Friday, June 05, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of June 5, 2015

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

Share on Google+:

New This Week:

Angie Nicholson
Mariposa Artists presents Angie Nicholson in her cabaret debut About Time on Friday and Saturday, June 5 and 6, at 8 p.m. The show is directed by Lina Koutrakos with Rick Jensen on piano. The performance takes place at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive in Clayton. For more information:

My take: One of the great pleasures of hosting The Cabaret Project's monthly open mic night is watching someone I've never seen before walk in, sign up, and just floor me with talent. Angie Nicholson did that a couple years ago and I've been watching her develop her cabaret chops ever since. I'm happy to say that I knew her when, and I'm glad that the open mic night was able to help get her started. She certainly has major league talent supporting her; Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen are big stars themselves, and are famous for supporting and helping to develop new talent.

Photo: ProPhotoSTL
Gitana Productions presents Black and Blue by by Lee Patton Chiles with music by Tbeats Entertainment Saturday, June 7, at 3 PM. “An original play of hope and healing, exploring the assumptions that all young black men are dangerous, and that all cops are bad. ” Performances take place a different locations in the area through June 20; for more information:

My take: The events in Ferguson, Missouri, last year resonated throughout the nation. This drama by St. Louis playwright Lee Patton Chiles is, in the words of KDHX theatre reviewer Tina Farmer, "a thought provoking, well-acted and strongly worded play that stirs discussion in an attempt to create a fuller, more varied and nuanced understanding of racial conflict, not only in St. Louis but across America." Theatre can educate, enlighten, and provoke as well as entertain, and it looks like Gitana has a production here that does all three.

Mariposa Artists presents In Concert: Classic Rock Reimagined and Unpluged on Thursday, June 4, at 8 p.m. The show is features 11 local singers and directed by Lina Koutrakos with Rick Jensen on piano. The performance takes place at the Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: This show features an all-star lineup of local cabaret talent. Lina Koutrakos is a cabaret star whose roots like in rock and blues and Rick Jensen is powerfully talented pianist and songwriter. I'm very familiar with ten of the eleven singers from my work on local cabaret stages and I'll guarantee that they're solid performers. Many of them have already developed their own shows and all have participated in showcases and in the Cabaret Project's open mic nights at the Tavern of Fine Arts. You can't go wrong here.

One Summer on 2nd Street
Circus Flora presents its new show, One Summer on 2nd Street through June 28 under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center next to Powell Hall. "Travel back with us to The Jazz Age - to a time at which American cities grew rapidly, becoming home to families from all walks of life and corners of the map. We'll journey together to a typical block in a typical city on a typical day - and meet a very atypical set of families. Find yourself enchanted by a small Ukrainian family who tame the cats that live in the alley. Feel the excitement as Russian carriage drivers ride wildly through the streets, and the Flying Wallendas maneuver their way along clotheslines strung between buildings. Experience the bliss of young love, determined to stand strong amid their families' protests. These stories, and more, will come alive under the Big Top this summer." For more information, visit

My take: One of the more welcome harbingers of summer in St. Louis is the appearance of Circus Flora's air-conditioned tent on the parking lot just south of Powell Hall. Once the big top is in place, you know that an evening of thrills, comedy and all-around family friendly entertainment awaits you within its pleasantly cool confines. "Circus Flora shows always tell a story," Tina Farmer reminds us in her KDHX review. "[T]his year it's 'One Summer on Second Street.' A tale of summer in the city with a nostalgic feel, the story encourages us to meet our neighbors and treat our animal friends with love and respect. Naturally, the lesson is delivered with an abundance of fantastic feats of skill, strength, and athleticism." Grab some popcorn and cotton candy, listen to the band organ before the show, and be a kid again. Or stay one, as the case may be.

Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Puccini's La Rondine in rotating repertory with three other operas through June 28. " Can a beautiful, sophisticated Parisian courtesan find happiness with a young man from the country? Or is her love affair doomed by a past she cannot keep secret? Celebrated OTSL music director Stephen Lord brings Puccini's gorgeous music and romantic storytelling to life in this stunning, new belle epoque period production." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: or call 314-961-0644.

My take: La Rondine was always a bit of a problem child for Puccini. He left it in three different versions. I've seen two of them, and while in both cases the libretto was so cryptic that characters' decisions often seemed weirdly unmotivated, there was no getting around the fact that the composer lavished some truly wonderful music on that text. The music and, even more importantly, the singing actors are the reasons to see this beautifully sung, impeccably acted, intelligently directed, and all-around entertaining production. As I say in my review for KDHX, this production is a reminder of why we love opera in the first place.

Held Over:

Anthony and Cleopatra
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra nightly except for Tuesdays June 14. Performances take place in Shakespeare Glen next to the Art Museum in Forest Park. Curtain time is 8 PM. For more information, visit

My take: As I write in my review for, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is producing a deftly edited and superbly acted production of this late Shakespeare tragedy/comedy/history. This isn't the easiest play to do, and other companies have stubbed their toes on it in the past, but under Mike Donahue's expert direction this fine cast does very well with material that is dramatically complex and open to a wide variety of interpretations. You can sit on the grass for free, but personally I recommend springing for one of the $20 reserved seats. That's still plenty cheap for theatre of this quality.

Emily Fons as Rosina and
Dale Travis as Dr. Bartolo
Photo: Ken Howard
Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Rossini's comedy The Barber of Seville in rotating repertory with three other operas through June 27. "There's a good reason it's one of the world's most popular operas! Rossini's zany and sparkling score sets the gold standard for opera that is fresh, elegant, funny, and brimming with vocal fireworks. Delight as the young barber Figaro helps Count Almaviva steal the beautiful Rosina from under the nose of her doddering guardian." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center at 135 Edgar Road on the Webster University campus. All performances are sung in English with projected English text. For more information: or call 314-961-0644.

My take: As I write in my review for KDHX, everyone connected with this production can congratulate themselves on a job well done. Taking as his point of departure the animated and colorful films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, Mr. Shell has produced a loopy, slightly surreal, and highly engaging take this comic opera classic. The updated bits are always funny and sometimes inspired. And there aren't so many of them that they pull focus from the singers and the text and score of the opera. This is a production that respects the intelligence of its audience and doesn't assume that we need to be constantly distracted in order to be entertained.

No comments: