Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Dynamic duo

Pianist Javier Perianes
Last weekend the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra brought us new music performed by a pair of familiar faces. This week (Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13,2018) was the Yang to that Yin with a program of works that were all familiar to varying degrees performed by two new faces on the St. Louis scene: conductor Gustavo Gimeno and pianist Javier Perianes. It was an impressive pair of debuts.

[Find out more about the music with my symphony preview.]

Mr. Perianes, who appears to be heavily in demand as a soloist these days, performed Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3, a work which he recorded earlier this year with the Munich Philharmonic. That recording was praised for its "great warmth" by The Gramophone, and you could certainly hear that quality in Mr. Perianes's playing, especially in the Adagio religioso second movement. But I also heard a crystalline grace and precision in the first movement and real virtuoso flash in the Allegro vivace finale, with its lively "call and response" between the soloist and the orchestra. Mr. Perianes appeared to be in close communication with Mr. Gimeno all the way through, resulting in a sense of seamless integration between pianist and orchestra.

Mr. Gimeno is also rather popular these days. His upcoming guest conducting gigs include appearances in Cleveland, Vienna, Los Angeles, and London, and he will take over the Music Director job in Toronto in 2020. After seeing his perfectly balanced and entirely compelling interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" Friday night, I can understand what all the fuss is about.

This colorful evocation of scenes from "The Thousand and One Nights" is, of course, a solid member of the Classical Greatest Hits Club. Like most classical music lovers, I've heard it more times than I can count. Even so, this was one of the most captivating performances I have ever experienced. The first movement, "The Sea and Sinbad's Ship," had a wonderful epic feel. The Allegro molto--Vivace scherzando central section of "The Story of the Kalendar Prince" had great dramatic tension. "The Young Prince and the Young Princess," was sweepingly romantic without ever becoming syrupy (as can sometimes happen). And the final movement with its vivid description of the "Festival at Baghdad" and Sinbad's ship being dashed against a cliff was the musical equivalent of a widescreen, high definition action film. It was gripping, dramatic, and perfectly paced.

Conductor Gustavo Gimeno
Photo by Anne Dokter
Rimsky-Korsakov literally wrote the book on orchestration (you can still purchase his "Principles of Orchestration" from Dover Books), and he filled "Scheherazade" with brilliant orchestral writing. The solo violin, representing the voice of Scheherazade, is probably the most notable example, and Concertmaster David Halen played it exceptionally well. But the fact is that the composer filled this music with choice bits for all the first chair players.

As a result, we had splendid solo performances from (among others) Principal Cello Daniel Lee, Principal Bassoon Andrew Cuneo, Principal Clarinet Scott Andrews, Principal Oboe Jelena Dirks, Principal Flute Mark Sparks, and Principal Harp Allegra Lilly. Roger Kaza and the horn section were all in fine form, as were the trumpets, led by Associate Principal Tom Drake, the low brasses, and the percussion section. The strings had a pleasing richness and depth, and the orchestra in general played at the high level of virtuosity this music demands.

There was plenty of excellent playing in the piece that opened the program, as well, the "Concert Românesc" by Hungarian composer Görgy Ligeti (1923-2006). Although Ligeti was widely known as an avant-garde composer of sonically dense, complex works, you wouldn't know it from this highly entertaining tribute to the Romanian music and folklore that were an important part of the composer's childhood. Its four short movements bristle with good cheer, including some of what the composer called "tonal jokes," like the use of natural (valveless) horns (expertly played by Associate Principal Thomas Jöstlein and Todd Bowermaster) to mimic the sound of folk instruments and a wild, technically hair-raising "gypsy" violin solo in the final movement (brilliantly rendered by Mr. Halen).

Next at Powell Hall: Jun Märkl conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano; Celeste Golden Boyer, violin; and Melissa Brooks, cello on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm October 19-21. The program consists of Beethoven's Triple Concerto and orchestral selections from Wagner's "Ring" operas. The concerts take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of October 15, 2018

New shows this week includes everything from children's theatre at the Touhill to naked magicians at Westport, along with cabaret at the Kranzberg and the Gaslight and the monthly Singers Open Mic at Sophie's.

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The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Addams Family Affair through October 28. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Lianne Marie Dobbs and
William Michals
The Gaslight Cabaret Festival presents Lianne Marie Dobbs and William Michals in Broadway's Greatest Hits of All Time on Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20, at 8 p.m. "The show that every musical-theater lover has been waiting for. The songs that made Broadway great, that made your heart soar, that you sing leaving the theatre and in the shower! You will hear many of the greatest Broadway songs of all time performed by two of Broadway's most acclaimed voices." The performances take place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information: gaslightcabaretfestival.com.

CSZ St. Louis presents The ComedySportz Show on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. The show is "action-packed, interactive and hilarious comedy played as a sport. Two teams battle it out for points and your laughs! You choose the winners the teams provide the funny!" Performances take place on the second floor of the Sugar Cubed, 917 S Main St. in St Charles, Mo. For more information: www.cszstlouis.com.

The Q Collective presents the 2018 Coming Out Play Festival Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 4:30 and 8 pm, October 19 and 20. The festival features eight one-act plays that explore the coming out experience. Performances take place at The Monocle on Manchester in The Grove. For more information: theqcollective.theater.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Dead Like Me through November 3. The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Variety Theatre presents Disney's The Little Mermaid Thursday through Sunday, October 18 - 21. "Sing, dance and swim along as we follow Ariel's journey to walk on land and find true love.Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Variety Theatre is the country's only production of its kind. Featuring an inclusive children's ensemble performing alongside a professional adult cast, this Broadway classic is a must-see event. In 2018, Variety Theatre was awarded the "Special Award for a Body of Work" by the St. Louis Theater Circle, an honor only presented when it is felt it is truly deserved." Performances take place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri - St. Louis campus. For more information: touhill.org.

A Doll's House, Part 2
Photo by Patrick Lanham
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath through November 4. "Hnath's audacious sequel, written more than 135 years after Henrik Ibsen's original, hit Broadway in 2017 like a sneak attack. Ibsen's familial drama remains a foundational piece of theatre, with a still-controversial ending in which a married woman chooses to walk out on her family. But Hnath took the themes and characters of that familiar classic and flipped them on their heads, imagining what would happen if protagonist Nora Helmer returned home 15 years after her dramatic exit." Performances take place on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

Evil Dead: The Musical
Photo by Justin Been
Stray Dog Theatre presents the Evil Dead: The Musical Thursdays through Saturdays through October 27. There will also an 8 pm performance on Wednesday, October 24. "Third time's a scream (at long last)! Based on the 80s cult classic EVIL DEAD films, this hilariously campy show is bursting with more farce than a Monty Python skit. Five college kids take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods and encounter everything from ancient evil spirits to revenge-seeking Candarian demons. It's all ridiculous and wild, while the term “Fresh Blood!” takes on new meaning!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Nina Gabinelli
Mariposa Productions presents Here I Am, An Evening of Song With Nina Gabinelli on Saturday, October 20, at 8 pm. "Here I Am is a beautifully crafted mix of songs and storytelling. As Nina tells us about her childhood dream, then years as an actress/singer in NYC, and the struggle to reignite her passion, after leaving the city 20 years ago, we witness both her pains and her successes. Following several sold out performances in NYC and Aspen, help welcome this St. Louis native home to where it all began. David Dyer, musical director, arranger and accompanist has played for singers from Aspen to Mykonos. His talents continue to astound. Creative direction is credited to the always amazing, and overly talented Lina Koutrakos. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Center, 501 N. Grand in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com

Clayton Community Theatre presents the drama The Laramie Project Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through October 21. "Based on the true story of the death of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old victim of an anti-gay hate crime in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming, The Laramie Project unfolds through the words of people in Laramie who were interviewed by members of Tectonic Theater Company in the 18 months following Matthew Shepard's death, creating a portrait of the community and key individuals in the aftermath of the event and as the victim's killers were brought to trial and convicted." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Mustard Seed Theatre presents The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, through October 28. “In this irreverent exploration of the afterlife of Judas Iscariot, will sin or grief or grace prevail? This brutal dark comedy puts love and justice on trial. Adult language and situations, not appropriate for children.” Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents The Naked Magicians Friday through Sunday, October 19 - 21. "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 Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: www.playhouseatwestport.com.

The St. Louis Writers' Group presents the final round of its Playwright Slam on Monday, October 15, at 6:30 pm. "Get ready for a night of fun impromptu theater. The order of scripts to be read will be chosen at random. Actors to read will be chosen at random. Each script will be given a five minute read, and rated by a panel of judges based upon audience reaction. The judges will select several plays to move on to round two which will be ten minutes of the same script, from which a winner will be chosen." The event takes place upstairs at Big Daddy's, 1000 Sidney in Soulard. For more information: www.stlwritersgroup.com.

Raging Skillet
Photo by Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Raging Skillet by Jacques Lemarre Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm, through October 21. New Jewish Theatre serves up the opening entrée to its 21st season with a tasty adaptation of celebrity Chef Rossi's autobiographical memoir, Raging Skillet - equal parts book launch, cooking demonstration, heaping helping of comedy and a side of Jewish mother guilt. When Rossi's Jewish mother discovers the microwave, home-cooked meals become a thing of the past. What starts as a rebellion against her Orthodox parents, chauvinism in the kitchen and the pressures of conformity ends with Rossi becoming New York's #1 punk-rock, Jewish, Lesbian caterer. This hilarious and heartfelt new comedy is based on her true-life story." 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.

The Stifel Theatre presents the play Redemption of a Dogg on Friday, October 19, at 8 pm. " Award-winning, writer, director and producer Je'Caryous Johnson is once again taking the nation by storm with his new stage play, Redemption of a Dogg. Redemption of a Dogg examines the internal battle one man has between preserving his life-long legacy and losing the love of his life when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family. The play's story takes audiences on a magical music ride as they step into the captivating world of a Je'Caryous Johnson Entertainment production. Redemption of a Dogg is set against a backdrop of Snoop Dogg's greatest hits, as well as, songs from his recently released chart-topping Gospel album, Bible Of Love." The Stifel Theatre is at 14th and Market downtown. For more information: stifeltheatre.com.

The Performing Arts Department at Washington University presents the rock musical The Rocky Horror Show Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, October 19 - 28. "Newlyweds Brad and Janet have blown a tire. They abandon their car and stumble into the Edison Theatre - right into Frank N Furter's castle in Transylvania. Here their naive notions of sexual identity will be forever changed." 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.

Insight Theatre Company presents Lauren Gunderson's Silent Sky Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, October 19 - November 4. "When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn't allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women's probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love. The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman's place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women's ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand in Grand Center. For more information, call 314-556-1293 or visit insighttheatrecompany.com.

Chuck Lavazzi
The Cabaret Project presents its weekly Singers Open Mic Night on Wednesday, October 17, from 7 to 10 pm. Drop by and enjoy a night of great music from St. Louis cabaret artists, backed up by pianist and music director Carol Schmidt and hosted by 88.1 KDHX's Chuck Lavazzi. 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 event takes place at Sophie's Artist Lounge on the second floor of the .ZACK performing arts space at 3226 Locust in Grand Center. For more information: thecabaretproject.org.

The Chapel presents Survivors: Four Short Plays About Those Who Remain by St. Louis playwright C.J. Zander Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm, October 18 - 20. The Chapel is at 6238 Alexander in Clayton. Tickets are available at the door.

St. Louis Shakespeare presents Shakespeare's The Tempest through October 21. "A story of shipwreck and magic, The Tempest begins on a ship caught in a violent storm with Alonso, the king of Naples, on board. On a nearby island, the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, tells his daughter, Miranda, that he has caused the storm with his magical powers. Prospero had been banished twelve years earlier when Prospero's brother, Antonio-also on the doomed ship-conspired with Alonso to become the duke instead. Prospero and Miranda are served by a spirit named Ariel and by Caliban, son of the island's previous inhabitant, the witch Sycorax." Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood. For more information, call 314-361-5664 or visit stlshakespeare.org.

The Zombies of Penzance
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the world premiere of the rock musical The Zombies of Penzance, based on Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 20. "New Line Theatre has shocked the music world by discovering a controversial, long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896...In Gilbert and Sullivan's never-before seen original draft, dated December 1878 and titled The Zombies of Penzance (with the unwieldy subtitle, At Night Come the Flesh Eaters), Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn't want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance, for obvious reasons." 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.

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 15, 2018

This week, David Halen teaches a master class, the Bach Society goes Baltic, and the SLSO presents Beethoven and Wagner.

The Bach Society at St. Stanislaus
The Bach Society of St. Louis presents Echoes From the Baltic Coast on Sunday, October 21, at 3 pm at St. Stanislaus Polish Church, 1413 North 20th Street in St. Louis. “Be transformed by the breathtaking choral music of the Baltic Coast in the perfect acoustics and serenity of St. Stanislaus Church. Repertoire includes a cappella favorites and Ola Gjielo's powerful and moving 'Dark Night of the Soul'.” For more information: www.bachsociety.org.

The Chamber Music Society of St. Louis presents a Concerto Competition Master Class with St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster David Halen on Wednesday, October 17, at 5 pm. "All master classes are free and open to the public. Master Classes are available to St. Louis area students to perform solo and chamber works guided by CMSSL artists. This program is FREE to students who are enrolled in a school music program, work with a private lesson instructor, or have similar musical guidance." The event takes place at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. For more information: chambermusicstl.org.

Eliot Unitarian Chapel presents a Friends of Music concert on Sunday, October 21, at 3 pm. The program features Liszt's Piano Sonana in B minor. The concert takes place at Eliot Unitarian Chapel is at 100 South Argonne in Kirkwood. For more information: fomcstl.org.

The Queen's Six
St. Louis Cathedral Concerts presents the a cappella vocal ensemble The Queen's Six on Saturday, October 20, at 8 pm. "The Queen's Six was established in 2008, the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, from whom they take their name. Based at Windsor Castle, all the members of The Queen's Six are also Lay Clerks of St George's Chapel, whose homes lie within the Castle walls. As part of the Chapel Choir, the members of The Queen's Six often perform before the Royal Family, including the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their repertoire extends far beyond the reach of the choir stalls: from austere early chant, florid Renaissance polyphony, lewd madrigals and haunting folk songs, to upbeat Jazz and Pop arrangements." The performance takes place at The Cathedral Basilica on Lindell in the Central West End. For more information: cathedralconcerts.org.

The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents a Great Artist Guitar Series concert with Tengyue Zhang on Saturday, October 20, at 8 pm. "Born in Hebei, China, Tengyue Zhang began studying the classical guitar at age five with his father and at seven with Professor Chen Zhi in Beijing. In 2012 he entered The Julliard School to study with Sharon Isbin. He is the winner of the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition, the world's most prestigious competition for classical guitar, and was awarded a 50+ concert tour. This is his St. Louis debut!" The performance takes at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road. For more information: guitarstlouis.net.

Jun Märkl
Jun Märkl conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano; Celeste Golden Boyer, violin; and Melissa Brooks, cello on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm October 19 - 21. The program consists of Beethoven's Triple Concerto and orchestral selections from Wager's "Ring" operas. The concerts take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of October 12, 2018

New this week: a drama based on the true story of an infamous hate crime, a comic look and food and maternal guilt, and the cabaret debut of the star of last year's hit, Ragtime.

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New This Week:

Omega D. Jones
The Monocle presents I'ma Name My Daughter "Cabaret": A Night of Sass, Soul, and Simple Joys featuring Omega D. Jones with Colin Healy on piano, on Friday, October 12, at 8 pm. "It's been a long time coming, but Omega Jones is finally making his cabaret debut! Born and raised in St. Louis, he has been performing all of his life. Most recently, one might have seen him as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar with Stray Dog Theatre, Molto in the world premiere of The Gringo: A New Musical at St. Lou Fringe, and as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, for which he was honored with the award for Leading Actor in a Musical at this year's St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards." The Monocle in on Manchester in the Grove. For more information: eventbrite.com.

My take: Mr. Jones is a talented local actor and singer. He played Coalhouse Walker, Jr., in Stray Dog Theatre's production of "Ragtime" (in which I also performed) and knocked out critics and audiences alike. His cabaret debut is overdue and welcome.


Clayton Community Theatre presents the drama The Laramie Project Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 11 - 21. "Based on the true story of the death of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old victim of an anti-gay hate crime in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming, The Laramie Project unfolds through the words of people in Laramie who were interviewed by members of Tectonic Theater Company in the 18 months following Matthew Shepard's death, creating a portrait of the community and key individuals in the aftermath of the event and as the victim's killers were brought to trial and convicted." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

My take: While crime in general continues to decrease in the USA, hate crime is on the rise. The story of Matthew Shepard's murder may be two decades old, but the ugly thinking that prompted it is, if anything, more prevalent now than it was then.


Raging Skillet
Photo by Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Raging Skillet by Jacques Lemarre Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm, through October 21. New Jewish Theatre serves up the opening entrée to its 21st season with a tasty adaptation of celebrity Chef Rossi's autobiographical memoir, Raging Skillet - equal parts book launch, cooking demonstration, heaping helping of comedy and a side of Jewish mother guilt. When Rossi's Jewish mother discovers the microwave, home-cooked meals become a thing of the past. What starts as a rebellion against her Orthodox parents, chauvinism in the kitchen and the pressures of conformity ends with Rossi becoming New York's #1 punk-rock, Jewish, Lesbian caterer. This hilarious and heartfelt new comedy is based on her true-life story." 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.

My take: With the opening of Raging Skillet, we now have two plays in town in which food is a central theme. Upstream's Chef (see below) closes this weekend but the New Jewish show is only in its second weekend. In his review for Ladue News, Mark Bretz writes that this "humorous, pleasant skirmish between an iron-willed mother and her equally defiant daughter, who have more in common than they might think...All three of the performers are top-notch in their portrayals, keeping their audience transfixed with the over-the-top comedy as well as some surprising moments of poignancy. "

Held Over:

Linda Kennedy in Chef
Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Upstream Theater presents Chef by Sabrina Mahfouz Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm (except for October 14, which is at 2 pm), through October 14. "Upstream Theater is excited to host renowned Swiss director Marianne de Pury who will stage the US premiere of the award-winning CHEF by UK/Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz-the gripping story of how one woman went from being a haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, including show times: upstreamtheater.org.

My take: The thing about one-character shows is that the one character had better be interesting and the one actor had better know how to capture and hold an audience's attention. There's no question that Linda Kennedy, the one actor in question, knows how to do that; as evidence, I would offer the great solo cabaret show she did back in 2015. And the play, as Richard Green notes in his rave review for Talking Broadway, "first toured fringe festivals in Scotland and Britain in 2014, scooping up multiple awards." So you can hardly go wrong, can you?

The Little Foxes
Photo by Patrick Huber

St. Louis Actors' Studio presents Lillian Hellman's drama The Little Foxes Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm through October 14. "Lillian Hellman's legendary play about greed and ambition. Set in Alabama in 1900, The Little Foxes follows Regina Giddens and her ruthless clan, including her sister-in-law Birdie, as they clash in often brutal ways in an effort to strike the deal of their lives. Far from a sentimental look at a bygone era, the play has a surprisingly timely resonance with important issues facing our country today.". Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. For more information call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

My take: In a New York Times article published the day before the October 31, 1949, premiere of Regina, Mark Blitzstein's operatic treatment of Hellman's play, Leonard Bernstein observed that the principal characters were "ugly people engaged in ugly dealings with one another." That is, to say the last, an understatement. Hellman's blistering indictment of crony capitalism and unenlightened self-interest is, if anything, more relevant now than when it was written in 1939, as an appalling spectacle of shameless greed, unprincipled arrogance, moral bankruptcy, and overwhelming entitlement dominates the national political stage. The tragedy of The Little Foxes isn't just American, it's also America's.

Symphony Preview: New faces of 2018

This Friday and Saturday (October 12 and 13) the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra brings us new faces, both on the page and on the stage, along with a special Family Concert on Sunday.

Gustavo Gimeno
Photo by Anne Dokter
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The new faces on stage belong to Spanish-born conductor Gustavo Gimeno and his fellow countryman pianist Javier Perianes, so let's spend some pixels on them first.

Just last month, Mr. Gimeno was appointed Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (he officially takes the job on in the 2020/2021 season), where he will replace interim MD Sir Andrew Davis, who in turn replaced Peter Oundjian. Those are big shoes to fill and big batons to hold, but as John Terauds points out in an article for the Toronto Star, he comes to the job with a solid background:
He is in his early 40s, and comes with a remarkable pedigree, having been mentored by three of the classical music world's finest maestros: the late Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink and Mariss Jansons. He began his career as a percussionist at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and has been a regular guest there since replacing Jansons at the last minute four years ago.
Görgy Ligeti in 1984
Photo by Marcel Antonisse / Anefo
Mr. Gimeno's first appearance with the TSO was this last February, where he conducted a program that includes the opening work on this weekend's concerts, the "Concert Românesc" by Hungarian composer Görgy Ligeti (1923-2006). Ligeti was widely known as an avant-garde composer who developed an aurally dense and, in my view, listener-hostile technique he called "micropolyphony," some of which can be heard in the soundtrack for "2001: A Space Odyssey," but you won't hear any of that in his engaging and very entertaining "Concert Românesc."

Written in 1951 (but not heard until two decades later), this short (around 15 minutes) suite is a tribute to the Romanian music and folklore that were an important part of the composer's childhood and in particular to the folk tunes he collected in 1949 and 1950. Here's the composer himself discussing the music at his publisher's web site:
After spending some time in Romania in 1949/50, studying at the Folklore Institute in Bucharest, I participated in several trips to record partly Romanian, partly Hungarian folk music (in Covasint near Arad and in Inaktelke near Cluj in the region of Kalotaszeg). The present four-movement concerto for orchestra (with string and wind solos) is based on a large number of Romanian folk tunes recorded by me, most of which exist on wax cylinders and records of the Bucharest Folklore Institute. In Covasint, on the other hand, I got to know the common harmonic idioms of Romanian peasant music which I have used in the Concerto in a stylised form. This orchestral composition was one of the 'camouflage pieces', used to evade (1951) the imposed dictatorship in the field of arts. Though quite conforming to the rules, the piece nevertheless turned out to be 'politically incorrect' because of some forbidden dissonances (e.g. F sharp in B major). For today's listener, it is hardly understandable that such minor tonal jokes were declared subversive. The 'Romanian Concerto' reflects my deep love of Romanian folk-music (and of Romanian-language culture absolute). The piece was banned at once and not performed until many decades later.
In fact, I think you'll find his little "tonal jokes" to be thoroughly delightful. I draw your attention, in particular, to the high-speed final movement in which, as violist and music commentator Dale Armbrust writes in his program notes, "the concertmaster will earn his paycheck on some positively Van Halen-level solos." That would be our own David (no relation to Van) Halen, who will also be the soloist in the concluding work this weekend, Rimsky-Korsakov's popular "Scheherazade," Op. 35.

Written in the summer of 1888, "Scheherazade" is one of those works that needs little in the way of introduction or explanation. The four colorful movements vividly evoke the scenes from the "One Thousand and One Nights" that served as the work's inspiration. The composer himself sets the scene in a brief introduction, written for the first performance in St. Petersburg, with Rimsky-Korsakov conducting:

The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.
Aside from the virtuoso violin part, which represents the voice of Scheherazade herself, the piece is filled with brilliant orchestral writing, including some nice solo bits for the first-chair players. That's no surprise since Rimsky-Korsakov quite literally wrote the book on orchestration. His "Principles of Orchestration" was begun in 1873, completed posthumously by Maximilian Steinberg in 1912, and finally published 1922. It's still available today, in both print and digital editions, from Dover Books.

Javier Perianes
Photo by Daniel García Bruno
In between Ligeti and Rimsky-Korsakov this weekend, you will find Béla Bartók, represented by the "Piano Concerto No. 3", which he wrote in New York during 1945, the final year of his life. Unlike his first two concertos, which he wrote for himself (he was a formidable pianist), the third was composed for his second wife, Ditta. The hope, according to Geoffrey Norris in a 2016 article for The Gramophone, was "that it would give her some sort of legacy after his death, both in terms of her own profile as a pianist (though she seems never to have played it in public) and in the income she might accrue from royalties when it was taken up by others."

That was probably a good bet. Although Bartók's three concertos have never been as popular as those of Big Guns like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff, they have always had their ardent supporters, including the noted Hungarian pianists András Schiff and György Sándor. And the third concerto is probably the most accessible of the three. It is, in Mr. Norris's words "altogether of a gentler, more reflective if scarcely (in the outer movements) less dynamic mien" than the first two. "András Schiff," he notes, "describes it as 'a wise man's farewell'." And so it was; when the composer died on September 26, 1945, it fell to his friend, the violinist and composer Tibor Serly, to complete the final 17 measures. The concerto was his last musical will and testament.

That's not to say it's funereal. Lively dance-like elements dominate both the opening and closing movements and the "Adagio religioso" that separates them is classic Bartók "night music", with emotionally intense chorales flanking a middle section that evokes the nocturnal sounds of nature. And all the way through, you can hear the influences of the folk music he collected during his life.

At the keyboard for the Bartók will be that other new face, Javier Perianes. Born in Nerva, Spain, in 1978, Mr. Perianes has, it seems, been nearly everywhere: Barcelona, Chicago, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Istanbul, and London. You name a country with a major orchestra and his passport will have been stamped there. The list of the conductors with whom he has played is equally impressive: Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Gustavo Dudamel, and Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, just to name a few.

The range of composers whose work he has recorded is equally impressive: Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Grieg, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Blasco de Nebra (18th-century Spanish organist and composer), Federico Mompou (the 20th-century Spanish composer best known for his solo piano works), Falla, Granados and Turina. That discography includes the Bartók Concerto No. 3, recorded earlier this year with Pablo Heras-Casado and the Munich Philharmonic for Harmonia Mundi. "An excellent performance," wrote Lee Passarella for Audiophie Audition, while Edward Seckerson praised the "great warmth" of his playing in a review for The Gramophone.

Omega D. Jones
Sunday brings a complete change of tone as Lee Mills conducts orchestra and narrator Omega D. Jones in "The Composer is Dead" by Nathaniel Stookey (another new face, although he won't be physically present, as far as I know) along with music by Haydn and Falla. I'll confess to a complete lack of familiarity with that first work, which is based on the book of the same name by the popular children's author Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler), but the piece has been very popular with some high-profile orchestras since its 2006 premiere with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, so it looks like some good G-rated fun.

I am fairly well acquainted with the narrator, though. Mr. Jones is a talented local actor and singer who makes his cabaret debut this Friday at The Monocle. He played Coalhouse Walker, Jr., in Stray Dog Theatre's production of "Ragtime" (in which I also performed) and knocked out critics and audiences alike.

The essentials: Gustavo Gimeno conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and piano soloist Javier Perianes Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, October 12 and 13, in Ligeti's "Concert Românesc," Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3, and Rimski-Korsakov's "Scheherazade". Lee Mills conducts orchestra and narrator Omega D. Jones in "The Composer is Dead "by Nathaniel Stookey on Sunday, Sunday, October 14, at 3 pm. The concerts take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Reveling in the joy of operetta with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

L-R: Elizabeth Stanley, Justin Michael Austin, Cree Carrico,
Daniel Berryman
Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
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When I saw that the title of the special St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert on Sunday, October 7, was "A Celebration of the Muny at 100," I assumed it would be a survey of nearly a century of Broadway with maybe a few nods to operetta and an emphasis on newer shows.

Then I saw the program (which wasn't available until the day of the concert) and found I could hardly have been more wrong. And I could hardly have been happier.

"A Celebration of the Muny at 100: Its Opening Act in Song and Symphony" (the full title) was, in fact, a delightful tribute to operetta, that bridge between opera and the Broadway musical that formed the mainstay of Muny seasons for most of the company's first half-century. Yes, there were some selections by Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, but for the most part Sunday's program was dedicated to Sigmund Romberg, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, and even Gilbert and Sullivan and John Phillip Sousa.

It's rare to see operetta performed here at all, let alone with a full symphony orchestra, chorus, and top-notch singers from the worlds of musical theatre and opera. As someone who loves this music, I found the concert to be a real treat. And judging from the audience response, I wasn't alone.

The show was assembled and conducted by Ben Whiteley, who in addition to his many other credits, has been the music director for many Muny shows--most recently this year's excellent "Singin' in the Rain." His selection was impeccable, ranging from favorites like "The Italian Street Song" from Herbert's "Naughty Marietta" and "Stouthearted Men" from Romberg's "New Moon" to rarities like "Some Girl is On Your Mind" from Kern's "Sweet Adeline" (a follow-up to the hit "Show Boat" that had the misfortune to open on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash).

Better yet, the entire affair was narrated by Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson, who introduced each number with fascinating bits of Muny and SLSO history, illustrated with images of classic Muny programs and press materials projected on Powell Hall's big screen. Did you know, for example, that George Gershwin actually conducted the SLSO in a benefit concert on March 1st, 1936, the year before he died? The program included Gershwin's "Concerto in F" and selections from "Porgy and Bess," as you might expect, but it concluded with Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 6." I wish I had Dr. Who's T.A.R.D.I.S. for that one.

The four singers on the program represented a perfect balance of styles. Soprano Cree Carrico and baritone Justin Michael Austin have substantial operatic backgrounds. Ms. Carrico showed off her prowess in "coloratura lite" classics like "The Italian Street Song" and "Poor Wand'ring One" (from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance"), soaring through the elaborate vocal lines with apparent ease and good humor. Mr. Austin's big, robust voice was an ideal match for the lyrical "Gypsy Love Song" from Herbert's "The Fortune Teller" as well as for the martial "Stouthearted Men."

From the world of musical theatre, we had soprano Elizabeth Stanley and tenor Daniel Berryman. Ms. Stanley sang a touching "Bill" (from "Show Boat") and a bravura "Johnny One-Note" (from Rodgers and Hart's "Babes in Arms"). Mr. Berryman gave us a beautiful "Serenade" (from Romberg's "The Student Prince") along with some great duets with Ms. Stanley and Ms. Carrico, including one of my favorites: "You're Just in Love" from Irving Berlin's "Call Me Madam."

All four singers were strong actors as well, bringing the songs to rich theatrical life. That was apparent throughout the concert, but most notably when they joined forces for the three selections from the Gershwins' 1931 operetta/political satire "Of Thee I Sing," the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. St. Louis's own Keith Boyer, Debby Lennon, and Phil Touchette also joined Mr. Austin and Mr. Berryman to create the solo quintet for "Some Girl in On Your Mind."

I'm not convinced that the singers really needed their wireless body mics, though. All four were very strong vocalists who would probably have been able to project effectively without them, and the resulting sound mix seemed to me to be distorted in a way that it never is for the orchestra's regular amplification-free concerts.

The St. Louis Symphony Chorus sounded fine as always and the orchestra had a chance to shine in the overtures to "Eileen" with its evocation of 19th-century Ireland, and Gershwin's "Girl Crazy," as well as the "El Capitan" march from the Sousa operetta of the same name.

Next at Powell Hall, Gustavo Gimeno conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and piano soloist Javier Perianes Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, October 12 and 13 in Ligeti's "Concerto Românesc," Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3, and Rimski-Korsakov's "Scheherazade." Then Lee Mills conducts orchestra and narrator Omega D. Jones in a Family Series concert featuring "Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead" by Nathaniel Stookey on Sunday, October 14, at 3 pm. The concerts take place at Powell Hall in Grand Center.

Review: Hi Ho, that's the Jensen way

Rick Jensen
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Although he's based in New York City, singer/songwriter/teacher Rick Jensen has been a frequent visitor to St. Louis, both as a performer and as a music director and pianist for a number of local singers. So it only seems right that he came to St. Louis to celebrate his 60th birthday on Saturday, October 6th, with a special show at the Kranzberg Center.

For the audience of cabaret lovers (including several members of the Jensen clan) it was a festive occasion indeed.

Titled "60 Years in 60 Minutes," the show is a mini-biography liberally illustrated with 14 original songs that demonstrate Mr. Jensen's wide range as both a songwriter and performer, as well as his virtuosity at the piano. "Long Cold Fall" (with its Randy Newmanesque harmonies), for example, muses poetically on autumn as both a meteorological and personal season. "Coney Island" and "Tonight New York City" are lyrical tributes to his adopted hometown that echo Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen while still being uniquely Rick Jensen. And "Amanda Sang," the more straightforward story song of the evening, includes a lyric that could serve as a mini-lesson for cabaret singers: "She could never go wrong / Because her heart was in her song".

Singer/artist Dionna Raedeke
Photo courtesy of Mariposa Artists
"Happy Birthday Boy" is a loving tribute to his mother who "didn't have a musical bone in her body" and "After All Those Love Songs" is a powerful ballad that was made even more so by the voice of St. Louis's own Dionna Raedeke (a fine singer as well as a visual artist). There were also many lighter moments in the show and one outright comedy number inspired by "certain events that took place in the Jensen household" in Minnesota, "Hi Ho, That's the Jensen Way."

That one, by the way, started out life as "Hi Ho, That's the German Way." Mr. Jensen gave it a re-write for this show, presumably because he knew he'd have family members in the audience. That could have been the musical equivalent of home movies, but Mr. Jensen is too good a songwriter for that. It was a hoot.

Linking all of them were anecdotes about his childhood in rural Minnesota and his coming of age--literally and musically--in New York City, delivered with self-deprecating wit and wisdom. Mr. Jensen is a performer who engages quickly and easily with his audience, so that his show soon felt like friendly chat.

Lina Koutrakos
The show was expertly directed by Mr. Jensen's long-time collaborator (and cabaret legend in her own right) Lina Koutrakos. Like Mr. Jensen, she has taught cabaret master classes and done many solo shows of her own, and her expertise was clearly visible in the pacing and dramatic shape of the show.

"60 Years in 60 Minutes" concluded with one of my favorite Jensen originals, "In Passing Years." I liked this meditation on the enduring value of friendship so much I learned it and performed it with him two years ago during the master class he and Ms. Koutrakos offer every fall on the island of Mykonos. But nobody does it quite like him.

Rick Jensen's show was presented by Mariposa Artists, a wholly owned subsidiary of St. Louis cabaret artist Robert Breig, who has brought many local and national artists to St. Louis stages. Upcoming Mariposa shows include "An Evening With Nina Gabinelli" on Saturday, October 20 and "Merry Keller: It's Personal" on Friday, October 26. Tickets are available via MetroTix.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of October 8, 2018

New shows this week include a creepy musical at Stray Dog, Shakespeare with a twist at St. Louis Shakespeare, and look at which might have happened after the final curtain of Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Rep.

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The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents Addams Family Affair through October 28. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Lindenwood University presents Arthur Miller's drama All My Sons through October 13. "During the war Joe Keller and Steve Deever ran a machine shop which made airplane parts. Deever was sent to prison because the firm turned out defective parts, causing the deaths of many men. Keller went free and made a lot of money. The twin shadows of this catastrophe and the fact that the young Keller son was reported missing during the war dominate the action. The love affair of Chris Keller and Ann Deever, the bitterness of George Deever returned from the war to find his father in prison and his father's partner free, are all set in a structure of almost unbearable power. The climax showing the reaction of a son to his guilty father is fitting conclusion to a play electrifying in its intensity. A tremendously impressive drama that received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play." Performances take place in the Emerson Black Box Theatre at the Scheiegger Center for the Arts on the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles, MO. For more information: lindenwood.edu/center.

Alpha Players present the musical Bells Are Ringing through October 14. Performances take place at The Florissant Civic Center Theater, Parker Rd. at Waterford Dr. in Florissant, MO. For more information: alphaplayers.org, call 314-921-5678.

The University of Missouri at St. Louis presents Chasing the White Rabbit Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm, October 11 - 14. "15-year-old Alice, has recently lost her mother and the only thing that she feels that can save her is to go to a school far away from her hood. To go where the neighborhoods are well manicured and the school has resources and new books and good teachers. This is her dream. Is it a dream? After taking a prescription medication she falls deep into what she believes is the school she longs to go to. But all is not what it seems. Chasing the White Rabbit is a contemporary adaptation of Alice in Wonderland with a focus on the opioid epidemic that is currently ravaging our country." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: touhill.org.

Linda Kennedy in Chef
Photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL
Upstream Theater presents Chef by Sabrina Mahfouz Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm (except for October 14, which is at 2 pm), through October 14. "Upstream Theater is excited to host renowned Swiss director Marianne de Pury who will stage the US premiere of the award-winning CHEF by UK/Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz-the gripping story of how one woman went from being a haute-cuisine head chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, including show times: upstreamtheater.org.

CSZ St. Louis presents The ComedySportz Show on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. The show is "action-packed, interactive and hilarious comedy played as a sport. Two teams battle it out for points and your laughs! You choose the winners the teams provide the funny!" Performances take place on the second floor of the Sugar Cubed, 917 S Main St. in St Charles, Mo. For more information: www.cszstlouis.com.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Dead Like Me through November 3. The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

A Doll's House, Part 2
Photo by Patrick Lanham
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath October 10 - November 4. "Hnath's audacious sequel, written more than 135 years after Henrik Ibsen's original, hit Broadway in 2017 like a sneak attack. Ibsen's familial drama remains a foundational piece of theatre, with a still-controversial ending in which a married woman chooses to walk out on her family. But Hnath took the themes and characters of that familiar classic and flipped them on their heads, imagining what would happen if protagonist Nora Helmer returned home 15 years after her dramatic exit." Performances take place on the mainstage at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

Clinton County Showcase presents the comedy/mystery Drop Dead Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through October 14. "An odd-ball cast of has-been actors revive their careers in 'Drop Dead!,' a potboiler murder mystery directed by 'Wonder Child of the Broadway Stage' Victor Le Pewe. At the dress rehearsal, the set falls, props break, and the producer and an actor are murdered. But the show must go on! During the opening night performance, the murders continue. The remaining thespians must save the show and their careers, solve the mystery, and stay alive for curtain call." Performances take place at the Avon Theater, 525 North 2nd Street Breese IL. For more information, visit ccshowcase.com.

The Fine and Performing Arts University Theatre at Saint Louis University presesnts Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm, October 11 - 14. "This reimagining of the Orpheus myth through the eyes of its heroine.with its dark humor, plot twists and visual effects offers a contemporary look at a classic love story. Directed by Tom Martin." Performances take place at The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center. For more information: metrotix.com.

Evil Dead: The Musical
Photo by Justin Been
Stray Dog Theatre presents the Evil Dead: The Musical Thursdays through Saturdays, October 11 - 27. There will also an 8 pm performance on Wednesday, October 24. "Third time's a scream (at long last)! Based on the 80s cult classic EVIL DEAD films, this hilariously campy show is bursting with more farce than a Monty Python skit. Five college kids take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods and encounter everything from ancient evil spirits to revenge-seeking Candarian demons. It's all ridiculous and wild, while the term “Fresh Blood!” takes on new meaning!" Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit straydogtheatre.org or call 314-865-1995.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents the classic musical The Fantasticks Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through October 14. "Whimsical, poignant, and romantic, The Fantasticks is an allegorical story that focuses on two young lovers, their meddling fathers, and the journey we all must take through adolescent thrills, the growing pains of hurt and betrayal, the highs of passion, the challenges of distance, and the agonies of heartbreak to discover how to truly love. With the record for the longest American theatrical run, The Fantasticks is a gem of the American musical theatre." Performances take place in the Stage Three Auditorium on the Webster University campus. For more information, www.webster.edu/conservatory/season or call 314-968-7128.


Omega D. Jones
The Monocle presents I'ma Name My Daughter "Cabaret": A Night of Sass, Soul, and Simple Joys featuring Omega D. Jones with Colin Healy on piano, on Friday, October 12, at 8 pm. "It's been a long time coming, but Omega Jones is finally making his cabaret debut! Born & raised in St. Louis, he has been performing all of his life. Most recently, one might have seen him as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar with Stray Dog Theatre, Molto in the world premiere of The Gringo: A New Musical at St. Lou Fringe, and as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, for which he was honored with the award for Leading Actor in a Musical at this year's St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards." The Monocle in on Manchester in the Grove. For more information: eventbrite.com.

Clayton Community Theatre presents the drama The Laramie Project Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., October 11 - 21. "Based on the true story of the death of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old victim of an anti-gay hate crime in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming, The Laramie Project unfolds through the words of people in Laramie who were interviewed by members of Tectonic Theater Company in the 18 months following Matthew Shepard's death, creating a portrait of the community and key individuals in the aftermath of the event and as the victim's killers were brought to trial and convicted." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, October 10 - 28. “In this irreverent exploration of the afterlife of Judas Iscariot, will sin or grief or grace prevail? This brutal dark comedy puts love and justice on trial. Adult language and situations, not appropriate for children.” Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

The Little Foxes
Photo by Patrick Huber
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents Lillian Hellman's drama The Little Foxes Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm through October 14. " Lillian Hellman's legendary play about greed and ambition. Set in Alabama in 1900, The Little Foxes follows Regina Giddens and her ruthless clan, including her sister-in-law Birdie, as they clash in often brutal ways in an effort to strike the deal of their lives. Far from a sentimental look at a bygone era, the play has a surprisingly timely resonance with important issues facing our country today.". Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. For more information call 314-458-2978 or visit stlas.org.

KTK Productions presents the musical Legally Blonde Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, through October 14. "Elle Woods appears to have it all. Her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend Warner dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle geniously charms her way into the prestigious law school. While there, she struggles with peers, professors and her ex. With the support of some new friends, though, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.” Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: kurtainkall.org or call 314-351-8984.

The Robert G. Reim Theatre presents Terry Barber in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber on Saturday, October 13, at 3 and 7 pm. " Spend a memorable evening with one of the worlds most beloved musical theater composers, Andrew Lloyd Webber, interpreted by internationally acclaimed rare countertenor, Terry Barber. Barber breathes new life into hits from ten of Lloyd Webbers most beloved shows including Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar, and Memory from Cats in addition to other selections from Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Requiem, and more." The Robert G. Reim Theatre is in the Kirkwood Community Center at 111 S. Geyer Rd. in Kirkwood. For more information: terrybarber.com

The St. Louis Writers' Group presents the second round of its Playwright Slam on Monday, October 8, at 6:30 pm. "Get ready for a night of fun impromptu theater. The order of scripts to be read will be chosen at random. Actors to read will be chosen at random. Each script will be given a five minute read, and rated by a panel of judges based upon audience reaction. The judges will select several plays to move on to round two which will be ten minutes of the same script, from which a winner will be chosen." The event takes place upstairs at Big Daddy's, 1000 Sidney in Soulard. For more information: www.stlwritersgroup.com.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville presents Radium Girls Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm, October 10 - 14. "In 1926 radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches were the latest rage - until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story and written with warmth and humor, Radium Girls is a fast-moving, highly theatrical ensemble piece that offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialization of science." 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.

Raging Skillet
Photo by Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Raging Skillet by Jacques Lemarre Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm, through October 21. New Jewish Theatre serves up the opening entrée to its 21st season with a tasty adaptation of celebrity Chef Rossi's autobiographical memoir, Raging Skillet - equal parts book launch, cooking demonstration, heaping helping of comedy and a side of Jewish mother guilt. When Rossi's Jewish mother discovers the microwave, home-cooked meals become a thing of the past. What starts as a rebellion against her Orthodox parents, chauvinism in the kitchen and the pressures of conformity ends with Rossi becoming New York's #1 punk-rock, Jewish, Lesbian caterer. This hilarious and heartfelt new comedy is based on her true-life story." 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.

St. Louis Shakespeare presents Shakespeare's The Tempest October 12 - 21. "A story of shipwreck and magic, The Tempest begins on a ship caught in a violent storm with Alonso, the king of Naples, on board. On a nearby island, the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, tells his daughter, Miranda, that he has caused the storm with his magical powers. Prospero had been banished twelve years earlier when Prospero's brother, Antonio-also on the doomed ship-conspired with Alonso to become the duke instead. Prospero and Miranda are served by a spirit named Ariel and by Caliban, son of the island's previous inhabitant, the witch Sycorax." Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood. For more information, call 314-361-5664 or visit stlshakespeare.org.

Valhalla Cemetery and The Hawthorne Players present Voices Of Valhalla: A Hayride Through History through October 13. 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 Zombies of Penzance
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the world premiere of the rock musical The Zombies of Penzance, based on Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through October 20. "New Line Theatre has shocked the music world by discovering a controversial, long-lost first draft by the legendary British team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who together wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896...In Gilbert and Sullivan's never-before seen original draft, dated December 1878 and titled The Zombies of Penzance (with the unwieldy subtitle, At Night Come the Flesh Eaters), Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn't want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance, for obvious reasons." 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.

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.