Thursday, April 02, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 3, 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:

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, 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
The St. Lou Fringe presents The Life and Times of Marie Anoinette on Friday, April 4, at 7 p.m., preceded by a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. "We've hand-picked some of the top visual and performing artists to bring the story of MARIE ANTOINETTE to life through music, food, dance, burlesque, and visual art. Hosted by international burlesque star, St Louis' own Lola Van Ella." The event takes place at The Ready Room, 4196 Manchester in The Grove. For more information:

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.

Held Over:

Jeremy Webb in Buyer and Cellar
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Buyer and Cellar through April 12 (extended from March 29). "Inspired by Barbra Streisand's coffee table book, My Passion for Design, this uproarious fictional account of celebrity eccentricity takes us into Babs' basement, where she houses her unique collections in a small street of shops. An underemployed actor becomes the caretaker, interacting with Barbra in moments both hilarious and surprisingly tender. A runaway hit in New York, this one-man show takes us into the ultimate fantasy of a star-struck dreamer as he fills the oddest of odd jobs." Performances take place in the studio theatre at the Loretto-Hlton Center, 130 Edgar Road in Webster Groves, MO. For more information, call 314-968-4925 or visit

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."

Kinky Boots
Photo: Matthew Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Kinky Boots through April 5. The Fox Theatre is at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. "In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father's shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father's legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he's meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible... and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world." For more information:

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.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Christopher Durang's Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike through April 12. "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 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: 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.

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