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New This Week:
Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents Jason Robert Brown's two-character musical The Last Five Years Friday through Sunday, April 3-5. "An emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show's unconventional structure consists of Cathy, the woman, telling her story backwards while Jamie, the man, tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show." Performances take place in the Stage III Auditorium on the Webster University campus. For more information, events.webster.edu or call 314-968-7128.
My take: I'm a great admirer of the work of Jason Robert Brown as well as of this production's music director, Neal Richardson. The Last Five Years is a compelling piece with much food for thought and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone interested in unconventional and creative musical theatre. There is a dearth of hope in the narrative, but a wealth of great music.
|Lola Van Ella|
My take: The story of Marie Antinette hosted by a stripper. What'snot to like, I ask you? Besides, the St. Lou Fringe (for which this is a fund-raiser) is a cultural treasure and deserves our support.
|Jeremy Webb in Buyer and Cellar|
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
My take: One-man shows can be risky propositions, but this one is apparently a success. "If you are a Streisand fan (and who among us isn't?)," writes Bob Cohn at St. Louis Jewish Light, "'Buyer & Cellar' is a double treat. Not only is the play itself highly amusing and satisfying, it also contains enough Streisand trivia to satisfy an entire season of questions on 'Jeopardy.'" "Jonathan Tolins is a very clever writer," says Bob Wilcox at KDHX. "Jeremy Webb is a very smart actor. Put them together, with some inventive guidance from director Wendy Dann, and you get a quite enjoyable ninety minutes or so in the Studio Theatre at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis."
Photo: Matthew Murphy
My take: A show with music by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein obviously has two very strong things going for it from the start, and this tour apparently makes the most of its material. "A pure delight from beginning to end," writes Amy Burger at KDHX, "on the surface, Kinky Boots is a story about shoes; but at it's heart, it's a really a story about having the freedom to wear whatever shoes you want and always feeling comfortable in them."
|Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike|
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
My take: This starts out as a broad, noisy parody of Chekov but finishes as something much more deep and satifying. "Playwright Christopher Durang," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "won a Tony Award for this insightfully hilarious look at aging and modern life through a lens tinted with Chekhov and Greek tragedy. The actors in The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike bring these characters to life convincingly, emphasizing their quirks, vanities and flaws in a production layered with humor and pathos, second questions and, perhaps, second chances." I couldn't agree more. Director Michael Evan Haney can be proud of this one.