Friday, November 20, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of November 20, 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:

White Christmas
Photo: Kevin White
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Irving Berlin's White Christmas Tuesday through Sunday, November 17-22. The Fox Theatre is at 517 North Grand in Grand Center. "This holiday season discover the perfect gift for everyone on your list! Start with a timeless tale of joy and goodwill, fill it with classic Irving Berlin songs, top it off with glorious dancing and lots of snow and join us at the Fox for Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS. Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written! Give everyone the gift they're dreaming of with this merry and bright holiday musical." For more information, or call 314-534-1678.

My take: Based on the 1954 film of the same name, this is one of those cheerful, tune-filled and nostalgia-stuffed Great American Songbook shows that never fails to please most audiences. "The stage version makes significant changes to the script that streamline the story," notes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "moving the show along efficiently and keeping the running time to a pleasant two hours. While the number of characters and plot twists have been trimmed, the wholesome story of doing good, finding love, and ending on a happy note remains intact. The current version is quite polished and entertaining, with an emphasis on the songs and dance numbers...Berlin's songs are a gift of the season and a reflection of the American spirit. Each one evokes strong emotions, and the arc of the story and songs mirrors the optimism of an era that created so many of the memories we consider "traditions." The energetic dances, particularly the complex, high-speed tap numbers, tie the show together with a bright, enticing bow."

Craig Pomranz
Topper Productions and Michael Bogus present Craig Pomranz in Love Takes Time Saturday, November 21 at 7 p.m. "Craig Pomranz brings his new show "Love Takes Time" from NYC and London to Webster Groves. Featuring diverse songs ranging from Irving Berlin up to Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Wonder. you'll wonder if "time" in the title refers to time spent longing for love, time in love, or references in song? You'll have to come and decide for yourself." The performance takes place at Cyrano's 603 East Lockwood in Webster Groves. For more information:

My take: It has been far too long since we've had a chance to see native St. Louis son Craig Pomranz on a local stage. Reviewing his 2011 appearance at the Kranzberg Center, I noted his ebullient stage persona, self-deprecating sense of humor, impressive vocal technique and acting skills. I haven't seen anything at Cyrano's performance space, but I have dined there often enough to suggest that you should seriously consider a dinner/show combo.

Susan Werner
The Presenters Dolan presents singer/songwriter Susan Werner on Friday and Saturday, November 20 and 21, at 8 PM as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival. "Singers and songwriters don't get more talented than Susan Werner. She's a master of so many genres, and about to add Broadway. Susan is the composer and lyricist of Bull Durham, scheduled to open next year." The performances take place at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle. For more information:

My take: Speaking of performers who have been absent from the local scene for far too long, Susan Werner is someone I haven't seen since her appearance at the late, lamented Cabaret at Savor back in the spring of 2008. As I wrote back then, Susan Werner writes really great songs. She writes the kind of songs that make people like me want to go out and buy copies of the sheet music so we can learn them. She writes songs that can be funny, sad, wry, world-weary, romantic, cynical, cheerfully upbeat and politically subversive - sometimes all at once. And she performs everything impeccably. File this under "don't miss."

Held Over:

Rapture, Blister, Burn
The West End Players Guild continues their 105th season with Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, through November 22. "After grad school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine became a 'rock star' in the academic world and a go-to cable TV commenter, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later, unfulfilled in polar opposite ways, each woman covets the other's life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs." There will also be a show on Thursday, November 19, at 8 PM. Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit

My take: This is a funny and perceptive script about the way so many of us wonder about what might lie down the road not taken, and the cast includes some of our finest local actors. It delivers a message of female empowerment without beating the audience over the head and does it in an amusingly subversive way.

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