Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Bat Boy: The Musical You've read about him in the Weekly World News; now see the Bat Boy live in this energetic New Line Theatre production. The hilarious-yet-heart-wrenching story of prejudice, true love and dead cows is anchored by Todd Schaefer: As the fanged protagonist, he combines detailed physical work with an impressive vocal range to make Bat Boy's journey completely believable. As the family that adopts the Bat Boy, Deborah Sharn, April Lindsay and Matthew Korinko create compelling characters, while the versatile Brian Claussen, Stephanie Brown, Aaron Allen, Nicholas Kelly, Jeffrey Pruett and Christine Brooks bring an entire town (and forest) to life. Director Scott Miller's slick staging keeps the story in sharp focus, maintaining a difficult balance between the script's campy comedy and its genuine emotion. through March 18 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $15-$18 ($10-$15 for children, students and seniors; $8 student rush seats available five minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-1111 or visit www.geocities.com /newlinetheatre.
Deanna Jent

Beowulf Ancient epic meets theater magic in this stunning Metro Theater Company production. Lance Garger's original music and throbbing percussive score meld perfectly with the precise physical work of actors Nicholas Kryah, Scott Hanson and Eddie Webb, while director Carol North's inventive staging moves the actors seamlessly through all of Beowulf's adventures. A seemingly simple wooden unit becomes a castle, a boat, the depths of the sea and a monument to Beowulf's life, and costume shifts and tightly choreographed battle scenes create believable man-eating monsters and dragons. A theatrical delight for all ages. Performed March 11 at 11 a.m. and March 12 at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue (in Forest Park). Tickets are $14 ($12 for children, seniors and history museum members. Call 314-997-6777 or visit www.metrotheatercompany.org.
(DJ)

Henry IV Shakespeare it ain't, but this new Tom Stoppard version of Luigi Pirandello's play hits on Shakespearean themes: the potential wisdom of insanity and the psychological power of performance. As the mad (or is he?) Henry IV, Andrew Long captivates in the role of a rich Italian gentleman who has been living for the past twenty years as the eleventh-century German king. It's a performance that's funny, scary, melancholy and ruthless — and always believable. Jerry Vogel, Susan Wands and Keith Perry deliver fine supporting performances on Narelle Sisson's magnificent set and director Steven Woolf keeps the 85-minute production stylistically consistent. Unfortunately Woolf can't solve the play's main problem: It takes too long to bring in the main character and kick the play into gear — by which point it seems as if it's over too soon. Through March 10 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $13 to $61 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www .repstl.org.
(DJ)

Pippin In Roger O. Hirson's Pippin, the Grandfather of Self-Aware Musicals takes on Musical Theater Expectations and the Notoriety of Fame. This energetic Theatre Guild of Webster Groves production features a sassy Beth Bishop as the Leading Player, a sexy and sinister mistress of ceremonies who leads our naive antihero Pippin (Steve Brown) through a series of adventures. It's hard to feel any sympathy for the whiny, self-absorbed Pippin until he meets Catherine (Carrie Wenos) and young Theo (Spencer Milford). The latter nearly steals the show with "Prayer for a Duck"; and the finale, in which Catherine, Theo and Pippin take on the rest of the players, is a dramatic success. Through March 12 at 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Tickets are $12 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-962-0876 or visit www.theaterguildwg.org.
(DJ)

Skin in Flames Reviewed in this issue.

 
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