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Photo: Kevin White
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."
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.
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."
|Rapture, Blister, Burn|
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.