Thursday, February 06, 2020

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of February 7, 2020

New this week: Hi-hop sorta-Shakespeare and a new play at Metro.

New This Week:

Dress the Part
Photo by Phillip Hamer
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Dress the Part through February 15. "The Q Brothers return to high school in a new hip-hop musical based on Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona. Proteus and Valentine are high school football stars at Verona College Prep who learn a thing or two about love, friendship and loyalty. Over twenty characters are played by two actors who never leave the stage in this 75-minute wild ride." Performances take place at The Ready Room in the Grove neighborhood. For more information, including dates and times:

My take: What can I say? This sounds like great fun and apparently it is. "Do yourself a favor," writes Judy Newmark, "and be part of the crowd for one of the wildest, wittiest sharpest comedies you've seen in ages." "It's not necessary to be a fan of hip-hop or Shakespeare to enjoy this richly imaginative and off-the-charts experience," writes Calvin Wilson at the Post-Dispatch. "To paraphrase legendary jazz trumpeter and Alton native Miles Davis, 'Dress the Part' is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on."

Photo by Jennifer A. Lin
Metro Theatre Company presents Ghost Fridays at 7 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, through March 1. "Metro Theater Company presents the rolling world premiere of a new play adapted by Idris Goodwin from Jason Reynolds's award-winning best-seller for young readers. Running is all that Castle Cranshaw, a.k.a. "Ghost," has ever known, but he runs for all the wrong reasons until he meets Coach, who sees something in him: raw talent. The story follows Castle as he tries to stay on track, literally and figuratively, harnessing his aptitude for speed on an elite local track team while battling the difficult realities of his past and present. Ghost also highlights the importance of allyship. As his teammates become friends and Coach stands in as a father figure, Castle finds a place where he belongs " The performances take place at The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Metro has a long history of presenting children's theatre that can appeal to adults as well while still delivering powerful messages. Plus, the script is by Idris Goodwin, whose hip-hop play How We Got On so impressed me at the Humana Festival in 2012. At Ladue News, Mark Bretz calls this "enchanting, persuasive tale of a modern kid with contemporary problems."

Held Over:

My Name is Asher Lev
Photo by John Gitchoff
New Jewish Theater presents My Name is Asher Lev Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through February 9. "My Name is Asher Lev follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist." 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: Reviews for this one have been good as well, but rather than give you a sampling, here's a longer quote from Michelle Kenyon's review at her blog that seems to sum it up well: "New Jewish Theatre's latest production is a compelling showcase for excellent local actors. It's also a fascinating look at one person's struggle to find his place in two different worlds that seem at odds with one another. My Name is Asher Lev is a well-structured, almost poetic look at an artist's journey of self-discovery, and his relationship with his art, his faith, his family, and the world around him."

The Thanksgiving Play
Photo by Phil Hamer
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Thanksgiving Play through February 9. "Four earnestly progressive theatre-makers want to create a politically correct Thanksgiving play that is historically accurate, avoids all possible stereotypes and doesn't offend anyone. Guess how long it takes for everything to fly off the rails? This wickedly hilarious satire hurtles into glorious chaos, skewering both its characters' pretensions and the traditional "Thanksgiving story."" Performances take place in the Studio Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

My take: The best of intentions can be taken to silly extremes. I have seen it happen in real life, so the premise of this comedy strikes me as fairly plausible. As Ann Lemmons Pollack writes in her blog, playwright Larissa FastHorse is "really tired of how history is so often wrong, being written by the winners, and how strongly people cling to the errors despite information to the contrary. Her attempt to set things straight on the subject of Thanksgiving, rather than a this-is-what-really-happened line, is a comedy to remind us to think more about the real story of Thanksgiving, and, by inference, a lot of other things...Great fun, considerable laughter, and ninety minutes with no intermission. " "FastHorse's satire is incisive but affectionate," writes Calvin Wilson at the Post-Dispatch, "maintaining a tone somewhere between 'Doonesbury' and Dorothy Parker. And her comically flustered characters are at once quirky and recognizable."

Photo by ProPhotoSTL
Upstream Theater presents Wildfire through February 9. "Claudette, Claudia, Claudine, Carol, Callum, and Caroline have more in common than names that begin with C-they are haunted by a family history of childhood trauma, which unfolds across three generations-and then loops back … to the future. They do what they can to survive. Sometimes by baking cookies, sometimes by playing fantasy games, and sometimes by smashing a hammer into a TV. Highly absurd, terribly funny and beautifully constructed, WILDFIRE is a mix of ferocious black comedy and a humanistic worldview which recognizes that seemingly unremarkable lives can experience extraordinary fates." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center. For more information, including show times:

My take: The concept behind this show is intriguing, and reviews have generally been quite good. At the Post-Dispatch, for example, Calvin Wilson describes this as a "strange and wonderful comedy...which is not only incredibly imaginative but also outrageously hilarious." KDHX's Jacob Juntunen calls it "a fast-paced, fun, darkly humorous production." It's clearly not a conventional work, but maybe that's all the more reason to go.

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