Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Marat/Sade This Vietnam-era play-within-a-play is a provocative blend of theatricality and discourse, melody and mayhem. As inmates in an asylum strive to re-enact the murder of French Revolution martyr Jean-Paul Marat, the Marquis de Sade rages against the "moral guardians" who try to control society. A who's who of local actors -- eager to participate in ECHO Theater's rare production of this landmark piece of political theater -- includes Anna Blair, Lavonne Byers, Chopper Leifheit, Sara Renchen, Kelly Schnider and Doug Shelton as Sade. The most seditious performance of all is delivered by Terry Meddows, whose portrayal of an inmate begins as a comic illustration come to life and by evening's end becomes pitiful and terrifying. Through September 26 at the Soulard Theater, 1921 South Ninth Street. Call 314-995-2123. (DB)

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 (seven women, four men) 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 September 24-26 at the Orthwein Theater on the campus of Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, 101 North Warson Road, Ladue. Call 314-995-7367. (DB)

Triple Espresso Move over, Nunsense and Forever Plaid. Here comes another crowd-pleasing phenom that's shamelessly determined to make you laugh. As this reunion of a 1970s musical trio plays out at the Triple Espresso nightclub, the evening is not so much a play as a series of set pieces. Some are more amusing than others, but if you ever wondered how the Three Stooges would attack Chariots of Fire, this is the show for you. In their determination to amuse, the three performers (Patrick Albanese, John Bush and J.C. Cutler) effect a take-no-prisoners approach to the material. A viewer's best response is simply to surrender early and laugh along with the crowd. Through December 28 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Call 314-534-1111. (DB)

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