Saturday, October 14, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of October 16, 2017

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Alton Little Theater presents The 39 Steps Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 20 - 29. "A beautiful spy tells a lethal secret to a man she’s just met. With that, our hero Richard Hannay finds himself embroiled in a riotous chase across England and Scotland, discovering clues, dodging police, and charming ladies at every turn. With tons of characters played by a small group of actors, the play provides actors the opportunity to perform multiple wildly creative characters in the midst of a fast-paced, hilarious evening at the theatre."  Performances take place at 2450 North Henry in Alton, IL.   For more information, call 618.462.6562 or visit altonlittletheater.org.

Insight Theatre Company presents Ken Ludwig's Baskerville, A Sherlock Holmes Mystery through October 29.  The play is "a tour de force with actors playing many different characters in madcap comedy." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown.   For more information, call 314-556-1293or visit insighttheatrecompany.com.

The Cabaret Project and The Curtain Call Lounge at the Fox present the Broadway Open Mic Night on Thursday, October 19, from 8 to 11 p.m.  Drop by and enjoy a night of great music from St. Louis cabaret artists, backed up by the pianist and music director Carol Schmidt. The special guest MC this month in Bob Wetzel. If you’re planning to sing, be prepared to do one or two songs and bring music, preferably in your key.  It’s also recommend that you have your song memorized.  The Curtain Call Lounge is next door to the Fabulous Fox in Grand Center. For more information: thecabaretproject.org.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents the one-man show Defending the Caveman, running through October 29. "Defending the Caveman, is the longest running solo show in Broadway history, is a hilariously insightful play about the ways men and women relate. This prehistoric look at the battle of the sexes is full of wonderful scenarios that celebrate the differences between men and women, making it a perfect entertainment option for couples or for a girls’ night out. The show has also been seen and recommended by thousands of marriage and family therapists and counselors for its humorous look at the inherent differences between the sexes."  The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza.  For more information: westportstl.com.

Emery Entertainment presents Evil Dead -  The Musical opening on Thursday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m. and running through October 22. "The Winner of the 2007 Dora Audience Choice Award for Toronto’s favorite show, Evil Dead - The Musical is the hilarious and outrageous story of five college friends spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods after accidently unleashing an evil force that turns them all into Candarian demons. The “Splatter Zone,” located within the first three rows of seating, is for super fans who can’t get enough of blood “splatter” during their favorite scenes of death and destruction in the woods. Audience members in these seats are covered in fake blood as part of the ‘real-life’ effects that take place during scenes in the show. In addition to some dismembered limbs, demons telling bad jokes and catchy tunes ("Look Who’s Evil Now," "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Demons"), the show features a saucy combination of wit and sexual innuendo that keeps audiences laughing."  The performance takes place at the Grandel Theatre across from Powell Hall in Grand Center.  For more information: metrotix.com.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Shakespeare's Hamlet through November 5.  “For the first time in its 50-year history, The Rep will produce Hamlet. Spurred on to vengeance by the ghost of his father, Prince Hamlet hovers in limbo between bloody retribution and madness. Potentially fatal indecision delays his every step. With its profound soliloquies, complexly shaded characters and brutal plotting, it’s Shakespeare’s most enduring tragedy.” Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus.  For more information: repstl.org.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Lizzie
Photo: Jill Ritten Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the rock musical Lizzie Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 21. "A prominent businessman and his wife are brutally axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden is the prime suspect. Lizzie's trial is a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story becomes an American legend." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Take Two Productions the musical Next to Normal through October 21. "The Tony Award winning musical explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Dad's an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal. The mother has battled manic depression for 16 years. Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family's story with love, sympathy and heart." Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information, visit taketwoproductions.org.

Muny Magic at the Sheldon presents Our Leading Men Wednesday and Thursday, October 18 and 19, at 7:30 p.m. "Complementing last fall’s Our Leading Ladies concert, Our Leading Men features the talented quartet of Ben Davis (Curly in Oklahoma!, 2015; Emile de Becque in South Pacific, 2013); Davis Gaines (Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies, 2017); Jay Armstrong Johnson (Jack Kelly in Newsies, 2017; Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street, 2016); and Mykal Kilgore (Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar, 2017). This promises to be an evening of celebration through song of the iconic musical theatre men who have appeared on the Muny stage throughout its 99-year history."  Performances take place at the Concert Hall in Grand Center.  For more information: muny.org.

The Presenters Dolan presents Broadway star Alice Ripley on Friday and Saturday, October 20 and 21, at 8 p.m. as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.  "Alice Ripley brings to her cabaret shows the explosive brilliance that has taken her to Broadway stardom. In addition to Next to Normal, she has been in the original Broadway casts of Les Misérables (Fantine), Sunset Boulevard, Side Show, The Rocky Horror Show, and American Psycho. Currently appearing as Kathleen on the new Netflix comedy Girlboss."  The performances take place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information: gaslightcabaretfestival.com

Alfresco Productions presents the musical The Rocky Horror Show Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through October 21.   "One fateful night, Brad Majors and his fiancée, Janet Weiss — a wholesome, well-behaved, utterly normal young couple — innocently set out to visit an old professor. Unfortunately for them, this night out is destined to be one they will never forget. A thunderstorm and a flat-tire force them to seek help at the castle of Dr. Frank ’N’ Furter, a transvestite scientist with a manic genius and insatiable libido. Brad, Janet, and Frank’ N’ Furter’s cohorts are swept up into the scientist’s latest experiment. The night’s misadventures will cause Brad and Janet to question everything they’ve known about themselves, each other, love, and lust. A loving homage to the classic B sci-fi film and horror genres with an irresistible rock’n’roll score, The Rocky Horror Show is a hilarious, wild ride that no audience will soon forget." Performances take place at the Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City, IL.  For more information: (618) 560-1947 or www.alfrescoproductions.org.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical Spring Awakening Thursdays through Saturdays through October 21. "Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. This landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock & roll that since its premiere has been exhilarating audiences like no other musical in years. A heart-rendering story that follows a group of teenage friends as they travel the fraught and rocky path of adolescence and find themselves along the way." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee.  For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Upstream Theater presents the St. Louis premiere of Sweet Revenge Fridays through Sundays through October  22.  "Considered the finest Polish comedy ever written, this 19th century verse drama uses Molière-like wit to poke fun of human follies. Upstream takes the hijinks to another level by presenting the play as performed by an actual amateur Polish immigrant theater from the 1930s. A sympathetic satire with a focus on tolerance." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center.  For more information, including show times: upstreamtheater.org.

New Jewish Theater presents Tuesdays With Morrie through October 22.   "In this adaptation of the dearly loved book by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie explores the ever-deepening relationship of journalist Albom with his Brandeis University professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz. 16 years after graduation from college, Mitch catches Morrie on a television news program and discovers he is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). What begins as a one-time visit to his former professor turns into a weekly pilgrimage where Mitch is schooled in life lessons and ultimately discovers the meaning of life." 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: www.newjewishtheatre.org or call 314-442-3283.

Clayton Community Theatre presents August Wilson's drama Two Trains Running Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through October  22.  "This Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, set in a diner in the Hill District of Pittsburgh in 1969, dramatically highlights the changing attitudes toward race in the North at the time, from the perspective of urban blacks. This will be Nada Vaughn's second August Wilson production for CCT, having previously directed The Piano Lesson in 2015."  Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre.  For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

The Performing Arts Department at Washington University presents the musical Urinetown Fridays and Saturdays at at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., October 20 - 29.  "Winner of three Tony awards in 2002, Urinetown has been described as the “anti-musical.” Brechtian in spirit and dystopian in setting, the show is wildly funny and engaging. Bruce Weber of The New York Times wrote ten days after the 9/11 attacks that ”Urinetown…is simply the most gripping and galvanizing theater experience…equal parts visceral entertainment jolt and lingering provocation. The context of the historical moment makes us ask ourselves going in: Can we laugh and thrill to a musical at a time like this?” In 2017 others may be asking a similar question. We are confident that revisiting Urinetown will be just the ticket." The performances take place in the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus.  For more information, call 314-935-6543 or visit pad.artsci.wustl.edu.

COCA Theatre Company presents the musical The Wiz Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m., July 21 - 23.  "This beloved seven-time Tony Award-winning musical features a dazzling mix of rock, gospel and soul music – including Brand New Day and Home – to create a refreshing update to a timeless classic. The Black Rep’s Ron Himes joins COCA to direct Dorothy and her crew as they adventure through the Land of Oz in an upbeat, family-friendly, retelling of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."  The performances take place in the Founder's Theater at COCA, 524 Trinity in University City.  For more information: cocastl.org.

Variety Children's Theatre presents The Wizard of Oz Thursday through Sunday, October 19 – 22.  Performances take place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri – St. Louis campus.  For more information: touhill.org.

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of October 9, 2017

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St. Louis University Theatre presents Sophocles' tragedy Antigone Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., October 12 - 15.  Performances take place in Xavier Hall, 3373 West Pine Mall. For more information, call 314-977-3327 or visit slu.edu/utheatre.

Insight Theatre Company presents Ken Ludwig's Baskerville, A Sherlock Holmes Mystery October 12 - 29.  The play is "a tour de force with actors playing many different characters in madcap comedy." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown.   For more information, call 314-556-1293or visit insighttheatrecompany.com.

The University of Missouri at St. Louis presents Aristophanes' comedy The Birds Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., October 12 – 15.  "Aristophanes’ comedy, The Birds, tells the story of two Athenians who set out in search of a better life. They are disgusted with their city due to its politics, poetry, religion and business, and they decide to travel to where the birds dwell. After meeting the birds and seeing how their land is ruled, these two men now believe that if they control the sky, they can have power over the gods and the mortals on Earth. Leave it to the birds to show these two men how to rule a world."  Performances take place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri – St. Louis campus.  For more information: touhill.org.

The Fox Theatre presents the musical The Bodyguard through October 15th.  "Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A breathtakingly romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You."  The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center.  For more information: fabulousfox.com.

St. Louis Shakespeare presents Cardenio by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., October 12 - 15.  "Based on an episode from Miguel de Cervantes DON QUIXOTE and lost since 1612, Shakespeare's CARDENIO is set in 16th century Spain. Cardenio loves Luscinda, but before they can marry, he is called to Court to be the companion of Fernando, the Duke's wild younger son. Fernando is obsessed with a wealthy farmer's daughter, Dorotea, but he has a roving eye. St. Louis Shakespeare is proud to present the regional premiere of Shakespeare's lost tragicomic romance, rich with passion, disguise, madness and betrayal! " Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood.  For more information, call 314-361-56 or visit stlshakespeare.org.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents the one-man show Defending the Caveman, opening on Tuesday, October 10th, and running through October 29. "Defending the Caveman, is the longest running solo show in Broadway history, is a hilariously insightful play about the ways men and women relate. This prehistoric look at the battle of the sexes is full of wonderful scenarios that celebrate the differences between men and women, making it a perfect entertainment option for couples or for a girls’ night out. The show has also been seen and recommended by thousands of marriage and family therapists and counselors for its humorous look at the inherent differences between the sexes."  The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza.  For more information: westportstl.com.

Emery Entertainment presents Evil Dead -  The Musical opening on Thursday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m. and running through October 22. "The Winner of the 2007 Dora Audience Choice Award for Toronto’s favorite show, Evil Dead - The Musical is the hilarious and outrageous story of five college friends spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods after accidently unleashing an evil force that turns them all into Candarian demons. The “Splatter Zone,” located within the first three rows of seating, is for super fans who can’t get enough of blood “splatter” during their favorite scenes of death and destruction in the woods. Audience members in these seats are covered in fake blood as part of the ‘real-life’ effects that take place during scenes in the show. In addition to some dismembered limbs, demons telling bad jokes and catchy tunes ("Look Who’s Evil Now," "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Demons"), the show features a saucy combination of wit and sexual innuendo that keeps audiences laughing."  The performance takes place at the Grandel Theatre across from Powell Hall in Grand Center.  For more information: metrotix.com.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents August Wilson's drama Gem of the Ocean Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 11 - 15.  "Gem of the Ocean begins on the eve of Aunt Esther's birthday. When Citizen Barlow comes to her Pittsburgh's Hill District home seeking asylum, she sets him off on a spiritual journey to find a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Gem of the Ocean is the ninth work in Wilson's ten-play cycle that has recorded the American Black experience and helped to define generations." Performances take place in the Dunham Hall Theater on the campus in Edwardsville, IL.  For more information, call 618-650-2774 or visit siue.edu.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents Girls in Boys Pants through October 15th.   The show is an exploration of gender identity through articles of clothing and media material. Performances take place in the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre on Wydown and Big Bend.  For more information: www.fontbonne.edu/academics/departments/fine-arts-department/theatre-productions.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Shakespeare's Hamlet October 11 – November 5.  “For the first time in its 50-year history, The Rep will produce Hamlet. Spurred on to vengeance by the ghost of his father, Prince Hamlet hovers in limbo between bloody retribution and madness. Potentially fatal indecision delays his every step. With its profound soliloquies, complexly shaded characters and brutal plotting, it’s Shakespeare’s most enduring tragedy.” Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus.  For more information: repstl.org.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Lizzie
Photo: Jill Ritten Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the rock musical Lizzie Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 21. "A prominent businessman and his wife are brutally axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden is the prime suspect. Lizzie's trial is a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story becomes an American legend." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Take Two Productions the musical Next to Normal October 13 - 21. "The Tony Award winning musical explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Dad's an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal. The mother has battled manic depression for 16 years. Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family's story with love, sympathy and heart." Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information, visit taketwoproductions.org.

Hard Road Theatre Productions presents Neil Simon's comedy Plaza Suite through October 14. Performances will be held at the Highland Elementary School Auditorium, 12760 Troxler Ave, Highland IL.  For more information: www.hardroad.org   

Clinton County Showcase presents the drama Robert's Here Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m and Sundays at 2 p.m. "A new family moves into a long-abandoned house…or so they thought.  A spirit of sorts has resided in this house awaiting to fulfill his destiny. This show asks the questions, “What is our destiny?” and “How long does it take to fulfill?”  Come join us for this thought-provoking drama.  That will have you questioning the intentions of characters throughout." Performances take place at the Avon Theater, 525 North 2nd Street Breese IL.  For more information, visit ccshowcase.com.

Alfresco Productions presents the musical The Rocky Horror Show Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., October 13 - 21.   "One fateful night, Brad Majors and his fiancée, Janet Weiss — a wholesome, well-behaved, utterly normal young couple — innocently set out to visit an old professor. Unfortunately for them, this night out is destined to be one they will never forget. A thunderstorm and a flat-tire force them to seek help at the castle of Dr. Frank ’N’ Furter, a transvestite scientist with a manic genius and insatiable libido. Brad, Janet, and Frank’ N’ Furter’s cohorts are swept up into the scientist’s latest experiment. The night’s misadventures will cause Brad and Janet to question everything they’ve known about themselves, each other, love, and lust. A loving homage to the classic B sci-fi film and horror genres with an irresistible rock’n’roll score, The Rocky Horror Show is a hilarious, wild ride that no audience will soon forget." Performances take place at the Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City, IL.  For more information: (618) 560-1947 or www.alfrescoproductions.org.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical Spring Awakening Thursdays through Saturdays through October 21. "Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. This landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock & roll that since its premiere has been exhilarating audiences like no other musical in years. A heart-rendering story that follows a group of teenage friends as they travel the fraught and rocky path of adolescence and find themselves along the way." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee.  For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Upstream Theater presents the St. Louis premiere of Sweet Revenge Fridays through Sundays through October  22.  "Considered the finest Polish comedy ever written, this 19th century verse drama uses Molière-like wit to poke fun of human follies. Upstream takes the hijinks to another level by presenting the play as performed by an actual amateur Polish immigrant theater from the 1930s. A sympathetic satire with a focus on tolerance." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center.  For more information, including show times: upstreamtheater.org.

New Jewish Theater presents Tuesdays With Morrie through October 22.   "In this adaptation of the dearly loved book by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie explores the ever-deepening relationship of journalist Albom with his Brandeis University professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz. 16 years after graduation from college, Mitch catches Morrie on a television news program and discovers he is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). What begins as a one-time visit to his former professor turns into a weekly pilgrimage where Mitch is schooled in life lessons and ultimately discovers the meaning of life." 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: www.newjewishtheatre.org or call 314-442-3283.

Peabody Opera House presents the romantic comedy Two Can Play That Game on Sunday, October 15, at 3 p.m.  “Two Can Play That Game is the comedy that proves when men start playing around, women will even the score. Hollywood Star and Queen of the Screen Vivica A. Fox reprises her role from the original movie as relationship guru, Shante Smith and gives fans the real low down on everyday rules to relationships. The stage version gives audiences the same story they fell in love with in the original movie with some new twists and turns. When it comes to matters of the heart, Shante Smith is so adept at navigating the waters of romance that her girlfriends look to her for relationship advice. But soon, Shante’s own relationship becomes the example when her boyfriend, Keith, is caught red-handed stepping out with his co-worker and her archrival, Conny. However, when Shante institutes a plan full of tricks and games to get Keith to act right, he, with the help of his friend Tony, fire back with a quickness, letting Shante know that “Two Can Play That Game.” The Peabody Opera House is at 14th and Market, downtown.  For more information: peabodyoperahouse.com.

Clayton Community Theatre presents August Wilson's drama Two Trains Running Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 12 - 22.  "This Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, set in a diner in the Hill District of Pittsburgh in 1969, dramatically highlights the changing attitudes toward race in the North at the time, from the perspective of urban blacks. This will be Nada Vaughn's second August Wilson production for CCT, having previously directed The Piano Lesson in 2015."  Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre.  For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

Valhalla Cemetery and The Hawthorne Players present Voices Of Valhalla: A Hayride Through History through October 14.  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.

The Presenters Dolan presents Paula West on Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14, at 8 p.m. as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival.  "To say that Paula West is a great jazz singer only begins to state her gifts. With a regular residency at Feinstein's in San Francisco, Paula always brings fresh looks to her material, standard or contemporary. That her velvet contralto is among the most beautiful in the business makes her compelling shows all the more pleasurable."  The performances take place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information: gaslightcabaretfestival.com

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of October 2, 2017

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Lindenwood University presents the musical Avenue Q Wednesday through Sunday, October 4 - 8. "This laugh-out-loud musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton, who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. Filled with gut-busting humor and a delightfully catchy score, not to mention puppets, Avenue Q is a truly unique show that has quickly become a favorite for audiences everywhere."  The performances take place at The Lindenwood Theatre at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, MO.  For more information, call 636-949-4433 or visit www.lindenwood.edu/center.

The Fox Theatre presents the musical The Bodyguard, opening on Tuesday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m. and running through October 15th.  "Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A breathtakingly romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You."  The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center.  For more information: fabulousfox.com.

St. Louis Shakespeare presents Cardenio by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 6 - 15.  "Based on an episode from Miguel de Cervantes DON QUIXOTE and lost since 1612, Shakespeare's CARDENIO is set in 16th century Spain. Cardenio loves Luscinda, but before they can marry, he is called to Court to be the companion of Fernando, the Duke's wild younger son. Fernando is obsessed with a wealthy farmer's daughter, Dorotea, but he has a roving eye. St. Louis Shakespeare is proud to present the regional premiere of Shakespeare's lost tragicomic romance, rich with passion, disguise, madness and betrayal! " Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood.  For more information, call 314-361-56 or visit stlshakespeare.org.

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents The Feast through October 8. "Matt and Anna's relationship is going swimmingly, until the sewers under their apartment open up and begin to speak. Matt's paintings are getting stranger and every one he meets seems to know why. It could be about Anna, and it could be something much darker. An eerie comedy about what is real, what is not, and who knows the difference." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

St. Louis Community College at Meramec presents Lanford Wilson's drama Fifth of July, Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m., October 4 - 8.  Set in a sprawling farmhouse in rural Missouri, home to Ken, a legless Vietnam veteran, and his lover, Jed, a horticulturist. Along with Ken’s Aunt, sister and niece, Ken and Jed are visited by Gwen and John—the former a hard-drinking, pill-popping heiress who aspires to be a rock star, the latter her wary-eyed husband and manager. All are old friends from college days, and former activists who agitated for what they hoped would be a better world. Their talk, as the play progresses, is sharp and funny and, in the final essence, deeply revealing of lost hopes and dreams and of the bitterness that must be fought back if one is to perceive the good that life can offer." Performances take place in the theatre on the campus at 11333 Big Bend Road.  For more information, stlcc.edu/MC or call 314-984-7500.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents Girls in Boys Pants opening on Saturday, October 7, at 8 p.m. and running through October 15th.   The show is an exploration of gender identity through articles of clothing and media material. Performances take place in the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre on Wydown and Big Bend.  For more information: www.fontbonne.edu/academics/departments/fine-arts-department/theatre-productions.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents The Haunted Hunter through October 27. "The rumor is true! Word on the street? This place is Haunted! That's right! ...and lots of famous sleuths, detectives and ghost hunters from around the world will be there to catch a glimpse of our famous, (and elusive), ghost "Billy", (better known as "Billy, the Spook"). Gee! If someone gets "Whacked", we'll have plenty of detectives to solve the crime, won't we! Everyone plays a part! You could be "Sherlock Homes", "Miss Garble", or even "The Hardly Boys". Call today for tickets to this "hauntingly silly" dinner theater." The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Lizzie
Photo: Jill Ritten Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the rock musical Lizzie Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 21. "A prominent businessman and his wife are brutally axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden is the prime suspect. Lizzie's trial is a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story becomes an American legend." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit newlinetheatre.com or call 314-534-1111.

Emery Entertainment presents The Naked Magicians on Thursday, October 5, at 8 p.m. "The Naked Magicians, the world’s naughtiest and funniest magic show strips away the top hats and capes to promise full-frontal illusions. Starring the clever and seductive Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, two of Australia’s most famous magicians, The Naked Magicians combine magic and muscles with riotous laughs that take magic to a whole new level. “Good magicians don't need sleeves and great magicians don't need pants,” says Tyler."  The performance takes place at the Grandel Theatre across from Powell Hall in Grand Center.  For more information: nakedmagicians.com.

Hard Road Theatre Productions presents Neil Simon's comedy Plaza Suite October 6 - 14. Performances will be held at the Highland Elementary School Auditorium, 12760 Troxler Ave, Highland IL.  For more information: www.hardroad.org   

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Shotspeare Thursday through Saturday, October 5 - 7. "Shotspeare is equal parts bacchanal and classical theater. Harkening back to the actual time of Shakespeare where audience members (groundlings) were boisterous and partook in the show. Think Drunk History meets The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, hosted by the Gazillionaires English major nephew."  The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza.  For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Smoking Gun through October 29. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical Spring Awakening Thursdays through Saturdays, October 5 - 21. "Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. This landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock & roll that since its premiere has been exhilarating audiences like no other musical in years. A heart-rendering story that follows a group of teenage friends as they travel the fraught and rocky path of adolescence and find themselves along the way." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee.  For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Upstream Theater presents the St. Louis premiere of Sweet Revenge Fridays through Sundays, October 6 - 22.  "Considered the finest Polish comedy ever written, this 19th century verse drama uses Molière-like wit to poke fun of human follies. Upstream takes the hijinks to another level by presenting the play as performed by an actual amateur Polish immigrant theater from the 1930s. A sympathetic satire with a focus on tolerance." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center.  For more information, including show times: upstreamtheater.org.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the musical [title of show] Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through October 8. "Jeff and Hunter, two self-confessed nobodies in New York, make a pact: They will write an original musical and submit it to a festival. The only catch? The deadline is in three weeks! They gather their friends, Susan and Heidi, and their trusted accompanist and set off. With the team assembled, Jeff and Hunter hit another roadblock-- what should they write about? Jeff and Hunter decide to follow the old saying, “write what you know,” and set off on a unique musical adventure: writing a musical about writing a musical. As the deadline looms, insecurities creep in and jealousies flare. Will the team succeed with their musical? Could it even win a Tony?! Frequently hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, and thoroughly inspiring, [title of show] is a love story celebrating individuality and creativity." Performances take place on the Browning Mainstage Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.


New Jewish Theater presents Tuesdays With Morrie October 4 - 22.   "In this adaptation of the dearly loved book by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie explores the ever-deepening relationship of journalist Albom with his Brandeis University professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz. 16 years after graduation from college, Mitch catches Morrie on a television news program and discovers he is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). What begins as a one-time visit to his former professor turns into a weekly pilgrimage where Mitch is schooled in life lessons and ultimately discovers the meaning of life." 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: www.newjewishtheatre.org or call 314-442-3283.

Valhalla Cemetery and The Hawthorne Players present Voices Of Valhalla: A Hayride Through History October 6 - 14.  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.

The Sheldon Concert Hall presents Zoe Vonder Haar and Friends: It's a Musical on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 3 and 4, at 10 a.m.  Zoe Vonder Haar is one of St. Louis’ most acclaimed musical theatre performers. She is joined by fellow local favorites Ben Nordstrom, John Flack, Alicia Like and Steve Neale for a fun-filled morning of Broadway favorites – from West Side Story to Dreamgirls and many more!" The performances take place at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3658 Washington in Grand Center.  For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

The West End Players Guild opens its 107th season with the drama A Walk in the Woods Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM, October 6 - 8.  There will also be a show on Thursday, October 5, at 8 PM.  Lee Blessing’s tale of how superpower negotiations sometimes work – and often fail – was nominated for a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize." Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End.  For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org

Looking for auditions and other artistic opportunities? Check out the St. Louis Auditions site.
For information on events beyond this week, check out the searchable database at the Regional Arts Commission's Events Calendar.
Would you like to be on the radio? KDHX, 88.1 FM needs theatre reviewers. If you're 18 years or older, knowledgeable in this area, have practical theatre experience (acting, directing, writing, technical design, etc.), have good oral and written communications skills and would like to become one of our volunteer reviewers, send an email describing your experience and interests to chuck at kdhx.org. Please include a sample review of something you've seen recently.

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of October 2, 2017

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation presents members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, October 4, at 7:30 p.m.  The performance takes place in the newly renovated space at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 3716 Washington.  For more information: pulitzerarts.org/program/st-louis-symphony-concert-series.

The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents a Great Artist Guitar Series concert with Xavier Jara on Saturday, October 7, at 8 p.m.  "Born in Arlington, Minnesota of an American mother and Chilean father, Xavier Jara studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in the class of Olivier Chassain. He is winner of four international competitions, most recently at the Guitar Foundation of America in 2016. Just 24 years old, Xavier is yet another stunning new talent in his St. Louis debut!" The performance takes at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road.  For more information: guitarstlouis.net.

Leonard Slatkin conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Garrick Ohlsson, in muisic by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Christopher Rouse on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., October 6 and 7. The performances takes place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

The Washington University Department of Music presents a Department of Music Lecture by trombonist, composer, and improviser Steve Swell on Thursday, October 6th, at 4 p.m.  "Steve Swell, born in Newark, New Jersey, has been living, working and performing in New York City his entire adult life. In the mid-seventies he studied with Roswell Rudd, Grachan Moncur III and Jimmy Knepper after attending Jersey City State Teacher’s College. He's toured and recorded with such diverse jazz personalities as mainstreamers Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, to so-called outsiders like Anthony Braxton and Jemeel Moondoc. Swell has 40 recordings as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artist on more than 100 other releases. His CD, "Suite For Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers", recorded on the CIMP label, was ranked number 2 in the 2004 Cadence Readers Poll." The ecent takes place in room 102 of the Music Classroom Building on the Washington University campus.  For more information, music.wustl.edu or call 314-935-5566.

The Washington University Department of Music presents Songs and Rhythms of Spain, featuring Nerea Berraondo, mezzo-soprano and the Kingsbury Ensemble on Sunday, October 8, at 7 p.m.  "Since the Baroque era, Spanish music has exhibited a well-defined national style, due to its popular dance rhythms, and its melodies full of emotion and spontaneity. This program will highlight hidden treasures of the Spanish Baroque, including works by Jose de Torres, Sebastian Duron, Santiago de Murcia, and Diego Ortiz. Through their music, Nerea Berraondo and the Kingsbury Ensemble musicians will bring to life this repertoire sparkling with the warmth and colors of Spain." The program takes place at the 560 Music Center at 560 Trinity in University City.  For more information, music.wustl.edu or call 314-935-5566.

Review: Merry Mozart with Emanuel Ax and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Friday, September 23, 2017

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This review originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Emanuel Ax
Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco
In a new biography, John Suchet calls Mozart "surely the happiest composer who ever lived." We got a great demonstration of that this past weekend as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opened its new season with the first in a series of three all-Mozart programs.

That happiness was most apparent in the first half of the concert, which opened with a spirited and elegant dash through the overture to the 1789 comic masterpiece Le nozze di Figaro. Although it includes no music from the opera itself, the overture nevertheless perfectly captures the freewheeling spirit of the work, and maestro David Robertson honored that spirit of fun.

Up next was the Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, written two years earlier when Mozart was trying to make a living as a composer/pianist in Vienna. One of six that the composer produced that year in a never-ending struggle to engage the attention of the notoriously fickle Viennese public, it's engaging, tuneful, and just sophisticated enough to display Mozart's fine hand at counterpoint.

Soloist Emanuel Ax delivered a performance of crystalline perfection that allowed all of the joy and ingenuity of this piece to come through. Mr. Robertson and the orchestra supported him beautifully with playing that was light, precise, and classically pristine. Contemporary orchestras are bigger and contemporary pianos far more powerful than was the case in Mozart's day, but Mr. Ax and the orchestra still managed to convey that incredible lightness of being that you don't always experience in "big band" Mozart.

The second half of the concert was devoted to works that represented Mozart's last thoughts on the subject of the piano concerto and the symphony: the Concerto No. 27 (premiered the year of Mozart's death, although likely written a few years earlier) and the monumental Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter," a title Mozart never used for it) from 1788. The contrast between the two is striking.

Back when everyone thought the Concerto No. 27 was produced in the final year of Mozart's life, it was not uncommon to read a kind of end-of-life resignation into this music. It's certainly lyrical and sometimes pensively sad, but it still sounds like the work of the happiest composer who ever lived. It got, in any case, a warm and engaging interpretation from Mr. Ax and Mr. Robertson that brought out peaceful autumnal reflection of this remarkable work.

The Symphony No. 41, on the other hand, bristles with the confidence and self-assertion of a man who had completely mastered symphonic form and was ready, in the words of The Guardian's Tom Service, to see "just how many different expressive and compositional contrasts he can cram into a single symphony." There's a little bit of everything in this music, and Mr. Robertson and his forces brought out all of its kaleidoscopic variety.

I was particularly struck by the simple charm of the Andante cantabile second movement and the "gotta dance" energy of the third movement Menuetto. But it was the propulsive energy of the concluding Molto allegro in all its complex glory that really brought down the house and led to a well-deserved standing ovation. Mr. Robertson and Concertmaster David Halen began the symphony immaculately groomed and ended it with ties slightly askew; that's how much they threw themselves into this performance, and it showed.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's Mozart festival continues on Friday at 10:30 a.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 29 - October 1. The Friday concert features the Piano Concertos Nos. 14 and 20 and the Symphony No. 39. Saturday and Sunday the program will feature the Concertos Nos. 16 and 17 and the Symphony No. 40. Emanuel Ax will once again be the soloist and David Robertson will conduct.

The musicians might not be decked out quite as festively as they were for opening night, when many of the orchestra's women wore colorful evening gowns and Concertmaster David Halen sported a sparkly red vest and tie, but if this opening weekend's concert was any indication, the music will still be celebratory.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of September 29, 2017

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

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New This Week:

The Department of Music at Washington University and Winter Opera present the world premiere of Harold Blumenfeld's opera Borgia Infami Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., September 30 and October 1. " Borgia Infami depicts the lives, loves and crimes of the notorious Borgia family. The opera focuses upon Rodrigo, who becomes the brilliant and corrupt Pope Alexander VI; his son Cesare, whose ruthless pursuit of power is immortalized in Machiavelli's writings; and, finally, Lucrezia, the Duchess of Ferrara, Rodrigo's beautiful daughter, and alleged poisoner of the family's enemies. The action unfolds on dual levels, alternating historical fact with Victor Hugo's hyper melodramatic portrayal of Lucrezia." Performances take place in the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information: edison.wustl.edu.

My take: I haven't seen this and won't have the opportunity to do so, but I would if I could. Winter Opera does good work and it's always worthwhile to see a new work by a local composer.


Kyle Dean Massey
Jazz St. Louis and The Cabaret Project present Kyle Dean Massey on Wednesday and Thursday, September 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m. "Kyle Dean Massey is an American actor best known for his work on Broadway in Pippin, Next to Normal, Wicked and Xanadu and to television audiences as Kevin Bicks from ABC's Nashville. As a vocalist Kyle Dean has performed across the country in pops concerts with symphony orchestras and in more intimate cabaret settings with his one man show. He also tours with his concert group The Broadway Tenors." Performances take place at the Ferring Jazz Bistro on Washington just east of the Fox in Grand Center. For more information: jazzstl.org.

My take: If you haven't had a chance to check out the remodeled bistro in Grand Center, now is your chance. It's a great music venue and an excellent size for cabaret. As for Mr. Massey, the Cabaret Scenes review of his 2015 appearance at Feinstein's noted that he "succeeded on every level in this well-crafted, charming show." Sounds like a winner to me.


Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the musical [title of show] Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., September 27 - October 8. "Jeff and Hunter, two self-confessed nobodies in New York, make a pact: They will write an original musical and submit it to a festival. The only catch? The deadline is in three weeks! They gather their friends, Susan and Heidi, and their trusted accompanist and set off. With the team assembled, Jeff and Hunter hit another roadblock-- what should they write about? Jeff and Hunter decide to follow the old saying, “write what you know,” and set off on a unique musical adventure: writing a musical about writing a musical. As the deadline looms, insecurities creep in and jealousies flare. Will the team succeed with their musical? Could it even win a Tony?! Frequently hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking, and thoroughly inspiring, [title of show] is a love story celebrating individuality and creativity." Performances take place on the Browning Mainstage Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.

My take: True confession: I'm a musical theatre geek. I love performing in musicals and I love seeing a good one. [title of show] is a massive musical theatre in joke. On paper and CD, the concept looks a bit flimsy: a talented songwriter and author want to write a new, completely original musical but can’t come up with a topic, so they decide (in the song “Two Nobodies from New York”) to write a new musical about a talented songwriter and author trying to write a new musical. The result is a show that’s about only itself and its creators – “talking to a mirror talking to himself”, to quote A Neil Innes lyric. It’s a potentially deadly idea if not handled with skill. But skill, happily, is something creators Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell clearly have in abundance, along with talent, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and a true love of musical theatre. If you love musical theatre—heck, if you just love theatre—go and enjoy.


Held Over:

The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-Time

Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time throiugh October 1. "The 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident is an immersive adventure that puts audiences in the shoes of 15-year-old sleuth Christopher. He's a brilliant young man, but struggles to process everyday information. Suspected of killing his neighbor's dog, Christopher journeys into London to track down the true culprit. But can he withstand the sensory overload of the big city?" Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

My take: Critics have been mining their stock of superlatives for this show. At KDHX, for example, Tina Farmer calls it "a spectacular theatre experience." Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis says it's a "beautiful, powerful and heart-wrenching experience," while Judy Newmark at the Post-Dispatch praises the "fluid, crystal-clear production." I could go on, but you get the idea. We saw it last weekend and were completely captivated. The title, FYI, comes from the Sherlock Homes story Silver Blaze, and refers to the importance of something that didn't happen as a clue in a murder case.


South Pacific
Photo: Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Stages St. Louis presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific through October 8. "One of the most powerful musicals of all time, this multi-award- winning classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein will sweep you away with its tale of love and loss in the SOUTH PACIFIC. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by James Michener and featuring some of the finest music ever written for the American stage, SOUTH PACIFIC spins a dangerously romantic tale centered around young American soldiers and nurses stationed on a tropical naval base during the Second World War. Seeking respite from the battles around them, they find refuge in the two groups as romance blooms in this lush tropical paradise." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information: stagesstlouis.org.

My take: It is, I think, easy to forget that this theatrical classic is not just a musical, but a drama as well. In South Pacific, boy gets girl, boy abandons girl, boy dies and everybody else goes off to war. For audiences that know South Pacific largely as a high-gloss widescreen musical from 1958, the show's occasionally trenchant commentary on the folly and futility of war, issues of racism, and what Emile De Becque, in a moment of despair, refers to as "a mean little world / Of mean little men" might come as a surprise. Sadly, current events are reminding us of just how right he was. The Stages production is being lauded by darn near everybody. A good example is Chris Gibson at Broadwayworld. "Sparked by an excellent cast," he writes, "this is an incredibly touching testament to the power this work still wields." Similarly glowing reviews can be found at Ladue News and the Post-Dispatch. We saw it last weekend and loved it.


Unsuspecting Susan
Inevitable Theatre Company makes its St. Louis performance debut with the regional premiere of Stewart Permutt's one-woman play Unsuspecting Susan, through September 30. "Unsuspecting Susan portrays the tranquil village life of upper-class Hampshire divorcée Susan Chester, whose hobbies include amateur dramatics, raising Sealyham Terriers, and collecting the juiciest gossip about her neighbors. After Susan's troubled son, Simon, moves to London, her seemingly perfect world is rocked by an unspeakable act of violence." Performances take place at The Chapel on Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information: inevitabletheatre.org.

My take: I have known this show's star, Donna Weinsting, for many years now. She's a warm, funny person and a tremendously talented actress. Local directors obviously think so as well since they keep casting her, and this one-woman show appears to be a real triumph for her. At Ladue News, for example, Mark Bretz praises the "touching and revelatory performance by Donna Weinsting in this affecting, one-character drama." Other critics have been equally positive.