Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

CabaretForty years after it stunned Broadway with its seedy harshness, this musical, set in 1930 Berlin at the beginning of Hitler's rise to power, remains ahead of the curve. This student production effectively conveys the show's primary colors but is also filled with unexpected pleasures, like "Two Ladies," amusingly rendered by Luke A. Wall as the decadent Emcee and a sassy D'Lyn Cooper and Kelly McCarthy. Mike Dowdy brings an inner strength to the hapless Herr Schultz. And (except when he sings) Dane White transforms the usually bland Cliff Bradshaw into the most interesting character in Berlin. Performed by Lindenwood University's theater department through March 18 at the Jelkyl Theatre, Roemer Hall, 209 South Kingshighway, St. Charles. Tickets are $12 ($10 for seniors, $8 for students). Call 636-949-4878 or visit www.lindenwood.edu.
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Menopause The MusicalThis sassy musical review parodies songs of the '60s and '70s, focusing on issues of aging and hormone imbalance (to give you an idea: A disco medley includes "Night Sweating" and "Stayin' Awake"). Sandra Benton is a powerhouse singer whose Tina Turner brings down the house. Brooke Davis scores with "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Lee Anne Mathews delivers a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash," while Rosemary Watts has fun with the raciest number, a tribute to self-love. The only problem with director Joe Dreyer's slick 90 minutes is that it's too loud. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit www .playhouseatwestport.com.
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On Golden Pond Like a lazy summer day, this play takes its time warming up but ultimately delivers a cheerful experience. Stray Dog Theatre's production invites the audience (literally) into the Thayers' summer home, where Norman (Bruce Collins) and Ethel (Diane Peterson) face a number of challenges: Norman's 80th birthday, their estranged daughter Chelsea (Kim Furlow), an unexpected teen guest (Matthew Johnson) and a variety of bugs. Each member of the talented cast creates an interesting, believable character, and director Gary F. Bell keeps the action moving smoothly. This homage to family and forgiveness plays through March 26 at the Little Theatre, 1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-531-5923 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org.
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Over the River and Through the Woods Joe DiPietro's humorous tale about four Italian grandparents trying to manage their grandson's life is energetically brought to life in this Kirkwood Theatre Guild production, crisply directed by Brad Schwartz. Tom Bell scores laughs as the Grandpa who won't stop driving (in spite of continual accidents) but also delivers a touching story about his own father. Suzanne Greenwald is believably persistent as the Grandma who won't stop feeding everyone, while Bert Wunderlich and Dorothy Farmer Davis are delightful as the "loud" grandparents whose zest for life teaches their grandson (David Cooperstein) a lesson. As Nick, Cooperstein strikes a nice balance between frustration and loyalty as he navigates rocky family terrain. Through March 18 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $15. Call 314-821-9956 ext. 1, or visit www.ktg-onstage.org.
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Power PlaysOnce an improv actor, always an improv actor. Since moving on from Chicago's acclaimed Second City troupe decades ago, Elaine May and Alan Arkin have enjoyed lustrous careers; this evening of one-act comedies is a return to their roots. May's droll opener features a seemingly innocent secretary (Elisabeth Wienke) who scares the arrogance out of her boss (Eleanor Mullin) by talking about the methods of murder. Arkin's freewheeling Virtual Reality is set in an empty warehouse that's actually a funhouse. What are these two petty thugs (Joe Wegescheide and Martin Casey) up to? One part absurdism, one part surrealism, the play might be full of import — or it might be a takeoff of an Actors Studio exercise. Only Arkin knows for sure. The evening's finale, May's variation of an old vaudeville sketch gone wildly amok, might be the least interesting of the three offerings, but it also delivers the most surefire laughs. Performed by West End Players Guild through March 19 at Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $10. Call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.
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