St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Saint Joan Reviewed in this issue.

Tell Me Somethin' Good Not to get all sappy on you, but if your heart is broken, Tell Me Somethin' Good can fix it. And if your heart ain't broke, Tell Me Somethin' Good is going to ding it up a little bit, then put it back good as new. Conceived and directed by Ron Himes, this musical revue is constructed as a he-said-she-said walk through the history of black pop music, which is to say it's a walk through the past 40 years of American music. Neither sex gets the last word on love, but the ladies may win on points — one listen to Sarah Stephens' rich, dark voice powering through Curtis Mayfield's "Mama Didn't Lie," and you'll do anything she asks. In the interest of fairness, the ladies sitting one row down seemed similarly entranced by Brian Owen's arguments in "Sixty Minute Man." The entire ensemble is excellent, and the band, under the direction of Charles Creath, is outstanding: The rhythm section of Jimmy Hinds (bass) and Molden K. Pickett III (drums) is a force of nature. Rock solid. Presented by the Black Rep through February 8 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $30.50 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

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee's beloved story about racism and prejudice in 1935 Alabama (adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel) is given a tender but shocking production by director Carol North and the Metro Theater Company. The tender derives from the dual performances of Stephanie Strohman and Berklea Going as Jean Louise Finch and her younger self, Scout, respectively; Strohman narrates the tale from an adult's point of view, remembering the events of her youth as Going experiences them, the two actresses echoing each other in stance and posture down to the smaller movements of hand and head. The shocking comes from Greg Johnston's fearlessly nasty Bob Ewell, brimming with hate and fury. Also shocking, still, is the outcome of the pivotal trial, in which an innocent man is condemned with sickening finality. Nicholas Kryah's Atticus is at his best in the courtroom, his defense of truth and the equality of all in the eyes of the law both inspirational and natural — there's no melodrama, just good lines delivered with feeling. The play's only flaws are of structure: Condensed as it is from a familiar and dense novel, the denouement seems hurried and perfunctory after all that buildup. And it's woefully lacking in Dill (Drew Redington), who's as daffy and entertaining as a best friend should be. Through January 18 at Washington University's Edison Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard (in the Mallinckrodt Student Center), University City. Tickets are $16 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-935-6543 or visit www.metrotheatercompany.org. (PF)

 
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