Thursday, February 13, 2020

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of February 14, 2020

New this week: Cabaret at the Blue Strawberry and drama at Stray Dog.

New This Week:

Valerie Lemon
The Blue Strawberry presents Valerie Lemon in The Jane Froman Songbook on Saturday, February 15, at 8 pm. "Valerie Lemon has created a veritable time machine. With her sophisticated look, elegant garb, command of the stage and her nostalgic songs, she transports her audience to the heyday of the New York's 'forties and 'fifties nightclub scene. Offering many of the most memorable numbers from the Jane Froman Songbook (Somebody Loves Me, I'll Walk Alone, That Old Feeling, Blue Moon), she effectively sweeps the room back to the era of the Empire Room, the Persian Room, La Chansonette, Café Society, the nights of shows at 10,12,and 2,and the heyday of American Songwriters." The Blue Strawberry is at 364 N. Boyle in the Central West End. For more information:

My take: When I saw an earlier edition of this show back in 2005, I was impressed by Ms. Lemon's musical talent but thought the show itself needed a bit of fine tuning to work in a cabaret setting. At the time I wrote the following: "Ms. Lemon strikes me a bright enough to learn from experience and talented enough to make use of what she learns, so it should be interesting to see what the future brings in this area." Well, the future is here, and if I weren't already committed for Saturday night I'd definitely be on hand to see what changes the ensuing 15 years have wrought in the show, which was fundamentally sound, informative, and entertaining even back then.

Three Tall Women
Photo by John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents Edward Albee's drama Three Tall Women through February 22. "A young lawyer has been sent to sort-out the finances of an elderly client, although more than money is at issue. With a nurse companion steadily alongside, the old woman's conflicted life is laid bare in all of its charming, vicious, and wretched glory. Winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize, Three Tall Women, a semi-autobiographical view of the playwright's mother, is often seen as Albee's most personal and compelling play." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Albee's plays are not always the most approachable form of theatre, but Three Tall Women is pretty compelling if done well. At the Post-Dispatch, Calvin Wilson calls this a "compelling and wonderfully performed production". "Stray Dog artistic director Gary F. Bell," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "is meticulous in adhering not only to Albee’s script but also to the show’s mood and tempo." "This well-directed production," says Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a marvelous opportunity to introduce the play to any unfamiliar St. Louis audiences. For spectators already acquainted with the script, the production's quality makes it a worthwhile occasion to refamiliarize one's self."

Held Over:

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."

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