance. Its condemnation of racist folly remains, I'm sorry to say, as relevant now as it was in 1949. Apparently we learn from history that we learn nothing from history.

The show got an enthusiastic reception from a sold out house when we saw it, so you'll want to visit the Stages web site soon to order tickets. Performances continue through October 8th.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of September 22, 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:

Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
KTK Productions presents Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 24. "The show is a cabaret revue sharply spoofing show tunes, characters and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals. Forbidden Broadway has mocked popular shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Spamalot, Annie, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Rent, Newsies, to name a few. It also targets famous Broadway actors, writers, composers, directors, choreographers and producers, including Julie Andrews, Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Crawford, Harvey Fierstein, Bob Fosse, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Goulet, Jerry Herman, Dustin Hoffman, Elton John, Angela Lansbury, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti LuPone, Cameron Mackintosh, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Stephen Sondheim, Barbra Streisand, Julie Taymor and Gwen Verdon. " Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: kurtainkall.org or call 314-351-8984.

My take: I saw one of the early editions of Forbidden Broadway many years ago in New York and laughed hysterically all the way through. Creator Gerard Allesandrini brilliantly skewered the musicals then running on the Great White Way which, at the time, included the famous dark revival of Cabaret and Titanic. The cast at KTK seems to be doing a decent job with this collection of the more memorable moments from the various editions of FB. "Musical theater aficionados will especially love it," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX, "as familiarity with the great shows being spoofed lets one catch every joke and feel like an insider. But it's really a show for everybody." Yes, it's a community theatre production, but it appears to be a good one and sounds like great fun.



South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

My take: It is, I think, easy to forget that this theatrical classic is not just a musical, but a drama as well. In South Pacific, boy gets girl, boy abandons girl, boy dies and everybody else goes off to war. For audiences that know South Pacific largely as a high-gloss widescreen musical from 1958, the show's occasionally trenchant commentary on the folly and futility of war, issues of racism, and what Emile De Becque, in a moment of despair, refers to as "a mean little world / Of mean little men" might come as a surprise. Sadly, current events are reminding us of just how right he was. The Stages production is being lauded by darn near everybody. A good example is Chris Gibson at Broadwayworld. "Sparked by an excellent cast," he writes, "this is an incredibly touching testament to the power this work still wields." Similarly glowing reviews can be found at Ladue News and the Post-Dispatch. I'm seeing it this weekend and am looking forward to it.

Unsuspecting Susan
Inevitable Theatre Company makes its St. Louis performance debut with the regional premiere of Stewart Permutt's one-woman play Unsuspecting Susan, through September 30. "Unsuspecting Susan portrays the tranquil village life of upper-class Hampshire divorcée Susan Chester, whose hobbies include amateur dramatics, raising Sealyham Terriers, and collecting the juiciest gossip about her neighbors. After Susan's troubled son, Simon, moves to London, her seemingly perfect world is rocked by an unspeakable act of violence." Performances take place at The Chapel on Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: inevitabletheatre.org.

My take: I have known this show's star, Donna Weinsting, for many years now. She's a warm, funny person and a tremendously talented actress. Local directors obviously think so as well since they keep casting her, and this one-woman show appears to be a real triumph for her. At Ladue News, for example, Mark Bretz praises the "touching and revelatory performance by Donna Weinsting in this affecting, one-character drama." Other critics have been equally positive.


Held Over:

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. "The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?" Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

My take: Critics have been mining their stock of superlatives for this show. At KDHX, for example, Tina Farmer calls it "a spectacular theatre experience." Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis says it's a "beautiful, powerful and heart-wrenching experience," while Judy Newmark at the Post-Dispatch praises the "fluid, crystal-clear production." I could go on, but you get the idea. We saw it last weekend and were completely captivated. The title, FYI, comes from the Sherlock Homes story Silver Blaze, and refers to the importance of something that didn't happen as a clue in a murder case.


Dot
Photo: Phil Hamer
The Black Rep presents the St. Louis premiere of the comedy/drama Dot through September 24. "In DOT, Dotty Shealey and her three grown children are gathering once more for the holidays at the Shealey house (always a wild affair there.) But this year, there's more to deal with than exchanging gifts. Dotty is struggling to hold onto her memory, while her children are fighting to balance care for their mother and for themselves. Warm, funny and touching, DOT grapples unflinchingly with aging parents and midlife crises in the heart of a West Philly neighborhood." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

My take: When I first saw this play in the spring of 2015 at the Humana Festival, I wrote that the combination of script, acting, and direction was so perfect that it just blew me away. The Black Rep's production appears to be doing it justice. "Ron Himes directs the show with compassion and finesse as well as a keen sense of comedy," writes Tina Farme at KDHX, "mining every line for every layer of meaning. The cast responds marvelously, keeping pace with the constantly shifting tone and building tension." This is a plays that deals with a serious issue in a funny and yet compassionate manner. Playwright Colman Domingo's characters are all fully fleshed out and his portrayal of the effects of dementia on both Dotty and her family is vividly real. As someone who had a parent that went through this, I speak from experience. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Dot, as well as many that call for a hanky. Be prepared.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Symphony Preview: Merry Mozart, October 23 and 24, 2017

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In a new biography of Mozart, English author and Classic FM presenter John Suchet notes that, despite a life with its share of personal, professional, and financial trials, Mozart was "surely the happiest composer who ever lived."

Mozart, as drawn by Doris Stock, 1789
If you doubt that, just listen to the overture to Mozart's 1786 comic opera Le nozze di Figaro, the work that opens this weekend's (October 23 and 24) St. Louis Symphony concerts-the first in an all-Mozart series of three programs. From the racing eighth notes of its jovial opening to its exuberant coda around four minutes later, this is music that, as René Spencer Saller writes in her program notes, perfectly "conjures up the opera's mood of zany brilliance and pell-mell seduction."

The opera itself was a popular and artistic success but, like far too many of Mozart's projects, a commercial flop. Still, the overture-which was written after the opera was completed and which uses no tunes from the opera itself-never fails to delight.

Up next will be Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, written towards the end of 1784 when Mozart was in his late 20s. He had just abandoned a secure but unsatisfying gig in Salzburg to make his mark in Vienna, then the musical capital of the Germanic music world. In a not entirely successful attempt to raise funds, the composer wrote and performed a number of piano concertos, including this one, for the public and the court.

In notes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Mangum points out that Mozart "had initially found great success" in Vienna but "[h]e soon discovered that the city's audiences were capricious and fickle, and that no one composer could keep their ears for long." Still, this concerto was a great showcase for Mozart's talent as both a composer and a pianist. "Pitched between exuberance and elegance," writes Ms. Saller, "it requires both technical prowess and a light touch." It also uses counterpoint in a way that reminds us of the fact that Mozart was spending his Saturday afternoons playing Bach scores at the home of Baron van Swieten.

The Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major that comes next in the program was first performed in the last year of Mozart's life, when the composer's physical and fiscal health were both at a low ebb. You wouldn't know that from the music, though. Yes, the opening movement is more lyrical than exuberant and the music does take what the BBCs Linsday Kemp calls "frequent turns to the minor," but overall this doesn't really sound like the resigned farewell commentators thought it was before they found out that it was mostly written three years earlier in 1888.

Emanuel Ax
Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco
At the keyboard for this mini-Mozart series will be the renowned Emanuel Ax. As I have noted in the past, Mr. Ax is a musician who can make the piano dance as well as sing, both of which he'll need to do for this weekend's concertos. He has displayed a good rapport with maestro David Robertson on his previous appearances here, which is all to the good.

This first concert in the Mozart mini-festival will conclude with the composer's last and, as far as I'm concerned, his greatest symphony. "I believe it is the mark of true genius," writes Mr. Suchet, "that when external circumstances are bleak, creativity may not only continue, but soar," and soar is what the Symphony No. 41 in C major (known as the "Jupiter" symphony, although nobody is sure why) certainly does. But don't take my word for it; here's Tom Service, writing for The Guardian in 2014:
For me, this C major symphony is written at the furthest edges of the possible for Mozart, in terms of seeing just how many different expressive and compositional contrasts he can cram into a single symphony. And he's not doing that for the sake of reconciling these opposites or to create a greater unity (the kind of thing that we like to imagine Mozart was up to, because we prefer to think of him as a romantic idealist rather than an 18th century humanist). Rather, I think he's trying to achieve a complexity of emotional experience and richness of invention that is poised - sometimes on this side, sometimes on the other! - of a musical cliff-edge of coherence. A bit like the mixed metaphors of that sentence; what I mean is that this is a symphony of extremes, something that's symbolised in the juxtaposition of the martial and the plangent in the two ideas you hear in the symphony's very first four bars.

Actually, you need not even take his word for it. René Jacobs and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra have a corker of a recording recommended by Mr. Service that you can hear on that great repository of copyright violations, YouTube. If you haven't had a chance to become acquainted with the remarkable music already, this is a darned good way to do it.

The essentials: David Robertson conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Emanuel Ax, in an all-Mozart program Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 23 and 24. Performances take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of September 18, 2017

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St. Louis Cathedral Concerts presents a free chamber music concert on Friday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. Performers Kristin Ahlstrom, violin; Bjorn Ranheim, cello; Tzuying Huang, clarinet; and Matthew Mazzoni, piano will perform works by Beethoven, Khachaturian, and Mendelssohn. The performance takes place at St. Claire of Assisi, 1411 Cross Drive in O'Fallon, MO. For more information: cathedralconcerts.org.

Emanuel Ax
Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco
David Robertson conducts The St. Louis Sympony Orchestra, with pianist Emanuel Ax, in an all-Mozart program Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 23 and 24. " Acclaimed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for his “commanding playing and evident pleasure in his music-making,” pianist Emanuel Ax joins the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performing Mozart's charming Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 27. Plus, Music Director David Robertson leads the orchestra in The Marriage of Figaro Overture and Mozart's final symphony, the “Jupiter,” an exuberant work considered his greatest symphonic achievement." Performances take place at Powell Hall in Grand Cener. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

The Sheldon Concert Hall presents the violin duo Black Violin on Sunday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m. "Black Violin, made up of Wil Baptiste and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester, blends classical, hip-hop, rock, R&B and bluegrass music in this groundbreaking collaboration. Their inventive music has seen them perform for everyone from the troops in Iraq to President Barack Obama at his Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., and with the likes of P. Diddy, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin and The Eagles." The Sheldon Concert Hall is on Washington in Grand Center. For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

Wednesday at 7 p.m., The World Chess Hall of Fame presents members of the St. Louis Symphony in an evening of contemporary music, including John Cage's Chess Pieces and Vittorio Rieti's Chess Serenade. The World Chess Hall of Fame in on Maryland in the Central West End. For more information: worldchesshof.org.

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of September 18, 2017

Church Basement Ladies
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The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Church Basement Ladies Thursdays through Sundays through October 1. "Church Basement Ladies, a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the book and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as we see them handle a record breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

Tesseract Theatre Company presents Coupler by Meredith Dayna Levy, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. rthrough September 24. "Six Londoners are about to discover that all the world is made up of love and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust...Coupler follows the twists and turns in the lives of the occupants of the last car of the Northern line, who are looking for love and struggling to trust. With the help of some pixie dust, and a particularly vocal tube train, they work to connect, listen, and eventually - inevitably - grow up." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown. For more information: tesseracttheatre.org.

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. "The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?" Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

The Black Rep presents the St. Louis premiere of the comedy/drama Dot through September 24. "In DOT, Dotty Shealey and her three grown children are gathering once more for the holidays at the Shealey house (always a wild affair there.) But this year, there's more to deal with than exchanging gifts. Dotty is struggling to hold onto her memory, while her children are fighting to balance care for their mother and for themselves. Warm, funny and touching, DOT grapples unflinchingly with aging parents and midlife crises in the heart of a West Philly neighborhood." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

The Bankside Repertory Theatre Company presents Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through September 23. "Funny, sad and touching, Ruhl takes on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus from the heroine's point of view to explore the theme of grief. Is it easier to forget the past, or to cherish it with a broken heart?" Performances take place at the Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway in Alton , IL For more information: www.banksiderep.com.

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents The Feast September 22 - October 8. "Matt and Anna's relationship is going swimmingly, until the sewers under their apartment open up and begin to speak. Matt's paintings are getting stranger and every one he meets seems to know why. It could be about Anna, and it could be something much darker. An eerie comedy about what is real, what is not, and who knows the difference." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

KTK Productions presents Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 24. "The show is a cabaret revue sharply spoofing show tunes, characters and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals. Forbidden Broadway has mocked popular shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Spamalot, Annie, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Rent, Newsies, to name a few. It also targets famous Broadway actors, writers, composers, directors, choreographers and producers, including Julie Andrews, Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Crawford, Harvey Fierstein, Bob Fosse, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Goulet, Jerry Herman, Dustin Hoffman, Elton John, Angela Lansbury, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti LuPone, Cameron Mackintosh, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Stephen Sondheim, Barbra Streisand, Julie Taymor and Gwen Verdon. " Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: kurtainkall.org or call 314-351-8984.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

The Looking Glass Playhouse presents the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., September 21 - October 1. "Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film's Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell's new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo's gothic novel. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn't the only one captivated by her free spirit, though - the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies - and it's up to Quasimodo to save them all." Performances take place at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. For more information, visit www.lookingglassplayhouse.com.

Christ Memorial Productions presents the musical Meet Me in St. Louis, based on the classic film, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM through September 24. Performances take place at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, 5252 South Lindbergh. For more information, visit CMPShows.org or call 314-631-0304.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

The Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Twisted Improv on Friday, September 21, at 8 p.m. at The Steamboat Room, 314 S. Clay in Kirkwood, MO. "Join Adam and his crew for an interactive night of fun and laughter.Beer, wine and food available from Kirkwood Station Brewery." For more information: ktg-onstage.org.

Inevitable Theatre Company makes its St. Louis performance debut with the regional premiere of Stewart Permutt's one-woman play Unsuspecting Susan, through September 30. "Unsuspecting Susan portrays the tranquil village life of upper-class Hampshire divorcée Susan Chester, whose hobbies include amateur dramatics, raising Sealyham Terriers, and collecting the juiciest gossip about her neighbors. After Susan's troubled son, Simon, moves to London, her seemingly perfect world is rocked by an unspeakable act of violence." Performances take place at The Chapel on Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: inevitabletheatre.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of September 15, 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:

Playwright Nancy Bell
The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Blow, Winds, an adaptation by Nancy Bell of Shakespeare's King Lear, Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m., September 15 - 17. "During our frequent conversations with residents this past year, we heard many stories about their love for St. Louis and the pride they have in their neighborhoods. But we also heard about their frustration with problems that seem to be ingrained not only in our city but throughout the world including, inequality, injustice, and violence. This project sheds light on what there is to celebrate in our city, while still acknowledging the problems we all face. Our fate belongs to one another." Performances take place on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library at 13th and Olive, downtown. The library will be closed for the event. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs and sit in the closed street or the adjacent park. For more information: sfstl.com.

My take: What's not to like about free Shakespeare at the library? Nancy Bell's adaptations of the Bard's classics have been widely praised in the past, so there's no reason to assume this won't be worth your time. And the Shakespeare in the Streets initiative has been justifiably seen as a great example of theatrical outreach.


The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. "The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?" Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

My take: Critics have been mining their stock of superlatives for this show. At KDHX, for example, Tina Farmer calls it "a spectacular theatre experience." Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis says it's a "beautiful, powerful and heart-wrenching experience," while Judy Newmark at the Post-Dispatch praises the "fluid, crystal-clear production." I could go on, but you get the idea. The title, FYI, comes from the Sherlock Homes story Silver Blaze, and refers to the importance of something that didn't happen as a clue in a murder case.


Dot
Photo: Phil Hamer
The Black Rep presents the St. Louis premiere of the comedy/drama Dot through September 24. "In DOT, Dotty Shealey and her three grown children are gathering once more for the holidays at the Shealey house (always a wild affair there.) But this year, there's more to deal with than exchanging gifts. Dotty is struggling to hold onto her memory, while her children are fighting to balance care for their mother and for themselves. Warm, funny and touching, DOT grapples unflinchingly with aging parents and midlife crises in the heart of a West Philly neighborhood." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

My take: When I first saw this play in the spring of 2015 at the Humana Festival, I wrote that the combination of script, acting, and direction was so perfect that it just blew me away. The Black Rep's production appears to be doing it justice. "Ron Himes directs the show with compassion and finesse as well as a keen sense of comedy," writes Tina Farme at KDHX, "mining every line for every layer of meaning. The cast responds marvelously, keeping pace with the constantly shifting tone and building tension." This is a plays that deals with a serious issue in a funny and yet compassionate manner. Playwright Colman Domingo's characters are all fully fleshed out and his portrayal of the effects of dementia on both Dotty and her family is vividly real. As someone who had a parent that went through this, I speak from experience. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Dot, as well as many that call for a hanky. Be prepared.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of September 11, 2017

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Alton Little Theater presents Bingo, the Winning Musical Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 17. Performances take place at 2450 North Henry in Alton, IL. For more information, call 618.462.6562 or visit altonlittletheater.org.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves presents Agatha Christie's thriller Black Coffee Fridays through Sundays through September 17. "Accomplished physicist Sir Claud Amory has constructed a workable formula for one of the most deadly weapons known to man - the atom bomb. Hercule Poirot, with the help of Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp, is called in after the formula is mysteriously stolen and Sir Claud is callously murdered." Performances take place in the Guild theatre at Newport and Summit in Webster Groves, MO. For more information: theatreguildwg.org or call 314-962-0876.

Playwright Nancy Bell
The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Blow, Winds, an adaptation by Nancy Bell of Shakespeare's King Lear, Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m., September 15 - 17. "During our frequent conversations with residents this past year, we heard many stories about their love for St. Louis and the pride they have in their neighborhoods. But we also heard about their frustration with problems that seem to be ingrained not only in our city but throughout the world including, inequality, injustice, and violence. This project sheds light on what there is to celebrate in our city, while still acknowledging the problems we all face. Our fate belongs to one another.” Performances take place on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library at 13th and Olive, downtown. The library will be closed for the event. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs and sit in the closed street or the adjacent park. For more information: sfstl.com.

The Monroe Actors Stage Company presents the musical Bye Bye Birdie Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through September 17, in the Historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Waterloo, Illinois. "The year is 1958, and the much-adored rock-and-roll idol Conrad Birdie has been drafted into the US army. His songwriter and agent, Albert, and Albert's secretary and some-time girlfriend, Rosie, hatch a plan for a farewell performance to take place on The Ed Sullivan Show, which they hope will help sell Birdie's new song 'One Last Kiss,' and ultimately save Almaelou records from going under." For more information, visit www.masctheatre.org or call 618-939-7469.

Church Basement Ladies
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Church Basement Ladies Thursdays through Sundays through October 1. "Church Basement Ladies, a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the book and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as we see them handle a record breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

Tesseract Theatre Company presents Coupler by Meredith Dayna Levy, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m., September 15 - 24. "Six Londoners are about to discover that all the world is made up of love and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust...Coupler follows the twists and turns in the lives of the occupants of the last car of the Northern line, who are looking for love and struggling to trust. With the help of some pixie dust, and a particularly vocal tube train, they work to connect, listen, and eventually - inevitably - grow up." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown. For more information: tesseracttheatre.org.

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. “The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?” Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

The St. Louis Writers' Group presents a reading of the new play The Debate of God by Brad Slavik on Monday, September 11, at 6:30 p.m. " A Catholic priest, a Jew, a Muslim, and a Buddhist monk walk into the audience hall of the great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Sounds like the beginning of a joke but it was a real situation: in 1254 the Great Khan ordered a debate between Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. Thus is brought into the crucible all the differences and all the similarities of the three great religions. It brought its share of conflict, comedy, and intrigue. It also brings in three unlikely friendships and an unexpected ending." The event takes place upstairs at Big Daddy's, 1000 Sindey in Soulard. For more information: www.stlwritersgroup.com.

The Black Rep presents the St. Louis premiere of the comedy/drama Dot through September 24. "In DOT, Dotty Shealey and her three grown children are gathering once more for the holidays at the Shealey house (always a wild affair there.) But this year, there's more to deal with than exchanging gifts. Dotty is struggling to hold onto her memory, while her children are fighting to balance care for their mother and for themselves. Warm, funny and touching, DOT grapples unflinchingly with aging parents and midlife crises in the heart of a West Philly neighborhood." Performances take place at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: theblackrep.org.

New Line Theatre presents Down With Love on Saturday, September 16, at 8 p.m. as part of the company's Off Line at the Monocle series. "Goofy, green-haired goddess, Marcy Ann Wiegert, and the sinfully charming, introverted exhibitionist, Luke Steingruby, open up about their strange collective experiences in awkward dates, heartbreaks, and moving on." The performance takes place at The Monocle, 4510 Manchester in the Grove. For more information: themonoclestl.com.

The Bankside Repertory Theatre Company presents Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., September 14 - 23. "Funny, sad and touching, Ruhl takes on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus from the heroine's point of view to explore the theme of grief. Is it easier to forget the past, or to cherish it with a broken heart?" Performances take place at the Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway in Alton , IL For more information: www.banksiderep.com

KTK Productions presents Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., September 15 - 24. "The show is a cabaret revue sharply spoofing show tunes, characters and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals. Forbidden Broadway has mocked popular shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Spamalot, Annie, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Rent, Newsies, to name a few. It also targets famous Broadway actors, writers, composers, directors, choreographers and producers, including Julie Andrews, Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Crawford, Harvey Fierstein, Bob Fosse, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Goulet, Jerry Herman, Dustin Hoffman, Elton John, Angela Lansbury, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti LuPone, Cameron Mackintosh, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Stephen Sondheim, Barbra Streisand, Julie Taymor and Gwen Verdon. " Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: kurtainkall.org or call 314-351-8984.

Metro Theatre Company presents Games Dad Didn't Play at 2 and 7 p.m Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17. " Lucas and his mom are starting over: a whole new city, a whole new school, a whole new beginning. Games Dad Didn't Play follows Lucas in his new life as he struggles to come to terms with everything he doesn't remember, or want to believe, about his dad in prison. So he imagines a whole new dad; one who hadn't hurt anyone. As the stories of his imaginary dad become more elaborate, Lucas' new best friend, Eddie, grows suspicious. When Eddie learns the truth, he accuses Lucas of being as “bad” as his father. Unsure of what to do, Lucas lashes out. Eventually, with a little help from mom, Lucas begins to understand he doesn't have to repeat his father's “scared mistakes.” He may not be able to change what happened in the past, but he can make his own choices." Performances take place at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center. For more information: metroplays.org.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Christ Memorial Productions presents the musical Meet Me in St. Louis, based on the classic film, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM, September 15 - 24. Performances take place at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, 5252 South Lindbergh. For more information, visit CMPShows.org or call 314-631-0304.

The Fox Theatre presents Momma's Boy on Sunday, September 17, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. " What happens when a mother holds on to her son too long? That's precisely what we learn as this all-star cast unite to tell the story of a young man who takes pride in being macho but really is a momma's boy. Set in the inner city, Aaron and Autumn join forces as police officers in a town plagued by violence. Autumn is then forced to move into Aaron's home with her sons. Autumn has spoiled and catered to her sons' every need, which has earned them the title of being momma's boys. This is where Aaron's plight begins to turn these boys to men. In an awkward turn of events, Autumn decides to confront Aaron about his own relationship with his mother. Aaron's mother, who has resided with him for the past 10 years, feels that no woman can take care of her son like she can. She has run away potential prospects in the past and intends to do the same with Autumn. The big question that remains is how can Aaron turn Autumn's boys into men when he is a "momma's boy" himself?" The Fox is at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wockniak,  ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise.” Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

The Sheldon Concert Hall presents Steppin' Out With Ben Vereen on Sunday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m. " Few entertainers today are as accomplished as Ben Vereen. A Broadway legend, he won a Tony Award for Pippin and starred in such phenomenal musicals as Jesus Christ Superstar, Fosse, Chicago and Wicked, to name a few. He is remembered for films like 'Sweet Charity' and 'All That Jazz,' and he became a household name with the groundbreaking television series 'Roots' and now the popular Amazon series 'Sneaky Pete.' Steppin' Out With Ben Vereen is an evening of song and dance mixed with stories of his life, seasoned with insight and humor, as he performs signature numbers such as: 'Defying Gravity,' 'Mr. Bojangles,' 'Magic To Do,' and 'Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries.'" The performance takes place at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3658 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

Mariposa Artists presents storyteller Bobby Norfolk in Through the Eyes of York: The Lewis and Clark Expedition on Friday, September 15, at 8 p.m. The evening includes a post-show Q and A session on St. Louis history hosted by Norfolk and Beverly Brennan, as well as a special wine reception hosted by Brennan's Wines of the Central West End. The performance takes place at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information: bobbynorfolk.com.

Inevitable Theatre Company makes its St. Louis performance debut with the regional premiere of Stewart Permutt's one-woman play Unsuspecting Susan, September 15-30. "Unsuspecting Susan portrays the tranquil village life of upper-class Hampshire divorcée Susan Chester, whose hobbies include amateur dramatics, raising Sealyham Terriers, and collecting the juiciest gossip about her neighbors. After Susan's troubled son, Simon, moves to London, her seemingly perfect world is rocked by an unspeakable act of violence." Performances take place at The Chapel on Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: inevitabletheatre.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of September 11, 2017

The Metropolitan  Orchestra 
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The Metropolitan Orchestra of Saint Louis presents a program of works by Rossini, Mozart, and Mendelssohn on Sunday, September 17, at 7 p.m. The concert takes place at First Presbyterian Church, 100 East Adams in Kirkwood. For more information: metro-orch.org.

St. Louis Cathedral Concerts presents a free chamber music concert on Tuesday, September 12, at 7 p.m. Performers Kristin Ahlstrom, violin; Bjorn Ranheim, cello; Tzuying Huang, clarinet; and Matthew Mazzoni, piano will perform works by Beethoven, Khachaturian, and Mendelssohn. The performance takes place at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, 4110 McClay in St. Charles. For more information: cathedralconcerts.org

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra presents a free outdoor concert in Forest Park on Wednesday, September 13, starting at 7 p.m."Pack a picnic, grab a blanket and enjoy our FREE concert in Forest Park. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs classical favorites at the base of Art Hill, closing with an impressive firework display. Invite your family and friends to join us for one of St. Louis' favorite musical events of the year!" For more information: stlsymphony.org.

The St. Louis Sympony Orchestra presents a showing of the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, with the score played live by the orchestra under the baton of Justin Freer, Friday and Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 2 p.m., September 15 - 17. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Pandit Jayateerth Mevundi
Sangeetha presents A North Indian Classical Vocal Music Concert by Pandit Jayateerth Mevundi with assisting artists on Friday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Mevundi "is an accomplished singer representing the illustrious Kirana Gharana and is in the lineage of the legends Sawai Gandharva and Bhimsen Joshi, master performers of yesteryears. Known for his ease and felicity of his singing style, Pandit Mevundi will be accompanied by artists on the harmonium and tabla." The concert takes place at the Midwest Music Conservatory, 15977 Clayton Road in Ballwin, MO. For more information: sangeetha.org.

Washngton University's Danforth University Center Chamber Music Series presents an evening of opera favorites with soprano Gina Galati and other soloists from Winter Opera on Tuesday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m. The concert takes place at the Goldberg Formal Lounge in the Danforth University Center on the Washington University Campus. For more information: music.wustl.edu

The Washington University Department of Music peresnts the Zafira Quartet on Thursday, September 14th, at 7:30 p.m. "The Zafira Quartet brings you a concert of Latino music, on acoustic and electric instruments. Featuring composers from Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, this program is passionate and emotional. The music of Latin America is very personal for the Zafira Quartet. We have all connected through our experiences living and working in South America, and continue to enjoy those cultures and traditions within our music-making. In this concert, Holly, Sarah, Amy, and Ranya combine the classical string quartet form, with modern electric instruments, and the old and new sounds of South American music. The performance takes place at the 560 Music Center at 560 Trinity in Universit City. For more information, call 314-935-5566.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Review: Meghan Kirk is perfectly out of her head at the Stage at KDHX September 1, 2017

This review originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Meghan Kirk
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Assembling a cabaret show is a risky undertaking. More than one nationally renowned artist has discovered that the hard way, producing shows that had me glancing at my watch and wondering when I could order another drink.

At no time during Out of My Head, the latest undertaking from St. Louis' own Meghan Kirk, did I even think of glancing at my Fitbit. In fact, I have no idea how long the show actually was; I was too busy enjoying it. It was all I could do to remember to jot down a note now and then. If there is such a thing as a perfect, Platonic Ideal of a cabaret evening, it would surely look a lot like this.

When I first reviewed Ms. Kirk's work at the Gaslight Cabaret Festival back in 2015, I called her a tremendously talented and charismatic performer. It's an assessment I can only repeat now. She remains a classic singing actress with solid vocal technique and the acting chops necessary to inhabit a lyric.

In fact, a sure sense of the theatrical informed every aspect of this show. Ms. Kirk and pianist/music director Ron McGowan put together a smart, well-paced evening with an impeccably balanced collection of Great American Songbook standards, numbers from both classic and contemporary musical theatre, and pop tunes from Billy Joel and The Carpenters. It was also great to hear the work of contemporary songwriting teams like Goldrich and Heisler and Kooman and Diamond, who craft brilliantly narrative songs that are like little one-act plays.

Ms. Kirk's day career is flight attendant on private jets, and so the show began with the a slow, seductive take on the familiar "Fly Me to the Moon" (complete with the rarely heard verse), followed by "The Jet Set," a clever "list song" from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's stage treatment of the film Catch Me If You Can. The theme of flight returned at the end as the show wrapped up with an upbeat encore of "Come Fly With Me," immediately following a touching performance of the title song.

Tales of travel informed many of the song choices. A reflection on Bangkok's reputation as a "sex tourism" destination, for example, led to haunting version of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" (including a dark verse I had never heard before). A vignette about a romantic misadventure in Ireland introduced Paddy Reilly's "The Fields of Athenry" (inspired by that awful event known to the Irish as "The Hunger") which then served as a segue into "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" from Evita, with backup vocals from local musical theatre luminary Ben Nordstrom.

Mr. Nordstrom got a brief solo set of his own at that point, consisting of a passionate performance of the title number from David Bryan's Memphis, followed by a perfectly hilarious rendition of Kooman and Diamond's absurdist stalker song "To Excess." The set was just long enough to offer a nice contrast and just short enough to keep the focus of the evening on Ms. Kirk. It was, once again, a perfect choice.

Like many cabaret artists, Ms. Kirk used memories of her life, family, and unfortunate romantic choices to unify and organize the show. That "this is my life" approach can be risky--your audience might not find your personal story as interesting as you do, after all. But Ms. Kirk kept the anecdotes short, entertaining, and focused on the task of providing context for the songs, so her patter never degenerated into the kind of self-referential navel gazing that sometimes accompanies the approach.

So, yeah, perfect once again.

Ms. Kirk's band was perfection as well, with arrangements by Mr. McGowan that were ideally suited to her voice and great work from Ben Wheeler on bass and Aaron Brown on guitar. The balance between vocalists and instrumentalists was excellent, a tribute both to the performers and to the designers of The Stage. Located on the first floor here at KDHX, it has become one of our town's better music spaces.

If you want to know what else Meghan Kirk is up to these days, your best bet is probably to view her Facebook page. Upcoming events at The Stage can be found at t