Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown, Deanna Jent and Lew Prince suss out local theater

 Grease There was a time when this sassy musical send-up of the 1950s told a simple, even moralistic, tale about the kids at Rydell High. But over the decades Grease has been tinkered with, first by the movie, then the 1990s revival. Now Stages St. Louis has made even more changes. This current production ignores Danny Zuko, Sandy Dubrowski, Frenchy and the other teens pretty much altogether. Instead of plot, we get a series of production numbers, some charming, some not. But they so dominate the proceedings that by evening's end the cast — along with the story they're trying to tell — is pretty much lost among the overload. Produced by Stages St. Louis through August 20 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $45 ($42 for seniors; rush seats for students and seniors $15 at the door). Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.org.
— Dennis Brown

Menopause The Musical This 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.
— Deanna Jent

The Nerd Larry Shue died in a plane crash 21 years ago, so he did not live long enough to know that two of his scripts would become among the most-produced plays in the American theater. The Nerd and The Foreigner have become so popular, objective wisdom has it that they can't be any good. And perhaps Shue was not strong on structure. But he was a true original, and his fanciful tales are laced with an almost surreal eccentricity. When actors give themselves over to the wackiness of the words, the plays can be genuinely funny. Here Jamey Farley nails Shue's quirky style. In the title role as the hero from hell, a former soldier who wreaks havoc when he comes to visit the man whose life he saved on the battlefield, Farley is certifiably hilarious. John Piskulic has a nice natural quality as the nerd's foil. Produced by K's Theatrical Korps through August 13 at St. John the Baptist Fine Arts Center (Kuppinger Auditorium), 4200 Delor Street. $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-351-8984 or visit www.kurtainkall.org.
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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Reviewed in this issue.

 
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