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New This Week:
|Is He Dead?|
Photo: Ron James
My take: Ives is a clever and creative playwright, and it appears that he's done a respectable job of updating Twain's piece with a dash of contemporary humor which St. Louis Shakespeare has exploited neatly. "The current presentation by St. Louis Shakespeare is expertly guided by director Edward Coffield," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "who keeps the shenanigans moving at a brisk pace. He also allows his performers to utilize hyperbole without being too exaggerated, a delicate but important balance."
My take: The Muny is ending another successful season with what Judy Newmark at STLtoday calls "the show of the summer. It boasts fabulous musical numbers and a terrific story for children and adults alike. Plus, it's never been at the Muny before." "The Muny closes its 99th season with its first production of this energetic, high-stepping Disney musical," writes Mark Bretz, "which is built on strong choreography and the music of Alan Menken, led by a winning performance by Jay Armstrong Johnson as Jack Kelly."
|9 to 5, the Musical|
My take: Hit movies don't necessarily make hit musicals, but 9 to 5, the Musical works surprisingly well as a stage vehicle. Sadly, the idea of taking revenge on a bad boss is just as timely now as it was when the movie made such a splash almost four decades ago. "Artistic director Michael Hamilton leads an energized cast in a spirited, high-octane performance of this gleeful musical with serious undertones," says Mark Bretz at Ladue News. "The underlying messages about respect and finding your place in the world are nice, though clunky," notes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "and the show wins with its can do attitude and humor."
|Out on Broadway|
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
My take: This is essential cabaret: intimate, acoustic, and heavily informed by American musical theatre. The performers will be familiar to fans of the local theatre and cabaret scene and at least one of them—Ken Haller—has been acting as a kind of roving cabaret ambassador for St. Louis in Chicago and New York.
Photo: John Lamb
My take: Yes, I'm actually in this one, but the fact is that I have been a great admirer of this show since I first saw it on Broadway almost two decades ago. Part historical pageant, part social and political critique and just a bit fantastical, Ragtime captures the wonder, horror, and inevitable decline of the mad optimism that began this century. It should be required viewing for the rabid free marketeers, so-called "white nationalists" (sounds nicer than "Nazis"...) and self-proclaimed populists who would have us believe that turn of the century America was the best of all possible worlds. This is a big, ambitious production, and reviews have been uniformly positive, and sometimes positively giddy. Just one example, from Steve Allen at Stage Door St. Louis: "Strong singing and acting performances highlight this massive undertaking that hits every note and every tug of the heartstrings with unabashed brilliance."Tickets are going fast (this weekend is already sold out) so get yours now.