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.
In his plays, A.R. Gurney entertainingly chronicles the lives and social customs of the upper strata of the old families of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the northeastern U.S.
I don't know if Insight Theatre Company chose Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) because they thought it's a good play or because it provided roles for the three Joplins – the dean of St. Louis actors Joneal Joplin, his daughter Jen and his son Jared. But it doesn't really matter, because it is, as its title says, an entertainment – and a very pleasant and amusing one – and because they are all three very good performers.
It has singing and dancing and multiple characters and multiple scenes, but calling A.D. The Musical a musical doesn't make it a musical. It's more like a church pageant, and as Judy Newmark pointed out in her very generous review in the Post-Dispatch, it probably would be more comfortable, and raise fewer misplaced expectations, in a church rather than in the Ivory Theatre, where it currently resides through Sunday afternoon, April 17.
There's something just very simple, and pure, and satisfying about good theatre. A good script, in the hands of capable actors, and with competent technical support, is more rare than one might think. But not so rare that you can't see it now in St. Louis Actors' Studio's current production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. Being presented at the intimate Gaslight Theatre in midtown St. Louis, this production is just good theatre. Not perfect theatre, but VERY GOOD theatre.