Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Bat Boy: The Musical It's a rare playbill indeed that includes the credit "Blood Designer" — but then, how many musicals sport a title character that's feral? Bat Boyis a lurid 1950s B-movie adapted to the stage; here it's a 3-D movie as well, without the need for glasses. In its cartoon-inspired insistence on not delivering one single "real" moment, and in its demand that sentiment be sucked dry (thus eschewing any twinge of humanity), the show is hard-pressed to involve a viewer. But sheer professionalism will out — even if these professionals are students. The principals are terrific, especially Steven Pierce, who brings an astonishing plausibility to the title role; Natalie Wisdom, whose ingénue adheres to all the rules of one-dimensionality yet still manages to slip in a few traces of empathy; and Justin D. Cook, whose revival-meeting minister gets Act Two off to a rousing start. Performed by the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts through December 10 at Stage III (in Webster Hall), 470 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students, seniors and Webster alumni; free for Webster students and staff). Call 314-968-7128 or visit www.webster.edu.
Dennis Brown

A Christmas Carol A cast of 35 strives to bring Dickens' perennial favorite to life in St. Charles. On the up side, director-adaptor Larry D. Quiggins has made some additions to the story that help to clarify some of the story's more oblique plot points (like, for instance, a charming scene of Ebenezer Scrooge's birth). On the down side, Dickens' dialogue is so distinct, anything non-Dickensian sticks out like a sore thumbscrew. Quiggins clearly is a fan of the 1970 movie musical Scrooge; anyone who questioned that film's departures from Dickens might question them again here. Mike Dowdy is a comfortable fit as Scrooge, but his performance would only be improved if he'd omit the Pinter pauses and pick up his cues more quickly. Performed by Lindenwood University's Department of Theatre through December 10 at the Jelkyl Theatre, Roemer Hall, 209 South Kingshighway, St. Charles. Tickets are $10 (free for LU students, $8 for seniors, $6 for children). Call 636-949-4878 or visit www.lindenwood.edu.
(DB)

The Crucible Reviewed in this issue.

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Menopause The MusicalWho 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

The Musical of Musicals — The MusicalReviewed in this issue.

The Sisters RosensweigReviewed in this issue.

Urinetown, the MusicalAll 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.
(DB)



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

No phone calls, please.

 
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