The U.S. had been an Asian empire at least since the Spanish-American War. But the engagements in the Pacific in World War II brought the culture conflicts of East and West home more thoroughly than ever before, penetrating even that most popular and American of entertainments, musical comedy. The result was two of the finest works by the leading post-war words-and-music team, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Have you ever seen "Nunsense"? Has anyone not seen "Nunsense" in one of its seven versions, 10,000 productions, or five DVDs over the last 30 years?
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.
"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.
Watching an Agatha Christie mystery, I have often wanted someone to do what Peter Gordon has tried to do in "Murdered to Death", which played recently at the Alpha Players of Florissant.
"Into the Woods" is one of my favorite Sondheim musicals – which is to say, one of my favorite musicals, period.
Farce requires a high degree of craft. Great skill is required, both in writing farce and in playing farce. Ken Ludwig has written one extremely well crafted farce. He's written others that are not as well crafted. Lend Me a Tenor is the extremely well crafted one. Leading Ladies is one of the others.
With her plays "The Clean House", "Dead Man's Cell Phone", and "In the Next Room", Sarah Ruhl has become one of my favorite playwrights. She combines a quirky sense of humor with a serious examination of life in a way that appeals to me. And she writes good theatre.
I think I'm not giving anything away when I suggest that when in a play set in Spain in the 15th century the Inquisition examines a priest who has married a Jewish woman and who is himself a Jew, that examination is not likely to end happily for the priest.