Theatre Reviews
Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria Rainer and the von Trapp children Photo by Matthew Murphy

Entertainment the whole family can enjoy takes center stage in this week’s In Performance openings, and there are a number of thought-provoking shows continuing their run. Though each script has its own voice and perspective, the current slate of theater in St. Louis is rich with stories that explore contemporary concerns and authentic characters. If you’re interested in theater that stays on your mind and spurs conversation, this is a great weekend to see a show.

Metro Theater partners with Jazz St. Louis to present Bud Not Buddy, the story of a boy who finds a home and a passion for music. The award-winning story debuted at the Kennedy Center in 2017 and the St. Louis premier is its first subsequent production. The inventive show combines eight actors and a live 13-piece jazz band to tell 10-year-old Bud’s search for his father.

Set during the 1930s, the story presents a different picture of tough times, as seen through the eyes of a hero who is still a child. Even though his journey is long and his life difficult, Bud’s spirit and determination resound with hope and possibility. Director Julia Flood has loved the book since she first read it and notes that “The best stage adaptations of beloved books are those that do more than just a literal retelling, adding some purely theatrical elements to the way that the story is told.” The stage version “stays true to the heart of the story,” she comments, “but adds musical and theatrical elements that help us to have a new experience with it.”

Myke Andrews, who plays Bud, found it easy to embrace the young man and connect with his story. “I too am on journey to find something,” he notes. “I may not be looking for the same thing but the curiosity and hope that Bud keeps during the process resides in me as well.” Director Flood agrees, “I feel it is important that we present stories of hope and resilience in the face of difficult obstacles to young people today. Bud Not Buddy is a perfect fit.” You can see the Metro Theater’s production at the Grandel Theatre through February 25.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre presents the national touring production of The Sound of Music, the beloved tale of the von Trapp family and their daring escape after refusing to support the Nazis. The new production stays true to the original story, but adds fresh interpretation and direction intended to remind audiences of the family’s courage and love.

Melissa Weyn, a Webster University graduate playing Sister Sofia as well as the understudy for Maria, enjoys bringing the show to life and finds inspiration in the story at the heart of the familiar musical. “It’s an honor to be in this show,” she explains. “Standing up for what you believe in, even when it’s difficult, is still an important lesson today. Captain von Trapp loved his family and his country. His courage and the family’s story is a reminder that you can make a difference simply by doing the right thing.”

The new production digs into the storytelling, sometimes rethinking the way a song or character is presented and adding new emphasis that underscores the show’s important lessons. “In this production, ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’ is a real question,” Weyn explains. “How do we solve whatever problem is vexing us? What choices do we make and how do those choices impact the world?” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic The Sound of Music runs February 2 through February 4 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Continuing this weekend:

New Jewish Theatre’s production of The How and the Why, features two exceptional female scientists, evolutionary biologists, who have much more in common than first appears. Can the women learn to respect, listen to, and support each other or will politics and the past keep them at odds? Layered with contemporary issues and compelling performances, Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why runs through February 11 at New Jewish Theatre.

Faceless introduces audiences to Susie Glen, an 18-year-old on trial for and aiding terrorism after joining ISIS online. Claire Fathi, a Harvard-educated, practicing Muslim, represents the prosecution and she has a very different understanding of the religion Susie now professes to follow. The probing and thoughtful Faceless continues in the Studio Theatre at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through February 4.

Menopause the Musical continues at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza through March 31. Set in a swanky department store where four women meet while fighting over a bra during a lingerie sale, the catchy musical comically addresses “the change of life” while encouraging feminine positivity and support.

To make sure you don’t miss an event of note, don’t forget to check out the KDHX Calendars for a listing of community art, music, and performance events.

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