Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of May 13, 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:

Brian Owens
The Sheldon Concert Hall presents Brian Owens in Lean on Me Saturday, May14, at 11 a.m. "Acclaimed vocalist Brian Owens is quickly making a name for himself nationally as the new torch bearer for classic soul music in the tradition of Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. He returns to The Sheldon with a tribute to the legendary Bill Withers, performing hits including “Lean on Me,” “Just the Two of Us,” and more! " The Sheldon Concert Hall is at 3648 Washington in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Mr. Owens is a compelling and gifted performer, especially when he steps away from recreating the work of earlier soul and rhythm and blues giants and allows us to see and hear his own takes on these classics. When that happens, it's magical.

The Two-Character Play
The Tennessee Williams Festival runs through May 15 at multiple venues throughout the St. Louis area. Events include theatrical performances, films, exhibits, lectures, and even a Williams-themed St. Louis bus tour. For more informatoin and a complete schedule of events, visit

My take: There are so many different events celebrating the life and work of this true St. Louis original that, rather than list them individually, I'm gong to suggest that you visit the festival web site and check them out yourself. Upstream's production of The Glass Menagerie (see below) and Midnight Company's local premiere (as far as I know, anyway) of The Two-Character Play (pictured)—a late Williams work that's rarely seen—have gotten some good notices, but by all means check out all the offerings.

Held Over:

The Glass Meangerie
Photo: Brian Wochniak
Upstream Theater presents Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, with live music by Joe Dreyer, through May 15. "As Tennessee Williams' classic has entered our collective memory, it has moved from cutting-edge to canonical. Upstream Theater aims to take the piece out of the museum in a way guaranteed to move you, and move you to think. We are proud to present this production in conjunction with the inaugural Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis." Performances take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information, including show times:

My take: This radical re-thinking of the Williams classic starts with the assumption that, as a "memory play," it need not concern itself too much with realism. So, in this version, Tom is an elderly man man near the end of his life instead of a younger man still finding himself. Both Tom (J. Samuel Davis) and his mother Amanda (Linda Kennedy) are black while his sister is white, and the sister in this production is actually disabled instead of simply frail. As Steve Callahan writes in his review for KDHX, this doesn't necessarily work at all times. "The Upstream production of The Glass Menagerie will leave you wondering about many things," he says. "But that's good! Do see it. It's well worth your time." And, of course, there's the fact that Davis and Kennedy are very accomplished actors.

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