Friday, July 14, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of July 14, 2017

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

Share on Google+:

New This Week:

The AFI's Top 100
Photo: Autumn Rinaldi
St. Louis Shakespeare's Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre presents The AFI's Top 100 Greatest American Films of All Time: A Parody Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and 10:30 p.m. through July 7 15. "That's right! The Magic Smoking Monkey players are attempting their boldest feat yet: to parody all 100 movies on the American Film Institute's list in 60 minutes! From Blade Runner to Sunset Boulevard! From Modern Times to King Kong! From Citizen Kane to... The Sixth Sense? Well, no list is infallible." Performances take place at the Regional Arts Commission in University City. For more information:

My take: Over at STLtoday, Judy Newmark calls this "a smart, rowdy, hilarious take on classic movies." Which is to say that it's a typical fast-paced and irreverent MSM production. 'Nuff said.

"Percentage America"
Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents the Neil LaBute New Theater Festival, Part 1 through July 16 at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. The festival features professional, new and previously unproduced one-act plays 45 minutes or less in length, chosen from submissions to the festival over the previous year. The plays in Part 1 are "Hate Crime" by Neil LaBute, "Waiting for the Erie Lackawana" by Ron Radice, "Sacred Space" by Barbara Blumenthal-Ekrlich, and "Percentage America" by Carter Lewis. For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit

My take: Actors' Studio continues to do local theatre a big service with its yearly survey of new plays, always anchored by a Neil LaBute piece. The Carter Lewis play is a trenchant satire which is very current, which might mean its shelf life is not long; catch it while you can. Writing for Ladue News, Mark Bretz says the festival "offers some intriguing works for consideration...check it out both for entertainment and education."

On Golden Pond
Photo: John Lamb
Insight Theatre Company presents the drama On Golden Pond through July 23. "On Golden Pond had its Broadway appearance in 1979. Directed by Ernest Thompson and reopened again the following season. It received a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and received 5 Drama Desk Awards: When it was adapted for the screen in 1981, it starred Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda, and was highly acclaimed. It is a love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, a long married couple in their near 80s and their relationship with their daughter, Chelsea." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown. For more information, call 314-556-1293 or visit

My take: The script is slight but the characters have real depth (or so says the critical consensus). "There’s a certain aww, cute aura about it that the play’s script frequently knocks off-kilter," writes Anne Lemmons Pollack, "if not intermittently obliterates altogether. Insight Theatre Company’s current interpretation gives such the off-kilter attitude center stage." And St. Louis veteran Joneal Joplin can always be counted upon for a finely wrought performance.

Held Over:

Albert Herring
Photo: John Lamb
Union Avenue Opera presents Benjamin Britten's comedy Albert Herring Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM through July 15. "In a small Suffolk market town Mr. Gedge the Vicar, Police Superintendent Budd, Mr. Upfold the Mayor and the local head teacher Miss Wordsworth meet at the home of Lady Billows to appoint at her behest a May Queen as an encouragement to local chastity. Nobody can agree on a candidate, so instead a May King is proposed and Albert Herring - blameless son of a widowed shopkeeper - is chosen." Spiked lemonade at the celebration and Albert's unexpected disappearance result in comic confusion and, of course, a happy ending. The opera is sung in English with projected English text. Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, visit or call 314-361-2881.

My take: While I haven't seen the Union Avenue production yet (my own rehearsal schedule means I won't get there until closing night), I'm putting this on the list because I have been a great admirer of this funny and cuddly comic opera ever since Opera Theatre presented it as part of their inaugural season back in 1976 and because reviews for this production have been raves. Like Britten's tragic Peter Grimes, Albert Herring looks at the way a traditional society deals with the local oddball, but it does so is a comic and ultimately forgiving way. The cast includes renowned soprano Christine Brewer as Lady Billows.

No comments: