Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of February 16, 2018

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:

Steve Brammeier
Mariposa Artists presents Steve Brammeier in Dancing at Keukenhof on Friday, February 16, at 8 pm. "After successfully debuting his show at Don't Tell Mama in New York City this past October, Steve is bringing this popular show to St. Louis! From 1950 to 2018…From St. Louis to Amsterdam. Join Steve as he shares an autobiographical evening of songs and stories through his unique cabaret journey. Rick Jensen in pianist and music director for the show, which is directed by Lina Koutrakos.The show takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: I saw a preview of this show when Steve was getting it ready for its local premiere last fall. It's a warm, charming, and captivating trip, with expert guidance from cabaret legends Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen.

Beverly Brennan
Mariposa Artists presents Beverly Brennan in Love and Marriage on Saturday, February 17, at 8 pm. The show takes place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand in Grand Center. "With her new show Love and Marriage, Bev offers an inside take on long term relationships - the good, the bad and the outrageously funny. With stories, jokes and songs her show will take you on the roller coaster ride of falling in love and the consequences. Songs include hits by Patsy Cline, Billy Joel, John Lennon and James Brown as well as selections from musical theater and the great American Song Book. It's time to get real and tell it like it is about being married to the same (wonderful) guy for 46 years! Rick Jensen serves as musical director and accompanist for this show on Beverly's birthday!! Co-directed by Lina Koutrakos and Ken Haller." For more information:

My take: This is the third (at least) solo outing for Ms. Brennan, a St. Louis native (and daughter of sportscasting legend Jack Buck) who grew up on The Hill. Her first, St. Louie Woman, played to sold-out houses both here and in Chicago in 2010. As she did in her Doris Day tribute show back in 2013, she has teamed up with the always-impressive Rick Jensen along with cabaret legend Lina Koutrakos and one of our city's most notable cabaret exports, Ken Haller. Fun will be had.

Red Scare on Sunset
Photo: John Lamb
Stray Dog Theatre presents the comedy Red Scare on Sunset Thursdays through Saturdays through February 24. "In 1950s Hollywood, film star Mary Dale finds the Red Menace invading her Beverly Hills backyard. When she discovers her husband has been lured into the local Communist Party by way of a Method acting class and there is a left wing plot to abolish the star system, Mary wages a private war to save her husband, country, and billing over the title. The McCarthy era is turned on its head in this outlandish take on a serious subject." Performances take place at The Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee. For more information, visit or call 314-865-1995.

My take: Actor, female impersonator, and playwright Charles Busch's plays include outrageous classics like Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Psycho Beach Party, and Die, Mommie, Die! as well as the more mainstream (but no less hilarious) Tale of the Allergist's Wife. "Red Scare on Sunset," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "provides a bevy of laughs about a subject that was anything but funny during its infamous heyday...It’s given a vivid and vivacious treatment by artistic director Gary Bell and his hard-charging cast, including an amazing star turn by Will Bonfiglio as fair Mary."

Held Over:

Bud, Not Buddy
Metro Theatre Company presents Bud, Not Buddy Fridays and Saturdays at 7 and Sundays at 2 pm through February 25. "Based on the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel, this play combines actors with a 13-piece jazz band performing an original score composed by five-time, Grammy-winning jazz artist Terence Blanchard to tell the story of a boy who finds a home and a passion for music." Performances take place at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center. For more information:

My take: This original one-act play is a co-production with Jazz St. Louis and, according to Mark Bretz at Ladue News, it's "a sure-fire treat for theater patrons young and old as well as devotees of America's original musical art form." This is the first production on the USA since the play's premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C many years ago, which makes it quite a feather in the cap of Metro. The story it tells of life under American apartheid is one of which far too many people in this country seemed determine to write out of history.

The How and the Why
Photo: Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theater presents The How and the Why through February 11. "In Sarah Treem's smart and provocative play about science, family and survival of the fittest, evolution and emotion collide as two women of different generations struggle to come together both on a professional and on a personal level. The play explores many areas of struggle for women, especially in the field of scientific research: the fierce competition among scientists for recognition of their discoveries; the struggles in the academic world for prestigious positions and grant funding: and female attitudes about sex, relationships, men, motherhood and families." Performances take place in the Marvin and Harlene Wool Studio Theater at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive in Creve Coeur. For more information: or call 314-442-3283.

My take: I'm a great admirer of plays that can deal with complex subjects like nuclear physics (Michael Frayn's Copenhagen) or international economics (Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand) in a way that's dramatically compelling and which illuminates areas of knowledge which are dark for many of us. The reviews indicate that The How and the Why does that with evolutionary biology. Tina Farmer at KDHX says the show "is riveting and filled with interesting ideas that come across as both real science and contemporarily relevant."

Menopause the Musical
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Menopause the Musical, "a celebration of women and The Change," through March 31. Four women meet while shopping for a black lace bra at a lingerie sale. After noticing unmistakable similarities among one another, the cast jokes about their woeful hot flashes, mood swings, wrinkles, weight gain and much more. The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information:

My take: This popular ensemble show has been around for a while now, having premiered in 2001 in Orlando, Florida, in a 76-seat theatre that once housed a perfume shop. It's last visit at the Westport Playhouse was ten years ago, and it seems to have lost none of it's comic shine. "Who will enjoy this," asks Ann Lemmons Pollack in a review of the show last year, "beyond women of what they call un age certain? People of both genders around them unless they have no sense of humor. That includes family, friends and co-workers. One of life's cruel jokes is that the menopause hits many households about the same time adolescence does. Here's something to tide us over." Since this is effectively a remounting of that same production, I think I'm on safe ground putting it on the hit list, as I did last January.

Silent Sky
Photo: John Lamb
The West End Players Guild continues its 107th season with the drama Silent Sky Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, February 9 - 18. "It is the inspiring true story of Henrietta Leavitt who, in the earliest days of the 20th century, triumphed over sexist prejudice and devastating personal hardship to reshape for all time our scientific understanding of our universe and our own place in it." There will also be a show on Thursday, February 15, at 8 pm. Performances take place at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information, call 314-367-0025 or visit

My take: The significant contributions women have made to the sciences over the years (and the difficulty they have had in getting proper credit for them) have provided fodder for a fair number of books and plays recently. Silent Sky is fiction, of course, but it's based on solid history, and tells a tale that needs to be heard. This also happens to be an excellent production, with impressive technical values and brilliant performances from a top-notch cast.

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