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New This Week:
|And in This Corner...Cassius Clay|
My take: "Goodwin's script is crafted to draw in audience members of all ages," writes Shannon Cothran at KDHX, "and he has succeeded with “In This Corner....” A mixture of poetry and prose, the play manages to tell the story of a boy who becomes a champion despite living within a culture of hate while showing us the flaws that make him human." I've been very impressed with Goodwin's work at the Humana Festival in Louisville in 2012 and in 2014, so I'm not surprised to hear that the playwright has struck gold again.
Photo: Peter Wochniak
My take: The playwright who gave us the brilliant Invisible Hand at the Rep Studio back in 2012 it again with a powerful portrayal of the problems immigrants face, especially when they're part of a demonized and poorly understood minority. How much can you assimilate before you lose your own identity? And is it ever enough for people who will always see you as the "other" no mater what you do or say? We learn from history that we do not learn from history, which makes this a very relevant play these days.
Photo: Valerie Goldston
My take: Composed largely of young actors who were part of the late HotCity Theatre, YoungLiars is certainly taking risks with this innovative first production, which decants an 18th century comedy into some colorful new bottles. "All in all," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX, "this debut promises great things from The Young Liars. It’s filled with quite wonderful style and artifice. "
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Looking for something uplifting amidst the vitriol and spite of contemporary politics? West End has a tonic for you in this story about learning and renewal. "Thanks to director Jan Meyer and performers Tom Kopp and Maggie Winninger," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "it’s an infectiously delightful study of two people meeting at a point in their lives where one’s ascent coincides with the other’s decline, albeit risking all for a fresh look at life."
My take: Eve has been jazzing it up at the Cabaret Project open mic (which I host) for quite a while now and is also, with her group Franglais, a familiar figure on the local restaurant and bar scene. So you could hardly ask for a better guide to our fair city's rich jazz scene. And the Emerald Room is a very cool cabaret space.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: This appears to be a good weekend for hard-nosed dramatic examinations of big social and political issues, with both this show and the Rep's Disgraced. "Director Lee Anne Mathews has tackled the difficult script with sensitivity and a subdued confrontational approach," writes Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis. "It works well in easing the audience into this slippery subject matter and gives the proper amount of tension on stage. Playwright Johanna Adams has fashioned a difficult script that opens a lot of conversation about a problem that is all too often ignored- the high suicide rate among younger people." "Playwright Johnna Adams has written a compelling and riveting if also highly disturbing drama that pushes the two performers in its one act and 75 minutes to emotional exhaustion, along with the audience," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Les Blessing's play has been around for a while now and seems to be a perinneal favorite for small theatre companies. Writing for Stage Door St. Louis, Steve Allen says that he's seen several productions and "the current presentation at Mustard Seed Theatre is definitely one of the best. Three powerful actresses manage to energize us, empower us and tug at the old heart strings." At KDHX, Shannon Cothran calls it "solid and moving" while Mark Bretz at Ladue News says it's "a gentle and caring excursion into the magical and sometimes hazardous reaches of the mind and its mysterious powers."
|I'll Be Back Before Midnight|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: What could be better for a cold winter night than a tidy thriller? At KDHX, Tina Farmer says this one is "filled with enough twists and dark comedy to hold the attention of even the most jaded of mystery fans. Clues are casually dropped along the way and then neatly tied in a bow, and each character's motivations are called into question as this tale winds its way to a satisfying conclusion." Other local critics are less positive, but since I've generally been impressed by Stray Dog's work over the years, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and include this on the list.
|The cast of The Weir|
My take: We saw McPherson's play many years ago in London, and found it a rattling good ghost story: well written with plausible characters. In his review for KDHX, Steve Callahan says that "Cocktails and Curtain Calls company gives us what, to me, must be the definitive production of this beautiful play." At Ladue News, Mark Bretz writes that the company "makes an impressive debut with a grand regaling of Irish playwright Conor McPherson's chilling drama...Setting the production in an actual tavern enhances the atmosphere immensely and, combined with director Kari Ely's careful direction of a top-rate cast, makes The Weir a fanciful tale and a tonic for a deep winter's night."