Janet Langhart Cohen, who wrote the current Black Rep production Anne and Emmett, has had a distinguished career as a television journalist. She knows a good story when she sees it, and she knows how to tell it clearly. She knows how to make her thoughts about the story clear, too. And she knows that she must hold her audience's attention.
"The Drowsy Chaperone" is, deliberately, a silly musical. It is a silly musical "within" as its subtitle says, "a comedy." The musical purports to be from the 1920s. The comedy is from today. It has one character. The musical is his favorite show, and he plays his LP of the show for us, magically evoking the original cast to perform it for us.
Sam Bobrick has done a lot of writing for TV. You suspect that watching his play Remember Me?, recently at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves. Remember Me? is well crafted, funny, and slight. It's set in a prosperous apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The central couple are middle-aged, well-to-do, bright and articulate.
Playwright Ron Hutchinson came across an amusing incident in the creation of the eternally popular movie Gone with the Wind. Three weeks into shooting the film, producer David O. Selznick, unhappy with the work of director George Cukor and the screenplay by Sidney Howard, suspended work, fired Cukor, and locked himself in his office with new director Victor Fleming and writer Ben Hecht. Selznick gave the trio five days to come up with a new script for the movie. They did.
Once I thought that Gilbert and Sullivan were quaint, old-fashioned, sometimes mildly amusing Victorians. Then I saw several very clever productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, like The Mikado a couple of years ago at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. They were about as much fun as should be legally allowed in a theatre.
The Sound of Music was the last musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and to me, it is the least. It leans too heavily on cute children, romanticized nuns, and sentimental melodrama, and the music suffers for it.
Thirty years after its huge Broadway success, Dreamgirls has made it to The Muny. One can speculate about why it took this musical longer to get to Forest Park than other late 20th century megahits like Les Miz, Miss Saigon, or Jesus Christ Superstar. But it's here now.
Rudyard Kipling, unofficial poet laureate of the British Raj, wrote a series of stories – moral fables, really – featuring anthropomorphized animals of India, plus the occasional human, that he called The Jungle Book. Its popularity has never waned for more than a century, and the stories have been adapted in multiple medias, in whole and in part, multiple times.
The Damask Cheek is almost the quintessential ACT Inc. play. Actor's Creative Theatre Inc., to give the company its full name, looks, they say, for “obscure 'theatrical gems'” and “plays that have true literary merit yet are rarely produced.” They are often “drawing room plays” and often by British playwrights.