Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Bedroom Farce Four couples, three beds, one night: Consider the possibilities. British playwright Alan Ayckbourn is a master at exploring the craziest options in the sanest situations; Bedroom Farce is a virtual inventory of approaches to comedy, from farce itself to repartee and sly wit. Although the demands of a three-bedroom set are slightly beyond the capabilities of this community-theater stage, sometimes a single performance is enough to justify an entire evening. Here, that performance is delivered with natural ease by Myron Freedman as the harried host of a ruined party. As his put-upon wife, Deb Dennert is right up there with him. Good show; jolly good. Performed through May 13 by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Tickets are $12 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-962-0876 or visit www.theaterguildwg.org.
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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying As he climbs his way through the corridors of the World Wide Wicket Company, Jeff Wright is a charmingly assured J. Pierrepont Finch, and Jenni Ryan brings spunk and pipes to his secretary Rosemary. This community-theater production is lucky to have them, because much of the show feels under-rehearsed. But this 45-year-old satire about ambition, greed and all the other good things that make corporate America so endearing still possesses one of the smartest, funniest musical comedy books ever written, and Frank Loesser's score seems to grow more tuneful with every passing year. Performed by the Kirkwood Theatre Guild through May 13 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road. Tickets are $18. Call 314-821-9956, ext. 1, or visit www.ktg-onstage.org.
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King Hedley II August Wilson's epic drama about dreams deferred in the underbelly of 1980s Pittsburgh receives a vigorous, sinewy production from the Black Rep. King Hedley is not royalty; that's simply his name. He's actually an ex-con trying to reboot his life by opening a video store. But there are bills to be paid, and his family needs food. There are echoes here of classic tragedies like Hamlet and Oedipus Rex, plus more than a few parallels to A Raisin in the Sun. But it's the balance between the domestic and the classic the makes the evening so absorbing. The entire cast is solid, with special kudos to A.C. Smith, who gives a towering performance as a menacing friend of the family, and to Ron Himes in the title role. His blistering portrayal is acting at its most uncompromising. Performed through May 14 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $40 ($10 rush seats available for students, 10 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
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Menopause The MusicalThis sassy musical revue 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.
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