Of course Cinderella ends up with Prince Charming. She’s beautiful, obedient and always cheerful. Who wouldn’t be smitten? I was 7 years old. “But, what about me?” I wondered. “What’s in store for girls like us?” The answer seemed painfully clear.
Fed up with politics? Disgusted with TV? Got a headache from 3D movies? Wilted by the heat? Well, take heart, dear friends. Opera Theatre has a charming romantic comedy for you that will take your mind off whatever’s bugging you and send you out of the theatre with a smile on your face and a Smetana melody in your heart.
The opera receiving its world premiere this month at Opera Theatre has an impressive pedigree. The music is by jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and genre-crossing composer Terrence Blanchard, and the libretto by Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Michael Cristofer, whose play “The Shadow Box” remains a perennial favorite of small theatre companies. It’s a bit surprising, then, that while I found “Champion” moving and often profoundly sad, I felt that it lacked the real dramatic depth I would have expected from that kind of talent.
The OnSite Theatre Company has opened a strange, lovely little play called "There's a Gun in Your Goodbye Bag" by Elizabeth Birkenmeier.
The classical music and theatre scenes in St. Louis are both lively, yet the art form that combines both—opera—still struggles. Opera Theatre produces generally fine work and gets international attention, but it’s only up and running for a little over a month. Add in the short seasons by our two smaller companies, Union Avenue Opera and Winter Opera, and local fans get to see, at most, a dozen productions per year.
One of the great things about the Fringe Festival is the outlet it offers for performances that don’t easily fit into neat categories. Take, for example, “Hey Minnie the Moocher: A Musical Tribute to the Cotton Club Swing Jazz Legends.”
Glen Berger’s 2001 one-man play “Underneath the Lintel” is the story of an obsessive Librarian (we never do learn his name) in a small Dutch town whose neatly ordered (if not terribly fulfilling) life is turned upside-down when a copy of a Baedeker travel guide turns up in his “returns” box one day. It’s 123 years overdue, filled with notes in a variety of different languages (yet all, apparently by the same hand), and the borrower is identified in the records only as “A.”
Official description: “An electronic musical adventure featuring a guided bipolar meditation, Robot Therapists, lascivious puppets, and a destitute magician. Caila Lipovsky has run the gamut as a performance artist and physical theater in Chicago, NYC, and San Francisco. She was lead singer of the avant-cabaret punk band “apartment” for 5 years and has performed her own work in the NYC Fringe Festival, in nightclubs, galleries, on the subway, and in public bathrooms.”
The Muny opened its 2013 season on Monday night, a little late and with some trepidation. The monsoon Monday afternoon washed out the final dress rehearsal, which The Muny normally has on the afternoon of the opening evening. So as Executive Producer Mike Isaacson noted a little uneasily in his lengthy curtain speech, Monday night was technical rehearsal, dress rehearsal, and opening night rolled into one.
Let’s face it, the villain is the most interesting character in a play. Without a worthy opponent, there’s little suspense. Villains can’t afford to be wishy-washy. They thrive on conflict. They love to concoct schemes to squash the competition. The skewed logic of villains can be seductive. (Aren’t we quick to rationalize our own behavior?)
How can mere mortals hope to compete with superheroes of the big screen? In the realm of entertainment, repeated exposure to CGI and cinematic special effects can skew our expectations. Our attention spans seem ever dwindling and it’s easy to forget that movie images are 2-dimensional illusions.
Fifty years after her untimely death, the music of Patsy Cline is as beloved as ever, and her influence is still present in both country and pop music. In Stages current production, the voice of Patsy Cline is strong, clear and vibrant, filled with life, laughter and at least a couple of Schlitz beers. It's no wonder, then, that she and her friend Louise Seger are playing to sold out audiences night after night.
The late 20th century idea that everyone on earth is connected to everyone else through six people has fascinated the public since its introduction, to the point of inspiring a pop culture meme. Stray Dog Theatre's current production largely succeeds in presenting this idea. The staging and direction puts the emphasis clearly on the idea of separation, which at times creates uncomfortable distances across the small stage and minimizes a sense of connection between the actors and the story.
One of R-S Theatrics’ promotional slogans is “Never safe. Always R-S.” I think this means that the company doesn’t put on tired old shows, and is true to its self-definition, but I’ve never thought it made much sense until now.
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was a prolific writer of letters, novels, and plays (more than 60 of the latter). ACT Inc, a St. Louis theatre company that delights in resurrecting little-performed plays of yesteryear, has mounted "Getting Married," written in 1908.
"Twelfth Night" is one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has mounted a splendid production of it in the Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. It has comedy high and low, true love whose course runs not unbearably rough, a generous sprinkling of music, and a happy ending shaded with a pleasant touch of melancholy.
The Windsor Theatre Group deserves an "A" for effort in this earnest presentation of favorites from the 40's era of American musical theater. Starting with the first note of the opening number, "There's No Business Like Show Business," the group served up thoughtful renditions of popular show tunes interspersed with a few dance numbers.
Opera Theatre’s second production this season is a dramatically powerful and musically impeccable combination of two classics of verismo opera: Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” (“The Cloak”) and Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci” (“The Clowns”). “Verismo” is, literally, the Italian for “realism”; the verismo libretti deal with the joys and sorrows of ordinary people. Verismo arose as a kind of reaction to the mythic and historical subjects favored by Verdi and earlier masters.
I’ve long felt that Jerry Vogel is one of the best actors in town. His performance in "An Iliad" at the Upstream Theatre now convinces me that he is simply the very best actor in St. Louis. It’s one of the absolute best performances I’ve ever seen in over fifty years of serious involvement with theatre. And it’s a tour-de-force!
For twenty-two years Scott Miller and his New Line company have been zapping the St. Louis musical theatre scene with bolts of energy. Off-beat, eccentric, sometimes dark, often hilarious, occasionally outrageous and always fresh, New Line productions are for folks who have accepted the fact that Rogers and Hammerstein are actually dead.