St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown, Paul Friswold and Lew Prince suss out the local theater scene

Circus Flora Everybody's favorite larger-than-life emotions are available in abundance here, though there's no place in Circus Flora for snarling lions, no room for cages. What we get instead is an exhilarating celebration of the astonishing elasticity of the human body. This is supremely gentle entertainment of the highest order. Performed through June 22 at North Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive (east of Powell Hall). Tickets are $8 to $35. Call 314-289-4040 or visit www.circusflora.org. — Dennis Brown

High Fidelity Scott Miller's New Line Theatre staging of the failed Broadway musical by Tom Kitt, Amanda Green and David Lindsay-Abaire salvages most of the charm of Nick Hornby's novel with excellent performances and a careful refocusing of the action on protagonist Rob's emotional growth. Jeffrey M. Wright breathes a rumpled, resentful life into the obsessive Rob, which later gives way to a generosity that is believable and satisfying. Sadly, Hornby's latent sexism still results in underwritten women: Kimi Short's Laura is a one-note moper, seemingly not worthy of Rob's affection. Snarky record clerk Barry (Zachary Allen Farmer), however, is a delightful prick of a character, rude and lovable and always funny. The music is sharp and clever, and the New Line Band performs it all quite rockingly. Through July 5 at Washington University's A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard (in the Mallinckrodt Student Center), University City. Tickets are $15 to $18 ($10 to $15 for children, students and seniors; $8 rush seats available for students five minutes before showtime). Visit www.newlinetheatre.com or call 314-773-6526. — Paul Friswold

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. Visit www.opera-stl.org or call 314-961-0644.— Lew Prince

Morning's at Seven Reviewed in this issue.

The Producers Reviewed in this issue.

Sarafina Mbongeni 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. (PF)

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. (DB)

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)

Una Cosa Rara In 1786 Vienna, Vicente Martín y Soler was Justin Timberlake to Mozart’s Bob Dylan. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis brings back Una Cosa Rara, Soler’s biggest hit, in a modernized version. Though the new script is an unfunny mishmash of potentially good ideas gone bad, the tunes are catchy, the orchestra impeccable and eight of the finest voices you’ll ever hear work magic with Martín y Soler’s harmonies. All in all, a quaint reminder that popular fluff has always been with us. Through June 20 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)

 
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