Going to Florissant to see the Alpha Players' production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” I was thinking, do I really have to sit through “Spelling Bee” again? Yes, it's a charming and clever piece, but four or five or six times is enough. You can only squeeze so much out of it.
Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" is a memory play. A writer remembers his younger days and the people he worked with on his first job in the big time.
"Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" seeks a slasher who killed three dancers in the chorus of a musical called "Manhattan Holiday." It also has other villains. That's why playwright John Bishop had to make it the "Musical Comedy Murders of 1940," even though he wrote it in 1987: one set of villains are Nazi saboteurs.
Isabel Allende established herself as a major Latin American writer in 1982 with her first novel, "The House of the Spirits." It traces four generations of a family through the upheavals in Allende's native Chile.
Playwright Brian Friel, best known for "Dancing at Lughnasa," wrote "Lovers" fairly early in his career. It's now being produced by West End Players Guild under Jan Meyer's sure-handed direction.
As a friend and I were leaving Webster University's small Stage 3 after seeing "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," he observed that the productions of the Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts are a great bargain. You can see terrifically talented young people, directed by top-flight theatre folks, young people who may go on to be multiple Tony Award winners. Some have them have done so. And you can see them for less than one-tenth what you'd pay to see them later on Broadway.
I've seen "Les Miserables" several times at the Fox, in two versions, and a couple of times at The Muny. But the current production by the Alpha Players of Florissant is the first I've seen by a community theatre group. It will not be the last. It's a daunting project, and I hope it continues to be done as well as they're doing it at Alpha Players.
Some one-person shows have one character. Some have many characters. "The Purpose Project: Thao's Library" has one actor and one character, and they are the same person.
Some one-person shows have one character. Some have many characters. "Emergency," currently at The Black Rep, has one actor and many characters. Like most one-person shows, it's more storytelling than drama, though it has moments of theatrical excitement, thanks both to playwright Daniel Beaty and actor Ron Conner.