Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

 Barefoot in the Park The postage-stamp stage at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves provides an ideal space for Neil Simon's enduring romantic comedy about newlyweds in a claustrophobic New York City brownstone. It's easy to knock Simon; he's only the most commercially successful playwright in history. But Barefoot is early Simon, back at the outset of the glory days, before even he knew where his career was headed. Despite the limitations of a community-theater production, a lot of these lines still ring very funny. Performed by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves through September 19 at 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Call 314-962-0876. (Dennis Brown)

Camelot Stages St. Louis closes its season with a triumphant Camelot, featuring stunning visual elements, topnotch acting and a well-sung witty score. Christopher Guilmet is an energetic Arthur whose love for Guinevere and Lancelot is heart-wrenching. Eileen Ward creates a Guinevere believably torn between her love for both men and Edward Watts is Ken-doll perfect as Lancelot. The sexual tension between Ward and Watts sizzles as the evil Mordred (Jeffrey C. Wolf) plots Arthur's downfall. The male supporting cast shows off their pecs as the knights of the leather-fetish table in "Fie on Goodness," while the women get their chance to flutter prettily in pastels for "The Lusty Month of May." Through October 3 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.com. (Deanna Jent)

The Crucible Reviewed in this issue.

Marat/Sade Reviewed in this issue.

The Taming of the Shrew Hydeware's annual free "Shakespeare in the Park" production imagines what Padua would have been like if the women ran things. Worried she'll never find a woman to marry her son Petruchio, Baptista is delighted by the appearance of the flamboyant Katherina, who woos and weds Petruchio in a flash. True to the original, the person in power breaks the will of the errant "shrew" and the play ends with the properly subdued spouse being taken to bed. Megan Kelly is marvelous as Katherina, but J.C. Pierce's Petruchio doesn't flash quite enough fire to match hers, so his "taming" seems inevitable. Most of director Richard Strelinger's extreme cuts (the play runs less than 90 minutes) and gender shifts (cf. a woman playing Katherina) work reasonably well. Performed September 18 and 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Playground Pavilion in Tower Grove Park (enter at Grand Boulevard and Arsenal Street). Call 314-368-7306 or visit www.hydewaretheatre.com. (DJ)

Tell Me Somethin' Good The Black Rep offers an affectionate musical revue that begins in the 1950s, back when guys in white tuxedos with pink cummerbunds swayed to the music as Jackie Wilson cried "Lonely Teardrops" and the Flamingos insisted "I Only Have Eyes for You." As the evening (conceived and directed by Ron Himes) unspools, the music fast-forwards through the decades and girls who begin the night in pleated skirts end up looking like drill sergeants. Not that this notion of a musical is interested in making a statement -- the priority is sound. A spirited cast steamrolls its way from Frankie Lymon to Barry White to Isaac Hayes, propelled by a five-man band that would be the envy of any prom dance steering committee. Performed by the St. Louis Black Repertory Company through September 19 at Washington University's Edison Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard, University City. Call 314-534-3810. (DB)

 
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