Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Menopause The Musical Who knew hormone shifts could be so much fun? An energetic cast of four women "of a certain age" sing and dance their way through parodies of popular '60s and '70s songs whose rewritten lyrics tackle with night sweats, memory loss and mood swings. Laura Ackerman has great comic timing in her rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon," while Rosemary Watts has almost too much fun with her ode to sex toys ("You Are My Destiny"). Rochelle Walker does a great Tina Turner impersonation, and Lee Anne Mathews sings a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash." Designed to amuse and empower women who have "gone through the passage," the show ends with the audience joining the cast for a raucous kick-line celebration. 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

Orpheus Descending HotCity Theatre battles an exposition-heavy first act and an arcane title in this crazier-than-usual Tennessee Williams play, and ultimately triumphs over the script's deficiencies. A sizzling second act showcases strong acting by Donna Parrone and Tyler Vickers as an adulterous couple and Chopper Leifheit as her high-school beau. Other standouts include Ruth Heyman as a passionate painter, Julie Layton as the local bad girl and William Burch as the archetypal Southern bigot. Never one accused of subtlety, Williams stuffs the play with symbolism ranging from Greek myth to American idols. This is not fast-food theater; though trimmed to a digestible length, the production is a multicourse meal that improves as the evening progresses. Through December 2 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-289-4060 or visit www.hotcitytheatre.org.
(DJ)

Urinetown, the Musical All the elements — direction, choreography, sets, lighting, costuming, a take-no-prisoners band — have come together in peerless synchronicity to elevate this satirical exercise in innocence and cynicism into an extravagant entertainment that raises the bar for locally produced musicals. The production is a stunner, and the entire ensemble — headed by Steve Isom, Joneal Joplin, Ben Nordstrom, Jayne Paterson, Sandie Rosa and Zoe Vonder Haar — would be hard to improve upon. By evening's end this dark fable about a drought-ridden town in which a petty tyrant employs scare tactics to control the fearful masses — and the good guys only succeed in screwing things up — reveals itself as the quintessential Iraq War musical. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through December 10 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $20 to $55 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstlorg.
Dennis Brown

Riverfront Times is looking for freelance writers to help us add to our coverage of local theater. Please send clips, résumé and cover letter to:

Tom Finkel, editor
Riverfront Times
6358 Delmar Boulevard, #200
St. Louis, MO 63130

Or via e-mail to
tom.finkel@riverfronttimes.com

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