The play “Shotgun” takes its name from its setting. A shotgun house is a small house, usually in a poorer neighborhood, in which the three or four rooms are placed directly behind each other, with no connecting hallway. If you fired a gun through the front door, the shot would go unimpeded straight out the back door.
The set-up is simple. Thomas, a theater director, has been holding auditions for the play he's written. He's on the phone complaining about the women who've read for the lead female role — not good, not smart.
Stages tells us that they get more requests for a repeat production of "The Full Monty" and of "The Drowsy Chaperone" than any other musicals. They're doing "The Full Monty" right now, and they're going to repeat "The Drowsy Chaperone" next year.
I have trouble suspending my disbelief when watching "Footloose". Maybe a small town in the South in the 1950s could successfully outlaw all dancing for their teenagers. But even in a small town in Illinois, in 1984 when the movie was made, or anytime since then when the musical is set, I have trouble believing it could happen.
If you are among the few who have never seen a production of "The Fantasticks," the current one at Insight Theatre Company offers you a splendid introduction to this ever-charming musical. On Luke Shyrock's well-worn circus set, director Maggie Ryan has emphasized the theatricality of the piece. Little of a fourth wall — even less than in most musicals — stands between the audience and the actors. They address us not only in song but in speech.
When Charles Dickens died, he left unfinished his last novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” A hundred years later, the multitalented Rupert Holmes finished it by inventing a musical that was being performed in Dickens' own time in the styles of the English music hall, with its presiding Chairman, popular songs, and lively audience participation, and of the pantomime, with its Lead Boy, a male character played by a woman in drag.
Jonathan Tolins is a very clever writer. Jeremy Webb is a very smart actor. Put them together, with some inventive guidance from director Wendy Dann, and you get a quite enjoyable ninety minutes or so in the Studio Theatre at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Depression-era comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” about the eccentric Sycamore family can be a little tricky to pull off in spots, but if you get it right, it guarantees warm-hearted, smart laughs and perhaps a little pleasant moisture about the eyes at the end. The current production at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves under Debbie Love's direction can be a little slow sometimes, the rhythm breaks occasionally, and the blocking gets a little awkward now and then, but by and large it gets it right.
James Baldwin dedicated his play “Blues for Mr. Charlie” to the memory of Medgar Evers and of the four girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing, all violent moments in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and '60s. Baldwin loosely based the action on the murder of teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. Director Ron Himes opens the current production of the play at Washington University's Performing Arts Department with photos of African-American men killed by white men in the decades since then. The killing continues.