St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene.

Bad Dates Reviewed in this issue.

Blame It on the Movies! This all-singing, some-dancing salute to Hollywood doesn't lack for melodies. The show offers a genial stroll through several decades of movie music, with the likes of Carmen Miranda, Glenn Miller and Dorothy Lamour as our guides. The first act is far too reverential. Despite pleasing renditions of "You'll Never Know" as sung by Devon A.A. Norris, "Laura" from Mike Dowdy and "An Affair to Remember" by Sarah Greene, several tunes seem to be performed by strangers who have never heard them before. But the evening comes to life in Act Two, when the cast has fun with ditties like the theme from Blazing Saddles and the best of Michel Legrand. (It helps to sing songs from movies you've actually seen. And — just a thought — it probably wouldn't hurt to not sing every song at the same pace.) Performed by Lindenwood University's theater department through October 27 at the Lindenwood University Cultural Center, 400 North Kingshighway, St. Charles. Tickets are $10 ($8 for seniors, $6 for children, free for Lindenwood students). Visit www.lindenwood.edu or call 636-949-4878. — Dennis Brown

Broadway Bound Neil Simon delves into the dark side of his family past in one of his most satisfying plays. Set in the winter of 1949 in Brooklyn, the thinly disguised, semi-autobiographical story concerns two brothers who are on the cusp of success as CBS comedy writers even as their parents' marriage is breaking up. In trying to balance the comedy and melodrama, this staging is less humorous — but more balanced — than other versions. The audience leaves the theater not all that disappointed by the tradeoff, especially thanks to Kathleen Sitzer's unadorned, sublimely simple performance as the long-suffering mother. Produced by New Jewish Theatre through October 28 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $22 to $28 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Visit www.newjewishtheatre.org or call 314-442-3283. (DB)

A Delicate Balance Reviewed in this issue.

Dracula Everything about this revival of the play that launched Bela Lugosi's career in America is faithfully rendered: the costumes, the stage design, the acting, even the sound design. Yet barely ten minutes after the play opens with a spectacular pantomime set against the lightning-slashed grand windows of Dr. Seward's sanitarium...comes the first big laugh of the night. Is it that the dialogue is campy as written, or that this story has been parodied so many times since this material was written that we can't help but hear it as campy? Either way, it's a problem of material, not presentation. And fortunately, it abates late in Act Two, then disappears in a fine third act that culminates in a spectacular confrontation that could only have been bettered had the audience been scared out its skin for the preceding 90 minutes. Through November 4 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16 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. — Paul Friswold

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change This sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell is winding down its four-month run. The six-member ensemble cavorts through a breezy evening of rambunctious and sometimes ribald skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. The sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun — both onstage and in the audience — makes for a high time. Through November 11 at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, 635 Westport Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529. (DB)

Playhouse Creatures In 1760s London, men don't patronize the theater for the novelty of seeing women in the flesh; they come for the flesh alone. April De Angelis' play dramatizes that confusing time after King Charles II decreed that women would be allowed to portray female roles on the stage. Although the script makes thin stuff of a very intriguing premise, there is talent in abundance here. The cast includes Brooke Edwards, Michelle Hand and Julie Layton. As the troupe's toothless old nanny, Nancy Lewis creates a ridiculously endearing, yet indelible, character. In the central role of Nell Gwyn, the original "orange girl," Magan Wiles is the real thing: a true playhouse creature, utterly at home on the stage. Produced by Orange Girls through October 28 at COCA, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-520-9557 or visit www.orangegirls.org. (DB)

 
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