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.
The place where the play takes place and the people in that place make “Stick Fly” something out of the ordinary.
In “The Lion in Winter,” James Goldman has written something of a medieval version of “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.” Given that in Goldman's piece royalty are fighting for provinces and thrones and even lives, the stakes may seem higher than in Albee, but the bruising of egos is very similar. And Goldman's dialogue can be almost as witty as Albee's.
The “Cinderella” now at the Fox Theatre is not just any “Cinderella.” It's the “Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.”
“The 39 Steps” began life as a novel and has been made into at least three movies, but the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock version is the favorite. It's the one that Patrick Barlow and John Buchan raided for their stage version.