Reviewed by Mark Bretz
Minions Café in Maplewood has expanded its horizons in recent months. In addition to the meals and scrumptious desserts (sample either the delectable pecan pie or the mouth-watering apple cake with caramel frosting, among others), the comfortable little establishment is hosting periodic play readings, performances and concerts as well. Case in point is the current offering from Soundstage Productions titled The Evil Side of Broadway
Obviously, it's a seasonal show lurking in the murky shadows of All Hallows' Eve, designed to showcase works from a myriad of Broadway musicals with dark and stormy subject matter.
With the able assistance of pianist Chris Peterson, a quartet of singers treats the audience to a number of tunes from such stalwart shows as Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Jekyll and Hyde, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Little Shop of Horrors. For whatever reason, Les Miserables also is included; perhaps the specter of grisly guillotine deaths qualifies the saga of life in 19th century France for inclusion with the more obvious choices.
In any event, Laura Ernst, Kimi Short, Helene Meyer and Randy Stinebaker take turns delivering tunes that range from the bouncy "Ë50s number, "Down on Skid Row" from Little Shop of Horrors by the ensemble to Ernst's sweet rendition of the plaintive ballad "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera.
All the ladies possess pleasing voices and nicely alternate on the various tunes, sometimes joining Stinebaker in ensemble numbers as well. Each performer has chances to showcase individual talents and sings capably enough, although it could be safely said that none of them overpowers the room with volume.
For his part, Stinebaker could use more power in his vocals, which at times are barely audible, and the functional lighting in the minuscule performance space kept Short literally in the dark for most of the evening at the opening presentation. Still, the performers were earnest in their efforts and the show moves quickly along, even allowing sufficient time at intermission to indulge in those tasty Minions concoctions.
The Evil Side of Broadway will be performed a final time on Halloween night [Wednesday, October 31, 2007] at 8 p.m. at Minions Café, 7322 Manchester. Phone 314-781-4800 for reservations.