Madame Butterfly Soprano Kelly Kaduce soars in her finely honed, fully formed portrayal of Cio-Cio-San, the tragic heroine of Puccini's most popular opera. In this Opera Theatre of Saint Louis production, Kaduce and tenor David Pomeroy as her faithless husband make the story of innocence and betrayal moving and believable. Spectacular work from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and a talented supporting cast make this elegantly conceived, richly detailed production a must-see. Through June 28 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $110. Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org. — Lew Prince
SarafinaMbongeni Ngema's raucous, high-energy musical about South African students standing up against apartheid in mid-'70s Soweto gets a thorough workout courtesy of a young and enthusiastic cast. Director Ron Himes and choreographer Keith Tyrone have paced the show so that even when the story falters there's more than enough action to keep your attention. Add a crack band and a luminous performance by Sharisa Whatley as Sarafina and you have one of the most exhilarating evenings to be experienced anywhere in St. Louis. Presented by the Black Rep through June 29 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43 ($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
Snapshots This original production, which we're told was shaped through a series of workshops, has chosen the broadest possible umbrella as its theme: the experience of being part of a family. So the material is able to go in almost any direction. What begins as a collage of voices hurling out pithy references to life experiences soon settles down into a series of scenes, some of which are highly amusing (the blind date from Hell) while others are more somber. The cast of five (Syd Andrews, Anna Blair, Cindy Duggan, Roger Erb, Tyler Vickers) never leaves the stage, and the pace under director Milt Zoth is brisk. The show only lasts an hour, but that's long enough for the material to strike close to the bone a half-dozen times. Produced by St. Louis Actors' Studio through June 22 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.
— Dennis Brown
The Tales of Hoffmann One of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' great strengths is its willingness to take risks. A depth of talent and a dedication to quality allow the company to try things others would never dream of. OTSL's quirky staging of this Jacques Offenbach favorite takes E.T.A. Hoffmann's macabre visions to their surrealist limits. Soprano Ailyn Pérez and bass Kirk Eichelberger take on four roles apiece, and both are spectacular. Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder indeed. Through June 28 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $110. Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org. (LP)
The Tragedy of King Richard III The winter of our discontent arrives in June in this visually dull production that runs nearly three hours without ever bothering to savor the comic melodrama that permeates Shakespeare's chronicle. On the page, the villainous Duke of Gloucester is cunning, ruthless, outrageous. As portrayed here, Richard takes no relish in the mayhem he is enacting; instead he comes off as colorless and verbose. What might have been an intriguing primer on the excesses of corruptive power becomes an exercise in irrelevance. Performed by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis nightly (except Tuesdays) through June 15 on the Emerson Stage on Art Hill in Forest Park. Admission is free. Call 314-531-9800 or visit www.sfstl.com. (DB)