Thursday, May 05, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of May 6, 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:

Ben Nordstrom
The Emerald Room at the Monocle presents Ben Nordstrom in Diary of an Almost Grown-Up on Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at 8 p.m. "Do you ever think to yourself, “Maybe next year I'll start to feel like an adult?” Then the next thing you know, you're geeking out over the casting announcement of the next Star Wars movie or playing whiffle ball in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart. In his return to the cabaret stage, Ben explores the insecurities and follies of stumbling from childhood to adulthood. Do we ever really grow up? The musically eclectic evening will include funny, fresh material from new composers Joe Iconis and Ryan Scott Oliver, as well as songs by Stephen Sondheim, the Beatles, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Paul Simon." Justin Smolik is pianist and music director for the show. The performances take place in The Emerald Room at The Monocle Bar, 4510 Manchester in The Grove neighborhood. For more information:

My take: Ben is a familiar face to theatre fans locally, with many shows to his credit at the Rep, Stages, and other professional companies. Reviewing his performance as J. Pierrepont Finch in Stages' How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying last July, for example, I wrote that "Mr. Nordstrom hits exactly the right combination winsomeness and winking slyness, along with a fluid sense of physical comedy." He also did a nice set as part of Neal Richardson's solo cabaret debut last weekend. Expect an entertaining evening.

The Glass Menagerie
Photo: ProPhotoSTL
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.

KTK Productions presents the comedy Laughing Stock through May 8. "A hilarious backstage farce and genuinely affectionate look into the world of the theatre. When the Playhouse, a rustic New England Summer Theatre, schedules a repertory season of Dracula, Hamlet and Charley's Aunt, comic mayhem ensues. We follow the well-intentioned but over-matched company from outrageous auditions to ego-driven rehearsals through opening nights gone disastrously awry to the elation of a great play well told and the comic and nostalgic season close." Performances take place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind. For more information: or call 314-351-8984.

My take: In his review for KDHX, Steve Callahan says that, despite less than ideal pacing, KTK's show "is a most enjoyable'll have a fun and laugh-filled time at KTK's Laughing Stock".

The Cabaret Project presents its annual Trivia Night Fundraiser on Friday, May 6, from 7-10 p.m. "Show us how much trivial knowledge you have stuffed in your brilliant mind! This is our annual fundraiser to support the St. Louis Cabaret Festival in July 2016 and our new educations programs. PRIZES FOR TOP TWO TABLES! RAFFLES, 50/50 and GENERAL FRIVOLITY GUARANTEED.” Hosted by Phil Donato, The Trivia Guy. Contact Tim Schall at info at to join the fun! Doors open 6:30, Trivia begins at 7:00 p.m. Water, soda light snacks provided. For more information:

My take: Let me be up front here and admit that I'm on the board of The Cabaret Project. But having said that, I should point out that the reason I'm on the board is that TCP is doing important work in promoting, developing, and sustaining the art of cabaret in St. Louis. Right now we do that mainly by sponsoring the monthly open mic night at Tavern of Fine Arts and bringing St. Louis audiences the annual St. Louis Cabaret Festival, but fundraisers like this one will enable us to expand into other areas such as education and audience development. So come on down and show your trivia smarts; we'd love to see you. And you might even wind up sharing a table with some local cabaret stars.

Held Over:

The Sound of Music
Photo: Matthew Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music opening Tuesday, April 26, and running through May 8. "The hills are alive! A brand new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by Jack O'Brien, is coming to the Fox. The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award® winning Best Score, including "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Edelweiss" and the title song." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: I haven't seen any reviews yet and my schedule probably won't allow me to see this, but how can you go wrong with this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic? The original stage show isn't as sentimental as the often-criticized film and a big revival is long overdue. This particular production has been gathering very positive reviews as it makes its way across the USA.

Trash Mabceth
Equally Represented Arts presents Trash Macbeth running through May 7th. "Lady Macbeth says, 'What's done cannot be undone.' But can it be repurposed? Based on Shakespeare's iconic tragedy, ERA's experimental production Trash Macbeth resuscitates meaning within a climate of destruction, reestablishes the societal norms of America's most traditional era, and reframes the value of our revered Shakespeare, housewifery, and garbage. Trash Macbeth is a full-length, theatrical production created by an ensemble of theatre artists with text from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Emily Post's Etiquette, the book of Revelations, Dr Benjamin Spock's Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, and 1950's era advertisements." Performances take place at The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive. For more information:

My take: In a review of the original St. Louis University production of this last October, 88.1 KDHX reviewer Sarah Richardson wrote that "[t]he fates that are spun and the lives unwound in this tragedy reach astounding dramatic heights thanks to a marvelous alchemy of all the elements of theatre: design, staging, performance, and text...A delicious, theatrical nightmare par excellence." Reviewing the current version for KDHX, Steve Callahan calls it "a most remarkable evening of theatre." This is a chance to see the play done by the ensemble whose founder, Lucy Cashion, created the piece for St. Louis U. last fall. Ms. Cashion has made a name for herself locally for her ingenious reworkings of classic plays.

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