Scene: New York City. You are a dime-a-dozen, non-working actor. You are therefore, obviously, quite left-leaning in your political points of view. The time is fall of 2002; President Bush is aiming to lead your country into war. What do you do?
If you're a smart dime-a-dozen, non-working actor, you use the situation to express your antiwar sentiment and advance your career simultaneously. You and a friend come up with the Lysistrata Project, a grassroots, worldwide movement to stage the Greek antiwar comedy Lysistrata in thousands of venues around the globe, all on the same evening (1,049 performances occurred that night). Then once that's done, you write your own one-woman show about the whole experience.
Playing the role of "you" is Kathryn Blume, whose theater piece The Accidental Activist details all of the above. She performs at 8 p.m. at the Soulard Theatre (1921 South Ninth Street) as the guest of the Hydeware Theatre. Tickets are $8 to $10, or $5 for those who register to vote at the theater (offer good for unregistered voters only). For reservations call 314-727-7909 or email email@example.com. -- Rose Martelli
Five Years looks into it
One act, two characters, sixteen songs. That's all it takes Jason Robert Brown to dissect a contemporary marriage between a writer and an actress in the imaginative and autobiographical musical The Last Five Years, which begins previews Wednesday, March 24, at 8 p.m. at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Loretto-Hilton Center Studio Stage, 130 Edgar Road; check www.repstl.org for full schedule and prices) and continues through April 18. The CD of the original 2002 off-Broadway production has found its own life as a popular item among college-age listeners. Now the show promises to be one of the highlights of the spring theater season.
"I saw it off Broadway twice," says Kate Baldwin (pictured), who plays Kathy. "I was fascinated by the audience response. After the show we didn't even make it to the subway platform, because we were so busy arguing over who was right and who was wrong. It elicits extremely different reactions."
"The musical is filled with questions, and I'm not sure that either Kate or I want to know the answers," adds Anthony Holds, who plays Jamie. "To that extent it's analogous to a piece of visual art. That piece may have a personal meaning to the artist, but everyone who sees it takes away something different based on their own personal experiences."
"I expect that every performance will be an emotional roller coaster," confides Baldwin. "I'm going to want everyone to understand where Kathy is coming from, and I know that's not going to happen. That's something I have to learn to get over as a performer, not asking the audience to like me so much." Which doesn't mean the audience won't like the show -- maybe even a lot. It's fresh, original and something to see. -- Dennis Brown
Lose Your Illusions
If one were in the business of casting scorn upon performers, David Copperfield would be quite the easy target. The haircut, the strangely expressive eyebrows that move as if powered by independent motors, the mechanical grace of his Vanna White-inspired hand movements, the cocksure rock-star attitude: It all seems incongruous with his chosen profession of "magician." Magicians are supposed to be like fun uncles: well-intentioned dorks who (mistakenly) think they appear cool to their younger relatives. Copperfield is like one of those guys, only with a hot girlfriend, a Corvette Stingray and a hidden bald spot. But it is Copperfield's machismo and arrogance that make him a superstar. With acts like "Killer," wherein he performs sleight-of-hand with a live scorpion, you know this guy thinks he's awesome, and you believe right along with him. Even if he did name his "Grand Illusion" tour after a Styx song, given your druthers, who'd you rather have over to your next party: Copperfield or that hump David Blaine? Yeah, that's right. Go see him at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard, 314-534-1111) at 5 or 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 to $47.50. -- Paul Friswold
They'll School You
Saxophonist/clarinetist Victor L. Goines, director of jazz studies at the Juilliard School, will be leading the Juilliard Jazz Small Ensemble through a variety of styles this evening -- anything from Duke Ellington and Count Basie to Wayne Shorter and Wynton Marsalis -- at the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard). The performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $5 (students) to $20 (orchestra). For more info call 314-533-9900, or swing on over to www.sheldonconcerthall.org. -- Guy Gray
The classical guitar is an instrument capable of some of the warmest, purest sounds an ear can devour. Six catgut strings, two hands -- that's all there is to it. Add befuddling technical prowess in devoted service of challenging compositions, and you've got the classical guitar's newest golden boy, the world-renowned Jason Vieaux. He performs at 8 p.m. at the Ethical Society (9001 Clayton Road, 314-567-5566), courtesy of the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society. Tickets are $16 to $18. -- John Goddard