Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out local theater

 The Dance on Widow's Row Four widows seek to jump-start their love lives by throwing a party for the town's most eligible bachelors: It'd be easy to dismiss The Dance on Widow's Row as the stage equivalent of a chick flick. But Samm-Art Williams' script lays bare the universal nature of loneliness and longing, and director Ron Himes is wise enough to give these moments as much emphasis as the laughter. And there is much laughter. Erik Kilpatrick as Newly Benson would steal the show, were it not for the fact that the entire cast is strong enough to steal scenes right back. Linda Kennedy's Simi Jackson is equal parts tough and vulnerable; the effervescent joy Lisa Harris imparts to Lois Miller masks an iron will. Presented by the Black Rep through May 20 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.
— Paul Friswold

Menopause The Musical After a fourteen-month run, this rambunctious revue is finally living up to the dictionary definition of menopause: "to bring to an end." All those fun hormonal jokes and puns will come to a lasting pause on Sunday. Till then there are still a few opportunities remaining to see this bright breezy ode to night sweats, memory loss and mood swings. Designed to amuse and empower women who have "gone through the passage," all too soon the show itself will be gone. Through May 20 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.
— Dennis Brown

Oh Coward! Noel Coward made a career of light entertainment, comic rhyme and the devastatingly well-timed catty remark; as such, his body of work should make for an enchanting little revue, no? Just cherry-pick his best songs and vignettes, assemble a crackerjack band, and throw it on the stage — it'll be like Champagne, darling. Sadly, as presented by K's Theatrical Corps, this Oh, Coward! is more like Champale. The band is crackerjack and the music is fizzy enough at first, but then it starts to grate. The same rhythms keep popping up, the same keys reappear, the same melodies arise; the end result is a monotonous blur of music. That, of course, is partly Coward's fault. The cast members, however — Dan Boyer, Larry Love and Dodie Nelke — are responsible for their contrived British accents, which come and go at the most inopportune times. Nelke sings Coward's torch songs well, and Love wrings a few laughs out of the comic numbers. But these moments are fleeting. Through May 20 at Saint John the Baptist Fine Arts Center (Kuppinger Auditorium), 4200 Delor Street. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-351-8984 or visit www.kurtainkall.org.
(PF)

The Probe: An Inquiry into the Meteoric Rise and Spectacular Fall of Orson Welles in Hollywood The title is laden with promises, all of them as unfulfilled as Welles' movie career. But here's one more chance to see this offbeat venture, newly revised before the cast jets off to Europe next week to perform at the Prague International Fringe Theatre Festival. Beware of flying suitcases. Performed by HotCity Theatre Company and Theatre Belle Bete at the Centene Center for Arts and Education, 3547 Olive Street, this Sunday, May 20 at 4 and 8 p.m. Suggested donation is $20. Proceeds will help defray the company's travel expenses. Call 314-289-4060 or visit www.hotcitytheatre.org.
(DB)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Reviewed in this issue

What's Wrong with this Picture? Shirley may be dead, but she's in no hurry to leave her family. This amiable production captures the comedy in Donald Margulies' quirky ghost story but misses the compassion. Although it's being sold as a Jewish Blithe Spirit, it should be closer in tone to Thornton Wilder's Our Town. The play's sense of wonder gets brushed aside in a quest for easy laughs. Among the cast, John Kinney's confused son best understands that comedy should be rooted in reality. Produced by New Jewish Theatre through May 20 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $20 to $25 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit www.newjewishtheatre.org.
(DB)

 
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