The Mustard Seed Theatre opens its season with a world premiere of a new work by Jennifer Blackmer. It's called, simply, "Human Terrain," (not to be confused with the 2010 documentary film of the same name) and it's beautifully comfortable at Mustard Seed, which has a charter of examining moral questions. There is a tension between these softest of sciences and the hard facts of military force. Can they ever work together toward a common goal? And who decides the goal?
The St. Louis Cabaret Festival, under the guiding hand of Tim Schall, is, so far, a resounding success. Last night at the Sheldon an adoring, almost adulatory packed house welcomed that stellar cabaret artist Ann Hampton Callaway and her evening's tribute to Barbra Streisand.
"Meskerem": We'd call it September, but in the ancient calendar of Ethiopia Meskerem is the first month of the new year. It follows three dismal months of gloom and heavy rain. It's bright and sunny and it brings the renewal of hope.
Have you heard the one about Lieberman and the sheep? Or the one about Levinson and his nail business? Maybe the one about Kaminsky, the kleptomaniac?
The Terrapin Puppet Theatre visited COCA last week and they gave young St. Louis audiences a taste of some very fine children's theatre. This was the latest in a splendid series that COCA has offered for some years.
Can a horror be beautiful? In Euripedes' "Medea" we see that it can indeed. Of all revenge stories this is the revenge story. St. Louis University has mounted a fine production of Robinson Jeffers' free adaptation of Euripedes' play.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca is often called "the Spanish Shakespeare". His play, "Life is a Dream", is enjoying a superb production at SIU Edwardsville. This play, from 1635, is one of the brightest gems of the Golden Age of Spanish Drama. I thank the gods for university theatres; they seem the only producers who have the desire and the ability to present such classical wonders.
How often have you seen a modern play that was not written in America or England? Most St. Louis companies produce them rarely or never. How can we not be provincial in our outlook if we close our eyes and ears to most of the world? Phillip Boehm's Upstream Theater is a precious bulwark against that provincialism: they do only international plays. And they do them very well.
I went to "Blue Man Group" at the Peabody last night and my eyes, my ears, my intelligence, my taste and my patience were all violently assaulted. This sort of production is aimed at audiences who won't be satisfied unless they're left staggering out the doors, reeling from sensory overload.
The Webster Conservatory has mounted a simply terrific "Into the Woods"! I always say that your best bang for the buck in entertainment comes from university theatres—and the Conservatory is right at the top of my list when it comes to unfailingly excellent musical theatre.