Thursday, July 06, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of July 7, 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:

Christine Brewer
Union Avenue Opera presents Benjamin Britten's comedy Albert Herring Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, July 7 - 15. Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union at Enright in the Central West End. "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. 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. 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.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The Muny presents A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opening on Wednesday, July 5, at 8:15 p.m. and running through the 11th. "Load up the chariots, we are off to The Muny for big, big laughs! Considered one of Broadway's greatest farces, this musical romp through Rome includes desperate lovers, mistaken identities, scheming neighbors and secrets behind every toga. With delicious music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this is one hair-brained [sic] Roman forum you won't want to miss!" Performances take place on the Muny's outdoor stage in Forest Park. For more information:

My take: Combine a great score by Sondheim with a fast and hilarious book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart (of M*A*S*H. fame)—based on the farces of the Roman playwright Plautus—and you have a recipe for a show that has been a hit since its 1962 Broadway debut. The key role of Pesudolus has been taken over by Jeffrey Schecter, replacing Peter Scolari (whose allergies couldn't stand up to a St. Louis summer) and word is that Mr. Schecter is doing a bang-up job.

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