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New This Week:
The Gateway Men's Chorus presents Light: A Celebration of Life, their 30th anniversary concert, on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p.m. The concert is a "celebration that illuminates the struggles and victories of the LGBT community" and takes place at the 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity in University City. The program includes music by Verdi and Bruckner as well as Radiohead and Florence and the Machine. For more information: gmcstl.org.
My take: The Gateway Men's Chorus has been a local cultural treasure for three decades now, and deserves our support. And with darkness seemingly pressing in on us from all sides these days, we can certainly use a celebration of light and life.
|Million Dollar Quartet|
My take: This is clearly the week for "jukebox musicals" in St. Louis, with both Million Dollar Quartet and Motown the Musical (see below) available for your nostalgic pleasure. "Million Dollar Quartet is a big, celebratory rock 'n roll party," writes Tina Farmer in an upcoming review for KDHX, "filled with early classic rock songs, good-humored teasing, and the heart and soul of a dedicated promoter. The show's got a beat you can dance to and engaging, infectious performances, ensuring a whole lotta shaking and a fitting close to The Rep's anniversary season. " "At times," says Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "The Rep's presentation of Million Dollar Quartet seems more like a concert than a musical, an infectious good time woven around a fascinating story...Million Dollar Quartet is a fitting end to The Rep's financially prosperous and critically acclaimed season. There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on that set."
|"The Temptations" in Motown the Musical|
Photo: Joan Marcus
My take: Like Million Dollar Quartet, Motown the Musical uses a fairly flimsy story as the backdrop for an evening packed with classic tunes—in this case, soul and R&B hits from the legendary catalog of Motown Records. Motown founder Berry Gordy's self-congratulatory book is a Cliffs Notes history of Motown's rise from back-room recording studio to international hit factory, but the real entertainment here comes from over fifty Motown classics, performed by a versatile cast playing the individuals and groups Motown made famous. Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Supremes—they're all here and strikingly believable. And wait until you see the kid playing the young Michael Jackson! Motown the Musical is a celebration of the songs that had us all, as the exuberant final number reminds us, "Dancing in the Streets."
|Never the Sinner|
Photo: Eric Woolsey
My take: As our toxic political climate clearly demonstrates, the overwhelming sense of entitlement of the hyper-rich easily leads to acts of cruelty and and depravity, but it rarely reaches the heights (or depths) displayed by the infamous "thrill killers" Leopold and Loeb. As Tina Farmer writes in an upcoming review for KDHX, this is "an engrossing tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat, with stunningly creepy and compelling performances by Pete Winfrey and Jack Zanger...The subject matter is at times disturbing, but the story is enthralling."
Photo: John Gitchoff
My take: The Rep has been presenting consistently provocative and usually very compelling new plays in its intimate studio space for many years now. The Royale appears to be right in that groove. "The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' production," writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "is a dynamic and captivating interpretation of Marco Ramirez's tightly wound play, teaming with purpose, raw emotion, and rhythm."
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: New Line continues to surprise us with productions of rarely-seen and (in this case) largely forgotten shows. That's a bit surprising since the team behind Zorba! produced Cabaret—one of the biggest hits in Braodway history (and now playing the Fox). In her review for KDHX, Tina Farmer calls Zorba! "the most beautifully hopeful tragedy I've seen in quite some time. The score and dancing are evocative, drenched with the sounds of Greek folk music. The lyrics are filled with exposition and storytelling reminiscent of the classics. The musical tackles the story of humanity as told through the eyes of an aging man determined to squeeze every last ounce from his own life. Tragic in nature, because we all must die at some point, the tale is nonetheless spirited and filled with love and passion."