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.
The musical "St. Louis Woman" is remembered for having some of the greatest music written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, and it helped make Pearl Bailey a star.
A showcase for the prolific songwriter and showman Irving Berlin, "Holiday Inn," in performance at the MUNY in Forest Park through July 12, 2015, is stuffed with memorable melodies and toe tapping dances, then finished off with a happily ever after. The charming, nostalgic musical recalls the post war optimism of the late 1940s and 1950s, and is a fond toast to the resiliency of the American spirit. Though opening night suffered from several technical glitches and a dropped line or two, the fast-paced show, directed with a sure hand by Gordon Greenburg, zips along quite nicely, gaining momentum throughout.
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.
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.
With a sure hand and acerbic wit, New Line Theatre's artistic director Scott Miller once again stages a thoroughly enjoyable evening of musical entertainment and humor. "Jerry Springer the opera," running through March 28, 2015, is not going to appeal to every audience, however.
With this inspiring, engaging musical, the Black Rep once again demonstrates why it is among the most consistently exceptional theater companies in the region. From the selection of material to the technical details to the casting, the company produces compelling shows that entertain without shying away from substantive themes and provocative subjects.
With a focus on character development and the struggles of a tiny Wisconsin town, "The Spitfire Grill" is not your typical musical. It's a story of resilience and hope, yes, but it's also a nicely woven exploration of the fragile thread that keeps us from despair, mistrust and cruelty. Insight Theatre Company's current production plays small, drawing the audience in and delivering a warm, intimate story accompanied by heartfelt songs.
The MUNY's current production of "Grease" is light, frothy, nostalgic fun. The music has the snappy, upbeat feel of early rock, and the dancing, costumes and vernacular dialogue are evocative of the period.