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BWW Reviews: Mustard Seed Theatre's Moving Revival of ALL IS CALM Review BWW Reviews: Mustard Seed Theatre's Moving Revival of ALL IS CALM
by Chris Gibson - November 20, 2014

Mustard Seed Theatre has brought back their popular staging of ALL IS CALM - THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914, which premiered around this time last year, and it's definitely a piece of theatre that demands your time and attention. Somehow I must have missed mentioning this the first time around, but this was originally a broadcast that occurred on Minnesota Public Radio. Artistic director/director Deanna Jent took that raw material and molded it into a moving and compelling stage production that won deserved accolades and awards for its excellence. If you didn't catch it last year, then you need to make sure you do so during its current run, and even if you did see it, I can promise you that it's certainly worth seeing again. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Max & Louie Productions' Hilarious CHANCERS Review BWW Reviews: Max & Louie Productions' Hilarious CHANCERS
by Chris Gibson - November 11, 2014

We are truly lucky in St. Louis to have so many theatre companies that provide us with premier productions of engaging plays from around the globe. Since their inception in 2010, Max & Louie Productions has been one of those troupes that are always on the lookout for something new and different, and with their current presentation of Irish playwright Robert Massey's CHANCERS, they've found a work that fits both criteria. The characters and locations might be foreign, but the situation that drives the play is something we can distinctly identify with as Americans; a desperate need for cash in order to get back on our feet again. Genuinely funny, but with a touch of drama to give it depth, CHANCERS will hit home with anyone who has seen their savings dwindle and their spending tighten due to the current economic conditions. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Rep's Thoroughly Engaging A KID LIKE JAKE Review BWW Reviews: The Rep's Thoroughly Engaging A KID LIKE JAKE
by Chris Gibson - November 06, 2014

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis open their Studio Theatre season with playwright Daniel Pearle's A KID LIKE JAKE, a layered and contemporary look at issues of gender identification as seen through the eyes of a pair of concerned parents, who are conflicted in their feelings about the dress up roles their preschool age son is drawn toward. It's an engaging and, in many ways, touching and sensitive production that's sure to spark a lot of positive conversation about the subject, and that makes it important enough in of itself, but its also a work that makes you really care about these characters in a very raw and emotional way that is quite unexpected. (more...)


BWW Reviews: DIRTY DANCING at the Fabulous Fox Theatre Review BWW Reviews: DIRTY DANCING at the Fabulous Fox Theatre
by Chris Gibson - October 27, 2014

If you're a fan of the film DIRTY DANCING then I have no doubt you'll find plenty to be excited about with the stage version that is currently playing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. It's extremely faithful to the original movie, in fact it may be so much so that you might ask yourself what the point is, since you can always rent or purchase the DVD and watch it over and over to your heart's delight. But, despite that, I think it's a show that has a very broad appeal, and I can see it winning favor with both fans and newbies. And, there's just something special about seeing a show live that can't be, or rarely is, duplicated by Hollywood. That's why I find it especially odd that it's taken ten years for this show to go on a national tour of the USA since it's conception in 2004 in Australia. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Rep's Wondrous Production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Review BWW Reviews: The Rep's Wondrous Production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
by Chris Gibson - October 22, 2014

If I were asked to provide the perfect introduction to the work of playwright William Shakespeare I would advise that person to check out The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' current production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Unlike the bard's histories or tragedies, this play is truly lyrical, funny, and filled with magical elements that make it especially appealing. It's also one of his few tales that isn't based on another source, springing with startling originality from his own fervid imagination, which makes it particularly special among his bountiful canon. It seems like I'm always saying this about the Rep, but they provide must-see entertainment on a regular basis, with this enchanting presentation acting as another fine example of their exemplary work. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Upstream Theater's Masterful Production of ANTIGONE Review BWW Reviews: Upstream Theater's Masterful Production of ANTIGONE
by Chris Gibson - October 15, 2014

I've been privileged to see several versions of Greek playwright Sophocles' 2500 year old work ANTIGONE over the years. All of them have been good, and each of them has been uniquely different. A version I caught at a college even went so far as to incorporate the traditional masks that were utilized for the original productions. But, David R. Slavitt's translation is, by far, the most intriguing and accessible version I've ever seen. With the inclusion of a dash of humor to the proceedings he's also managed to enhance the dramatic depth of the tale. Upstream Theater's current production is masterful and powerful in equal measure, providing a memorable experience that demands to be seen. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The New Jewish Theatre's Compelling Production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Review BWW Reviews: The New Jewish Theatre's Compelling Production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
by Chris Gibson - October 15, 2014

Few stories are as poignant and compelling as THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and this adaptation by Wendy Kesselman (originally scripted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett) is made even more so by enhancing the elements already present that deal with her Jewish faith and burgeoning womanhood. The current production by The New Jewish Theatre is simply heart wrenching in its exquisite and engaging execution. A wonderful cast and sensitive direction allow this true and tragic tale to blossom fully. You can't help but be moved by the events that transpire, and you'll find yourself thinking how important it is that we never forget what happened so that we make sure it is never repeated. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Excellent Production of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE Review BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Excellent Production of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
by Chris Gibson - October 15, 2014

Dame Agatha Christie is considered to be one of the most successful authors of all time, with her mystery novels and short stories selling literally millions of copies. In fact, her work has been produced on stage, in films, and on television. Additionally, a lot of the basic ideas and plots have been utilized in countless mediums. But, despite this proliferation, they still remain clever and entertaining in their own right. Stray Dog Theatre's current production of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is a prime example, combining a great cast, stylish appointments, and solid direction to provide audiences with a terrific experience that's well worth seeing, even if you've been exposed to this, or similar works, before. (more...)


BWW Reviews: New Line Theatre's Brilliant BONNIE & CLYDE Review BWW Reviews: New Line Theatre's Brilliant BONNIE & CLYDE
by Chris Gibson - October 09, 2014

I'm constantly amazed at the way New Line Theatre is able to find so many hidden gems among the countless shows that play on or off Broadway, exposing all of their true beauty and charms in newly imagined stagings. You begin to wonder how critics could be so misguided in their initial assessments, but then you begin to realize that artistic director Scott Miller truly understands, and takes the time to dissect, the reasons behind a good show's commercial failure. And then he fixes it. If you want to see a prime example of this skill, and believe me - you do, then you have to check out New Line's current production of BONNIE & CLYDE. You'll be blown away by how engaging the story and characters are, and you'll be humming the score as you walk out the doors because it's just so incredibly and infectiously catchy. (more...)


BWW Reviews: MARTY STUART AND HIS FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES at The Sheldon Review BWW Reviews: MARTY STUART AND HIS FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES at The Sheldon
by Chris Gibson - October 07, 2014

If you listen to a lot popular country music these days you'll find that most of it is really just pop music with a twang. That's not to say it isn't good. In fact, there are some great artists out there writing great tunes, and musicians that can play with astonishing skill and style. It's just that the industry itself has changed. It started with the 'countrypolitan' path artists took during the late 1960's and 70's, when their hits began to crossover to top the pop chart as well as the country ones. Somewhere along the line that true, pure and traditional sound just wasn't as prevalent as it had been. That's why Marty Stuart's appearance at The Sheldon Concert Hall was an event to remember. Marty and his aptly named band mates, The (His) Fabulous Superlatives, reach back to the roots of country music, producing an achingly beautiful sound in the process. Their appearance as the first act on this seasons' folk music series at the hall (October 3, 2014) marked the opportunity to hear this genuinely joyful noise in person. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Rep's Uproarious Production of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS Review BWW Reviews: The Rep's Uproarious Production of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
by Chris Gibson - September 16, 2014

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis opens their 48th season with one of the most hilarious shows I've ever been privileged to see. ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (written by Richard Bean, but based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldini) is a brilliant work of pure farcical comic genius, and it's enhanced immeasurably by a bevy of equally appealing musical interludes (some really cool skiffle and beat songs by Grant Olding) that neatly transition the action from scene to scene. You have no excuse not the see this show immediately. It's a wildly funny ride that demands your attendance! (more...)


BWW Reviews: Impressive FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Stages St. Louis Review BWW Reviews: Impressive FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Stages St. Louis
by Chris Gibson - September 14, 2014

It's just a fact that Stages St. Louis is a very special theatre company that always brings a sense of joy and enthusiasm to the shows they stage year end and year out. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, their current production (book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Beck), is another terrific example of their expertise in these endeavors. Lovingly crafted and performed with equal parts gusto and tenderness, this is a presentation that perfectly illustrates the art of musical theatre, while also touching the heart and soul of those who view it. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Dramatic License Productions' Humorous Presentation of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL Review BWW Reviews: Dramatic License Productions' Humorous Presentation of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL
by Chris Gibson - September 12, 2014

THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, the latest show by Dramatic License Productions, is a nutty little work that lampoons the denizens of its community, as well as a number of aspects of American culture, like the daytime reality TV shows made popular by the likes of Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. It may be short on plot, but the songs are generally catchy, the characters are sublimely absurd, and the jokes come fast and furious. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Mustard Seed Theatre's Powerful Production of THE HUMAN TERRAIN Review BWW Reviews: Mustard Seed Theatre's Powerful Production of THE HUMAN TERRAIN
by Chris Gibson - September 04, 2014

The Human Terrain System is a military initiative designed to utilize the research capabilities of individuals in areas where there are conflicts in order to forge a better understanding of the population of a region by gathering sociocultural information. For example, the intrepid protagonist of playwright Jennifer Blackmer's work, THE HUMAN TERRAIN, is a civilian anthropologist who's been shipped to Fallujah, Iraq (circa 2007-2008). It's her job to attempt to figure out, through intelligence data drawn from contacts, the issues that are driving the local people to commit acts of aggression directed at each other and the military presence that resides there. But, doing so requires her to gain the trust of individuals while also remaining loyal to her country. It's a fine line and a slippery slope to tread, and this powerful and effective production by Mustard Seed Theatre reveals the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by participants in this program. (more...)


BWW Reviews: SDT New Works Laboratory's Fun and Funny Production of FOUR SUGARS Review BWW Reviews: SDT New Works Laboratory's Fun and Funny Production of FOUR SUGARS
by Chris Gibson - August 31, 2014

It's always nice to have the opportunity to attend something new and fresh when you see as many shows as I do, and local playwright/actor/director Stephen Peirick's original play, FOUR SUGARS, delivers an engaging and entertaining experience. In this age of cynicism we currently find ourselves in, it's also a relief, emotionally at least, to find something that's both amusing and hopeful. A well acted and directed presentation of this work was recently produced as part of of SDT's (Stray Dog Theatre) New Works Laboratory (August 21-23), and played to packed houses at the Tower Grove Abbey that definitely appreciated the humor and antics Peirick has crafted. Count me among those who found this to be a wonderfully funny show that truly deserves the warm response that it received. (more...)


BWW Reviews: SIEGFRIED Triumphs at Union Avenue Review BWW Reviews: SIEGFRIED Triumphs at Union Avenue
by Steve Callahan - August 27, 2014

The Union Avenue Opera continues its bold venture into Wagner's Ring Cycle with the opening of a fine production of Siegfried, the third in that titanic tetralogical juggernaut that has rolled through opera history since 1874. (more...)


BWW Reviews: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Shines at Union Avenue Opera Review BWW Reviews: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Shines at Union Avenue Opera
by Steve Callahan - August 05, 2014

Andre Previn's operatic adaptation of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' opens at the Union Avenue Opera. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Entertaining Version of GREASE at The MUNY Review BWW Reviews: Entertaining Version of GREASE at The MUNY
by Chris Gibson - August 05, 2014

There have been a lot of versions of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's (book, music and lyrics) GREASE that I've seen over the years. Only one, New Line Theatre's brilliant staging a few years back, actually adhered to the musical as originally conceived. The majority have followed the template laid down by the 1978 movie version that was tailored to fit the stars; Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. That's the version currently gracing the stage of The MUNY, although it features a number of interesting changes, beginning with a choral version of the opening "Alma Mater" that actually utilizes the lyrics to the song "We Go Together". It's certainly an entertaining ride, and is much improved in many ways over the version staged here back in 2007. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Marvelous Production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING by Stages St. Louis Review BWW Reviews: Marvelous Production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING by Stages St. Louis
by Chris Gibson - July 27, 2014

The corporate business world of today is far removed from the tropes that abound in the musical HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, and that's one of things that makes it so interesting and enjoyable to watch, particularly when it's a production as sharply staged and exuberantly performed as the current presentation by Stages St. Louis. This is the type of musical that this company really excels at, and the overall enthusiasm and energy expended on the stage of the Robert G. Reim Auditorium makes this show an absolute must-see! (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Muny's Kooky and Outstanding Production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY Review BWW Reviews: The Muny's Kooky and Outstanding Production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY
by Chris Gibson - July 16, 2014

Cartoonist and creator of the creepy and kooky characters that make up THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Charles Addams, probably never envisioned his work gracing the Broadway stage, but then, could anyone have imagined that such a thing would come to pass. After all, the original single panel cartoons only hinted at the oddly dark nature of his characters. The rest was fleshed out by a terrific TV show that ran in the early sixties, and a couple of feature films that came along in the early 1990's. The current production of the Broadway show is now playing The MUNY, and it's a riotously amusing presentation that had me and my son laughing at the onstage antics (book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice), and bouncing along to the catchy score (Andrew Lippa). This is an exceptional show that features a great cast who seem to be having an absolutely splendid time. The Addams Family is must-see entertainment. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The St. Louis Actors' Studio Intriguing Presentation of the LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL (Part One) Review BWW Reviews: The St. Louis Actors' Studio Intriguing Presentation of the LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL (Part One)
by Chris Gibson - July 16, 2014

St. Louis should feel honored that the St. Louis Actors' Studio has established a new summer tradition with their LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL which began last week. It is an opportunity for all theater-goers to see fresh one act plays that are both thought-provoking and engaging. As a special treat playwright/screenwriter/director Neil LaBute also contributes a piece each year. This event is truly special and one that should not be missed. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Union Avenue Opera's Exquisite Production of LA TRAVIATA Review BWW Reviews: The Union Avenue Opera's Exquisite Production of LA TRAVIATA
by Chris Gibson - July 16, 2014

When you think of classic operas LA TRAVIATA is certainly one that immediately comes to mind. Composer Giuseppe Verdi (with a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave) created a wonderful piece that has stood the test of time, and when hearing it, you'll often find a number of familiar themes, some of which have appeared as background underscoring for cartoons, films, and commercials. It has all the elements that define our conceptions of what opera is: a superb score, the demand for inspired performances, and a tragic love story. The Union Avenue Opera has put together a memorable and moving production of this timeless work that demands your time and attention. (more...)


BWW Reviews: The Muny's Intoxicating Production of THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS Review BWW Reviews: The Muny's Intoxicating Production of THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS
by Chris Gibson - July 09, 2014

Though the weather was stormy on the opening night of the MUNY's presentation of the American Repertory Theater's 2011 update of THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS, and believe me I drove through some heavy downpours as I made my way to Forest Park, somehow the rain held off and allowed this wonderful show to proceed. Purists have been in an uproar over the fact that the original show has been altered, and while I certainly understand what all the fuss was about, there's no denying the fact that this new interpretation is a moving and compelling production that's definitely a winning crowd-pleaser. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Family Fun as TARZAN Swings into Action at The MUNY Review BWW Reviews: Family Fun as TARZAN Swings into Action at The MUNY
by Chris Gibson - June 28, 2014

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) got into writing as a lark, musing that he could produce stories that were better than the pulp fiction that was currently on display. Of course, the rest is history, with the prolific author producing a number of memorable series (Tarzan, John Carter, Pellucidar, etc) that are still selling today. His most famous creation, Tarzan of the Apes, became a cultural icon shrewdly marketed in comic strips, novelty items and motion pictures. But, I wonder how the writer would have felt about his hero singing on stage about his conflicts and feelings? Actually, I think he'd be pleased because the story, expanded and slightly altered here and there from Disney's animated film version of TARZAN, still remains true to his original concept (book by David Henry Hwang). And,the MUNY's current production is great family fun that tackles issues of loyalty and love against an action-packed jungle backdrop that cleverly brings to life the creatures that inhabit that world. (more...)


BWW Reviews: Stages St. Louis's Charming Production of Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY Review BWW Reviews: Stages St. Louis's Charming Production of Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY
by Chris Gibson - June 23, 2014

Along with their regular productions each season, Stages St. Louis always presents a show that's part of their Theatre for Young Audiences series. Since I've been reviewing theatre in St. Louis I've made an effort to attend one of these performances (with my son along for the experience) because they're always very well done, and it's important to me that children are exposed to the arts. This year's effort is Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY, and it continues an excellent tradition of providing families with a lively and fun show that's a genuine treat. (more...)


 
🔀ST. LOUIS SHOWS
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County in St. LouisGhost Brothers of Darkland County
(Runs 11/29 - 11/29)
Motown the Musical in St. LouisMotown the Musical
(Runs 11/18 - 11/30)
Annie in St. LouisAnnie
(Runs 12/2 - 12/7)
Pippin in St. LouisPippin
(Runs 12/10 - 12/14)
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella in St. LouisRodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
(Runs 1/20 - 2/1)
Million Dollar Quartet in St. LouisMillion Dollar Quartet
(Runs 2/27 - 3/1)
Kinky Boots in St. LouisKinky Boots
(Runs 3/24 - 4/5)

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