St. Louis Theater Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

The Concert A bronze statue of John Lennon in a Havana park becomes the symbol of rebellion in the U.S. premiere of Ulises Rodríguez Febles' parable about oppression in Castro's Cuba. A former rock musician steals the bronze John and then tries to reunite his old group. Is our protagonist an unreconciled idealist or just a nutcase? Hard to tell, but one thing is for sure: Music will trump tyranny every time, and especially so when it's Beatles music. Any lingering questions about this play's didacticism are best left rhetorical; better perhaps to smile along and tap your feet. Performed by Upstream Theater through April 20 at 305 South Skinker Boulevard (at Fauquier Drive). Tickets are $20 ($15 for students, $18 for seniors). Call 314-863-4999 or visit www.upstreamtheater.org.
— Dennis Brown

The Late Henry Moss Sam Shepard returns to his favorite locale, the Land of Enchantment, for a story set in an arid New Mexico village that is nowhere but on the map. Two brothers arrive to exorcise the memories of their estranged father, who has just died. The evening is not without comedy and sensuality; it also features a lusty performance by Kevin Beyer in the title role that is all the more impressive for its control. But a viewer might well wonder if the play intrigues because of what's happening onstage or because of its celebrated author. Produced by St. Louis Actors' Studio through April 20 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-458-2978 or visit www.stlas.org. (DB)

A Life in the Theatre and Lip Service The NonProphet Theater Company is having a ball with two perfectly paired one-acts. A Life in the Theatre is as close as David Mamet ever came to sketch comedy. The confined, brick-walled space at Tin Ceiling is an ideal venue for this devastatingly truthful yet ultimately affectionate account of the foibles and vanities of a pair of stage actors, young and old. Age is also pivotal to Howard Korder's less-familiar Lip Service. Here the young co-host of a small-town TV morning show will stop at nothing to replace the veteran anchor. Written in 1988, it seems as fresh as last week. Director B. Weller keeps the pace brisk in an evening that flies by. At the outset Mark Abels' older actor strives a little too hard for pomposity, but Abels fully captures the rue of the older anchor. As the younger actor/anchor, Charlie Barron is cooking on all burners; it's a joy to watch an actor so in sync with his material. Performed through April 20 at the Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee Street. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-752-5075 or visit www.nptco.org. (DB)

Little Bosnia Reviewed in this issue.

Mary's Wedding A wrenching mix of love and war, Stephen Massicotte's Mary's Wedding chronicles the relationship of Canadian cavalryman Charlie (Ben Nordstrom) and English émigré Mary (Magan Wiles) during the former's service in World War I. Nordstrom is charming, funny and quietly romantic, Wiles is passionate and vibrant — but that pesky war, in all its volume and violence, keeps intruding in their lives and undercutting the more interesting narrative of their relationship. Wiles does excellent double duty as Sgt. Flowerdew, the set is simple but effective and the sound design by Kelly Kerr is rich and nuanced and never overpowering. Presented by Echo Theatre Company through April 20 at the Johnson Hall Theater in the Third Baptist Church, 620 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students or two for $20; $18 for seniors). Call 314-225-4329 or visit www.echotheatrecompany.org.
— Paul Friswold

Measure for Measure Reviewed in this issue.

Parenting 101: A Musical Guide to Raising Parents This extended revue about the trials and tribulations of having children is yet another entry in the "you too can write a musical" sweepstakes. The sketches, whose subjects range from childbirth to the loss of a pet to shopping in toy stores, strive for jokes; the songs are full of puns. Some people enjoy this kind of in-your-face entertainment. But by the end of Act One, the only reason I could think of to return for Act Two was to see if the four energetic actors — who played the first act at the top of their lungs — would have any voices left by evening's end. It wasn't reason enough. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $42.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit www.theplayhouseatwestport.com. (DB)

 
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