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Ring of Fire: The Rep's Tribute to Johnny Cash Falls Short

Categories: Arts

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Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Principals Jason Edwards, Allison Briner, Trenna Barnes and Derek Keeling.

Fresh off its glimmering success with A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis returns with Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, a shallow-end tribute to the life and work of the Man in Black.

Neither a retelling of Cash's life nor a straight holiday concert, the hokey, Branson-style show tips its hat to the performer's biography, jumping around the Cash songbook to deliver polished renditions of Cash standards.


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High-Flying Pippin Brings Magic to the Peabody

Categories: Arts

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Terry Shapiro
The cast of Pippin.
Rolling into the Peabody Opera House, the touring production of Pippin is a show that seeks to delight on every front, delivering a lush sensory experience where song, story, costume and choreography compete for attention. The rollicking tuner, whose Broadway incarnation won last year's Tony Award for "Best Revival of a Musical," can be almost overwhelming at times with the sheer amount of action that unfolds onstage.

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Blithe Spirit: St. Louis Actors' Studio Convincingly Channels Afterlife Comedy

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Nancy Bell, Michael James Reed and Lee Ann Mathews.
"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit," quips Charles Condomine, the arch novelist at the heart of Blithe Spirit, Noël Coward's sparkling comedy of séances, spouses and spectral bigamy now being presented by the St. Louis Actors' Studio.

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Becoming Dr. Ruth: New Jewish Theatre's Boringly Rigid Play on Sex Guru

Categories: Arts

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John Lamb
Dr. Ruth is in session at New Jewish Theatre.
The New Jewish Theatre continues its eighteenth season with Mark St. Germain's Becoming Dr. Ruth, a comfy but torpid tale of survival.

Starring Susie Wall as Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist whose call-in radio show made her a household name in the 1980s, the one-woman show seeks to tell the human story behind the persona. What Becoming Dr. Ruth delivers, on the other hand, is a saccharine, overly detailed but two-dimensional portrait of a remarkable life.

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Annie: Musical at Fox Theatre Has All the Charm of Broadway Original

Categories: Arts

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Courtesy Fabulous Fox Theatre
Gilgamesh Taggett as Daddy Warbucks and Issie Swickle as the title character in Annie.
Say what you will about that old warhorse, Annie, but remember this: It's a pretty frigid heart that doesn't melt a little when the plucky, ginger-haired orphan and her foundling friends launch into that brush-scrubbing, pail-banging anthem of discontent, "It's the Hard Knock Life."

Like so many other facets of this benchmark 1977 musical, the song has become a cultural ear-worm -- a nostalgia-inducing set piece that this handsome touring production, now playing at the Fox Theatre, seeks to recreate with all the spunk, hope and, yes, cuteness, of the Broadway original.

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Wurst Show: Artist Lucas Blalock Explores the Hot Dog at White Flag Projects

Categories: Arts

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Courtesy White Flag Projects
Installation view, Lucas Blalock: Late Work.
If you're suffering a postprandial hangover this holiday season, you may want to steer clear of White Flag Projects, where photographer Lucas Blalock is exhibiting a series of nine outsized prints that present — in all its packaged, processed, juicy glory — the lowly hot dog.

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Raisin in the Sun: Black Rep Proves 1950s Play About Race Remains Relevant

Categories: Arts

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Stewart Goldstein
The Black Rep stages a powerful, timely Raisin in the Sun.
"I'm a volcano," seethes Walter Lee Younger, who for more than 50 years has formed the molten core of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry's transformative tale of a struggling African American family on Chicago's south side. "Bitter?" he spits. "[A]in't nobody with me! Not even my own mother!"

Desperate and scheming, Ronald L. Conner follows in the tradition of Walters past in the Black Rep's new staging of the show, delivering a performance rich with the anguished thrashings of a man on the verge of relinquishing hope. Nevertheless, director Ed Smith leaves little doubt where the real power in the Younger home resides: That would be with Walter's mama, Lena.

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[VIDEO] Artists Transform Protest-Related Vandalism into Beauty on South Grand

Categories: Arts, Ferguson

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Steve Truesdell
Turning a frown upside-down on South Grand. See more photos here.

On November 24, after St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury's decision that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for fatally shooting Michael Brown in August, things became tense in the St. Louis area. Protests were held in Ferguson, Tower Grove and beyond. Some actions were peaceful; others were not. As the night wore on, police used tear gas on protesters. Windows were broken, and buildings were burned.

The next day, though, things started looking up, thanks to volunteers who were determined to create beauty from destruction.

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Cindy Tower: Artist Opens Up New Bruno David Projects with Road Show

Categories: Arts

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Courtesy of Bruno David Projects
Cindy Tower, Indian Cave (diptych), 2010. Oil on canvas, 18 by 48 inches.
In a show of confidence in the St. Louis art market, Bruno David Gallery opens its new space, Bruno David Projects, with Cindy Tower: Road Show, a collection of paintings and video by the long-time gallery artist. Formerly the private studio of Frank Schwaiger (another David artist), the new space is intended to be a less formal venue, where artists can present experimental works that are ill-suited to a traditional gallery's commercial setting.

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Motown: Musical About Famed Record Label Features All the Hits -- And a Miss

Categories: Arts

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Joan Marcus
Motown: The Musical brings you the Jackson 5...and lots more.
One thing's for sure: You can't wrong with the music in Motown: The Musical, the joyous if frenetic tale of Motown Records, Berry Gordy's Detroit label that not only discovered genre-defining greats like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but also acted as a critical cultural bridge between white Americans and their black counterparts during the racially tumultuous 1960s and '70s.

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