Capsule Reviews

Reviews by Dennis Brown, Paul Friswold and Deanna Jent

 Gem of the Ocean The Black Rep has assembled a heavyweight cast that's experienced in performing the plays of August Wilson, but not even the likes of O.C. Smith and Linda Kennedy can make much of what is surely one of Wilson's least involving works. Set in Pittsburgh in 1904, the plot concerns a guilt-driven wanderer obsessed with the fact that someone else has been killed for a crime he committed. The dramatic high point occurs during a metaphorical trek to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to visit the ghosts of Africans who did not survive the slave-ship crossings. Powerful stuff, but didn't we see this same scene in Wilson's earlier Joe Turner's Come and Gone? Performed through April 15 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $27.50 to $40 ($5 discount for students and seniors; $10 rush seats available for students 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
— Dennis Brown

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

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure Everything is here that one would expect from a Holmes mystery: the cocaine addiction and deerstalker cap, lots of disguises, familiar characters like Doctor Watson, Professor Moriarty and Irene Adler. Everything, that is, except for a title-role character who is remotely remarkable or even intriguingly eccentric. In relying on special effects rather than well-developed characters, director Edward Stern has brought nothing of interest to Steven Dietz's overwritten script. The evening climaxes with a flamboyant waterfall sequence that is imaginative, fun and totally irrelevant to a satisfying evening of theater. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 15 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $14 to $63 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.
(DB)

 
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