Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown, Paul Friswold and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

 Antony and Cleopatra Reviewed in this issue

Crossin' Over Staged to great acclaim last season at the Edison Theatre, this faith-based musical revue has been born again at the Grandel. The fervor is real, the passion persuasive. As conceived and directed by Ron Himes, five musical suites chronicle the history of Africans in America. The cast of seven singers and one nonstop dancing dynamo work their way through 60-plus songs that evolve from sacred to secular. But don't bother trying to release your emotions through applause; the piece is too busy forging ahead to acknowledge it. Performed by the Black Rep through March 18 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $27.50 to $40. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
— Dennis Brown

Cul-de-Sac Joe Hanrahan has a field day playing the various neighbors in a suburban cul-de-sac — male, female, young, old — all with inner yearnings and dark secrets. At least they're alive. That's more than can be said for Leonard, our gentle narrator, who guides us through the events that led up to his murder. This flashy one-man show by Canadian playwright-actor Daniel MacIvor is filled with deft, visual writing. By evening's end it devolves into a male version of Looking for Mr. Goodbar, but most of the 80-minute evening impresses in both intent and execution. Produced by afterMidnight through March 10 at Technisonic Studios, 500 South Ewing Avenue (in the St. Louis Business Center). Tickets are $15. Call 314-487-5305 or visit www .midnightcompany.com.
(DB)

Ryan Cunningham in Crossin' Over, through March 11 at the Grandel.
Stewart Goldstein
Ryan Cunningham in Crossin' Over, through March 11 at the Grandel.

Edward Scissorhands Reviewed in this issue

Kerfafels Who needs kids? Anyone with a free hour might have a good time at this disarming anthology of five folk tales, adapted to the stage by Colleen Neuman (who's responsible for the terrible title) and cleanly directed with a sense of infectious whimsy by Emily Petkewich. You'll see tales of greed, vanity, verbosity. You'll learn about honor among thieves and the miracle of math. The performers (Nicholas Kryah, Stephanie Strohman, Eddie Webb — and especially the dexterous Joshua Routh and the sprightly Leah Schumacher) seem to be having a ball. Teresa Doggett's simple yet colorful costumes add to the fun, and Peter Hesed's clever songs provide the icing on a delectable cake. Performed by Metro Theater Company through March 18 at the Theater at Concordia, 6501 Clayton Road, Clayton. Tickets are $14 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-997-6777 or visit www.metrotheatercompany.org.
(DB)

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 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

Proof David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about Catherine (Colleen Backer), a young woman who may have inherited not only her mathematician father's genius but also his madness, requires that two actors successfully portray brilliance. A burly man, Ray Shea wears Robert's genius like an old blazer, tattered but comfortable. Backer's Catherine is a spikier genius; she reveals herself only grudgingly, but to good effect, particularly when sparring with Hal (Andy Zaruba), a former student of Robert's who comes around to rifle his mentor's papers. Hal and Catherine play their burgeoning relationship with a tender hesitancy befitting a math major and a vulnerable young woman. Katherine Zoeller, as older sister Claire, provides the necessary flatness as the voice of dull reason; she's seemingly abandoned imagination for the safety of prosaic sanity. It's a shame the final three scenes seem to race pell-mell toward the finish line, upsetting the quiet momentum established in the first half. In mathematical terms, they should've shown their work more rather than just telling us the answer. Produced through March 11 by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves, 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-962-0876 or visit www .theaterguildwg.org.
— Paul Friswold

 
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