Friday, August 04, 2017

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of August 4th, 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:

9 to 5, the Musical
Stages St. Louis presents the 9 to 5, the Musical through August 20. "Based on the seminal 1980 hit movie, this hilarious musical romp that explores friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era is outrageous, romantic, and even a little bit thought provoking in its heroines' desire to break the glass ceiling. Chock-full of upbeat and optimistic songs by country superstar Dolly Parton and featuring the toe-tapping title tune, "9 to 5", three female coworkers concoct a plan to live out their wildest fantasies by giving their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss the boot! In the process, the women give their workplace a dream makeover and take control of the company that had always kept them down. A bright and brand new musical bon-bon for STAGES audiences and a celebration for anyone who has ever struggled with any kind of authority figure, you will laugh, cry, and ultimately cheer the exploits of Violet, Judy, and Doralee as they discover the joys of working 9 to 5!" Performances take place in the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road in Kirkwood. For more information:

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."

Photo: John Lamb
Union Avenue Opera presents the Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, through August 5. Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union at Enright in the Central West End. " The time is 1873. The place, a small fishing village on the rocky New England coastline. Billy Bigelow, the handsome and swaggering barker for Mrs. Mullin's carousel in the local amusement park, meets Julie Jordan, a lovely young working girl at the nearby mill, when Julie and her friend Carrie Pipperidge come to the carousel. Billy and Julie fall in love and are soon married. But as the community unties against them, it soon becomes apparent that marriage doesn't guarantee "happily ever after." The production is directed by Ken Page. The opera is sung in English with projected English text. For more information, visit or call 314-361-2881.

My take: I'm a great admirer of Union Avenue Opera and it looks like they have a winner with this production. Writing for, my fellow Music Critics Assocation of North America member Sarah Bryan Miller notes that UAO has "assembled a cast of fine singing actors, skilled dancers and a director with major theatrical chops, for a successful whole in the company’s first Broadway outing." Mark Bretz at Ladue News agrees. "Union Avenue Opera’s entry into the rich musical world of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II is a resounding success," he writes, "thanks to the colorful and creative direction of Ken Page and a spirited reading of Rodgers’ score by Scott Schoonover and the UAO orchestra."

A Chorus Line
The Muny presents the musical A Chorus Line through August 4th. "This singular sensation of a musical tells the story of 19 dancers at a final audition, vying for a spot in a Broadway show. A landmark American musical, A Chorus Line has been called "the greatest musical - ever." With music by Oscar and Tony winning Marvin Hamlisch, A Chorus Line celebrates the dreams, guts and sweat that we all need to take our place "on the line." Performances take place on the Muny's outdoor stage in Forest Park. For more information:

My take: It hardly seems possible now that when this show first appeared on the Muny stage back in the 1970s, some of the patrons were vastly offended by some of the "adult" material in it. Now the Muny web site describes it as "a landmark American musical" the the current production even includes roles for the Muny Youth Ensemble (a.k.a. the "Muny Kids") this time around. Reviews have been very good. "The Muny's current production reinvigorates the soul of the long-running musical in spectacular fashion" says Tina Farmer at KDHX, "ensuring it feels intimate and personal, while delivering precisely choreographed numbers and standout songs."

Once Upon a Mattress
The Hawthorne Players present the musical Once Upon a Mattress through August 6. "Due to an unhappy curse, King Sextimus is unable to speak. Mean- while, his terror-of-a-wife, Queen Aggravain, has taken over control of the kingdom. In an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. Luckily, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess who instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless. In the end, Winnifred is able to pass the Queen's impossible sensitivity test." The performances take place at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre at Parker and Waterford in Florissant, MO. For more information, call 921-5678 or visit

My take: I've always loved that odd little show, with its remarkable score by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard) and Marshall Barer and it's slyly funny book. "This is a great old-fashioned, well-crafted, unpretentious American musical comedy," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX, "and director Lori Renna manages it all with great love and respect for the script." If you're looking for some good, old-fashioned musical theatre fun this weekend, this is a good bet.

Out on Broadway
Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre presents the musical revue Out on Broadway: The Third Coming Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, August 3 - 19. "Twenty-one years after the first edition premiered, OUT ON BROADWAY: THE THIRD COMING is an original revue of musical theatre songs performed from the perspective of five gay men, an intimate evening of funny and emotional performances, with just five guys, a piano, and no microphones. Some songs will be brought back from the earlier editions, with new songs as well, including numbers from Heathers, Kinky Boots, Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Dreamgirls, Songs for a New World, Follies, Cabaret, Ordinary Days, Cry-Baby, Bye Bye Birdie, Into the Woods, and other musicals." Performances take place at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in Grand Center. For more information, visit or call 314-534-1111.

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
Stray Dog Theatre presents the musical Ragtime, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, Thursdays through Saturdays, August 3 - 19. "Set in the volatile melting pot of New York at the turn of the century, three distinctly American tales are woven together. A stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician are united by courage, compassion, and belief in the promise of the future. As they confront the ongoing contradictions of society, their stories intertwine with notable historic figures in a sweeping musical portrait of an indelible era." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

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 the opening night buzz has been very positive. Tickets are going fast (this weekend is already sold out)so get yours now.

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