Share on Google+:
New This Week:
My take: Carousel surprised many theatergoers when it made its Broadway premiere on April 19th, 1945. Rogers and Hammerstein's last show, Oklahoma!, was still playing across the street, and the contrast must have been startling. Based on Molnar's downbeat melodrama Liliom from two decades earlier, Carousel's fantasy elements and bittersweet ending were quite a change from the realism and rousing finale of its predecessor. The show had a decent run - 890 performances - and was an immediate hit with the critics. Which makes it only right that the Hawthorne production is such a hit with our own Steve Callahan at KDHX. "This is a charming production," he writes, "deftly directed by Adam Grun, and it’s brim full of the very best things that community theater can offer...Danny Grumich, in the central role of Billy, will simply knock your socks off! He gives a performance of the very highest professional caliber." Hawthorne has a long track record of producing community theatre with a high professional gloss; I've done a couple of shows there myself and have been impressed by the production quality. And the theatre at the Florissant Civic Center is a good, comfortable space with decent acoustics.
|The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler|
Photo: Kim Carlson
My take: From the author of the smart and funny book for the musical Avenue Q comes this ingenious theatrical in-joke. One of the stage's most famous suicides, Hedda Gabler, wakes from her offstage shooting to a literary and theatrical afterlife in which famous (and not-so-famous) fictional characters endlessly relive the tropes their creators designed for them. Refusing to simply repeat the fate Ibsen created for her, she goes off on a voyage of self-discovery, assisted by Mammy from Gone With the Wind and a pair of stereotypically gay characters from 1968 who could be (but aren't) from Boys in the Band or Staircase. As I note in my capsule review for OnSTL.com, it's "a clever concept with plenty of laughs along the way." My colleague Tina Farmer at KDHX agrees, calling it "riotously fun and delivered with the sharp, crisp attitude the company does so well." And the Ivory Theatre, now under new management, it great space for live theatre, with plenty of parking, comfortable seats, and some decent restaurants within easy walking distance.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: I sometimes find myself the odd man out among my fellow critics with some opera productions, but not this time. Everybody basically agrees: Union Avenue has once again done very well indeed by Verdi. As I note in my review for KDHX, from the ominous brass fanfares that open the prelude to Rigoletto's final despairing howl of "La maledizione" ("the curse"), Tim Ocel's knowing direction drives this "Rigoletto" to its tragic conclusion with the relentless energy of a runaway train. Jordan Shanahan's performance in the title role is just riveting: powerfully sing and incisively acted. This is definitely a "must see."
|The cast of Anything Goes|
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: Porter's hit-laden score and the breezy (and often revised book) combine for great fun, and it looks like Stages is doing it justice. "Every song, every character, every step, every gesture, every tiny comic bit is perfect," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX. "Every single moment of this show is a delight." Having finally had a chance to see it myself, I concur. The original Billy Crocker has been replaced by Brent Michael Diroma, who is a very talented comic actor with a lovely crooner's light baritone/tenor. Definitely worth seeing.