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's Taut MOTHERS AND SONS
November 15, 2016

Few playwrights tackle the subject of HIV/AIDS like Terrence McNally. Watching a generation wither away before his eyes has led him to explore the impact it has had in a number of works. One is ANDRE'S MOTHER, a short play which he was asked to expand. But, McNally opted to continue the story into the present day, and that choice acts to remind us that those left behind still suffer the pain of having lost a loved one, no matter how much time has passed, or how much things have changed medically and culturally. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis opens their Studio Theatre season with an intimate and moving production of MOTHERS AND SONS, and it's driven by an exceptional cast and thoughtfully conceived direction.

BWW Reviews: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Gripping UNTIL THE FLOOD
October 27, 2016

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis continues their 50th season with the powerful and thought-provoking one person play UNTIL THE FLOOD by Dael Orlandersmith, who also stars. This is the world premier of a work specifically commissioned by The Rep. While focusing on the events surrounding and following the death of Michael Brown, who was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, MO, the characters we meet will no doubt resonate with people in many communities around the country. This is gripping theatre that gives us a group of composite characters who all affected in one way or another by the situation that occurred. It's also a must-see show that will have a profound effect on everyone who views it.

BWW Review: Stray Dog Theatre's Rousing and Arousing THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
October 26, 2016

I can recall viewing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the old Varsity Theatre in the Delmar Loop before it closed its doors many years ago. There was a mood generated by the grungy atmosphere of that old movie house, with fans packed in like sardines, and dressed in various character costumes for the occasion, that's impossible to recreate when you can just pop in the DVD or Blu-Ray and watch it at home by yourself. Besides, it's always more fun to see it with an enthusiastic crowd. Happily, Stray Dog Theatre is presenting an enjoyable and thoroughly engaging production of the original musical the film was based upon, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and they encourage audience participation (within reason). Go and have an absolute blast!

BWW Review: Upstream Theaters Tense and Intense SUSPENDED
October 20, 2016

Upstream Theater opens their new season with a work by playwright Maya Arad Yasur called SUSPENDED. It's a fascinating piece of theater that touches on the issue of immigrants, and the challenges they face. Many cling to their old beliefs and ways, while some try to completely immerse themselves in our culture because they seek to blend in rather than stand out. These two points of view are discussed at length as a pair of window washers address the world that exists behind the glass they clean. At the same time, a link between the gentleman emerges that reveals some painful truths as to what went on before they actually came to this country. Once again, Upstream Theater has given us something that timely, and which will provide plenty to chew on. It's an engaging and entertaining 75 minute presentation that demands to be seen.

BWW Review: The New Jewish Theatre's Fascinating GOLDA'S BALCONY
October 14, 2016

After playwright William Gibson's GOLDA fizzled he reworked the material to form the one woman show GOLDA'S BALCONY. It's been a big success for the actresses who have undertaken the role, and we're lucky to have one of St. Louis' finest portraying this historically important figure. The New Jewish Theatre's current production, which opens their 20th season, gives Lavonne Byers the opportunity to, once again, thoroughly engage and enthrall an audience, while giving us insights into Golda Meir's fascinating life story. This is an incredibly well crafted presentation that definitely deserves your attendance.

BWW Review: New Line Theatre's Fantastic CELEBRATION
October 13, 2016

Though I'm extremely familiar with Tom Jones' (words) and Harvey Schmidt's (music) most popular work, THE FANTASTICKS, I had never seen their follow up, CELEBRATION. What I'd read while doing research was that it really fizzled once it was on Broadway. However, after seeing it I can understand why; it's a smaller scaled show that requires just the right venue to succeed. That's why I'm so glad New Line Theatre opened their 26th season with this fanciful and tune-filled musical. Through their superlative efforts we're able to see the premiere of a version that's been revised by Tom Jones. I'm not sure what was changed, but what we're privy to is a very engaging and entertaining production that will make you wonder why it isn't performed with more regularity. The score itself is gorgeous, and I cannot recommend this neglected gem highly enough.

BWW 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. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!
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 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 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 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 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.