Assassins: November Theater Co. Debuts With Musical About Famous Killers

Categories: Arts

assassins560.jpg
Jill Ritter Photography
Assassins just about hits its mark.
Talk about starting out with a bang.

The city's newest theater troupe, the November Theater Company, marked its debut last weekend with a production of Stephen Sondheim's beloved Assassins, the anachronistic musical with book by John Weidman that seeks to humanize those villains of history.

More »

Mel Chin: Contemporary Art Museum Hosts Retrospective of Transformative Artist

Categories: Arts

rematch560.jpg
David Johnson
Mel Chin: Rematch, installation view, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
While waiting to give a lecture at the New School for Social Research in the late 1980s, the artist Mel Chin, nervous and pounding a six-pack of Budweiser before his talk, surprised the room when instead of discussing his work he jumped from his chair screaming, "This is an axe!"

"What the fuck you gonna do, man?" Chin recalls a pipe-smoking department chair asked him.

More »

All in the Timing: St. Louis Actors' Studio Opens Season With Clever Plays on Language

Categories: Arts

allintiming2.jpg
Photo: John Lamb
Behold! The Mighty Loaf. The Actors' Studio cast computes the existential implications of bread buying in Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.
Language, to paraphrase Mark Twain, is a treacherous thing.

Sure, we carve it in the rough shape of our thoughts. We hone its edges with commas and periods, paragraphs and pauses. But words are unfaithful little instruments, prone to miscalculations and misunderstandings, miscommunications and misapprehensions, misconstructions and misinterpretations... OK! OK! Somebody hand me a thesaurus.

Call it Language and Its Disconnects. Call it the Tour de Babel. But whatever you call it, the St. Louis Actors' Studio opens its eighth season on a high note with All in the Timing, David Ives' fizzy collection of semantically warped one-act plays.

More »

Normal Heart: HotCity Theatre Offers Visceral Telling of Early '80s AIDS Crisis

Categories: Arts

normalheart1.jpg
Todd Studios
John Flack and Eric White as a gay couple battling AIDS in HotCity Theatre's gripping and powerful Normal Heart.
"Weakness terrifies me," Ned Weeks, the cantankerous writer-turned-activist says in The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's seminal work about the initial days of the AIDS crisis.

Of course, nothing motivates quite like fear. And Ned, played with redline intensity by a sinuous John Flack in HotCity Theatre's heart-wrenching production of the play, attacks the burgeoning AIDS epidemic on all fronts, alienating allies while battling public indifference and private shame. The result is a marvelously textured work of theater. It's a deeply intellectual play that brings a flesh-and-blood urgency to these characters who celebrate hard-won political victories, battle their own private humiliations, seek familial love that is non-patronizing, and romantic love that is free from stigma -- all while working at a breakneck speed to raise awareness about this cruelest of diseases, one that kills through an act of love.

More »

Purlie: Black Rep Opens Season With Timely and Clever Musical on Jim Crow South

Categories: Arts

purlie1.jpg
Photo: Phillip Hamer
The Purlie cast sings and dances its way to outwitting plantation owner Ol' Cap'n.
How do you emasculate the institutionalized bigotry that held sway for centuries in the cotton fields of South Georgia? If you're the late playwright and activist Ossie Davis, you render it in such cartoonish dimensions that its barbarity is obvious, its absurdity indisputable.

At least that's what Davis hoped for with Purlie, his musical tale of a silver-tongued preacher who schemes to trick a white plantation owner out of a church. Based on Davis' earlier play, Purlie Victorious, the musical adaptation, now given expansive treatment as The Black Rep's competent season opener, is rife with caricatures from the Jim Crow South.

More »

The Rep's "Two Guvnors" Offers a Smorgasbord of Bawdy Laughs

Categories: Arts

guvnors560.jpg
Jerry Naunheim Jr.
Raymond McAnally and Ruth Pferdehirt in the Rep's rollicking One Man, Two Guvnors.
Be careful where you sit during One Man, Two Guvnors, Richard Bean's hysterical, topsy-turvy comedy that marks the impressive launch of the fall season at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Sit too close, and the evening's ebullient star, Raymond McAnally, is likely to pull you onstage, dragooning you to do his dirty work before impugning your sexual predilections, as he did a pair of silver-haired gents on opening night. Sit on the aisle, and you may find yourself wearing a straw hat, coerced into a seductive chair dance with a fella in frilly sleeves festooned with flowers.

More »

"Fiddler on the Roof": Stages St. Louis Pulls Off Brilliant Production of Classic Musical

Categories: Arts

fiddler560.jpg
Peter Wochniak
Bruce Sabath and Paul Sabala in Fiddler on the Roof.
Stages St. Louis closes its main-stage season with that most traditional of musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, and like the show's opening number, "Tradition," director Michael Hamilton calls upon the Tony Award-winning show's estimable history to deliver a bright production, filled with sumptuous choreography and impressive musical numbers.

More »

Dramatic License's "Great American Trailer Park Musical" Is a White-Trash Blast

Categories: Arts

trailerMAIN.jpg
John Lamb
A white-trash Trailer bash in Chesterfield.
Stripping," says Pippi, an exotic dancer on the run from her bad-seed boyfriend in David Nehls' crowd-pleasing tuner, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, "is like an all-you-can-eat waffle bar: You need to know when to walk away."

The same might be said of Dramatic License Productions' hilarious rendition of the show, which plays hard for laughs, serving up reheated white-trash stereotypes and a plot as thin as the strawberry syrup at IHOP. But like any good waffle bar, walking away is easier said than done. The show is an unabashed buffet, both salty and sweet, and while it definitely satisfies those twin cravings of the American diet, its empty calories may leave you feeling bloated when it comes time for the check.

More »

R-S Theatrics' "First Lady Suite" Is a Musical in Need of a Presidential Pardon

Categories: Arts

wivesMAIN.jpg
Courtesy Michael Young
Mamie pours a stiff one in First Lady Suite.
If you've ever wondered how Mamie Eisenhower, lonely and a little tipsy on her birthday, responded to the Little Rock Nine crisis, allow playwright Michael John LaChiusa to enlighten you: She traveled back in time, by boat, to confront her philandering husband about his mistress/chauffeur, Kay Summersby.

Vain, childish, self-pitying and self-absorbed, Mamie is but one of the women trapped by the office of the presidency in First Lady Suite, LaChiusa's surreal and somewhat facile chamber musical now featured in a bumpy production by R-S Theatrics. Often employing the metaphor of flight, the show plays fast and loose with the veneers of fame, imagining the unknown and dreamlike inner worlds of these public figures as they hurtle through the air, freed from the confines of the White House.

More »

What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking?: "My Home Smells Like Beer and Pretzels" [VIDEO]

Categories: Arts

wthstlvideo1.JPG
via
Eau de St. Louis?
There was a time when the greatest obstacles to St. Louis' civic pride were skewed crime statistics and people hating our pizza.

But the death of Michael Brown focused a national spotlight elsewhere in St. Louis. From the county's militarized police forces to the heavy-handed response to protesters in the streets, the events in Ferguson exposed the historic distrust between north county's black communities and the predominately white police departments that patrol there.

In the still-developing aftermath of Brown's death, everyone is asking the same question local poet Henry Goldkamp did more than a year ago: "What the hell is St. Louis thinking?"


More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...