Saturday, December 17, 2016

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of December 16, 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:

American Buffalo
Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents David Mamet's American Buffalo through December 18. "This volatile drama starred Robert Duvall in the original Broadway production and has seen revivals with Al Pacino most recently on Broadway . In a Chicago junk shop three small time crooks plot to rob a man of his coin collection, the showpiece of which is a valuable “Buffalo nickel”. These high-minded grifters fancy themselves businessmen pursuing legitimate free enterprise. But the reality of the three- Donny, the oafish junk shop owner; Bobby, a young junkie Donny has taken under his wing and “Teach”, a violently paranoid braggart- is that they are merely pawns caught up in their own game of last-chance, dead-end, empty pipe dreams." Performances take place at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit

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:

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
Metro Theatre Company and the Missouri History Museum present The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane through December 30. "Edward Tulane is a toy who cares for nobody but himself. Ripped from the arms of the little girl who adores him, this privileged china rabbit is thrown into a life-changing adventure. From the depths of the ocean to the top of a garbage heap, Edward discovers what it means to love others on his extraordinary journey home. With themes of family, empathy, home and redemption, this play is the perfect way to celebrate the warmth of the holiday season." Performances take place in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. For more information:

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."

Held Over:

Will Bonfiglio in Buyer and Cellar
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents the one-man comedy Buyer and Cellar through December 17. “Underemployed Los Angeles actor, Alex More, is hired to work in a faux shopping mall created by superstar, Barbra Streisand in the basement of her Malibu home. One day, the Lady Herself comes below to play. It soon feels like real bonding downstairs, but will their relationship ever make it upstairs? Buyer & Cellar is a comedic tour-de-force, fictionally drawn from fact, which explores the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

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.
Through December 24, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents A Christmas Carol, adapted by David H. Bell from the novel by Charles Dickens. "On Christmas Eve, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge is given a chance at redemption as he's visited by four ghosts - his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future - who teach him it's never too late to change." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

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
New Jewish Theater presents Driving Miss Daisy through December 18. "In 1948 Atlanta, Daisy Werthan, a rich, sharp-tongued, Jewish, 72-year-old widow has just demolished another car. Her son Boolie informs her that he will from this point on be hiring a chauffeur for her. Thus begins the 25-year relationship between Daisy and Hoke Colburn, her driver. She regards him with disdain and he is not impressed with her patronizing tone and latent prejudice. But despite their differences, they grow closer and more dependent on each other over time. The once contentious relationship blossoms into a profound, life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. An iconic tale of pride, changing times and the transformative power of friendship." Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

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."

Finding Neverland
Photo: Carol Rosegg
The Fox Theatre presents the musical Finding Neverland running through December 18. "Directed by visionary Tony®-winner Diane Paulus and based on the critically-acclaimed Academy Award®-nominated film starring Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland tells the incredible story behind one of the world's most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys' enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland, where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever. The magic of Barrie's classic tale springs spectacularly to life in this heartwarming theatrical event." The Fox is on North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

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."

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