Thursday, September 26, 2019

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of September 27, 2019

New this week: the annual Hotchner festival.

New This Week:

This year's A.E. Hotchner playwrights
L-R: Elizabeth Brown, Kelly Minster, Sophie Tegnu
The Performing Arts Department at Washington University presents its annual A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival this weekend, showcasing three new plays by student playwrights. The Festival opens with You Don't Live Here Anymore by Elizabeth Brown on Friday, September 27, at 7:00 pm, continues with This House by Kelly Minster on Saturday, September 28, at 2 pm, and concludes with Mrs. Kelley's Igloo by Sophie Tegenu on Saturday, September 29, at 7 pm. All performances, which are free and open to the public, take place in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre in the Mallinckrodt Student Center on the Washington University campus. For more information, including play synopses, visit

My take: What are the next generation of playwrights up to? What are their concerns? Washington University gives us a yearly glilmpse into the future with the Hotchner festival. This year the focus is on out-of-kilter families and that leap of faith known as marriage. Maybe they're hits, maybe they're misses, but there's no way to know without showing up. And the price is certainly right!

Held Over:

Angels in America, Part 2
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika running in alternating repertory with through October 4. "A towering epic that unveils new depths with each passing year, Tony Kushner's Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece arrives on The Rep's stage for the first time. The AIDS epidemic is the flashpoint in Kushner's swirling tapestry of American culture, myths and spirituality. Navigating this maelstrom are Prior Walter, whose prophetic visions lead him toward an uncertain destiny, Joe Pitt, a devout and painfully closeted Mormon, and Roy Cohn, a lawyer whose AIDS diagnosis forces him to face a lifetime of misdeeds. These twin plays' vision of a wounded and chaotic nation struggling toward redemption is more urgent than ever." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

My take: Angels in America: Gay Fantasia on National Themes (to quote its full title) is, effectively, an opera with no singing. It's a sweeping, unapologetically theatrical examination of some of the most basic of human ideas: love, death, loyalty, commitment, community and lots of other things that are usually capitalized when we discuss them. It's an epic tale told, as the best epics are, through the lives of a collection of flawed and fascinating characters. I saw Part 1 last weekend was sufficiently blown away by the quality of the Rep's production to recommend both parts without reservation. Yes, they're very long shows--Part 1 clocks in at around 3:15 with two intermissions and Part 2 (in the current revision, which dates from 2013) at around 3:30. Trust me, you'll never notice the length. Kushner's writing is so deft and this production so brilliantly acted and directed that the time flies like, well, an angel. I'd put this version of Angels right up there with the stunning production Stray Dog did in 2012, and that's high praise indeed.

Man of La Mancha
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents the musical Man of La Mancha through October 6. "A romantic and inspiring musical adventure, MAN OF LA MANCHA tells the epic story of seventeenth-century author Miguel de Cervantes and his immortal literary creation Don Quixote." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information:

My take: Winner of five Tony awards and four Variety Poll of Drama Critics awards and with an impressive track record of 2,329 performances on Broadway, Man of La Mancha has remained enduringly popular since its first performance on the Great White Way in 1965. The Stages production demonstrates forcefully what that is the case. The drama, comedy, and (above all) the inspiring message about the importance of "achieving the impossible" by "attempting the absurd" (to cite the Miguel Unamuno quote that inspired Dale Wasserman to write the show in the first place) come through loud and clear. If you're a fan of this play, you won't want to miss this one. It's a polished and moving way to close their current season. And it's even performed in its original one act format, running right at two hours and feeling much shorter.

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