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My take: If you liked Alice Ripley's show last month, there's a good chance you'll find this one appealing as well, since she and Ms. Ripley (who famously co-starred in Sideshow on Broadway) teamed up for a duet show, Unattached, at 54 Below last year. If you were lucky enough to see her in Follies at the Rep last year, you know she's a real musical theatre pro.
My take: i will confess to being a huge admirer of Edith Piaf (I have visited her grave in Paris twice) and French popular songs in general. Elsie Parker and her group have the same affection for this material and it shows on their polished and committed performances.
My take: Katie McGrath was a notable cabaret artist here in St. Louis for years before her recent move to the Big Apple. In addition to her solo work, she was a member of the rockin' Women Under the Influence as well as a political activist, organizing two Concert Across America events to raise awareness about gun violence. Since then she has been making a name for herself in NYC. It's good to have her back in town for a few days.
|The Spitfire Grill|
Photo: Ken Clark
My take: Is this production worth a trip out Florissant? Richard Green over at Talkin' Broadway certainly thinks so. "100% charming, and perfectly cast, the 2001 musical Spitfire Grill finds its magic in unexpected places," he writes. "There's the frightening modern chasm of economic dislocation (set in a rural Wisconsin community) and a slow-dawning miracle of escape for all concerned, as you may remember from the 1996 movie with Ellen Burstyn. And, at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre, Hawthorne Players gives it the perfect setting, heartwarming, with a good dash of snark. Yes, this is an unadulterated rave." My experience with Hawthorne is that they often do very good work, and have a well-equipped and comfortable theatre to work with. Add this to your musical theatre list for the weekend.
|Stones in His Pockets|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Full disclosure: I'm on the board and play reading committee at West End, but I have also been a great admirer of the remarkable comedy/drama since my wife and I first saw it in London many years ago. It's a virtuoso exercise for the two-man cast, who have to shift characters rapidly and often to portray around 30 roles in the course of the evening. I have shared the stage with both of the guys in this cast and I can tell you from personal experience that they've got the goods.
|The Student Prince|
Photo: Wylde Brothers Productions
My take: We don't get to see much operetta these days. Sure, there's the occasional Gilbert and Sullivan, but I can't recall the last time I saw a professional production of Rombert's tuneful The Student Prince. Winter Opera gave us one of the best productions of Merry Widow I've ever seen last year, and while what I saw at final dress rehearsal last night wasn't quite in that league, it was still quite good. Soprano Caitlin Cisler and tenor Andrew Marks Maughan sound terrific in the leads and in the role of Detlef tenor Zachary Devin leads the men's chorus in a fine version of the famous "Serenade." The orchestra under Scott Schoonover has never sounded better.
Windsor Theatre Group presents the musical revue Broadway: The Early 1900's - Victor Herbert and His Contemporaries at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, November 11 and and 12. "Talented professional singers and dancers will take the audience to an era that was very interesting for music lovers. Fantastic shows were staged on Broadway, and jazz, blues and tango began receiving mainstream recognition. Broadway tunes include the great male chorus numbers from Rose-Marie, The Student Prince, The Merry Widow, and The New Moon. There will be solo and duet performances of more Broadway selections and the other genres gaining fame. In addition, highlights of plots or other interesting facts about a song will enhance the enjoyment of the attendees." Performances take place at the historic Ozark Theatre, 103 E. Lockwood in Webster Groves. For more information call 314-832-2114 or visit the group's Facebook page.
My take: I'm putting this on the list for the simple reason that I'm very fond of music from the early years of the 20th century. Heck, I even created an entire show around it. Herbert and his contemporaries aren't heard that much these days, which is a pity. Thanks to Windsor for bringing us a full evening of this classic stuff.
|Ken Haller and Marty Fox|
My take: In my review of Ken's last production, The Medicine Show, I noted that he "delivered the goods with that combination of theatrical smarts and vocal authority that has made him one of our town's principal cabaret exports." He and Marty Fox have done another first rate job this time around; check out my review of this show for details.
My take: I'm not a fan of grand guignol theatre in general, but if (say) Evil Dead: The Musical is your particular cup of stage blood, you might want to take a look at this unapologetically outrageous revision of Shakespeare's most violent play (which, to be fair, is often cited as an early example of grand guignol). Over at Ladue News, Mark Bretz praises the production's "inspired silliness" and says this Hallowe'en-themed show is "as much treat as trick."