Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

The Birthday Party Reviewed in this issue.

Bold Girls Set in West Belfast in 1991, this domestic drama about women living with constant stress in a war zone focuses on the day-to-day mundane activities that allow for sanity. Amy Brixey, Meghan Maguire and Donna Weinsting are the bold girls, each of whom must cope with a husband away in prison or a father who died fighting the Brits. Each woman personifies a different attitude — hope, rebellion, propriety — that serves as her life line. Then there is Colleen Backer as the enigmatic outsider. Who is she, and how does she fit into this dangerous world? Initially Backer demands our curiosity, then she commands our attention. The same might be said about the entire production. Produced by Orange Girls through October 22 at the COCA Black Box, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-520-9557 or visit www.orangegirls.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

Noises Off Reviewed in this issue.

Of Mice and Men Reviewed in this issue.

Quidam (Cirque du Soleil) Quidammelds the Cirque package of circus, dance, music and theater with a suggestive story line that allows the audience to create as much plot as they desire. Or if you'd rather, you can ignore the story and just enjoy the show: a huge spinning wheel becomes a thrilling exploration of centrifugal force; four girls playing with diabolos (a.k.a. Chinese yo-yos) show amazing ingenuity and dexterity; a group of twenty acrobats create mind-boggling combinations with jump ropes. Swings, hoops, ropes and long ribbons of fabric suspend performers from the five conveyor rails that run along the ceiling of the Grand Chapiteau (that's "Big Top," for the culturally deprived). Standing out among outstanding performances are clown Guillermo Toto Castineiras and the "Statue — Vis Versa" duet, in which Jerome LeBaut and Asa Kubiak use strength and balance to support each other in seemingly impossible poses. Through October 22 at the UMB Bank Pavilion parking lot, off I-70 at the Earth City Expressway. Tickets are $35 to $70 (discounts for children, students and seniors). Call 514-790-1245 or 800-678-5440 or visit www.cirquedusoleil.com. (DJ)

Tartuffe Orgon is suffering a midlife crisis. But rather than buy a Porsche or go bungee jumping, he turns religious and befriends Tartuffe, a wily opportunist who fakes piety in order to exploit and even cuckold his newfound protector. Orgon's foolishly tolerant family puts up with these shenanigans until Dad decides that Tartuffe should marry into the family. Then it's time for his duplicity to be unmasked. Richard Wilbur's brilliant verse translation transforms Molière's 17th-century comedy into something fresh and beguiling, and Gary F. Bell's staging, played out by a sprightly cast that includes Myron Freedman and Lavonne Byers, captures the enduring sheer fun of the piece. Performed by Stray Dog Theatre through October 22 at Clayton High School's Little Theatre, 1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (DB)

 
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