Capsule Reviews

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

A Clockwork OrangeReviewed in this issue.

Baby with the BathwaterOstensibly a satire of the '80s "Me Generation" and its wishy-washy narcissism, Christopher Durang's Baby with the Bathwater suffers greatly from its dated cultural references (e.g., red dye no. 2, Judith Krantz and The Thornbirds). John (Dylan Duke) and Helen (Katie Consamus) are new parents too adrift in their own neuroses to determine the sex of their child; he's a depressive drunk, she's a mercurial and deluded fussbudget. Director Tom Martin allows the pace to drag throughout the first act; there's no zing to the dialogue, and potential jokes drone out like slowly deflating balloons. Jennifer Stewart provides much-needed snap, but she doesn't appear until the second act, and she plays a pair of secondary roles. (As Angela, a self-medicating park mother, she's loopy and bright, and she has a wonderfully expressive face.) Billy Kelly, as the thoroughly confused offspring of John and Helen, has an exasperated monologue that crackles with humor and anger. He arrives too late to save the show, but he tries heroically, and the second act is better for his and Stewart's efforts. Presented by the Saint Louis University Theatre Department through April 29 in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall (on the SLU campus). Tickets are $6 to $10. Call 314-977-3327 or visit www.slu.edu/theatre.
Paul Friswold

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 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. 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

Plan 9 from Outer Space: LIVE!Reviewed in this issue.

Quilters This patchwork quilt of a musical is a veritable sampler of nineteenth-century frontier life. The stories from a mother and her seven daughters provide the starting point for a modest evocation of a small world long gone, a world of corn cob dolls and prairie wildfires, baptismal dunkings and self-induced abortions. Through it all, the women hang tough. Although this celebration of feminine fortitude was a fast flop when it debuted on Broadway in 1984 (blame it on male reviewers), the show has never gone away, and understandably so. These tales of quiet strength in the face of adversity — rendered here by an appealing ensemble — stitch themselves into the fabric of the American spirit. Performed by Fontbonne University through April 29 at the Fine Arts Center Theater, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students). Call 314-889-1425.
Dennis Brown

Richard III Jerry Vogel brings humor, menace and clarity to this mostly student production about Shakespeare's most delicious villain. Set a generation into the future, this "troubler of the poor world's peace" limps about with a cobra-headed walking stick, talking into cell phones and wreaking havoc. Acts 1 and 5 are in terrific shape. If only the middle block of text was as streamlined as Vogel's performance, they'd have something really special here. Even as it is, Vogel has a field day, and in Andrea Luetzeler as the anguished Queen Elizabeth he encounters a foe of formidable talent. Performed by Lindenwood University Department of Theatre through April 28 at Jelkyl Theater, 209 S. Kingshighway, St. Charles. Tickets are $10 ($8 for seniors, $6 for children). Call 636-949-4878.
(DB)

 
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