Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chuck's choices for the weekend of January 16, 2015

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 Book of Mormon
Peabody Opera House presents the musical The Book of Mormon Tuesday through Sunday, January 13-18. For more information, visit or call 314-622-5420.

My take: As you probably know, this show has collected lots of critical praise and has been a huge hit with audiences. Everyone says the show is crude and funny and, as I observed in my review of the show when it played the Fox two years ago, it certainly is. But what you hear less often is how very smart and well-constructed it is. Anybody can be a smart-ass. Being a smart-ass with a little heart is more difficult, but this show pulls it off.  Trey Parker and his collaborators know just how far they can push the envelope without braking it.  The Peabody is less cavernous than the massive Fox, which makes it a better venue for theatre, so the show should work well there.

Nnenna Freelon (center) and the cast of
The Clothesline Muse
Edison Theatre Ovations! presents The Clothesline Muse Friday at 8 p.m., January 16. "The Clothesline Muse explores the clothesline as a metaphor of the African-American community lifeline. The clothesline was a place to meet, to work, to socialize, and to share traditions and common struggles. Inspired by the seemingly small act of hand washing, drying, folding and ironing, the project uses music, dance, text and visual art to celebrate the role played by African-American washerwomen in history and society. Six time Grammy-nominated vocalist Nnenna Freelon is a driving force and featured artist in this newly-created, multi-disciplinary theatrical production." The performance takes place in the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus. For more information, call (314) 935-6543, e-mail edison at or visit

My take: Reviewing the show for Thinking Dance at it's premiere last spring, Lisa Bardadrson wrote: "The Clothesline Muse is a work so densely rich with metaphor, symbolism and reference to the African diaspora that I, a white woman from the suburbs of Seattle, likely missed much of it. But no matter; the universality of the message was crystal clear: we are all connected by the actions of our ancestors, whose humble beginnings can yield rich rewards to future generations...The Clothesline Muse is a fully realized work that I found deeply gratifying. The line, in the end, connected and closed, forming a perfect circle." This is the final season for the Ovations! series at Edison, so this may be your only opportunity to see this and the other non-traditional shows in the current lineup.

Shannon Marie Sullivan and Richard Prioleau
in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
Photo: Lon Brauer
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, based on the classic film, through February 1. “A progressive couple's proud liberal sensibilities are put to the test when their daughter arrives home bursting with excitement and an unexpected fiancĂ©. Expectations and reality collide when questions of race, fear and cultural beliefs are staring them directly in the face. A new adaptation of the award-winning film explores family and acceptance and asks which has the greater hold on our hearts.” 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

My take: Reviews have been very positive for this show. Writing for, for example, Chris Gibson calls it "an engaging and thoroughly entertaining theatrical experience that I cannot recommend highly enough." "Under Seth Gordon's expert direction," writes Malcom Gay at the Riverfront Times, "the Rep's cast teases the nuances from Kreidler's adaptation, delivering a powerful, immersive performance that - if not exactly challenging to an audience already won over to its essential argument - masterfully navigates the shifting waters of race, class, familial acceptance and personal responsibility as they move to overrun the narrow cultural channels that have defined them." Other critics have been equally enthusiastic. It looks like a winner is coming to dinner.

Archie Coleman and Curtis Lewis
in Stereo Heart
First Run Theatre presents the drama Stereo Heart by Mario Farwell Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM, January 16-18. "This world premiere play is set in a rundown TV and Stereo repair shop in St. Louis. Theo and Sunny Freeman, a father and son team, run the shop and share an explosive secret. Theo has never been a pillar of society, and Sunny has served three stints in prison and is still on parole. While working on a Sony widescreen, Theo and Sunny discover a half-million dollar's worth of cocaine, and devise a scheme to sell the drugs. They soon learn that the drugs are the property of a drug kingpin named Three Thumb Hank. Georgette, the matriarch of the family, unaware of the intrigue unfolding in her household, sells a metal drum in which Theo stored the coke. When Theo and Sunny discover the drum has been sold, Sunny makes a desperate attempt to retrieve it. Three Thumb Hank returns and demands his merchandise. The family is thrown into chaos, secrets are revealed, and dreams are shattered resulting in tragic consequences." Performances take place at De Smet Jesuit High School Theatre, 233 N. New Ballas Rd. For more information, call (314) 352-5114 or visit

My take: First Run performs the highly valuable service of producing new plays by area playwrights. Mr. Farwell has had a number of his scripts produced there, so he's hardly the new kid on the block. In his review for KDHX, Bob Nickles says the script is "strong and rich in symbolism." "Something special happens when a community tells stories about itself," he writes. "Space opens up to laugh at ourselves and to weep together, especially when the stories we tell are true ones. For all its uneven energy and clever lines, 'Stereo Heart' tells the truth, and I have to think our communities are the better for it."

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