Theatre Reviews

Welcome to this week's KDHX In Performance feature, where you'll find a little something for everyone: a story that moves across town and boundaries, a one-woman show filled with insight, musical romance on a Pacific island, a visit to St. Louis by one of the Bard's most famous kings, and a family-oriented tale of change and growth. There's also a number of excellent productions continuing in performance, so, what's holding you back? Peruse the shows below and go see a play!

Tesseract Theatre presents Coupler a story set in motion on an urban train. The new play by Meredith Dayna Levy, directed by company member Katie Pallazolla, follows the twists and turns in the lives of the occupants on the last train on London's Northern line. Elements of magic, mystery, and a little pixie dust are thrown in as the six passengers learn to connect, listen, and work with each other. They may eventually grow up; it's inevitable after all, as are lessons on love and trust.

Company artistic director Taylor Gruenloh was immediately attracted to the contemporary and relatable story, and inspired by the location. "We're excited about this production of Meredith's play, because this will be the first production of Coupler that allows the audience to come and sit on the train between stops. Not quite immersive, not quite audience participation, just a little magic in the experience." Coupler runs through September 24, 2017 at the .Zack in the Grand Center Arts District.

"For my birthday, September 15th, I thought I would do something terrifying and exciting and open in a one woman play." That's the first reply you get from local favorite Donna Weinsting when discussing Unsuspecting Susan a humorous, sometimes haunting look at motherhood from the newest company on the block, Inevitable Theatre Company. Weinsting, for one, is happy to welcome new talent and old friends to her city, stating that "Working with Robert Neblett, who brought the project to me and directs, has been a labor of love." 

Divorcee Susan Chester is a pleasant, upper-class woman whose world is forever altered by an act of unspeakable violence. "The play is a British one so I get to talk fancy and say fun words like "whinging" which I didn't think was a real word until I heard it on Game of Thrones," notes Weinsting before turning more introspective. "I felt a real connection when I picked up the script and read that when they brought it to the United States, it played at 59E59 St. Theatre in New York, which is where I performed the Neil LaBute New Play Festival last January." Opening this weekend and continuing through September 30, 2017, Unsuspecting Susan comically explores the depth of a mother's love, and Donna learned all those lines just so you'd come and see her.

STAGES St. Louis wraps up their season with the always crowd-pleasing South Pacific, continuing through October 8, 2017. The musical set in World War II is filled with memorable songs that helped solidify Rodgers and Hammerstein's work as the upper echelon of classic American theater. Surprisingly, the story also introduces ideas of racial tolerance and harmony while subtly asking if the personal and national price of war is really a cost we want to bear. Not everyone gets a happy ending, and those who do must confront their prejudice and transform. Still, the entertaining show is filled with a sense of fun and adventure; even the serious subjects are delivered with pleasant harmonies and a positive tone.

There are also a number of productions that can only be seen this weekend, adding to the sense of seasonal celebration. The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents its sixth annual 'Shakespeare in the Streets' production, Blow, Winds, an adaptation of King Lear set in St. Louis. Local step company The Gentlemen of Vision and a 60-person choir, with members from local churches and high schools, join local professional actors in an energetic and entertaining performance. 

The free show will be performed at on the steps of the Central Library in downtown St. Louis at 8pm September 15 to 17, 2017. Seating begins at 6pm, food and beverages are available for purchase, and audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

The Metro Theater Company is opening two performances of Jeremy Schaefer's Games Dad Didn't Play to public audiences. The touching family-oriented show, intended for audiences aged 6 and older, introduces us to young Lucas and his mother. The two have moved to a new city, and a new school, in order to start a new life. The award-winning play imparts lessons on understanding your past and creating your own future. Performances are at the Grandel Theatre Saturday, September 16 at 7pm and Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 2pm.

Continuing this weekend: A heartwarming look at contemporary families and aging, the hilarious and insightful DOT continues through September 24, 2017 at The Black Rep. The Shealy Holiday celebration gets real, and really funny, as siblings Shelly, Donnie, and Averie learn to cope with their mother's dementia. 

Inventive staging and choreography add to the transformative The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Rep. Intellectually brilliant, socially awkward, and living with autism, 15-year old Christopher is determined to discover the truth about Wellington the dog. He learns much more than he expected, and audiences may as well. 

The sweet natured, musically pleasing Church Basement Ladies continues its run at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza through October 1. The life-affirming show is a genuine slice of mid-American apple pie. And, as always, remember to check out the KDHX Calendar for information on art and music in and around St. Louis.

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