Chris Gibson

Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years and reviewing local theatre for over 11. 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.



BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Rocks the House with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
March 27, 2017

I've seen MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET several times, and I've always enjoyed the experience, even though it's a heavily fictionalized version of the day four music icons gathered in the studio that started their careers. If you've ever heard the original recordings that were made you know that Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash gathered around the piano (which Elvis played) and sang familiar gospel tunes. But, Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux (both contributed to the book, which came from Mutrux's original concept) use the reunion as a way to tell the story of Sun studios, and in particular, Sam Phillips, while generously sprinkling in some great music and a number of actual facts along the way. The result is a show that gives you what you really wanted; the opportunity to see these cats rock out together. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis closes their 50th anniversary season with an amazing production of this jukebox musical. I've honestly never heard it sound as good as it does here, and some of the arrangements seem to have been tweaked a bit too. Truly a fabulous way to close a monumentally fine season.

BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Taut and Intense NEVER THE SINNER
March 18, 2017

Like a lot of writer John Logan's works NEVER THE SINNER explores the darker side of humanity. It was his first play, but you wouldn't know it by the intensity it spawns as its tale unfolds. The New Jewish Theatre is presenting a taut production of this piece which focuses our attention on Leopold and Loeb, the teenage purveyors of the 'crime of the century' in the early 1920's. It's a well crafted and dramatic show that only breaks the palpable tension that's been building in the air for an intermission about half way through it. What makes this story particularly timely, in my estimation, is that these two 'kids' became enamored with Nietzche's idea of there being 'supermen' who are above the law due to their supposed superiority. That's a drastic simplification of the concept as a whole, but the point is that we can still see this type of thinking in the current world we live in. This is a show that's definitely worthy of your time and attention.

BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Scores a Knockout with THE ROYALE
March 15, 2017

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis always provides amazing, intimate, and innovative shows for their Studio Theatre season, and playwright Marco Ramirez' THE ROYALE is certainly no exception. This is fiercely creative work that features some sonic embellishment that provides a literal pulse to the proceedings. And, even though gloves never touch an opponent's flesh during the play, you'll feel the intensity of the sport of boxing come alive in a powerful way that will move you. The play takes the idea of a rising African American boxer at the turn of the last century (think Jack Johnson), and thus, when segregation was in place, and then gives it a twist. It's masterfully done. In fact, it's a knockout!

BWW Review: New Line Theatre's ZORBA Exhibits Zest for Life
March 9, 2017

There's something oddly life-affirming about the character of Zobra. He's a cheerleader for living life to its fullest. ZORBA the musical (lyrics by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander, and book by Joseph Stein) impresses an audience with the realization that time never stands still, and therefore, life goes on despite the nasty curves it may lob our way. New Line Theatre's production is a real revelation, because even though this show received its fair share of award nominations, it's really not revived that often. Perhaps it's the darker elements that pervade the show that turn some people off, but then life isn't always sunshine and roses, so I like that they are present. This kind of presentation is something that New Line does better than anyone else, and that's to revive a neglected or forgotten show for a new audience to appreciate, and their track record is impeccable in this regard. This show is a genuine must see, and taking it in I've come to realize that we all need our own personal 'Zorba' to prod us into taking risks and fully investing ourselves in whatever we do, even if things might go awry on occasion.

BWW News: 6th Annual BRIEFS: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays This Weekend at the .Zack
March 8, 2017

With funding for the arts under attack and more anti-LGBTQ legislation in the wings under the new administration, the sixth annual Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays is needed now more than ever. Pearl Vodka in conjunction with That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital VOICE Magazine will present the sixth annual Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays. Briefs is a unique venture in St. Louis that brings together numerous directors and theatrical artists to showcase the work of eight different playwrights all under one roof. Briefs presents theatrical work that address the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning people. The festival is targeted to a diverse and mature audience that appreciates good theatre in unique settings.

BWW Review: Max & Louie Productions' Compelling LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL
February 24, 2017

Playwright Lanie Robertson's alternately harrowing and exhilarating work, LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL, is an intriguing take on Billie Holiday's final performance in 1959. Holiday was a jazz singer who could captivate an audience with her unique vocal style, which combined elements of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, two performers she idolized growing up. She had a storied career and tumultuous life that was further undone by drug and alcohol addictions that would leave her dead from heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver. But, her legacy is undeniable, and this play allows us to see her talent, as well as the demons that haunted her. Max & Louie Productions is presenting a superlative production of this work which is smartly crafted and brilliantly performed.

BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Presents Inspired Production of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
February 16, 2017

The Repertory Theatre of St Louis is presenting Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and it's a stunning production that is sure to be a smash hit. The addition of a representative group of African Americans referenced in the program as 'The Community' improves the experience immeasurably. The play itself has only a couple of characters of color, and in previous productions I've seen this presented a problem for me, given that the story is about injustice. This seemed to me to be a sort of injustice in and of itself. The basic story was there, of course, but something was missing that would further enhance a clearer understanding of the atmosphere and period. Now I can't imagine a staging that shouldn't follow this lead. This is a powerful and timely show that qualifies impressively as must-see entertainment.

BWW Review: STAGES Triple Threat Teens Perform Memorable THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY
February 14, 2017

STAGES' Triple Threat Teens presented THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY this past weekend, and it was not only the Midwestern premiere, but also the first time the musical had been put on by a youth group. That's especially significant because this work (music and lyrics by Neil Bartram with book by Brian Hill) is all about the things that young adults go through as they grow and mature. The Triple Threat Teens live up to their name in this truly entertaining and amusing piece of theatre. It was a very enjoyable experience, and I look forward to more presentations by this highly talented group!

BWW Review: Brilliantly Funny SOMETHING ROTTEN! at The Fox Theatre
February 11, 2017

I know that some critics will probably refer to Monty Python's Flying Circus or the work of Mel Brooks when they try to explain the appeal of SOMETHING ROTTEN!. There are some similarities to both, but the fact is, this show (book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell with Music and Lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick) is actually something uniquely original. Sure a lot of contemporary musicals have taken the opportunity to crack wise while parodying musical theatre tropes before, but never as thoroughly and hilariously. The current touring show at The Fox Theatre is just great fun, and I highly recommend that you attend!

BWW Review: Upstream Theater's Extraordinarily Imaginative Production of THE YEAR OF THE BICYCLE
February 3, 2017

I always look forward to every show by Upstream Theater, because I know I will transported somewhere I've never been before. It may be another country, or it may be a state of mind. Whatever the case, I know it will be a magical place that will take me far beyond any expectations I may have. With playwright Joanna Evans' THE YEAR OF THE BICYCLE, we're taken to places that fall into both categories. Acted with passion and energy, and brimming with an extraordinary sense of visual style, this production explores relations in South Africa between whites and blacks, while also giving us a glimpse of the afterlife. It's only about an hour or so long, but it leaves a lasting impression. This is what Upstream Theater consistently does; provide must-see productions that challenge and invigorate.

BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Thoughtful and Thought-Provoking Production of INTIMATE APPAREL
February 2, 2017

The New Jewish Theatre's production of playwright Lynn Nottage's INTIMATE APPAREL is a very engaging work that presents the audience with layers of text and subtext to chew on. It's primarily about the pursuit of a dream, and the events that occur that may delay or derail that dream, but not to the point where the protagonist ever gives up hope. Though set in New York at the turn of the last century, there are a lot of issues brought forth that will ring true for a modern audience. In these especially difficult times, it's a reminder of the way people of color were treated then, something we have to work vigilantly to make sure doesn't happen again. Drawing on the experiences of her great-grandmother, Nottage has written a wonderfully touching, and ultimately hopeful, work that is brought to life with an incredibly well done production by The New Jewish Theatre. I recommend it highly!

BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Presents a Myriad of Possibilities with CONSTELLATIONS
January 30, 2017

Playwright Nick Payne takes an unusual approach to his work, CONSTELLATIONS, crafting a simple story that's made more complex by the way in which he allows it to unfold. It's a interesting and engaging piece of theatre that the less open minded might find a bit frustrating due to the very nature of its construction. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis had put together a fascinating production of this work, which is graced with two excellent performances and sharp direction that fully seeks to explore the world that is created. I found it thoroughly engaging, and I think it's a play that deserves your time and attention.

BWW Review: Gloriously Rendered AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at The Fox Theatre
January 23, 2017

The 1951 film, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, was recently broadcast on Turner Classic Movies, and I had a chance to watch it before attending the recent musical adaptation that is currently playing the Fox Theatre. The film is a classic, and I'm happy to report that the new musical version is an excellent take on the story. Filled with wonderful "triple threat" (acting, dancing, singing) performances that do more than justice to the original work, this is an uplifting, amusing, and immensely entertaining production that I cannot recommend highly enough. The opportunity to hear such lush orchestrations of George Gershwin's (lyrics by Ira Gershwin) music, combined with some extraordinary dance sequences and a compelling story, is one that should not be missed.The 1951 film, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, was recently broadcast on Turner Classic Movies, and I had a chance to watch it before attending the recent musical adaptation that is currently playing the Fox Theatre. The film is a classic, and I'm happy to report that the new musical version is an excellent take on the story. Filled with wonderful "triple threat" (acting, dancing, singing) performances that do more than justice to the original work, this is an uplifting, amusing, and immensely entertaining production that I cannot recommend highly enough. The opportunity to hear such lush orchestrations of George Gershwin's (lyrics by Ira Gershwin) music, combined with some extraordinary dance sequences and a compelling story, is one that should not be missed.

BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Compelling ALL MY SONS
January 17, 2017

It's hard to believe that award-winning playwright Arthur Miller crafted ALL MY SONS as a last ditch effort to produce a commercially successful work after his initial offering failed after less than a week of performances. Based upon a true story, Miller's work is a compelling story that succeeded and sent him on his way to writing some of the most powerful plays of the twentieth century. For the second half of their 50th anniversary season, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis produces an excellent rendering that features stellar direction and an excellent cast. I highly recommend this show.

BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Timeless Classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL
December 16, 2016

Perhaps the best way to approach Dickens' venerable A CHRISTMAS CAROL is straight-forward, with a generous helping of music, sterling performances, and some cool effects to liven up the proceedings. After all, the story, which dates from 1843, has been reworked, parodied, and used as a device by nearly every sitcom and animated show ever made. So, what's old seems new again in The Repertory of St. Louis' current presentation for the holidays. And, what a treat it is. David H. Bell's adaptation is faithful to the spirit and language of the story, which occurs when the industrial revolution has wreaked havoc on the lives of both the old and young. Filled with energy and enthusiasm, this is an absolute must-see for the Christmas season!

BWW Review: Remarkable FINDING NEVERLAND at The FOX
December 16, 2016

If you're looking for spectacular entertainment that fills you with wonder then look no further; FINDING NEVERLAND is the show for you. This would be a very good show based solely on the book (James Graham) and music (music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy) that it features, but it goes far beyond that in conjuring up an absolutely remarkable theatrical experience. Based on THE MAN WHO WAS PETER PAN, by Allan Knee, as well as the eponymous motion picture, this is a marvelously cast, tune-filled excursion into the imagination of J.M. Barrie. It's really a must-see show, so catch it while you can!

BWW Review: New Jewish Theatre's Excellent DRIVING MISS DAISY
December 8, 2016

Playwright Alfred Uhry's Pulizter Prize winning work, DRIVING MISS DAISY, is the latest offering by The New Jewish Theatre, and it's an excellent production. Over the years this play has provided a lot of famous actors and actresses with the opportunity to bring these wonderful characters to life, and of course, there's a very well known film version as well. But forget all that and just enjoy the intimacy and immediacy of live theatre. This is a delightful 90 minute show, and I highly recommend it.

BWW CD Review: David Lanz's Lovely NORWEGIAN RAIN
November 21, 2016

The incredibly accomplished pianist David Lanz continues to deliver imaginative and creative works, and they've come at time in his life when he seems positively re-energized; making vital, emotional, and personal compositions with Kristin Amarie Lanz that are simply a pleasure to listen to. NORWEGIAN RAIN continues the tradition with a collection of songs that conjure up images of Norway in all its seasonal and cultural splendor. Inspired by trips to Norway, and the musical relationship he formed with his wife's grandfather's upright piano, Lanz has produced a truly special work well worthy of your time and attention. I highly recommend it!

BWW Review: Amazing FUN HOME at the Fox Theatre
November 21, 2016

I was book shopping a while back and stumbled across the graphic novel FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel. I sat down and read through it, appreciating Bechdel's artistic style, but also thoroughly engaged in the glimpses into her life that filled the pages. The musical version (music by Jeanine Tesori, with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron) definitely captures the essence of Bechdel's work, and that's really important when something is adapted for the stage. The current touring production of this show is playing at the Fox Theatre and I highly recommend this 2015 Tony Award winner.

BWW Review: Mustard Seed Theatre's Splendidly Rendered ALL IS CALM - THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914
November 16, 2016

Mustard Seed Theatre has brought back their popular staging of ALL IS CALM - THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 (for what they say is the last time, at least, for a while), which premiered in 2013, and it remains a piece of theatre that's worthy of your time and attention. Originally broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, but later turned into a moving and compelling theatrical experience. The creators of this amazing work are Peter Rothstein, Erick Lichte, and Timothy C. Takach. If you haven't see it then you need to make sure you do so during its current run, and even if you have see it before, I don't have to tell you that it's well worth seeing again.