Thursday, December 20, 2018

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of December 21, 2018

A new show by Imaginary Theatre Company joins shows by the Rep, Metro, R-S, and Stray Dog on the list this week.

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New This Week:

The Christmas Skates
Photo by Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Imaginary Theatre Company presents the children's musical The Christmas Skates running through December 22. "The true spirit of the holiday season shines brightly in this new musical adaptation of Mary Griggs Van Voorhis's short story, "The Boy with the Box." It's nearly Christmas, and Tom Reynolds is excited to show off his brand new skates - that is, until someone shows up with a newer, better pair. Meanwhile, across town, Harvey McGinnis is thrilled with the meager gifts he's managed to gather for his little sisters. Inspired by Harvey's kindness and spirit, Tom hatches a plan to give his new friend a holiday surprise to remember." Performances take place in the Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall High School, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. For more information:

My take: ITC has a long history of providing quality children's theatre. If you're looking for live entertainment for the younger set, I don't think you can go wrong with this.

Held Over:

A Christmas Story
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents A Christmas Story, based on the movie by Jean Shepherd, through December 23. "Ralphie Parker's quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas returns to The Rep in all its heartwarming and hilarious glory. Filled with delightful holiday vignettes and endlessly quotable lines ("You'll shoot your eye out!"), this play is the perfect gift for the whole family to enjoy. See the classic movie brought to life on stage!" Performances take place on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit

My take: The film on which this show is based has always been a favorite of mine, as is the autobiographical Jean Shepherd novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, that was the basis for the movie. The Rep last produced this fine stage adaptation back in 2009, so this revival is welcome. The acting is quite good, produciton values are first rate, and the changes in the script since 2009 have tightened and improved it, in my view. Give yourself a Major Award and see the show.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told
Photo by John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm through December 22. There will also be a show at 8 pm on Wednesday, December 19. "First men on earth Adam and Steve and their lesbian friends Jane and Mabel decide to start civilization, despite the provocative challenges of procreation. They are led by the stage manager (who may be God) through the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, a visit with a highly rambunctious Pharaoh, and finally, the birth of the Messiah. This outlandish comedy is a perfect alternative holiday treat!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Looking for something a bit more adult in the way of holiday theatre? Stray Dog has your ticket. It's an audacious, bright comedy that recasts the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve with Adam and Steve," writes Paul Friswold at The Riverfront Times, "but it's more than a cheeky romp through the Bible. Director Justin Been's vision for the show emphasizes the humanity of Rudnick's script, ensuring that this is a Christmas story with love and faith at the heart of it."

Perfect Arrangement
Photo by Michael Young
R-S Theatrics presents Perfect Arrangement Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays a 7 pm through December 23. "Government employees Bob and Norma are given the job of rooting out 'sexual deviants' in the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. The only problem? Both are in sham marriages to hide their own homosexuality. Told in the style of a classic TV sitcom and set during the Lavender Scare that actually took place in the 1950's, Topher Payne's play asks how far you would go to protect yourself if it meant sacrificing others." Performances take place at black box theatre at The Marcelle, 3310 Samuel Shepard Dr. in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: In his review at STL Today, Calvin Wilson calls this "a smart, engaging and provocative comedy-drama that sheds light on just how different things were in America not so long ago." "Perfect Arrangement," writes Richard Green at Talkin' Broadway, "unfolds in a very tidy, logical manner—with government personnel files that go missing, and incriminating love letters that resurface from long ago. It's an irresistible glimpse into a chapter of American history we might otherwise be tempted to forget." I have come to the conclusion that anybody who thinks the 1950s were great either didn't live through them, or did so with blinders on. Topher Payne's play is a reminder that nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: it thinks the present tense and the past perfect.

Metro Theatre Company presents Wonderland: Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure through December 30th. "Part rock concert, part theater, all of your favorite characters as Metro Theater Company presents this new, wild and wondrous take on Lewis Carroll's beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization. A cast of actors/musicians plays an eclectic mix of everything from soul and rock to punk to ska as Alice chases through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. A fun, hip, and refreshing fusion of music, theatre and poetry, Wonderland: Alice's Rock and Roll Adventure is the search for one's authentic self, asking how can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you're still writing the song? It places Alice in a strange, new world, where she conquers her fears and uses her musical skills to defeat the Jabberwock." The performance takes place at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Lewis Carroll's characters have been through so many revisions and re-interpretations over the years that this new rock musical version hardly seems unusual at all. At Ladue News, Mark Bretz calls it a "festive, musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, updated with a modern message and ‘happening’ music which makes for a frolic-filled production." The cast includes KDHX theatre critic Shannon Cothran as well as the exceptionally talented Omega Jones. And as an added bonus, it has nothing to do with Christmas.

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