Saturday, March 25, 2017

Review: Dancing in the Streets with "Motown the Musical"

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

"The Temptations"
Photo: Joan Marcus
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Given that Motown Records founder Berry Gordy literally wrote the book for Motown: The Musical, based on his own autobiography, it's not too surprising that the somewhat preachy and awkward script often feels more like hagiography than a conventional musical.

Fortunately, there's not that much of it. The sketchy story of Motown's rise from small-time recording studio in the back of a modest two-story building on West Grand in Detroit (dubbed "Hitsville U.S.A." by Gordy) to a major independent label serves mostly as a backdrop for performances of over fifty Motown classics by a remarkable cast doing virtuoso celebrity impersonations of artists made famous by the label, including Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and The Temptations.

Yes, the script often rises above the level of the typical jukebox musical by placing many of the songs in their historical contexts, including the civil rights struggle and the political turbulence of the 1960s. But make no mistake about it; this is ultimately a celebration of the music that those of us of a Certain Age grew up with, from straightforward hits like "Please Mr. Postman" and "I Can't Get Next to You" to protest classics like "What's Goin' On" and "War." As the happy response from the opening night audience made clear, it was the music that kept everyone clapping, smiling, and even singing (although that required a bit more prompting).

Chester Gregory, who played Berry Gordy on Broadway last summer, reprises the role here and made a powerful impression on opening night. His performance, late in the show, of "Can I Close the Door," one of only three songs written specifically for the show, was a passionate crowd pleaser. Allison Semmes' Diana Ross was equally impressive, easily capturing the charisma and vocal power that made the real Ross a superstar. The brief scene in which she played Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues was especially remarkable. How "meta" can you get?

Chester Gregory and cast
Photo: Joan Marcus
Jarran Muse captures the angry intensity of Marvin Gaye perfectly, including a compelling a cappella version of "Mercy, Mercy Me (the Ecology)," a song which, sadly, is as relevant now as it was in 1971. David Kaverman, meanwhile, makes a strong Equity debut as a cheerful Smokey Robinson.

Probably the single most engaging performance, if the audience response was any indication, came from 11-year-old CJ Wright/12-year-old Raymond Davis Jr. as the young Michael Jackson. He had the voice and the moves down pat and had the crowd in the palm of his diminutive hand.

Speaking of having moves down pat, congratulations are also due to the ensemble members who wowed the crowd with their smooth vocals and impressive dancing as they took on the personas of stars like Stevie Wonder and Mary Wells as well as famous groups like The Temptations, The Commodores, The Contours, and of course, The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. A tip of the hat is also due to Doug Storm for his hilarious Ed Sullivan.

Technically, Motown: The Musical runs like a well-oiled machine under Charles Randolph-Wright's expert direction. Digitally projected sets make the frequent scene changes fast and fluid while striking animation sequences vividly evoke everything from Vietnam War protests to the flashy backdrops of the Hollywood Palace TV show. Down in the pit, Darryl Archibald conducts the small band in high-energy performances of all that well-known music. And the choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams perfectly captures the styles of the '60s and '70s.

CJ Wright (center) and the "Jackson 5"
Photo: Joan Marcus
Motown: The Musical premiered on Broadway in 2013, it got a bad rap from some New York critics who were apparently expecting a more conventional book musical. They were right to criticize the flimsy characters and clunky dialog, but they were also missing the whole point of the show. Motown is all about the music Gordy and his performers made famous, and all about recreating a time when black performers were breaking the color barriers in entertainment and taking control of their own careers. Motown: The Musical is a celebration of the songs that had us all, as the exuberant final number reminds us, "Dancing in the Streets."

It's also a reminder of how far we have come as a nation from the days when white radio stations refused to play what they called "race" records and when audiences were segregated by skin color. With all of that progress now under attack at the national level, Motown: The Musical's message of inclusiveness feels more timely than ever.

Motown: The Musical runs through Sunday, March 26, at the Fox Theatre in Grand Center. Note that evening performances start at 7:30.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 24, 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 Gateway Men's Chorus presents Light: A Celebration of Life, their 30th anniversary concert, on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p.m. The concert is a "celebration that illuminates the struggles and victories of the LGBT community" and takes place at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. The program includes music by Verdi and Bruckner as well as Radiohead and Florence and the Machine. For more information: gmcstl.org.

My take: The Gateway Men's Chorus has been a local cultural treasure for three decades now, and deserves our support. And with darkness seemingly pressing in on us from all sides these days, we can certainly use a celebration of light and life.


Million Dollar Quartet
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the musical Million Dollar Quartet through April 9. "Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony® Award winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

My take: This is clearly the week for "jukebox musicals" in St. Louis, with both Million Dollar Quartet and Motown the Musical (see below) available for your nostalgic pleasure. "Million Dollar Quartet is a big, celebratory rock 'n roll party," writes Tina Farmer in an upcoming review for KDHX, "filled with early classic rock songs, good-humored teasing, and the heart and soul of a dedicated promoter. The show's got a beat you can dance to and engaging, infectious performances, ensuring a whole lotta shaking and a fitting close to The Rep's anniversary season. " "At times," says Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "The Rep's presentation of Million Dollar Quartet seems more like a concert than a musical, an infectious good time woven around a fascinating story...Million Dollar Quartet is a fitting end to The Rep's financially prosperous and critically acclaimed season. There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on that set."

"The Temptations" in Motown the Musical
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents Motown the Musical opening on Tuesday, March 21, and running through Sunday the 26th. "It began as one man's story… became everyone's music… and is now Broadway's musical. Motown The Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Featuring classic songs such as "My Girl" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," experience the story behind the music in the record-breaking smash hit Motown The Musical!" The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

My take: Like Million Dollar Quartet, Motown the Musical uses a fairly flimsy story as the backdrop for an evening packed with classic tunes—in this case, soul and R&B hits from the legendary catalog of Motown Records. Motown founder Berry Gordy's self-congratulatory book is a Cliffs Notes history of Motown's rise from back-room recording studio to international hit factory, but the real entertainment here comes from over fifty Motown classics, performed by a versatile cast playing the individuals and groups Motown made famous. Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Supremes—they're all here and strikingly believable. And wait until you see the kid playing the young Michael Jackson! Motown the Musical is a celebration of the songs that had us all, as the exuberant final number reminds us, "Dancing in the Streets."


Never the Sinner
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Never the Sinner through April 2. "Chicago, 1924. Clarence Darrow is defending Nathan Leopold Jr., age 18, and Robert Loeb, age 19, in the 'Crime of the Century.' The two had decided to commit the 'perfect murder,' just for the thrill of it. Considering themselves Nietzsche's übermensch (supermen), they concluded they were removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world. They brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks but were quickly apprehended. Darrow's defense of them was an eloquent plea against capital punishment. This exquisite play asks what demons lurked in the minds of these two young men and the complex relationship between them. This is a love story set to themes of crime and punishment, the press, the times, humanism, Nietzsche's philosophy and the end of the jazz age." 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: As our toxic political climate clearly demonstrates, the overwhelming sense of entitlement of the hyper-rich easily leads to acts of cruelty and and depravity, but it rarely reaches the heights (or depths) displayed by the infamous "thrill killers" Leopold and Loeb. As Tina Farmer writes in an upcoming review for KDHX, this is "an engrossing tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat, with stunningly creepy and compelling performances by Pete Winfrey and Jack Zanger...The subject matter is at times disturbing, but the story is enthralling."


Held Over:

The Royale
Photo: John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Royale through March 26. "The brutal rhythm of boxing underscores this brilliantly stylized drama. Rising black prizefighter Jay "The Sport" Jackson dominates his opponents, but the harsh social realities of the early 1900s force him to fight twice as hard to earn recognition outside of the ring. Loosely based on iconic fighter Jack Johnson, The Royale brings us ringside to one man's quest for victory against all odds." Performances take place in the studio theater at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

My take: The Rep has been presenting consistently provocative and usually very compelling new plays in its intimate studio space for many years now. The Royale appears to be right in that groove. "The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' production," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a dynamic and captivating interpretation of Marco Ramirez's tightly wound play, teaming with purpose, raw emotion, and rhythm."


Zorba!
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information: newlinetheatre.com.

My take: New Line continues to surprise us with productions of rarely-seen and (in this case) largely forgotten shows. That's a bit surprising since the team behind Zorba! produced Cabaret—one of the biggest hits in Braodway history (and now playing the Fox). In her review for KDHX, Tina Farmer calls Zorba! "the most beautifully hopeful tragedy I've seen in quite some time. The score and dancing are evocative, drenched with the sounds of Greek folk music. The lyrics are filled with exposition and storytelling reminiscent of the classics. The musical tackles the story of humanity as told through the eyes of an aging man determined to squeeze every last ounce from his own life. Tragic in nature, because we all must die at some point, the tale is nonetheless spirited and filled with love and passion."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: "Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert" shows the versatility of John Williams and the virtuosity of the St. Louis Symphony

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

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John Williams, who turned 86 in February, is probably the best known and most frequently recorded film music composer of the last 100 years. He's certainly one of the most honored, with five Oscars, four Golden Globes, 22 Grammys, seven BAFTA awards, and, for all I know, a partridge in a pear tree.

The reason for his popularity and all those awards was easy to hear Friday night as the St. Louis Symphony performed the score for the 1981 blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark while the film was shown on the big screen above the orchestra. Hearing this music live offered a chance to appreciate the way Williams worked decidedly "modern" effects (dissonance, eerie string harmonics, polytonality) into a traditional action score.

Mr. Williams's seemingly bottomless musical toolbox is hardly surprising, though, given the fact that his involvement with the film music business extends all the way back to his days as a jazz keyboardist and film and TV studio pianist. Remember the piano riff for Peter Gunn? That's him. Although classically trained (he studied privately with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco), Mr. Williams got his professional experience in an environment in which versatility was a sine qua non.

John Williams
He learned his lessons well, and it's impossible not to admire the inventiveness of his work for Raiders. From the ominous passages for the double reeds and low strings in the opening jungle sequence, to the spiky string figures and syncopation of the "basket chase" scene in a Cairo market, to the heroic march associated with Indiana Jones, this is clearly the work of a master of his craft.

It's also impossible not to admire the consummate skill with which an expanded version of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra plays this music. Yes, the audience's attention is mostly focused on the on-screen action, but that makes a polished performance of the score all the more important. Nothing can kill the suspension of disbelief quite like a missed entrance or flubbed note.

Of which, naturally, there were none Friday night. Guest conductor Scott Terrell, the music director of the Lexington Philharmonic, led the SLSO in a vital and precise reading of this score. Conducting in synch with a film is an important skill for young conductors these days, and judging from his many credits in this area, Mr. Terrell is a master of that very special craft.

Scott Terrell
So, yeah, Raiders of the Lost Ark at the St. Louis Symphony is great entertainment for the whole family. But it's also a reminder of the days when not every single moment of a movie was underscored. John Williams's exciting and intelligent music reinforces the action and highlights character without beating you over the head constantly. I wish more recent films would follow that same path.

And now, a word from your concert curmudgeon: if this was your first time at Powell or if you only come for the big media events like this one, please show a little class and take your trash to an appropriate receptacle instead of leaving it in the aisles. The symphony is doing you a favor by letting you bring your drinks into the theatre; you should return it by cleaning up after yourself. Just saying.

Next at Powell Hall: Friday and Sunday, March 24 and 26, David Robertson returns to conduct the orchestra and chorus in the local premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary by John Adams, a work that they will be presenting at Carnegie Hall on March 31 as part of the Great American Orchestras series.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of March 20, 2017

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The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents A Big Easy Murder through April 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Alton Little Theater presents the comedy/drama Driving Miss Daisy Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., March 24 - April 2. "In 1948 Atlanta, Daisy Werthan, a rich, sharp-tongued, Jewish, 72-year-old widow has just demolished another car. Her son Boolie informs her that he will from this point on be hiring a chauffeur for her. Thus begins the 25-year relationship between Daisy and Hoke Colburn, her driver. She regards him with disdain and he is not impressed with her patronizing tone and latent prejudice. But despite their differences, they grow closer and more dependent on each other over time. The once contentious relationship blossoms into a profound, life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. An iconic tale of pride, changing times and the transformative power of friendship." Performances take place at 2450 North Henry in Alton, IL. For more information, call 618.462.6562 or visit altonlittletheater.org.

Take Two Productions the musical It Shoulda Been You March 24 - April 1. The show is "a mad-cap wedding celebration we know you won't want to miss! After all, who doesn't love a wedding? Especially one that includes a beautiful blushing bride, her uninvited and unrequited boyfriend, a groom with a secret, a sister with her own hidden agenda, and a pair of mothers from hell. This refreshingly modern romantic comedy has more than a few surprising twists in store as out comes the bride and groom in a wedding you are sure to remember." Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information, visit taketwoproductions.org.

The Gateway Men's Chorus presents Light: A Celebration of Life, their 30th anniversary concert, on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p.m. The concert is a "celebration that illuminates the struggles and victories of the LGBT community" and takes place at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. The program includes music by Verdi and Bruckner as well as Radiohead and Florence and the Machine. For more information: gmcstl.org.

Robert Dubac
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? Tuesdays through Sundays through March 26. "On a quest to answer the age old question, 'What do women want?' Robert Dubac seamlessly transforms himself into five hysterical boneheads who each offer sidesplitting advice on how to straddle the gender gap - all while drinking a beer. THE MALE INTELLECT nudges the battle of the sexes towards a humorous détente with everyone lovingly elbowing each other in the end with laughter and recognition." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

The St. Louis Public Library presents playwright and actor Richard Garey in Mark Twain Himself on Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m. "Garey has delighted audiences throughout the United States, Canada and Bermuda for more than 30 years. He has committed over seven hours of original Twain writing and letters to memory and interacts freely with the audience during the performances maintaining a fresh, impromptu approach." The performance takes place in the auditorium at the Central Library, 1301 Olive downtown. For more information: slpl.bibliocommons.com/events.

Million Dollar Quartet
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the musical Million Dollar Quartet through April 9. “Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony® Award winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time.” Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information: repstl.org.

The Fox Theatre presents Motown the Musical opening on Tuesday, March 21, and running through Sunday the 26th. “It began as one man's story… became everyone's music… and is now Broadway's musical. Motown The Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy's journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Featuring classic songs such as “My Girl” and “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” experience the story behind the music in the record-breaking smash hit Motown The Musical!” The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

The Lemp Mansion Comedy-Mystery Dinner Theater presents Murder at the Abbey through April 29. "Welcome to the world of Downton Abbey! A world full of aristocracy, old money but never anything as droll as murder! Congratulations! You've been invited to the dinner party held by the Earl of Grantham himself! Some would kill for the opportunity to meet the Crawley family. They'll all be there! The Earl, his beautiful wife and three daughters...not to mention all the other characters in, (and around), the Grantham house. That's right! All the family, staff and townsfolk will be there. You'll meet lots of fun characters...and you'll play as big, (or as small), of a part as you wish. Up to you. Hope nothing bad happens...but if it does...we might need you to help us figure it out? Or perhaps you're the killer?" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Never the Sinner
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Never the Sinner through April 2. "Chicago, 1924. Clarence Darrow is defending Nathan Leopold Jr., age 18, and Robert Loeb, age 19, in the 'Crime of the Century.' The two had decided to commit the 'perfect murder,' just for the thrill of it. Considering themselves Nietzsche's übermensch (supermen), they concluded they were removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world. They brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks but were quickly apprehended. Darrow's defense of them was an eloquent plea against capital punishment. This exquisite play asks what demons lurked in the minds of these two young men and the complex relationship between them. This is a love story set to themes of crime and punishment, the press, the times, humanism, Nietzsche's philosophy and the end of the jazz age." 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 Royale
Photo: Lon Brauer
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Royale through March 26. "The brutal rhythm of boxing underscores this brilliantly stylized drama. Rising black prizefighter Jay "The Sport" Jackson dominates his opponents, but the harsh social realities of the early 1900s force him to fight twice as hard to earn recognition outside of the ring. Loosely based on iconic fighter Jack Johnson, The Royale brings us ringside to one man's quest for victory against all odds." Performances take place in the studio theater at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

The St. Louis Theater Circle presents the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards on Monday, March 20, at 7 PM. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in locally produced professional theatre as judged by local theatre critics who are members of the Circle. Presenters will include Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX and Stage Left. Live music will be provided by Joe Dreyer and Jeffrey M. Wright. The ceremony is preceded by an optional buffet dinner at 5:30 PM from With Love Catering and takes place at the Skip Viragh Center on the Chaminade College Campus on North Lindbergh. For more information: brownpapertickets.com.

Alfresco Productions presents the comedy/drama Steel Magnolias March 24 - April 1. "The celebrated Southern classic of family and friendship, this is the story of a group of strong and beautiful women who cluster around Truvy's Beauty Parlow in a small Louisiana parish. The story centers on Shelby, who moves fro wedding to childbirth to medical complications with a love of live and a willingness to face its possibilities bravely with support from steely southern sisterhood." Performances take place at the Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City, IL. For more information: (618) 560-1947 or www.alfrescoproductions.org.

Zorba!
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information: newlinetheatre.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.

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of March 20, 2017

The Tallis Scholars
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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis presents The Tallis Scholars on Sunday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. "Leading performers of Renaissance sacred music, privileged to perform in the Sistine Chapel to mark the final stage of Michelangelo's frescoes restoration, The Tallis Scholars have earned world-wide renown as “a capella superstars.” They return to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis after a 12 year absence." The performance takes place at the cathedral at 4431 Lindell. For more information: www.cathedralconcerts.org.

The Foundry Art Centre presents a free concert by the St. Charles Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, March 26, at 2 PM. "Co-artistic directors Kenneth Beckham and David Peek will present a diverse orchestral concert including song selections everyone can enjoy. The performance will feature works by Vivaldi, Mozart and more! The Saint Charles Symphony is a multi-faceted ensemble consisting of professional musicians, teachers, talented adults, and gifted students. Enjoy the beautiful sounds of the symphony at this free performance and arrive early to visit the studio artists and exhibitions at the Foundry Art Centre." The Foundry Art Centre is at 520 North Main Center in St. Charles, MO. For more information: foundryartcentre.org.

Ricky Ian Gordon
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents composer Ricky Ian Gordon performing and discussing selections from his opera The Grapes of Wrath and his song cycle Green Sneakers on Thursday, March 23, at 6 p.m. The event takes place at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: experienceopera.org.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents composer Ricky Ian Gordon in a panel discussion of his opera The Grapes of Wrath on Friday, March 24, at 7 p.m. Also on the panel are Missouri History Museum Curator Sharon Smith and Cinema St. Louis Executive Director Cliff Froehlich. The discussion is moderated by OTSL General Director Timothy O'Leary and takes place at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information: experienceopera.org.

The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents a Great Artist Guitar Series concert with David Russell on Saturday, March 25, at 8 p.m. " World renowned for his superb musicianship and inspired artistry, Scottish guitarist David Russell was 2005 GRAMMY award winner for his CD “Aire Latino” in the category of best instrumental classical soloist!" The performance takes at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road. For more information: guitarstlouis.net.

David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in The Gospel According to the Other Mary by John Adams on Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., March 24 and 26. "American composer John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary combines the traditional passion story with contemporary voices of social activism and spirituality. The dramatic setting makes this biblical narrative a present and gripping reality as it weaves together stories of joy, woe and the miraculous for a powerful performance not-to-be-missed. Join David Robertson, the STL Symphony and Chorus for these electrifying concerts before they perform the work at Carnegie Hall in celebration of the composer's 70th birthday." The performances take place at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.

The Touhill Performing Arts Center presents The Arianna String Quartet in a performance of the complete string quartets of Brahms on Wednesday, March 22, at 8 PM. "For performers and audiences alike, the works of Johannes Brahms stand as some of the most cherished music of all time. In an evening that can only be described as a one-of-a-kind concert experience (and a St. Louis first!), the Arianna String Quartet offers all three of Brahms' celebrated string quartets, back to back! Brahms: Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No.1; Quartet in A minor, Op.51, No.2; Quartet in B-flat Major, Op.67." The Touhill Performing Arts Center in on the University of Missouri at St. Louis campus. For more information: touhill.org.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 17, 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 Royale
Photo: John Gitchoff
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Royale through March 26. "The brutal rhythm of boxing underscores this brilliantly stylized drama. Rising black prizefighter Jay "The Sport" Jackson dominates his opponents, but the harsh social realities of the early 1900s force him to fight twice as hard to earn recognition outside of the ring. Loosely based on iconic fighter Jack Johnson, The Royale brings us ringside to one man's quest for victory against all odds." Performances take place in the studio theater at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

My take: The Rep has been presenting consistently provocative and usually very compelling new plays in its intimate studio space for many years now. The Royale appears to be right in that groove. "The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' production," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a dynamic and captivating interpretation of Marco Ramirez's tightly wound play, teaming with purpose, raw emotion, and rhythm."

 

Held Over:

Cabaret
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret through Sunday, March 19. "In this multi award-winning musical, a young, naïve American writer arrives in 1930s Berlin and is swept away by the decadent pleasures of the sexy, seedy world that is the Cabaret. At the center of it all is the beguiling Sally Bowles, who takes the stage every night. Inside the Kit Kat Klub life is beautiful, but outside the world is about to change." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

My take: Speaking of those who want to silence some voices, this chilling musical adaptation of John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera (adapted from Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin) feels all the more relevant today as it chronicles the fascist demolition of an open, tolerant, and creative society. This tour is based on the highly praised 2013 Roundabout Theatre revival of its original 1998 production which emphasized the darker undertone of the show's literary origins.


Alpha Players present the drama To Kill a Mockingbird, based on the book by Harper Lee, through Sunday, March 19. "Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a beloved tale that still resonates today. Scout Finch is growing up in Depression-era Alabama, where poverty and prejudice dominate daily life. With the guidance of her wise father, Atticus, the rebellious Scout discovers her own path, learning the power of empathy and the struggle for justice." 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.


My take: With racism and bigotry on the rise again in America, this classic story of one lawyer's courageous stand for justice is, I'm sorry to say, every bit as relevant as it was when Harper Lee first set it down in novel form. If yo missed the Rep's outstanding production of this classic, this would be a good chance to get acquainted with it again.


Zorba!
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information: newlinetheatre.com.

My take: New Line continues to surprise us with productions of rarely-seen and (in this case) largely forgotten shows. That's a bit surprising since the team behind Zorba! produced Cabaret—one of the biggest hits in Braodway history (and now playing the Fox). In her review for KDHX, Tina Farmer calls Zorba! "the most beautifully hopeful tragedy I've seen in quite some time. The score and dancing are evocative, drenched with the sounds of Greek folk music. The lyrics are filled with exposition and storytelling reminiscent of the classics. The musical tackles the story of humanity as told through the eyes of an aging man determined to squeeze every last ounce from his own life. Tragic in nature, because we all must die at some point, the tale is nonetheless spirited and filled with love and passion."

Friday, March 10, 2017

St. Louis theatre calendar for the week of March 13, 2017

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The Bissell Mansion Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre presents A Big Easy Murder through April 30. The Bissell Mansion is at 4426 Randall Place. For more information: bissellmansiontheatre.com.

Cabaret
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret running through March 19th. "In this multi award-winning musical, a young, naïve American writer arrives in 1930s Berlin and is swept away by the decadent pleasures of the sexy, seedy world that is the Cabaret. At the center of it all is the beguiling Sally Bowles, who takes the stage every night. Inside the Kit Kat Klub life is beautiful, but outside the world is about to change." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves presents the comedy The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch Friday through Sunday, March 17-19. "To the ambitious little town of Gopher Gulch, Sneaky Fitch is a nuisance. When he falls ill there is a sigh of relief, and when he apparently dies (thanks to some suspicious "medicine" administered by the departing Doc Burch) there are few tears. But when Sneaky rises from his coffin the picture changes, for no one dares confront a man who has come back from the dead." Performances take place in the Guild theatre at Newport and Summit in Webster Groves, MO. For more information: theatreguildwg.org or call 314-962-0876.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? Tuesdays through Sundays through March 26. "On a quest to answer the age old question, 'What do women want?' Robert Dubac seamlessly transforms himself into five hysterical boneheads who each offer sidesplitting advice on how to straddle the gender gap - all while drinking a beer. THE MALE INTELLECT nudges the battle of the sexes towards a humorous détente with everyone lovingly elbowing each other in the end with laughter and recognition." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.

Million Dollar Quartet
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the musical Million Dollar Quartet through April 9. “Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony® Award winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time.” 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 Murder at the Abbey through April 29. "Welcome to the world of Downton Abbey! A world full of aristocracy, old money but never anything as droll as murder! Congratulations! You've been invited to the dinner party held by the Earl of Grantham himself! Some would kill for the opportunity to meet the Crawley family. They'll all be there! The Earl, his beautiful wife and three daughters...not to mention all the other characters in, (and around), the Grantham house. That's right! All the family, staff and townsfolk will be there. You'll meet lots of fun characters...and you'll play as big, (or as small), of a part as you wish. Up to you. Hope nothing bad happens...but if it does...we might need you to help us figure it out? Or perhaps you're the killer?" The Lemp Mansion is at 3322 DeMenil Place. For more information: lempmansion.com.

Never the Sinner
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Never the Sinner through April 2. "Chicago, 1924. Clarence Darrow is defending Nathan Leopold Jr., age 18, and Robert Loeb, age 19, in the 'Crime of the Century.' The two had decided to commit the 'perfect murder,' just for the thrill of it. Considering themselves Nietzsche's übermensch (supermen), they concluded they were removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world. They brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks but were quickly apprehended. Darrow's defense of them was an eloquent plea against capital punishment. This exquisite play asks what demons lurked in the minds of these two young men and the complex relationship between them. This is a love story set to themes of crime and punishment, the press, the times, humanism, Nietzsche's philosophy and the end of the jazz age." 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 Royale
Photo: Lon Brauer
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents The Royale through March 26. "The brutal rhythm of boxing underscores this brilliantly stylized drama. Rising black prizefighter Jay "The Sport" Jackson dominates his opponents, but the harsh social realities of the early 1900s force him to fight twice as hard to earn recognition outside of the ring. Loosely based on iconic fighter Jack Johnson, The Royale brings us ringside to one man's quest for victory against all odds." Performances take place in the studio theater at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the Playdate Theatre production Tales of Shakespeare: Found at Sea on Saturday, March 18, at 2 p.m. "When a young girl named Marnie can't sleep, she and her father turn to the works of Shakespeare to weather the storm outside, as well as the tempest brewing between her parents--her father is moving out. Using selections form A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, and Pericles, Marnie's bedroom is transformed into Shakespeare's worlds, from a magical fairy kingdom to epic seascapes (and pirates!). In this fun and adventurous theatrical experience, Marnie and her father illustrate the enduring importance of family bonds that cannot be broken. Recommended for grades 2-5." The performance takes place in the auditorium at the Central Library, 1301 Olive downtown. For more information: slpl.bibliocommons.com/events.

Alpha Players present the drama To Kill a Mockingbird, based on the book by Harper Lee, through March 19. "Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a beloved tale that still resonates today. Scout Finch is growing up in Depression-era Alabama, where poverty and prejudice dominate daily life. With the guidance of her wise father, Atticus, the rebellious Scout discovers her own path, learning the power of empathy and the struggle for justice." 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 Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Twisted Improv on Friday, March 17, at 8 p.m. at The Steamboat Room, 314 S. Clay in Kirkwood, MO. "Join Adam and his crew for an interactive night of fun and laughter.Beer, wine and food available from Kirkwood Station Brewery." For more information: ktg-onstage.org.

The Looking Glass Playhouse presents the comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike through March 19. "Stuck in their family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet existence until their lives are thrown into comic upheaval with the arrival of their B-list celebrity sister, Masha, and her 20-something boy toy, Spike. Add to that a soothsaying housekeeper, a star struck young neighbor and a rather odd costume party, and the stage is set for mayhem and hilarity in this present-day homage to Chekhov. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play." Performances take place at 301 West St. Louis Street in Lebanon, Ill. For more information, visit www.lookingglassplayhouse.com.

Kirkwood Theatre Guild presents Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution through March 19. "Leonard Vole, a young, naive married man has developed a close relationship with Emily French, a wealthy, elderly woman…so it's no surprise that when she is found murdered and he is named the beneficiary of her considerable estate that he becomes the chief suspect in the case. His beautiful wife, Romain, can prove his innocence giving him an alibi and Leonard's lawyers are confident that her testimony will result in his acquittal. To their surprise she arrives as a witness for the prosecution at the trial. For even more drama, add a mysterious woman, startling new evidence, and a surprise ending." Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre of the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road. For more information, call 314-821-9956 or visit ktg-onstage.org.

The University of Missouri at St. Louis presents the musical The Wiz, based on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., March 16-19. "The Wiz tells the story of Dorothy and the adventures of Oz through a modern lens. It is mysterious, opulent, and fanciful set to music in a dazzling, lively mixture of rock, hip hop, soul, and contemporary music" The performances take place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the UMSL campus. For more information, touhill.org.

Zorba!
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information: newlinetheatre.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, March 09, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 10, 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:


Oprah Says Goodbye from Briefs
Photo: John Lamb
That Uppity Theatre Company and The Vital Voice present Briefs: A Festival Of Short LGBTQ Plays, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., March 9-11. "BRIEFS is a unique venture in St. Louis that brings together numerous directors and theatrical artists to showcase the work of eight different playwrights all under one roof. BRIEFS presents theatrical work that address the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning people. The festival is targeted to a diverse and mature audience that appreciates good theatre in unique settings. Each of the eight plays run about 10 minutes or less and include a variety of comedic and serious themes and genres. This year's collection of eight plays has been selected from over 250 submissions across the country and includes such themes as the caretaking of elderly family members by gay persons, the stress a lesbian couple experiences given varying responses to the Pulse massacre, the impact on family dynamics following a member's official adoption of a transgender identity, the closing of a bar that was a foundational safe haven for gay community members, and more." Performances take place at the .ZACK Performing Arts Center, 3224 Locust in Grand Center. For more information, visit www.metrotix.com/events/detail/briefs.

My take: I have been a big admirer of the Briefs festival since the first appearance six years ago (when I was also one of the actors). "Though several of the plays are likely to be serious in nature," writes Tina Farmer in a preview article for KDHX, "the overall tone of the production is one that encourages acceptance and positivity. At its heart, Briefs is always a celebration of voices, stories, and people." At a time when that nation is under the control of those who only want certain voices to be heard, this is more important than ever.


Cabaret
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret opening on Tuesday, March 7, and running through the 19th. "In this multi award-winning musical, a young, naïve American writer arrives in 1930s Berlin and is swept away by the decadent pleasures of the sexy, seedy world that is the Cabaret. At the center of it all is the beguiling Sally Bowles, who takes the stage every night. Inside the Kit Kat Klub life is beautiful, but outside the world is about to change." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: fabulousfox.com.

My take: Speaking of those who want to silence some voices, this chilling musical adaptation of John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera (adapted from Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin) feels all the more relevant today as it chronicles the fascist demolition of an open, tolerant, and creative society. This tour is based on the highly praised 2013 Roundabout Theatre revival of its original 1998 production which emphasized the darker undertone of the show's literary origins.


Alpha Players present the drama To Kill a Mockingbird, based on the book by Harper Lee, March 10-19. "Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a beloved tale that still resonates today. Scout Finch is growing up in Depression-era Alabama, where poverty and prejudice dominate daily life. With the guidance of her wise father, Atticus, the rebellious Scout discovers her own path, learning the power of empathy and the struggle for justice." 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.


My take: With racism and bigotry on the rise again in America, this classic story of one lawyer's courageous stand for justice is, I'm sorry to say, every bit as relevant as it was when Harper Lee first set it down in novel form. If yo missed the Rep's outstanding production of this classic, this would be a good chance to get acquainted with it again.


Zorba!
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the Kander and Ebb musical Zorba! Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through March 25. "ZORBA is a fearless, fiery, high-energy musical fable about living out loud, based on the famous 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, its 1964 film adaptaion, and letters that Kander and Ebb found from the real-life Zorba. Originally conceived and directed in 1968 by the legendary Harold Prince, the musical opens in a rowdy bouzouki parlor in Greece where a group of locals has gathered to drink and tell stories. They introduce us to Zorba, the aging hedonist-philosopher dedicated to living life to the fullest, and his very emotional, tragic, but life-affirming encounter with a young man and with the love of a woman." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information: rediscovertheatre.com.

My take: New Line continues to surprise us with productions of rarely-seen and (in this case) largely forgotten shows. That's a bit surprising since the team behind Zorba! produced Cabaret—one of the biggest hits in Braodway history (and now playing the Fox). In a soon-to-be-published review for KDHX, Tina Farmer calls Zorba! "the most beautifully hopeful tragedy I've seen in quite some time. The score and dancing are evocative, drenched with the sounds of Greek folk music. The lyrics are filled with exposition and storytelling reminiscent of the classics. The musical tackles the story of humanity as told through the eyes of an aging man determined to squeeze every last ounce from his own life. Tragic in nature, because we all must die at some point, the tale is nonetheless spirited and filled with love and passion."

St. Louis classical calendar for the week of March 13, 2017

The Confluence Chamber Orchestra
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The Confluence Chamber Orchestra presents Scott Joplin: The King of Ragime on Sunday, March 19, at 1 p.m. "Scott Joplin's music still lifts hearts, entertains audiences and inspires young artists, 150 years after his birth. The Confluence Chamber Orchestra presents a musical guidebook through Joplin's life, from the Rosebud Cafe and World's Fair in St. Louis to the premiere of his ragtime opera in New York City. Highlights are enduring favorites such as Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, and especially The Cascades, which was composed and published in St Louis for the 1904 World's Fair, as well as two little known gems, Ragtime Dance and A Real Slow Drag. Narration, historic photographs and local pianists are featured, along with a lively array of related pieces influenced by the King of Ragtime, such as Alexander's Ragtime Band by Irving Berlin. Admission is free." The concert takes place at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information: confluencechamberorchestra.org.

The Gateway Men's Chorus presents a selection of choral music on Sunday, March 19, at 7 p.m. The accompanist will be John Cargile, organist and music associate at Manchester United Methodist Church. The concert takes place at Manchester UMC, 129 Woods Mill Rd. in Manchester. For more information: gmcstl.org.

Erik Friedlander's Black Phoebe Trio
New Music Circle and KDHX present Erik Friedlander's Black Phoebe Trio on Thursday, March 16, at 8 p.m. “'It's not your skill level, it's how much you communicate,' cellist Erik Friedlander suggests. 'It's how much you express that the audience really wants to hear. They come to hear you be real.' Friedlander, however, is clearly not a musician lacking for chops. The years of training and gigging he did to establish himself in New York City's avantgarde jazz scenes, through his distinct approach to cello, has taken him all over the genre map by collaborative efforts with artists like Laurie Anderson, Mike Patton, The Mountain Goats, and extensive duties in John Zorn's Masada groups. Recently he has focused on his own soloist and composer work, releasing a series of albums on ECM. In these works Friedlander displays an underlying sonic curiosity and ability to aurally convey deep emotional experience that shapes the ongoing evolution of his work. In Black Phoebe Trio, Friedlander brings together the talents of emerging talents Shoko Nagai (piano) and Satoshi Takeishi, (percussion)." The performance takes place at The Stage at KDHX, 3524 Washington. For more information: newmusiccircle.org.

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation presents members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performing Morton Feldman's Piano and String Quartet on Wednesday, March 15 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.

Sangeetha presents a vocal concert of South Indian Classical Music by Dr. Sanjay Subramanian, accompanied by Arun Ramamurthi on the violin and Nirmal Narayan on tbe mridanga on Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m. The concert takes place at the Midwest Music Conservatory, 15977 Clayton Road in Ballwin, MO. For more information: sangeetha.org.

Bjorn Ranheim
The Sheldon Concert Hall presents The Four Bs: Bach, Bolling, Bjorn and Bliznik on Wednesday, March 15, at 8 p.m. "Cellist Bjorn Ranheim and new St. Louis Symphony principal trumpeter Karin Bliznik playfully celebrate two other 'Bs' - the great Johann Sebastian Bach and French composer Claude Bolling." The Sheldon is at 3648 Washington in Grand Center. For more information: sheldonconcerthall.org.

The St. Louis Low Brass Collective presents a concert by the Stiletto Brass Quintet on Sunday, March 19, at 7 p.m. "Performers include faculty members from McKendree University, SIUE, SWIC, UMSL, Washington University and Webster University and The Trombones of the St. Louis Symphony" The event takes place at the Keating Center on the Kirkwood High School' campus, 801 West Essex in Kirkwood, MO. For more information: www.stllbc.org.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra presents a showing of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the John Williams score performed live by the orchestra, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., March 17-19. Performances take place at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: stlsymphony.org.