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Photo: John Lamb
My take: As I write in my review for KDHX, I'm not convinced that the operatic adaptation by composer Douglas J. Cuomo and playwright John Patrick Shanley of the latter's 2004 play Doubt: A Parable and its 2008 film version is all the persuasive, but Union Avenue makes an extremely good case for it with a top-notch production, featuring impressive performances in all of the major roles. It brings their season to a very strong close.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: The road to hell, says the cliche, is paved with good intentions. The intentions behind the British Movement for the Care of Children seemed good enough; it tried to save children from the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. But the emotional scars were significant, and they're all on display in the Diane Samuels's script, based on recollections of actual kindertransport children. "Director Deanna Jent has taken the raw emotions laid out by the playwright and spilled them out over two acts," writes Steve Allen at his Stage Door STL blog, "each encompassing less than an hour each. The lives affected are often hard to watch but Jent’s powerful lead brings us a story that we won’t soon forget."
|Inherit the Wind|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: This classic portrayal of the struggle between science and superstition ought to be a museum piece, but the resurgence of radical fundamentalism has created a new wave of attacks on science in our public schools, making this script sadly relevant again. "In a political season," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "a play like Inherit the Wind, running through August 28, 2016 at Insight Theatre Company, serves to remind us that our vote often has ramifications that extend well beyond a politician's name or party affiliation. Our response to the challenges that face our country impacts society on every level, including the education of future generations. This stirring production presents a fresh, engaging, and well-performed case for education, helmed by two of our most persuasive stage veterans."
The St. Lou Fringe Festival runs through Saturday at several venues in the Grand Center area including the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 N. Grand) and TheStage at KDHX. Performances include traditional theater, dance, music, comedy, circus arts, performance art, cabaret, and burlesque, with acts from St. Louis and around the country. "This year's festival will coincide with Grand Center's new arts event Music at The Intersection and will include both new and familiar programming. 2016 will see the premiere of microtheater (short performances for an audience of no more than 9 patrons in an intimate, immersive setting), spin rooms (post show talk backs an workshops), Voices Unleashed (A number of festival slots are reserved for producers who are underrepresented in mainstream theatrical settings based on ethnicity, gender identity, language, dialect, age, physical ability, BMI, or other barrier), and an incubator program (a specialized collaborative showcase setting with more support for emergent artists). Past favorite programs like Fringe Family and the Artica sculpture garden will again enliven Strauss Park." For a complete schedule, visit stlfringe.comstlfringe.com.
My take: I've been an enthusiastic supporter of the St. Lou Fringe since its scrappy beginnings in June of 2012. Four years later, the Fringe is a major player on the local cultural scene and is attracting attention nation-wide. If you've never "fringed," you have missed an awful lot of unusual—and often unique—entertainment. And this year, with the festival expanded to two weekends, there's no excuse not to check it out.
|Tell Me On a Sunday|
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: Tell Me On a Sunday may be one of the least-known of Andrew Lloyd Webber's many musicals, right down there with the impressive Aspects of Love. As a one-woman show, it's also one of the most modest. It's by no means ALWs best work and, in fact, the composer himself later turned it into the first act of his full-length musical Song and Dance, but is has some fine music, including the lovely "Unexpected Song", and star Sarah Porter has gotten lots of praise for her performance.