New This Week:
|Brighton Beach Memoirs|
Photo: Greg Lazerwtz
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|
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|
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".
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.