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New This Week:
|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."
Photo: John Lamb
My take: I'm a great admirer of Union Avenue Opera and it looks like they have a winner with this production. Writing for STLToday.com, 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|
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|
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
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 the opening night buzz has been very positive. Tickets are going fast (this weekend is already sold out)so get yours now.