Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of March 31, 2017

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:

Card magician An Ha Lim
Photo: Joan Marcus
The Fox Theatre presents The Illusionists-Live From Broadway, opening on Friday, March 31, and running through Sunday. "Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts and acts of breathtaking wonder, The Illusionists has shattered box office records worldwide and thrilled audiences of all ages with a mind-blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: We caught this last month when it played Chicago and while the performance we saw was one magician short (Dan Sperry, "The Anti-Conjurer," was inexplicably absent), it was still an entertaining and sometimes amazing show. As I noted in my review for KDHX, many of the effects will be familiar to fans of stage magic, but they're all done very well, and some of the close-up effects are most impressive.

Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents Next Fall Friday through Sunday, March 31 - April 2. “Adam and Luke are in a happy, committed relationship. They have been living together for years, despite some minor differences: Luke is a Christian and Adam is very much not. This leads to some debates, as well as to Luke keeping his relationship with Adam a secret from his family. Everything is running somewhat smoothly, until a sudden accident forces Adam to turn to Luke's family for support. This touching and funny play questions the limits of love and faith.” Performances take place in the Stage III Auditorium in Webster Hall on the Webster University campus. For more information, or call 314-968-7128.

My take: I haven't seen the Webster production, but as I wrote in my review of the Repertory Theatre's production back in 2010, Next Fall presents a story that doesn't end with the curtain. The characters and their relationships are so credible that we found ourselves compelled to speculate what might happen next. Mr. Nauffts's script provides a resolution, but no pat answers. The script was nominated for a Tony in 2009 and thoroughly deserved it.

Taj Express
Dance St. Louis presents Taj Express: The Bollywood Musical Revue Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., March 31 and April 1. "Through a fusion of film, dance, and music, this dazzling international sensation takes audiences on a live cinematic journey through modern Indian culture and society. The production is a high energy celebration of new India's pop music, Bollywood culture, and deep traditions featuring colorful costumes, joyful dance, and thrilling live music." Performances take place at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. For more information:

My take: Here's another case where I'm going to recommend a show sight unseen, just based on the concept and the publicity stills. Indian cinema has produced a remarkable rethinking of the concept of a movie musical, and this looks like a colorful celebration of that material.

Held Over:

Million Dollar Quartet
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents the musical Million Dollar Quartet through April 9. "Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony® Award winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time." Performances take place at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the Webster University campus. For more information:

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."

Never the Sinner
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents Never the Sinner through April 2. "Chicago, 1924. Clarence Darrow is defending Nathan Leopold Jr., age 18, and Robert Loeb, age 19, in the 'Crime of the Century.' The two had decided to commit the 'perfect murder,' just for the thrill of it. Considering themselves Nietzsche's ├╝bermensch (supermen), they concluded they were removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world. They brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks but were quickly apprehended. Darrow's defense of them was an eloquent plea against capital punishment. This exquisite play asks what demons lurked in the minds of these two young men and the complex relationship between them. This is a love story set to themes of crime and punishment, the press, the times, humanism, Nietzsche's philosophy and the end of the jazz age." 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: 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."

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