St. Louis Stage Capsules

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

Cherry Docs A Jewish legal-aid lawyer must defend a skinhead who has admitted to a brutal murder. As these two repeatedly meet in the visiting room of a Toronto prison, the hostility is palpable; their confrontations throb with the intensity of a splitting headache. Charlie Barron's skinhead makes intelligence scarifying, and Joel Lewis' tinderbox of an attorney is mesmerizingly unpredictable. It's when David Gow's play veers away from confrontation and insists that we get to know the two men through a series of monologues that a viewer might grow impatient. Perhaps a play about hatred should not be easy to sit through, but Cherry Docs discomforts for the wrong reasons. Produced by New Jewish Theatre through February 10 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $22 to $28 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit www.newjewishtheatre.org.

Dennis Brown

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline After having performed the role nearly 3,000 times, it’s no surprise that Gail Bliss enacts doomed country music star Patsy Cline to near perfection. But what does surprise is how completely satisfying the entire package is. The informative script is simplicity itself. On the day of Cline’s death at age 31, a radio DJ in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia, spends the evening playing Patsy’s songs. They come to life through Bliss, who is supported by a knockout six-piece country band. By the climax, when “this ol’ country gal” is singing “Crazy” at Carnegie Hall, as bejeweled as Joan Collins in Dynasty, the incongruity of her soap-opera life is eloquent, if unspoken. Unspoken, because mostly Cline’s story is sung through tear-stained lyrics about cheatin’ hearts and lovesick blues. But an otherwise cunningly crafted evening shoots itself in the foot with the misguided “Oh, Susannah” sing-along. Crazy! Through February 16 at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan Avenue. Tickets are $25 to $30. Visit www.ivorytheatre.com or call 314-631-8330. (DB)

Go, Dog. Go! Under a wash of blue lights, a group of dogs drifts and dances with seaweed-like clumps of tinsel in their hands, swaying lithely to a dreamy little sea shanty provided by an onstage accordionist. As a sly dog slips the length of the stage dropping silvery chains of bubbles into the squealing front row, a young man a few rows deeper scoffs loudly, "This is nothing like Go, Dog. Go!" As ever, pooh-pooh the blinkered critics — the rest of us are playing underwater with dogs. Metro Theater Company has ably captured the essence of P.D. Eastman's beloved picture book — this is fun and silliness on a scale as grand as imagination. Nicholas Kryah's set is as perfect a three-dimensional representation of Eastman's world as one could make, with secrets hidden in every building and tree. Director Carol North and choreographer Suzanne Costello have created a high-energy show that builds excitement, and then releases it with an exuberant audience-participation baseball game. Tip of the alpine cap also to accordionist Rob Witmer, who plays beautifully with the cast as accompanist and as the sound effects. Presented by Metro Theatre Company through February 10 at the West County Family YMCA, 16464 Burkhardt Place, Chesterfield. Tickets are $14 ($12 for students and seniors). Visit www.metrotheatercompany.org or call 314-997-6777.

Paul Friswold

The Polish Egg Man Featured in this issue.

 
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