New This Week:
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: Critical opinion seems to be pretty much unanimously positive on this one. Judy Newmark calls it "keen-witted...a youthful cast that sparkles with energy as they sing and dance their way through one hilarious song after another." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz says it's a "bright, energized rock musical, which dabbles creatively in several genres, including rockabilly, barbershop quartets and old-fashioned rock ‘n' roll." And over at KDHX, Tina Farmer writes that Cry-Baby "bristles with energy and hormonal frenzy that's played for laughs, but delivers plenty of commentary on everything from classism to our definition of beauty." I could go on, but you get the idea. New Line originally did this show back in 2012. Mark Bretz points out that this revival, by New Line's artistic director Scott Miller "was approved by the show's creators with a reduced cast and fresh orchestrations by original orchestrator Chris Jahnke." Sounds like a bit of a coup for New Line.
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
My take: This is a somewhat qualified recommendation, based mostly on the rave reviews about the work of the two actors in the show, J. Samuel Douglas and Erin Kelley. In her KDHX review, for example, Tina Farmer writes that "J. Samuel Davis returns to the Upstream stage in the role of Frederick Douglass. Once again he gives a superb performance...Erin Kelley does fine work in her portrayal of Susan B. Anthony, convincing us of this woman's utter, tireless commitment to the cause." But she goes on to note tha the script is "rather weak" and that the characters themselves are a bit one-dimensional. At Limelight, Andrea Braun strikes a similar note, observing that "much of the play seems rather like a lecture" but adds "if there are better actors than Kelley and Davis to play these parts, I don't know who they are." All the other aspects of the production have gotten plenty of praise as well and the play tells a story that is probably not well known, so (to quote The Bard), "'tis enough, 'twill suffice."
My take: How can anyone not like this show? The original Hello, Dolly opened on Broadway in January of 1964 after some rocky out-of-town previews and several revisions. It ran for 2,844 performances, considerably raising the bar for the definition of "blockbuster." It's not hard to see why. Herman's score is one of his best (not that he every wrote a bad song anyway) and the book retains all the humanitarian humor of the Thornton Wilder play on which it's based. Go and enjoy.
Valhalla Cemetery and The Hawthorne Players present Voices Of Valhalla: A Hayride Through History through October 12. Hayrides through Valhalla Cemetery depart every fifteen minutes beginning at 6:30 each evening as members of the Hawthorne Players portray some of the noted locals buried in Valhalla. Valhalla Cemetery is located at 7600 St. Charles Rock Road. For more information, visit hawthorneplayers.com.
My take: I had a chance to both see and appear in this annual event in 2014 and again in 2016, and I must say that I was impressed by the professionalism of both the script (assembled by director Larry Marsh from historical sources) and the quality of the performances. Here's how it works: you pile on a hay wagon and are driven through historic Valhalla Cemetery. At various points during the ride, the wagon stops and an actor portraying a historical figure buried at Valhalla steps out of the darkness and delivers a monologue on his or her life. They can be comic, tragic, or a combination of the two, but they're always well researched and informative.