Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 15, 2016

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:

Richard III
Photo: David Sanford
St. Louis Shakespeare presents Shakespeare's tragedy Richard III Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., through April 17. "A brilliant military commander, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, cannot be content in peacetime. As Richard centralizes power and makes a play for the crown, his motives grow uglier, sending him, enraged, into a bloody battle at Bosworth Field against Henry Tudor." Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood. For more information, call 314-361-5664 or visit

My take: Historically bogus though it may be, Richard III is one of Shakespeare's most rippling yarns. Like Macbeth, it's ultimately a straightforward tale of ambition turned toxic with a villain who richly deserves his fate. In her review for 88.1 KDHX, Tina Farmer says this that production "embraces the eloquence of deceit and manipulation in a gleefully dark and riveting production that steamrolls courtly etiquette and political loyalties in pursuit of the crown."

David Guintoli
The Emerald Room Cabaret presents David Giuntoli in Sinatra...The Man and His Music on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. "David Giuntoli sings songs that Frank Sinatra made famous. He would have been 100, if alive, and although he was from a different era, his musical stylings are a as swinging today as they were in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when he was at his peak. Sinatra had a gift of taking songs from great composers like, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, and, along with his fantastic arrangements, giving them that “Sinatra” stamp. The show includes these songs; I've Got the World on a String, All or Nothing at All, The Best is Yet to Come, I've Got You Under My Skin, The Way You Look Tonight, Angel Eyes, Fly Me to the Moon, Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp and more." The show features Adam Maness on piano and Ben Wheeler on bass. The performance takes place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: No, this is not the David Giuntoli who stars in Grimm, but rather my fellow Cabaret Project board member in his first solo show. The focus on Sinatra makes perfect sense, given that Mr. Giuntoli is a baritone with a crooner's sensibility and an affection for the Great American Songbook.

Held Over:

Great Falls
Photo: John Lamb
The West End Players Guild continues their 105th season with Lee Blessing's comedy/drama Great Falls Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, April 8-17. "This long, strange trip is undertaken by Monkey Man, a divorced middle-aged writer, and his teenaged ex-stepdaughter, who goes by the name of Bitch. Both of them have lost their way in life, and they set off in search of answers on a road trip through the great American West. By turns funny, sad, touching and profane, Great Falls will take you on a memorable and moving theatrical tour." There will also be a show on Thursday, April 14, 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: Lee Blessing's work has appeared fairly frequently on local stages in recent years, and with good reason: he's an original and sometimes provocative voice. "An honest look at what is possible -- and seemingly impossible -- in human encounters lies at the heart of many Lee Blessing plays," wrote Michael McGregor in a 2010 review of Great Falls for Oregon Live. "Letting each character have his say -- and his due -- he shines a harsh but understanding light on contemporary American problems."

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM through April 16. "The 'internationally ignored song stylist' Hedwig Schmidt, an East German diva, is also the victim of a botched sex-change operation. As she tours the U.S. with her loyal band, Hedwig candidly shares her life story. Raucous, soulful and wickedly funny with a brilliant rock score, this show has inspired legions of fans." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: "When Hedwig brings her Angry Inch band to St. Louis," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "you better get ready for a punk rock throwback that's still a force to be reckoned with. This is the premise, feel, and atmosphere Stray Dog Theatre has created for their production of John Cameron Mitchell's angry ode to the downtrodden working class, running through April 16, 2016 and directed by Justin Been. This is Hedwig's story and uniquely hers, but she shares kinship with musicians, artists, and rebels -- transgender, queer, and straight -- who have stories they are compelled to tell. Fame be damned." This aggressive rock musical is not new to St. Louis, of course, but Stray Dog is putting their own spin on it by turning their space into the seedy rock club where Hedwig performs, complete with table service.

Our Town
The Hawthorne Players present the Thornton Wilder's Our Town April 8-17. "Narrated by a stage manager and performed with minimal props and sets, audiences follow the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually-in one of the most famous scenes in American theatre-die." The performances take place at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre at Parker and Waterford in Florissant, MO. For more information, call 921-5678 or visit

My take: What can I say about this classic that has not already been said? The type of small town life depicted in Wilder's play (the action place between 1901 and 1913) was already passing from the scene when it premiered in 1938. By rights it should be a museum piece by now. But the writing touches so effectively on the universal human experiences of birth, life, and death that it never seems dated.

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