Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine give fairytales a clever musical score, along with an abundance of whimsy and a gentle moral, in the tuneful, imaginative "Into the Woods." Already high on the list of Sondheim's popular musicals, the production is engaging for audiences of all ages, with a few unexpectedly adult situations and a slightly subversive sense of humor. The result is a bittersweet tale, touched by both harsh and comforting realities, that delivers its lessons with a light touch and hopeful tone.
There was a time, not so long ago, when a band called Union Tree Review was making its mark on the St. Louis indie-music scene. Headed by a forlorn crooner named Tawaine Noah, UTR added furious, gnarled guitar, relaxed viola to hash out Noah's ruminations on loss.
In 1959, at the age of 22 and just as his career was taking off and stardom seemed assured, influential songwriter and rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly died tragically in a plane crash. The MUNY's current production of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" is a rousing, high energy tribute to the prolific musician that highlights not only his status as an early rock icon, but also his contributions to the civil rights movement as demonstrated through both his actions and a genuine appreciation for the music that developed from the African American blues tradition.
The musical "Hairspray," based on the John Waters' movie of the same name, uses the styles, culture, music, and civil rights movement of the 1960s to flip an exuberant middle finger to a lot of "isms" that are, unfortunately, still present in everyday America. The lighthearted musical demonstrates, with an abundance of humor and insight, just how silly people look when they let superficial qualities, like race or size, determine their relationships with others.
"My Fair Lady," Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's interpretation of the George Bernard Shaw play "Pygmalion," is light, airy, and filled with wonderful little songs nearly everyone knows. The show is a jewel in the crown of classic American musicals, and the Muny's current production sparkles. The talented cast clearly enjoys the show, and they deliver an abundance of spectacular moments that are framed and complemented by the excellent band and technical crew.
Stages St. Louis opens its 29th season with a rousing, toe-tapping, finger-snapping production of "Smokey Joe's Café," a musical revue celebrating the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The selected numbers, from the nascent days of rock-n-roll, represent a variety of styles that continue to have an influence on popular music today. Throughout the evening, the audience is treated to skillful productions featuring the steady rhythms and harmonies of swing, heartfelt ballads and sultry torch songs, high-energy rock numbers, and powerful soul tunes.
One of the magical qualities of theater, and a characteristic that makes dark comedy so thoroughly enjoyable, is its ability to take characters you would avoid in real life and transform them into oddly sympathetic and completely likeable anti-heroes. Such is the case with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's deftly nuanced, purposefully amoral comic musical "The Threepenny Opera."
There's a lot of charm and plucky energy in Kirkwood Theatre Guild's tale of life as a single girl, circa 1922, running through May 10, 2015. The lead character, "thoroughly modern" Millie Dillmount, is filled with optimism and a spunky, can-do attitude. She's "fresh-from-the-farm" innocent, but with the smarts to quickly figure out the big city. Jeff Smith, a roguish boy with a kind heart and easy charm, matches Millie in wit and good-natured spirit, though he puts on a tough exterior.
Singer, actress and writer Geeta Novotny was born in St. Louis and began studying music at age 4. By age 16, Novotny was studying with a voice professor at Carnegie Mellon University; she graduated in 1998.
The Fox Theatre's recent production of "Million Dollar Quartet," the musical based on the famous, one-time only jam session with the stars of Sun Studio, is a rousing and rollicking good time. A celebration of the early days of rock and roll and the influence and knack for talent of Sam Phillips, the show is a quick trip back in a time machine with a feel good, optimistic slant.