Thursday, May 04, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of May 5th, 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:

Bertha in Paradise
The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis presents Anita Jackson in the one-woman show Bertha in Paradise opening on Wednesday, May 3, at 8 p.m. and running through May 14. "Bertha in Paradise is a saucy stew of bawdy songs that Anita Jackson (playing Bertha) greeted audiences with at The Rooming-House Plays for the 2016 Festival." Performances take place at the Curtain Call Lounge next to the Fox Theatre in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: It's too early for any reivews of the Tennessee Wiliams Festival shows, but I'm recommending this one just becuase the concept looks intriguing and because the Curtain Call Lounge has a lot going for it as a cabaret space, with an extensive drinks menu (including lots of champagne-based cocktails) as well as a decent menu of snacks, sandwiches, salads, and desserts.

David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus along with soloists Alan Held (bass-baritone), Marjorie Owens (soprano), Raymond Aceto (bass), Rodrick Dixon (tenor), Joy Boland (soprano), and Paul Appleby (tenor) in a concert performance of Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman on Saturday, May 6, at 8 p.m. Wagner's stormy tale of obsession, passion and drama awaits! Be transfixed by the musical journey of a shipwrecked captain banished to the seas for eternity unless he can find a faithful love. Don't miss this extraordinary season finale with an outstanding vocal cast joining the STL Symphony and an innovative lighting projection by renowned visual artist S. Katy Tucker. Performances take place at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Concert versions of operas are a relatively new addition to the SLSO season, and have generally been extremely successful. Their 2015 Aida, for example, worked extremely well on both the musical and theatrical levels. Credit smart casting as well as ingenious projected digital sets by S. Katy Tucker that were customized to take advantage of existing architectural features of Powell Hall. The Flying Dutchman is a big work that would be a challenge for local opera companies to produce convincingly, in my view, so this is a rare opportunity to see it live on a local stage.

Held Over:

The Lion King
Photo: Daniel Murphy
The Fox Theatre presents Disney's The Lion King running through May 7. "Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. This is Disney's The Lion King, making its triumphant return to the Fabulous Fox. More than 85 million people around the world have experienced the awe-inspiring visual artistry, the unforgettable music, and the uniquely theatrical storytelling of this Broadway spectacular - one of the most breathtaking and beloved productions ever to grace the stage." The Fox in at 527 North Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: How could I not include this? Making its fourth or fifth trip (but who's counting?) to our city since its first appearance here in 2003, this ingenious stage adaptation of the popular Disney film remains a stunning piece of theatre. For those of you who have yet to see this remarkable show, know that the spectacular opening number sets the tone for the entire evening. As a giant red-orange sun rises over the African plain, the first sounds you hear are not those of Elton John and Tim Rice's Anglo-American pop, which makes up the majority of the score, but rather the distinctly African melodies of Lebo M. Led the baboon Shaman Rafiki and answered by actors high in the side balconies, the call and response changes into “The Circle of Life” as the animals gather at Pride Rock, which slowly rises from the center of the stage. Tall, elegant giraffes, a lumbering elephant, leaping gazelles, a graceful cheetah, colorful birds—they stream in from every aisle and across the stage, surrounding the audience in light, sound, and color. And that's just the beginning of this extraordinary bucket of brilliance from the seemingly bottomless well of Julie Taymor's genius. Go, take the kids, and enjoy.

twelfth period
Equally Represented Arts presents twelfth period, or not another twelfth night Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through May 6th. "Created and Presented by Equally Represented Arts, An experimental, multi-space, theatrical production From William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and high school, circa 1999 Welcome to Illyria Preparatory Academy - 'Where some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.'" Performances take place at Centene Center for the Arts, 3547 Olive in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: Twelfth Night in a 1990s high school? Sounds crazy, no? But if you step back and look at the social relationships (including the obvious use of bullying) it makes more sense than you might think. And it looks like ERA has done a smart job witht he adaptation. "The dialogue is Shakespeare interspersed with lines which the program credits to various sources from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to American Beauty," writes Ann Lemmons Pollack on her blog. "It's way too fun, clearly not taking much of anything seriously." The storytelling style is ingeniously unconventional as well; designer/director Gabe Taylor divides the audiende up into four "teams," each with different "class schedules". That means each group sees the scenes in different order and don't reunite until the end.

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