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 Review: OTSL and Alarm Will Sound Present Harrowing THE HUNGER at the TouhillBWW Review: OTSL and Alarm Will Sound Present Harrowing THE HUNGER at the Touhill
Posted: Sep. 21, 2016


BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Inspirational SISTER ACTBWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Inspirational SISTER ACT
Posted: Sep. 19, 2016


BWW Review: Stunning FOLLIES at The Repertory Theatre of St. LouisBWW Review: Stunning FOLLIES at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Posted: Sep. 20, 2016


BWW Review: New Line Theatre's Superb TELL ME ON A SUNDAYBWW Review: New Line Theatre's Superb TELL ME ON A SUNDAY
Posted: Aug. 26, 2016


BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is Great Fun at The Fox TheatreA GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER
Posted: Sep. 19, 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


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


BWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ Wows at The MUNYBWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ Wows at The MUNY
Posted: Jun. 17, 2016


BWW Review: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Fantastic A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAMBWW Review: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Fantastic A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Posted: Jun. 18, 2016


BWW Review: The MUNY Closes with Exceptional AIDABWW Review: The MUNY Closes with Exceptional AIDA
Posted: Aug. 11, 2016


BWW Review: OTSL and Alarm Will Sound Present Harrowing THE HUNGER at the TouhillBWW Review: OTSL and Alarm Will Sound Present Harrowing THE HUNGER at the Touhill
September 21, 2016

I attended the world premiere of THE HUNGER, a new operatic work by Donnacha Dennehy in collaboration with the group Alarm Will Sound, and co-produced by Opera Theatre of St. Louis this weekend, and I was blown away by how affecting and compelling this 90 minute piece is. It's a multi-media exercise that attempts to convey a sense of the seven year famine that Ireland suffered through from 1845 - 1852. It was a time of starvation and widespread disease that saw many families emigrate to other countries, cutting the overall population by a nearly a quarter. This production at the Touhill (September 17, 2016) is both harrowing and invigorating in equal measure, and an absolute must-see for people interested in modern opera.
BWW Review: Stunning FOLLIES at The Repertory Theatre of St. LouisBWW Review: Stunning FOLLIES at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
September 20, 2016

While I was watching FOLLIES, I was reminded of our own beloved Fox Theatre, and how it had tread a similar path during the 1970's. Like the fictional Weismann Theatre where this story's action takes place, it had been fallen on hard times, reduced to screening Kung-Fu and exploitation film fare before being renovated and reopened. But there is no restoration in the cards for the Weismann, and the people that come to it for one final celebrated glimpse may be nearing the point of being past reclamation themselves. This is superior Sondheim, and though it's not revived as often as some of his other works, it's full of the kind of interweaving melodies and motifs that this master composer is so adept at creating. Find out for yourself just how compelling and engaging this musical is by seeing The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' stunning production that opens their 50th season.
BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Inspirational SISTER ACTBWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Inspirational SISTER ACT
September 19, 2016

STAGES St. Louis closes their 30th season with SISTER ACT, a musical based on the hit 1992 film of the same name, although this might actually be more entertaining in a lot of ways. Having seen a touring production a few years back, I was a bit concerned about some of the rougher edges that the show presents. But, this regional premier staging focuses on the inspirational aspects, and that lightens the mood considerably, producing delightful results in the process. This is a splendidly rendered production, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is Great Fun at The Fox TheatreBWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is Great Fun at The Fox Theatre
September 19, 2016

So, this was my first time seeing A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER, and as the plot began to unfold, I was struck by its similarity to a film I saw many years before. Growing up I remember watching selections from the Janus Films collection on my local PBS station (KETC, channel 9 in St. Louis), and the film that immediately came to mind was Kind Hearts and Coronets, which featured Alec Guinness in a variety of roles. Reading the program I noticed that Roy Borniman's novel of the same name was the basis for this Tony winning musical. Mystery solved. This is a wonderfully fun take on the story, and makes for an engaging and highly entertaining experience. Even if you've never seen the movie or read the book, you'll find plenty to love about this splendid adaptation that makes it all seem very fresh and funny!
BWW Review: New Line Theatre's Superb TELL ME ON A SUNDAYBWW Review: New Line Theatre's Superb TELL ME ON A SUNDAY
August 26, 2016

TELL ME ON A SUNDAY has an interesting history, being conceived by Tim Rice as a TV series initially. Frequent collaborator and composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, later took the project to lyricist Don Black, and a lovely one act musical resulted. Though changes have occurred over the years with how it's been utilized (acting as the first part of the show SONG AND DANCE), and with song choices that have come and gone, this production by New Line Theatre is probably the closest you'll find to its original vision. Sparked by some of Webber's most gorgeous material (it occasionally reminds me of vintage Burt Bacharach at times, and I mean that in the best possible way), and laced with Black's amusing and often biting lyrical content, it radiates perfection under Mike Dowdy-Windsor's direction, and in the process, provides actress Sarah Porter with an excellent vehicle to showcase her exceptional talents.
BWW Review: The MUNY Closes with Exceptional AIDABWW Review: The MUNY Closes with Exceptional AIDA
August 11, 2016

On a beautiful summer evening, under a half moon sky, and with a gentle breeze wafting through the air, nothing could compare to seeing the final show of the season at The MUNY. They close with yet another stellar selection that's filled with flair and grace. This was especially important and evident when a 25 minute interruption of the proceedings occurred during a Black Lives Matter protest, and a remembrance of the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown. A huge thank you should be awarded to actor Ken Page, along with Michelle Williams as they came out to address the protests which took place as the second act was set to begin. Page's eloquent and thoughtful speech allowed the action to continue on stage without further incident. All that aside, this is an absolutely vibrant production of AIDA, which sparkles like it never has before. An excellent cast, led by Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny's Child, and an orchestra that can more than deftly handle the shifts in style the score presents. bring considerable energy and enthusiasm to Elton John's music and Tim Rice's lyrics. And, while the book and music may drift away from versions you've seen before this playful, and sometimes anachronistic, approach to this tale of tragic, star-crossed lovers, is decidedly engaging and entertaining. You'll be enthralled by its majesty!
BWW Review: The MUNY's Wonderfully Special Production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOFBWW Review: The MUNY's Wonderfully Special Production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
August 4, 2016

Set during a period of great turmoil just prior to the Russian revolution (1905), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is a joyous celebration of life in times of uncertainty. Most versions I've seen have been scaled down considerably, focusing on the more intimate scenes. That's certainly not the case here. The MUNY's spectacular production gives us the full breadth and scope of Joseph Stein, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock's thoughtful and heart warming take on themes of family and tradition. Anchored by a particularly strong cast and top notch staging this, is quite simply, perfection!
BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Uproariously Funny THE DROWSY CHAPERONEBWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Uproariously Funny THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
July 29, 2016

You say that you're feeling a little blue, or maybe just experiencing some 'non-specific' sadness? Then a sure cure for your condition can be found by attending STAGES St. Louis' scintillating presentation of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. This is an incredible and uproariously funny show that pokes gentle fun at the very core of musical theatre conventions. Everything is fair game in Bob Martin and Don McKellar's witty script, which even manages to lampoon opening blackouts and intermissions. This revival is a much welcomed and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard!
BWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Intriguing LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVALBWW Review: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Intriguing LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL
July 26, 2016

We're so lucky to have the privilege of having the St. Louis Actors' Studio present the Labute New Theater Festival each year. Submissions come from around the country, are whittled down to a few, and then presented in two parts, with each section receiving a full two week run. In addition, there are staged readings of the High School finalists who also submit their new works. While I was unable to attend the first part, I did get a chance to see the second, and was pleased with the results of this years' choices. It was a good mixture of styles and approaches, and it continues to be something our region should be very proud of.
BWW Review: The MUNY's Marvelous MAMMA MIA!BWW Review: The MUNY's Marvelous MAMMA MIA!
July 25, 2016

I've seen MAMMA MIA! many times, and I've always enjoyed the way it utilizes so many of ABBA's marvelously catchy, and so obviously theatrical in nature, tunes to tell its simple story. With the band cranking out a righteous sound, and back up singers filling the night air with harmony, The MUNY reminds you of why its just so unique and amazing. It has the ability to make a show seem larger than life. That's exactly what happens here in spectacular fashion. Go see it and enjoy this perfect show for a summer's evening under the stars!
BWW Review: First Run Theater's Engaging TRICK AND ANOTONIABWW Review: First Run Theater's Engaging TRICK AND ANOTONIA
July 19, 2016

I did some creative work for First Run Theater during their early years, underscoring some shows, and even directing a couple of one acts. I admired the fact that they provided a testing ground, a full staging, of works by local playwrights. That's an opportunity that goes far beyond a staged reading, and actually brings an author's vision to life with an immediacy that's filtered through the talent that presents it. I went back to a theater I hadn't stepped a foot in in years, and saw what I think is one their finest productions, TRICK AND ANOTONIA, written by Jenn Ciavarella. Although it could still use a bit of tightening, its a compelling tale, the actors all do solid work, and Landon Shaw's direction and scenic design is very thoughtfully conceived and executed.
BWW Review: The MUNY's Hilarious Production of YOUNG FRANKENSTEINBWW Review: The MUNY's Hilarious Production of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
July 17, 2016

I grew up looking forward to the weekend, because that's when channel 30 would broadcast 'Chiller Theater', providing a burgeoning horror fan like myself with the chance to view all the creepy classics that sprang from the loins of Universal Studios during the 1930's and 40's. I was a preteen when YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN played at the Westport cinema for a year! Yeah, movies used to actually do that. So, it was a genuine treat to see one of my favorite monsters lovingly parodied by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. And, it was with much anticipation that I looked forward to seeing the musical version of this beloved comedy from my childhood on the grand stage of The Muny. I think it's an extremely entertaining show, filled with a plethora of familiar gags, as well as some outstanding performances. This well cast and delightfully staged production is full of gorgeously spooky scenery and fun musical numbers, and I highly recommend that everyone catch this particular presentation, because it's far and away more humorous and spirited than the touring show that came through several years ago.
BWW Review: Max & Louie Productions' Incredible GREY GARDENSBWW Review: Max & Louie Productions' Incredible GREY GARDENS
July 15, 2016

If you've seen the Maysles brother's documentaries GREY GARDENS and THE BEALES OF GREY GARDENS (which are actually collaborative efforts between David & Albert Maysles,Ellen Hovde, Muffie Mayer & Susan Froemke) then you have to see Max and Louie Productions' brilliant staging of the musical based upon these larger than life figures. If you haven't see either, then you desperately need to. Seriously, they're on HULU, watch them! Eavesdropping on Edith Bouvier Beale (big Edie) and Edie Beale (little Edie) in these films is an immersive experience, filled with snippets of songs, stories of missed opportunities and lost loves, a dilapidated estate, lot of cats, and more than one raccoon. Their love for one another is, somehow, crystalline clear, but lying beneath layers of scars that a life unfulfilled can produce. The musical tells it all, with a one act flashback to 1941 that fills in the blanks (book by Doug Wright) that led years later to their seclusion in squalor. This is masterfully achieved by the combined efforts of an exceptional cast and expert direction. I'll say it more than you once; you must see GREY GARDENS.
BWW Review: The MUNY's Charming Production of THE MUSIC MANBWW Review: The MUNY's Charming Production of THE MUSIC MAN
July 14, 2016

Meredith Willson's classic musical, THE MUSIC MAN, gets a lively and engaging workout on the stage of The MUNY. It's a show near and dear to my heart since I played the lead in a high school production many moons ago. It's also why I especially wanted my son to see it. Happily, he thoroughly enjoyed the show, and while there were some mistakes here and there, it was still an uplifting charmer that was filled with a slew of memorable songs and moments.
BWW Review: The MUNY'S Spectacular 42ND STREETBWW Review: The MUNY'S Spectacular 42ND STREET
July 9, 2016

If you missed The Muny's production of 42nd STREET, you missed a show that was an absolutely perfect fit for the wide open spaces its stage presents. The original Warner Bros. 1933 pre-production code film was a blend of behind the scenes melodrama and onstage eye-candy. It gave depression era audiences a chance to escape from their worries with Lloyd Bacon's direction of the story and Busby Berkley's show-stopping musical direction. And, that's the caliber of entertainment you'll find on stage at The MUNY. It's an extravaganza that verges on pure spectacle, with that enormous canvas worked to perfection; a snappy mix of what made the movie and the Broadway version so successful.
BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Terrific Production of DISNEY'S ALICE IN WONDERLANDBWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Terrific Production of DISNEY'S ALICE IN WONDERLAND
June 23, 2016

Every year you can count on STAGES St. Louis to produce a wonderful season of musicals, and you can always be sure there will be something for the younger set in the schedule as well. And,they make sure that the same care and professionalism goes into the production of each and every show, no matter who it's aimed at. The Westport Playhouse has also proved to be a good venue for these Theatre for Young Audiences presentations, and with each subsequent show here they seem to really be getting more and more comfortable with the very intimate surroundings it provides. Such is the case with their offering this year, DISNEY'S ALICE IN WONDERLAND, a very colorful, engaging, and extremely entertaining musical that manages to pack a lot into around an hours time. It may just be the best show of this type they've ever produced, and I highly recommend it!
BWW Review: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Fantastic A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAMBWW Review: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Fantastic A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
June 18, 2016

It's always fun to take in the many treats available at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis each year in Forest Park, and I'm not just talking about the food and drink stands, but also all the performers, mini-versions of the show, etc, that take place before the main attraction begins (arrive early). And,with the weather just a touch cooler there's no excuse not to attend, Besides, it's truly special watching a classic work by the immortal bard under the stars. This year a most apropos example of his work, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, takes flight in the wooded confines, exactly the place where the action of this play occurs. It's a match made in heaven, and it's also a work that, as I've stated in other reviews, is a great introduction to the playwright. So, by all means, bring the family and enjoy this fantastic production.
BWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ Wows at The MUNYBWW Review: THE WIZARD OF OZ Wows at The MUNY
June 17, 2016

THE WIZARD OF OZ opens The MUNY's 98th season this year, and it's a lively and colorful production that provides an enjoyable experience for kids of all ages. This is an excellent presentation of one of The MUNY's most beloved shows, filled with fine performances and enough action to keep even the tiniest of tykes fully engaged. Yes, I know the unseasonably hot weather we're currently experiencing is a consideration for a lot of patrons, but with the fans running at full blast, you'll find it's a lot more comfortable than you would expect. My son and I had a blast, and this is the fourth production of the musical he's seen, and as he said, easily the best. It's a perfect show to take the family to, and one I know that you'll have an absolutely wonderful time seeing. It's also a larger than life spectacle that fits the expansive MUNY stage like a glove.
BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Wonderfully Funny IT SHOULDA BEEN YOUBWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Wonderfully Funny IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU
June 15, 2016

STAGES St. Louis celebrates their 30th year with a very funny musical that deserved a much better fate that the short run it had on Broadway, IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU. A play of sorts on the old song 'It Had to be You', this work is difficult to describe simply because there are so many farcical twists and turns that revealing any would spoil the experience. What I can tell you is how terrific this production is. It features a top notch cast that all seem to be having a great time, and why not? It's filled with clever lines and a fine score (music by Barbara Anselmi, book by Brian Hargrove and lyrics by Hargrove, Jill Abramovitz, Michael Cooper, Carla Rose Fisher, Ernie Lijoi, and Will Randall) that's catchy and really fits the show well. I will provide a brief synopsis, but suffice to say, this might be considered the Murphy's Law of shows that feature a wedding. But, you can't go wrong by taking in this superbly rendered presentation, and I heartily recommend that you see it!
BWW Review: Circus Flora's PASTIME is a Real HIT!BWW Review: Circus Flora's PASTIME is a Real HIT!
June 14, 2016

It's that time of year again! Yes, right before it's officially Summer, our own town's one-ring circus pops up the big top behind Powell Symphony Hall. Circus Flora is a local tradition, and this years' presentation, PASTIME, also touches on another St. Louis tradition; baseball. It's a delightful mix of humor and athleticism that presents us with a slate full of premium acts, all in an intimate environment, and freed from all the 'scary clown' nonsense you've seen in movies any number of times. No, Circus Flora is guaranteed fun for everyone!


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