The Dead Guy Reality TV shows take a hit in Eric Coble's black comedy about a loser (the amiable Rusty Gunther) who is chosen by a brassy television producer (Lavonne Byers) to receive a million smackers in cash — on the proviso that at week's end he will allow himself to be killed on the air. Everyone, it turns out, is a victim of the ratings game. But the evening's true villain, the audience, gets off scot-free. Instead of castigating us for supporting mindless TV, The Dead Guy makes us feel good about ourselves. Performed by HotCity Theatre through December 6 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors; $15 tickets available for students five minutes before curtain). Call 314-289-4063 or visit www.hotcitytheatre.org.
— Dennis Brown
She Loves You! It's hard to explain why Elvis impersonators usually seem so tacky, yet Beatles re-creations — even when the re-enactors are a little long in the tooth — are full of joy. Perhaps it's because with the Beatles, music trumps personality. There's lots of music here, live and loud, to remind us of those vital years in the turbulent 1960s when every few months brought an astonishing new gift from John and Paul, even occasionally George. This revue attempts to take us into the studio for that celebrated first broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show, then it wants to re-create the excitement of a performance in Shea Stadium. But considering the confines of the West Port playing space, it works best if you think of it as a Las Vegas lounge act. She Loves You! is an orgy of ongoing melody, and on its own terms, is very satisfying indeed. Through January 4, 2009, at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44 to $48. Visit www.theplayhouseatwestport.com or call 314-469-7529. (DB)