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New This Week:
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Too much Christmas cheer in the air? Here's what KDHX's Tina Farmer describes as "a gritty, raw production" of "a dark tale of petty crime and life lived under the radar." It dates from a period in Mamet's artistic life before he became just another angry white fascist.
Cabaret St. Louis presents singer/songwriter John McDaniel, singer Lennie Watts, and guest vocalist Kay Love in Celebrate Me Home Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m., December 16 and 17. "Hometowners John McDaniel and Lennie Watts return from NYC with their brand new Holiday Cabaret. You likely know John as a Broadway Music director and Lennie as an NYC Cabaret director. But these two combine their musical and vocal skills for a stellar holiday show - right here where it all started." The performances take place at the Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2599728.
My take: Both of these guys are entertainment powerhouses, so if you're willing to brave the elements you'll be rewarded by some truly great cabaret.
|The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane|
My take: At the other end of the spectrum from American Buffalo is this heart-warming, family-friendly show from Metro. "If you believe the holidays are about loving and being loved," writes Shannon Cothran at KDHX, "then this show is for you."
|Will Bonfiglio in Buyer and Cellar|
Photo: John Lamb
My take: A one-actor show can be great fun if the script is worthwhile and the actor is up to the task. The script for Buyer and Cellar got plenty of praise from local critics when the Rep did it last spring and Will Bonfiglio has gotten good marks for his work (Judy Newmark calls it a "knockout performance"), so this looks like a safe bet for your weekend.
|A Christmas Carol|
Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
My take: Some of my friends turn into Scrooges at this time of year. I turn into Scrooge's nephew, cheerfully singing along with every carol and enjoying the hell out of holiday gatherings. That means I'd probably recommend this even if the reviews weren't so good, but as it happens my fellow critics are in danger of running out of verbal laurel wreaths to bestow on this production. Harry Hamm calls it "a polished, warm and large-scale production". "The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge is among the most beloved of holiday stories," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "and The Rep's production delivers the spectacle of the story in a standout revival that's a welcome theatrical treat." As you can tell from my own review at OnSTL, I could not agree more.
|Driving Miss Daisy|
Photo: Eric Woolsey
My take: I've had a great deal of affection for this show since I played the role of Boolie many years ago at West End Players. NJT appears to be doing a good job with this very funny and moving script, and its message could not be more timely. As Robert Cohn writes at the Jewish LIght, the play "is not only good theater: It is a reminder that even in the darkest days, people of good will can improve human relations and substitute the power of love for the corrosive effects of hate."
Photo: Carol Rosegg
My take: Looking for a family friendly show that isn't A Christmas Carol? This might be a good bet. "The story behind the story of Peter Pan" writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "is a refreshing and delightful concoction of high-stepping choreography, intelligent lyrics and a lush, beautifully written score that make for an evening of engaging entertainment for children and adults alike. Handsomely mounted and energetically performed, Finding Neverland makes for an ideal holiday treat at the Fox Theatre." In a review soon to be published at KDHX, Amy Burger calls it an "inspiring story of life, death, love and the power of imagination."