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Photo: John Lamb
My take: This play is one of Coward's greatest hits, and with good reason. It's skillfully constructed, unfailingly witty, and sharply observant in its look at human foolishness. The SLAS production has gotten good notice from the majority of local critics. At the Riverfront Times, for example, Malcom Gay observes that "under Bobby Miller's skillful direction, the Actors' Studio cast ably channels the period piece's fluid charms." Steve Allen at the Stage Door St. Louis blog agrees. "All of the wit, charm and bubbling humor," he writes, 'come across from the deft and delicious cast with director Bobby Miller bringing out every nuance of this absurd yet somehow plausible scenario."
My take: The Nebraska Theatre Caravan's version of this holiday classic has become an annual tradition at the Fox. I'm not enough of a Scrooge to suggest you shouldn't see it. "If the audience wasn't in the holiday spirit when they arrived," wrote Tina Farmer in her KDHX review of last year's visit, "I am confident the theater's sparkling lobby decorations and the sweetly reverent tone of this holiday classic quickly put them in the mood."
|Photo: Michael Young|
My take: I've been hearing good things about this show from some of my theatrical friends, and reviews seem to bear that out. Writing for Ladue News, for example, Mark Bretz says the production is "richly rewarding, compelling and engaging food for thought and some gut-wrenching emotion, too." When I saw this play at the Humana Festival in 2012 (where it had its world premiere), I wrote that it "ultimately deals with very real issues of pain, rejection, and the difficulty of real-world love, even if it does sometimes feel more like the unfinished first act of a more substantial work." R-S continues to do the hard work of bringing new theatre to St. Louis, and deserves our support.
|The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Stray Dog's Great American Trailer Park Musical was a tremendous hit with critics and audiences alike, and it looks like the holiday version is following suit. "If you're looking for a quirky Christmas show that's extremely funny and a little bit raunchy," writes Chris Gibson at broadwayworld.com, "then you owe it to yourself to see this show."
My take: St. Louis's own Craig Pomranz has made a nice career for himself on the international theater and cabaret stage, but that doesn't mean he neglects the home town crowd, as his repeated visits to local stages attest. When he played the Kranzberg Center back in 2011 I wrote that he had "impressive vocal technique with an enviable head voice, easy falsetto, and solid breath control " along with the theatrical skill necessary to convincingly act a song. I haven't seen the event space at Cyrano's, but I've eaten there often enough to testify to the high quality of the food and drink.
Peabody Opera House presents the Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin on Wednesday through Sunday, December 10-14. For more information, visit peabodyoperahouse.com or call 314-622-5420.
My take: It's a pity my schedule doesn't allow me to see this one as the reviews have been glowing. It's a musical I have always enjoyed, especially after appearing as Charles in the Stray Dog production a few years back. This revival, originally created for Diane Paulus's American Repertory Theater in Chicago back in 2011, adds stage magic and circus elements to the show, with what appear to be spectacular results.
|The Flying Wallendas at Powell Hall|
My take: Music has always been a part of the Circus Flora experience, so the partnership with the symphony isn’t as unusual as it might seem. This is, in fact, the orchestra's fourth team-up with our much-loved local circus; the last one was "A Child's Christmas in Wales" two years ago. SLSO Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi conducts a program with a heavy Eastern European and Russian flavor. Dvorak, Bartok, Janacek, and Ippolitov-Ivanov are heavily featured. There are also some Brahms "Hungarian Dances," along with Berlioz's "Hungarian March" from "The Damnation of Faust."
|A Raisin in the Sun|
Photo: Stewart Goldstein
My take: Hansberry's classic family drama is getting a much-praised presentation at the Black Rep. Over at KDHX, Missy Heinemann describes it as "stellar." At the Riverfront Times, Malcom Gay says that the script "maintains enormous narrative power, which the Black Rep's talented cast harnesses well."
My take: This show is apparently going to be a holiday tradition at Mustard Seed, and with good reason. The story of the remarkable holiday truce that spontaneously interrupted the insanity of World War I remains an inspiring reminder of what happens when ordinary people ignore the manipulations of their leadership and allow their basic decency to take control of their actions. The lesson for contemporary politics is clear.