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Photo: Eric Woolsey
My take: This is the sort of thing that could become a pedantic "talking heads" exercise, but apparently both Deb Margloin's script and the NJT production avoid those pitfalls. "The attention to detail," writes Tina Farmer in her KDHX review, "both factual and fiction, ensures that the entire script feels authentic even though its centerpiece, the nightlong conversation between Galkin and Madoff, features a fictional character. Regardless, the show is a fascinating look into the minds of both Madoff and Galkin, the curiosities, passions and affronts that guided each man and caused their paths to cross and become so thoroughly entwined."
My take: A product of the 1960s (it opened on Braodway and was the basis for a successful film adaptation in 1968), Goldman's comedy-drama refuses to become dated, possibly because the underlying issues are timeless, the characters are so well drawn, and the dialog crackles with the kind of literacy that has become far too rare in more recent plays and films. As an illustration of the danger of allowing nations to be run by dynasties, it also carries a warning that is still timely today. "Director Sam Hack," writes Bob Wildox at KDHX, "has assembled a strong cast for the Clayton Community Theatre production and has handled them well."
|Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.|
My take: "Occasionally," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "a play sneaks up on you, grabbing you at some visceral, emotional level and knocking you down. The Studio at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' current production is that kind of a play. Deeply thoughtful, and grounded in history, "Safe House" challenges assumptions, providing a seldom seen glimpse of the old south, delivered in richly textured, carefully developed performances." With Confederate apologists and historical revisionists trying to whitewash (you should pardon the expression) the ugly history of slavery in America, it once again falls to the power of Art to remind us of just how great a moral cancer that institution was. This show is a nice counterpoint to the Rep's mainstage offering, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
|Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.|
My take: Reviews have been very positive for this show. Writing for Broadwayworld.com, 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. I saw the show last weekend and I agree that a winner is coming to dinner.
|Photo: Carol Rosegg|
My take: Based on Rodgers and Hammerstein's famous made-for-television musical from 1957, this retooled stage version has a new book by playwright Douglas Carter Beane (best known for his comedy As Bees in Honey Drown). "More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size" says the official press release, "this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn't let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz calls it "effervescent and charming" while the Post-Dispatch's Judy Newmark says it "looks like a storybook come to life."