Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

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 music 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.
(DJ)

A Midsummer Night's Dream A variety of comic styles are on display in this St. Louis Shakespeare production: The four young lovers cavort in the vein of the Three Stooges, while the Rustics appear to be fans of Monty Python — so much so that Bottom (Todd Gillenardo) seems to be channeling Michael Palin. Jennifer Theby is a lithe Puck, devilishly slithering through her scenes with great energy. The play's comic conclusion is delightfully performed, with a standout delivery of the prologue by Phillip Bozich and a most gently roared lion (John Wolbers). Director Milt Zoth gets the most successful comedy when he focuses on character rather than just physical jokes added on top of the dialogue — Donna Northcott's Titania and Theby's Puck both find excellent character-driven humor. Jennifer "JC" Krajicek's costumes are a visual treat — ranging from Athenian togas to fantasy confections for the fairies. Through March 26 at the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue (in Forest Park). Tickets are $20 to $22 ($2 discount for students and seniors). Call 314-361-5664 or visit www.stlshakespeare.org.
(DJ)

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.
(DJ)

A Walk in the Woods When it comes to nuclear proliferation and arms treaties, can the hopes of two individuals make any difference? Lee Blessing's drama probes that question through a series of intriguing conversations between two diplomats. John Contini plays the Russian Andrey, a weary but wise veteran of numerous treaties, while Gary Wayne Barker plays John, the idealistic American freshly assigned to Switzerland. Their compelling interactions touch on many political issues but always maintain a personal connection to the material — in a play that could easily stray into the land of propaganda, Barker and Contini keep firm hold on realistic, character-driven action. Directed by Heidi Winters Vogel, this smart Avalon Theatre production plays through April 2 at Union United Methodist Church, 3543 Watson Road. Tickets are $28 ($23 for students and seniors). Call 314-351-6482 or visit www.avalontheatre.org.
(DJ)

 
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