Saint Joan Four years ago Paul Mason Barnes directed a near-perfect production of the Irish play Stones in His Pockets on the Rep mainstage. Two months later Tarah Flanagan delivered a memorably complex portrayal of a rookie cop in the Rep Studio's Lobby Hero. Now the Rep has sent these two supreme artists on a journey to scale the summit that is Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw's meshing of biography and legend about Joan of Arc, the teen miracle worker who drove the English invaders from France, only to be burned at the stake on a trumped-up charge of heresy. The measure of Flanagan's guileless performance is that it doesn't feel like a performance. Joan is by turns ordinary, remarkable, fearless, bewildered, shrewd, dispirited. All these traits pass through Flanagan's eyes and essence, but as if instinctively. Barnes has surrounded her with a polished and (perhaps too) sumptuous production. In a large cast, Bobby Steggert's craven Dauphin is a fun spoof of early Peter Ustinov. Although there's no escaping the evening's cerebral verbosity, whenever Flanagan is holding court Saint Joan emanates a degree of humanity that is rare in Shaw. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through February 1 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $14.50 to $65 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. — Dennis Brown
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