The Over Due Theatre Company is a small impecunious group. With a budget of about two cents and a shoestring they continue to impress me—especially with their musicals.
My favorite company in town, Phillip Boehm's Upstream Theatre, has opened a classic: Sophocles' "Antigone."
If March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb—or so they say. On the stage at St. Louis University March is surely roaring in; we're in the middle of a Kansas blizzard that's burying the roads in feet of snow. The last bus from Kansas City, on its way to Topeka, just manages to make it to Grace's Diner only thirty miles into Kansas. It can go no farther until the storm abates and the roads are cleared. So the travelers are stranded here for the night.
The current Alpha Players production takes place in medieval England, as a historian, played with plummy BBC vowels by Chuck Brinkley, informs us. So Destiny Graham's set shows us the facade of a beautifully painted medieval castle. But obviously painted. Obviously a stage set. We are not visiting a realistic representation of King Arthur's Camelot. This is "Spamalot." Monty Python's "Spamalot". It's a show.
Who but Stephen Sondheim would think of a musical about people who shoot at presidents. It's called "Assassins," with Sondheim's music and lyrics and a book by John Weidman. And it works, both as script and in this production.
"Off the Map" is not an easy play to do. It has something a little Chekhovian about it. A family, a friend, an unexpected visitor, isolated, with troubles personal, financial, even, suddenly, erotic.
Like all great plays, Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" benefits from a wide range of interpretations, if they are faithful to the text and internally consistent. So much is in the play that there are multiple ways of pulling it out.
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?
What is it about the music of Richard Wagner—a composer admittedly stained by insularity, prejudice, bitterness and resentment—that continues to tug at every fiber of the human heart?