Chris Gibson

Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.
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MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Reviews: Passions Erupt in THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY at The Fox TheatreTHE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
Posted: Apr. 9, 2016


BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH Wows at Stray Dog TheatreBWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH Wows at Stray Dog Theatre
Posted: Apr. 8, 2016


BWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Splendid BOSNIAN/AMERICAN: THE DANCE FOR LIFEBWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Splendid BOSNIAN/AMERICAN: THE DANCE FOR LIFE
Posted: Apr. 29, 2016


BWW Review: Undeniably Tuneful THE SOUND OF MUSIC at The Fox TheatreBWW Review: Undeniably Tuneful THE SOUND OF MUSIC at The Fox Theatre
Posted: Apr. 29, 2016


BWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Amusing IVANOVBWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Amusing IVANOV
Posted: Apr. 29, 2016


BWW Review: Harrowing TWISTED MELODIES at The Black RepBWW Review: Harrowing TWISTED MELODIES at The Black Rep
Posted: Apr. 29, 2016


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Great WICKED at The Fabulous Fox TheatreBWW Review: Great WICKED at The Fabulous Fox Theatre
Posted: Dec. 11, 2015


BWW Reviews: The MUNY's Awesome INTO THE WOODS at Forest ParkBWW Reviews: The MUNY's Awesome INTO THE WOODS at Forest Park
Posted: Jul. 22, 2015


BEST OF 2015 by Chris GibsonBest of 2015 by Chris Gibson
Posted: Jan. 4, 2016


BWW Review: The MUNY's Spectacular OKLAHOMA!BWW Review: The MUNY's Spectacular OKLAHOMA!
Posted: Aug. 12, 2015


BWW Review: Undeniably Tuneful THE SOUND OF MUSIC at The Fox TheatreBWW Review: Undeniably Tuneful THE SOUND OF MUSIC at The Fox Theatre
April 29, 2016

Rodgers and Hammerstein's THE SOUND OF MUSIC is still popular today, and there's really no need to wonder why. The songs are undeniably familiar, and the story and characters go through a number of compelling moments. However, it does require a good, solid cast and sharp direction to live up to the expectations of all those folks who have seen the 1965 film over and over and over again. Thankfully, this touring company currently playing The Fox Theatre (through May 8, 2016) is more than up to the task. This classic still has its many charms. and holds up remarkably well despite its age and overexposure in various forms over the years.
BWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Splendid BOSNIAN/AMERICAN: THE DANCE FOR LIFEBWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Splendid BOSNIAN/AMERICAN: THE DANCE FOR LIFE
April 29, 2016

BOSNIAN/AMERICAN: THE DANCE FOR LIFE is a winning little piece, dedicated to educating and informing the public about the immigration of Bosnian refugees who fled to St. Louis, MO, when frequent massacres and religious and cultural persecution became more and more prevalent in their homeland. It's a wonderful thing to have a Bosnian community in our hometown, and hopefully we're representing the true spirit of the melting pot that is America with our welcoming attitude. Surely, this migration has been taking place for a long time, so there are roots now established here. But, there's always that need to be fully recognized as a true part of the community that sometimes goes unfulfilled. Luckily, playwright Deanna Jent has lent her considerable skills to the task with a work that speaks to people of all ages.
BWW Review: Harrowing TWISTED MELODIES at The Black RepBWW Review: Harrowing TWISTED MELODIES at The Black Rep
April 29, 2016

Donny Hathaway is the very definition of 'tortured genius', a singer/songwriter with velvety pipes, and melodies that were both memorable and timeless. Just listen to the gritty truths he expresses on his breakthrough tune, 'The Ghetto (pt. 1)', or his collaborations with Roberta Flack, particularly 'The Closer I Get to You' or 'Where is the Love?', and try and not fall right into the mood that each song creates. The tragedy of the whole thing is that Hathaway suffered from schizophrenia, often hearing voices in his head that ultimately led to his terribly untimely demise.This is by no means your typical revue or jukebox musical, but an internal exploration of the demons that haunted Hathaway, and from which he ultimately could not escape.
BWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Amusing IVANOVBWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Amusing IVANOV
April 29, 2016

IVANOV is a formative work in the canon of Anton Chekhov. He was presenting us with the situations and character types we'd come to know and understand, but with the lack of irony that often permeates his material. The St. Louis Actors' Studio has put together a splendid evening of entertainment with their superbly performed and directed production. However, it should be noted that this is a translation by Tom Stoppard, and thus, should be viewed with that in mind. Adaptations are tricky enough on their own, but when you're dealing with a play written in another language, you're often relying on a literal translation in order to produce your take. And, that's precisely what this is. It's Tom Stoppard's IVANOV, full of unexpected humor and nicely etched characterizations, but far afield from Chekhov's early foray, which he himself revised after its initial premier. Either way, this is worth checking out, and surprisingly amusing.
BWW Reviews: Passions Erupt in THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY at The Fox TheatreBWW Reviews: Passions Erupt in THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY at The Fox Theatre
April 9, 2016

Based on the novel by Robert James Waller, that people seem to either love or loath, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY would seem to be a story which relies very heavily on particular imagery conjured up in the readers' mind by the landscape the characters occupy. The film version did make a valiant effort to convey that, even if it had a number of shortcomings. But, that would seem to be a rather large hurdle to clear for a stage production, much less a musical. So, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed this musical adaptation. Jason Robert Brown's music and lyrics (book by Marsha Norman) fit each character and moment like a glove, while dancing around different styles to reflect various moods and emotions. Plus, the story is compelling enough to translate to a wide audience, especially those who like their stories a bit sentimental and bittersweet. The current touring production onstage at The Fox Theatre is certainly well worthy of your time and attention, and you can see it through April 17th, 2016.
BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH Wows at Stray Dog TheatreBWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH Wows at Stray Dog Theatre
April 8, 2016

John Cameron Mitchell's (text) scathing and kinky rock and roll cabaret, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, is given its just desserts with Stray Dog Theatre's memorable production, which is currently running at the Tower Grove Abbey through April 16, 2016. Michael Baird bares his soul as tortured songwriter, Hedwig/Hansel, forever altered and made androgynous by a sex change operation gone horribly, horribly wrong. It's more than that though, and what makes this presentation especially powerful is the way that Baird interacts with the crowd, gamely challenging them to listen to his/her angst-filled lament. With a score by Stephen Trask, this show is just amazing to listen to and react to. Trask finds the right voices in song for the various moods and emotions being touched on at any given moment, and a tight band led by Chris Petersen brings that vision to light. Go see it!
BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Amazing SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWINGBWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Amazing SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING
March 24, 2016

With spring training winding down, and the approach of another baseball season approaching, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis closes their 49th season with a terrific selection; SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING. Set after the end of World War II, at a time when race relations were beginning to show small, incremental signs of progress, this story offers us an entertaining and thoughtful look at a time in our history when a beloved pastime could become one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement that would follow years later. It's a snapshot of an era which also reminds us that we still have issues that remain unresolved or fully addressed. And, it's told through the eyes of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige, who played in the Negro Leagues before making his debut in the majors as its oldest 'rookie'. Full of tension, disappointment, and Paige's own rascally sense of humor, the Rep's lovingly crafted production is a true must-see, and deserves a game ball!
BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Inspirational OLD WICKED SONGSBWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Inspirational OLD WICKED SONGS
March 23, 2016

Music has the power to move people in many different ways. As someone who plays a variety of instruments, I can speak firsthand about the ways it's made me feel, and the ways in which I've seen it affect others. I'm certainly no prodigy, and I've always been jealous of those who were born with gifts that I have to constantly work on to improve. Maybe that's one of the reasons The New Jewish Theatre's inspirational production of playwright Jon Maran's OLD WICKED SONGS, resonates so much with me. Full of surprising and moving revelations, this presentation is excellently conceived and executed. Issues of faith and identity abound in a play that absolutely demands your time and attention.
BWW Review: The Rep's MOLLY'S HAMMER Delivers Powerful ImpactBWW Review: The Rep's MOLLY'S HAMMER Delivers Powerful Impact
March 23, 2016

Although activism is still alive and well, one wonders if future generations will be moved to make change due to their increased isolationism. We live in a world where people feel more and more entitled, and have been raised to expect instant gratification. People who make a stand are becoming rarer and rarer to find. Maybe that's why a play like Tammy Ryan's MOLLY'S HAMMER (based on the book Hammer of Justice by Liane Ellison Norman) is so important. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has, again, put together an outstanding production that will make you ponder weighty issues that still exist, but that have been replaced by a fear of terrorism that can arrive so suddenly and unexpectedly that we feel helpless against it. Maybe that's why you should take a young adult with you to experience this story. Nuclear weapons are still a threat to our continued existence on this planet, and we must never forget that we have a duty as citizens of the world to speak out and act out against tyranny. This excellent show takes us back to 1980, when a Pittsburgh housewife took just such a stand.
IF/Then Cast Performs Intimate Evening of Songs to Benefit 'Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids' CharityIF/Then Cast Performs Intimate Evening of Songs to Benefit 'Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids' Charity
March 21, 2016

An incredible opportunity has presented itself to the cast of If/Then upon arriving in St. Louis last Tuesday to carry out a 2 week run at The Fabulous Fox Theatre (March 15-27th). After sitting and talking with Anthony Rapp (star of If/Then, RENT), he told us that the Hard Rock Cafe contacted them and offered to donate their space for them to perform in, if they could find a use.
BWW Review: Uneven but Tuneful IF/THEN at The Fox TheatreBWW Review: Uneven but Tuneful IF/THEN at The Fox Theatre
March 17, 2016

It's interesting to me that IF/THEN is billed as 'a new musical'. It's the use of the word 'new' that I find puzzling. The concept certainly isn't an original one, having been explored on the big screen in the films Blind Chance (1981) and its sort-of remake, Sliding Doors (1998). And, even though neither of those movies were musicals, they both featured the idea of having their lead traverse optional story lines, with Blind Chance even offering up three different scenarios for its protagonist to experience. But, this show is new in the sense that it explores contemporary trends, with the caveat that some audiences may not find much to identify with, and it features a wonderfully fresh and tuneful score (music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey). All of that just might be enough to make this show worth seeing. Because it does feature a talented cast who have the ability to pull off these roles and the memorable songs provided with considerable conviction. But, the trickery seems a bit cloying at times, and the show does seem to drag at over 2 hours. I guess, like our heroine, Elizabeth, I'm straddling the fence too, at least when it comes to my opinion.
BWW Review: MADCO and UMSL Music Department's Superb PULSE - A MADCO CABARET PERFORMANCEBWW Review: MADCO and UMSL Music Department's Superb PULSE - A MADCO CABARET PERFORMANCE
March 14, 2016

If you look up the definition of the word pulse in a dictionary, or at www.dictionary.com as I did, you find that the third meaning completely resonates with PULSE - A MADCO (Modern American Dance Company) Cabaret Performance, which is a collaborative effort with the UMSL Music Department. The 'rhythmic recurrence of strokes, vibrations, or undulations', captures the spirit and essence of this thoroughly enjoyable experience. While considered a 'work-in-progress', to a degree, I would have to say that it rises well above that plateau to reach considerable heights as an experience into how music and dance intertwine. Music provides the rhythms and sounds that dancers can move or react to, whether balletic, theatrical, or modern, etc, in nature and style. PULSE takes that a step further with a series of five examples of how they can actually interact down to the subtlest note or phrase, and it's set to a score, that was performed with amazing precision, that runs the gamut from classical pieces to newly created ones, to standards, to free-form jazz. A total trip through music and dance itself, divided up into five sections, each featuring a different choreographer, and its own selection of musical choices. It's an absolute success, and it's challenging, playful, filled with moments of both grace and humor, and brimming with athleticism and energy.
BWW Review: New Line Theatre's Stunning, Fuel-Injected AMERICAN IDIOTBWW Review: New Line Theatre's Stunning, Fuel-Injected AMERICAN IDIOT
March 11, 2016

I saw the touring production of AMERICAN IDIOT when it played at The Peabody Opera House a while back. I was eager to see it, being a fan of Green Day's music, and this rock opera, in particular. It was a great show, but the one thing that stuck in my mind afterward wasn't the performers, or even the great songs, but instead it was the scenic design. Which brings me to New Line Theatre's intimate production of this extremely tuneful and highly politicized show; a natural for this company to tackle, since they consistently provide fuel-injected presentations of a wide range of material that covers the gamut from neglected newer shows to classics that need some new life pumped into them. It's what they do so extraordinarily well. The disconnect I felt with the touring production vanished in the cozy confines of The Marcelle, and the scenic design wasn't a distraction, instead it became a complement to the anger, frustration, and call to arms that informs this period of terrorism and paranoia in our nation's history. This is a real hit, that genuinely rocks the house! So, get your tickets now.
BWW Review: Intoxicating BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at The Fabulous Fox TheatreBWW Review: Intoxicating BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at The Fabulous Fox Theatre
February 25, 2016

What began in book writer Douglas McGrath's head as a jukebox musical centered around the relationship between competing songwriting teams Carole King and Gerry Goffin and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil evolved into something slightly different. This was due to the fact that the show stopped before Carole's ground-breaking, highly personal, and still relevant album, 'Tapestry'. So, the show was altered to place the emphasis on King's story, although there's still a lot of interplay between the couples. And, if you happened to catch the 'American Masters' special on King on PBS, then her story will be familiar to you already, but you'll also catch a few historical inaccuracies here and there. BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is a wonderful look at King's rise to fame as a teen who could conjure up melodies that caught the public's ear. It's a sheer delight, packed to the hilt with gorgeous songs that are a part of pop culture history. This is a feel-good, genuinely terrific show that I urge everyone to see immediately!
BWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Extraordinary ELEEMOSYNARYBWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Extraordinary ELEEMOSYNARY
February 16, 2016

The title of Lee Blessing's play, ELEEMOSYNARY, refers to the word one of the characters successfully spells, winning a spelling bee in the process, but also to the very definition of it; charitable. It's an intriguing story of three generations of women, all of whom are extraordinarily gifted in one way or another. These individual gifts are both a blessing and a curse to each character, and ultimately greatly affect the way they interact with one another. This is a moving and fascinating story driven by the relationships between these three women, and Mustard Seed Theatre's production is challenging theatre that provides a must-see experience.
BWW Review: Upstream Theater's Haunting SHINING CITYBWW Review: Upstream Theater's Haunting SHINING CITY
February 15, 2016

Everyone needs someone who's a good listener when they're troubled. And, when you find yourself hesitant or unable to open up to a loved one about something, you can always seek out a therapist to talk to. Therapists offer objective observations that allow their patients to express their feelings without the fear of being judged harshly or over-critically. They're also there to provide assistance in modifying behaviors and thought patterns which are affecting your ability to fully function, at least, if they're any good at what they do. But, they're people too. They have their own lives and their own baggage. Playwright Conor McPherson enters this private world with his work, SHINING CITY, a spellbinding examination of a group of people who all seem to have 'unfinished business', and as director Toni Dorfman notes in the program, 'a need for absolution'. Upstream Theater's production is excellent, and I found myself completely immersed to the point where the play lingered in my memory for days after I'd seen it. That's compelling stuff, and it's the type of work that Upstream does on a consistent basis.
BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Thought-Provoking UNDERNEATH THE LINTELBWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Thought-Provoking UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL
February 3, 2016

Over the years I've learned a tremendous amount about the Jewish religion and its traditions through the plays and people I've come in contact with at The New Jewish Theatre. But, I have to admit that I never knew the story of the 'wandering Jew', although I'd grown up with parents who loved flora and fauna, and often had the plant growing outside that was nicknamed for the tale. I brought my son along with me to see the show because I want him to be well rounded and know as much as he can about the belief systems of all cultures. Glen Berger's wonderful play, UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL, is a sort of detective story that is truly, as artistic director Kathleen Sitzer described it; a testament to faith. It achieved precisely what I had hoped it would do as well by provoking an interesting discussion between my son and I as we talked on the way home. This is a very well done production that provides must-see entertainment, while also giving its audience plenty to ponder.
BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Outstanding New Musical GEORAMABWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Outstanding New Musical GEORAMA
January 25, 2016

Thanks to the developmental work that occurred during The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Ignite! Play Festival in 2014 we now have the opportunity to witness the fruit of their labors; the world premier of a very entertaining new musical called GEORAMA. This play tells a fascinating story that is truly a forgotten piece of history that deserves to be celebrated. This production is staged in the Studio Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton, and that adds additional atmosphere and intimacy that makes the story connect in a uniquely vibrant manner. As an avid film fan, I'd read a bit about the history of 'motion pictures', and found countless early examples of flip books, and the like, but nothing prepared me for the sadly neglected tale of John Banvard, who created a virtual recreation of the wonders of the Mississippi River on a scrolling canvas that stretched for miles. That's quite a feat, and so is this staging. I cannot recommend it highly enough! It's truly a show that deserves an audience both young and old to appreciate, or become aware of, something that was truly as magical as the spectacle this artist created.
BWW Review: Disney's NEWSIES at The Fox TheatreBWW Review: Disney's NEWSIES at The Fox Theatre
January 25, 2016

It's not unusual for movies to be adapted for the stage these days, in fact, it's become rather commonplace. But typically, musicals written for the screen that flop (even though they might have a rather substantial cult following), are usually avoided for obvious reasons. Although, that didn't stop the producers of XANADU from plowing forward, go figure. The Disney film NEWSIES actually seems likes a logical choice to revamp and produce on the stage, and it wound up winning Tony Awards for best score and choreography back in 2012, and becoming quite the hit. So why am I so surprised? I guess because the current touring production, while occasionally dazzling, comes off slightly uninspired and flat. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some really fine performances, an eye catching scenic design, cool effects, and energetic choreography that certainly lives up to expectations. And, like the film, an awful lot of people, both young and old, are guaranteed to truly love this show, as evidenced by the very enthusiastic response from the audience at the performance I attended.
BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Roars Mightily with Superb THE LION IN WINTERBWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Roars Mightily with Superb THE LION IN WINTER
January 15, 2016

Although I've seen the successful 1968 film version of THE LION IN WINTER, I'd never had the opportunity to watch the actual stage play which it's based upon, until now. Maybe it was the washed out prints that turned me off to it initially, but it's an absolute revelation to see The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' superb production. What always seemed too stage bound and static in the film is vibrant and intense in person. Forget the movie and enjoy the brilliance of James Goldman's script which is brimming with intensity and passion, and full of clever twists and turns. An excellent cast and expert direction make this must-see entertainment that demands your time and attention.


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