Thursday, October 17, 2019

Chuck's Choices or the weekend of October 17, 2019

The weekend starts a day early with rock opera, cabaret, and a Neil Simon Classic.

New This Week:

Brighton Beach Memoirs
Photo: Greg Lazerwtz
New Jewish Theater presents Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through October 27. "Brighton Beach, September 1937. Eugene Jerome is dreaming of baseball and girls. Over the course of a few short days amid family harmony and disharmony, young Eugene will come to understand life a little deeper. This award-winning play is a bittersweet memoir that captures the life of a struggling Jewish household where, as his father states 'if you didn't have a problem, you wouldn't be living here.'" Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

My take: Well, who does't like Neil Simon? And unlike some of this more facile scripts this is one with non-comic undertones, so the characters have a bit more depth. "This story, in other hands, could have been a serious drama," writes Ann Lemmons Pollack. "But not with Simon, and we can all relax and have a good time...the large household of the extended Jerome family gives us lots of story and plenty of laughs in its current production at the New Jewish Theatre." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz calls this "a finely crafted and touching interpretation". Sounds like a cozy choice for a chilly fall night.

Rachel Bay Jones
Jazz St. Louis and The Cabaret Project present Rachel Bay Jones in Something Beautiful on Wednesday and Thursday, October 16 and 17, at 7:30 p.m. "In her new solo show, Rachel Bay Jones, 2017 Tony Award winner for Best Featured Actress in the Broadway smash hit musical Dear Evan Hansen, explores the music and stories that have shaped her life and career. Sharing adventures that have taken her from multiple Broadway successes to motherhood, Jones' intimate yet soaring voice creates an incredibly compelling evening featuring music from Richard Rodgers, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joni Mitchell and more. A great singer, storyteller and actress, Rachel was recently featured opposite Julia Roberts in the film Ben is Back and will be seen opposite John Leguizamo in the upcoming film Critical Thinking. Rachel shares the Grammy Award with her Dear Evan Hansen co-stars for the shows Original Cast Recording." Performances take place at the Ferring Jazz Bistro on Washington just east of the Fox in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: I saw Ms. Jones's show last night and was deeply impressed by combination of her somewhat impish and elfin stage personality and the wide expressive range and tonal variety of her voice. Her interaction with her long-time music driector Randy Redd is a pleasure to watch, especially since Mr. Redd has a fine voice and stage presence of his own. Her set list leans heavily towards ballads and contemporary Broadway, which is either a positive or a negative depending on your taste, but last night's audience loved her to pieces in any case. And the Jazz Bistro these days is a very pleasant room with a top notch sound system and kitchen.

Kevn Corpuz as Tommy
Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical The Who's Tommy through October 26. "Back by popular demand! Based on the iconic 1969 rock concept album, The Who's TOMMY is an exhilarating tale of hope, healing, and the human spirit. The story of the pinball-playing, deaf, dumb, and blind boy who triumphs over his adversities has inspired and amazed audiences for 50 years." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: It has been almost exactly eight years (October 2011) since Stray Dog first tackled the stage version of The Who's "rock opera" (which is really more of a concept album, but why quibble?). They did an awfully fine job last time. To judge by the reviews, they're doing it justice once again. At Ladue News, Mark Bretz calls Stray Dog's new version "one of the most stunning productions in its history...This rendition is fresh, imaginative and fully captures the infectious energy of Pete Townshend’s rock music classic".

Held Over:

Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the musical Cry-Baby Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm through October 19. "It's 1954. Everyone likes Ike, nobody likes communism, and Wade 'Cry-Baby' Walker is the coolest boy in Baltimore. He's a bad boy with a good cause -- truth, justice, and the pursuit of rock and roll." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit or call 314-534-1111.

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.

No comments: