St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Also Reviewed
The Chosen There is a deliberate sense of balance to Deanna Jent's staging of The Chosen, from the set right through to the performances, which suits this tale of two young men trying to find the shared space where their lives can coexist. Young Orthodox Jew Reuven Malter is portrayed with bluff energy by Adam Moskal; his opposite is Hasidic Jew Danny Saunders, played with an intermittent smugness by David Chandler. They are reflections of their fathers, a gregariously warm Jim Leibrecht playing David Malter and Richard Lewis displaying a gnomic charisma as the reserved Reb Saunders. Aaron Posner's adaptation of Chaim Potok's novel too often relies on telling us what's happening rather than showing, but Adam Moskal carries us through these long passages with his affability and sheer likability. Still, it's Richard Lewis who delivers the night's highlight, when Reb's controlled façade crumbles with the revelation of the Holocaust, and he shows us the frailty of humanity in the face of unimaginable horror. Presented by Mustard Seed Theatre through November 7 at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton. Tickets are $20 to $30 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-719-8060 or visit www.mustardseedtheatre .com. — Paul Friswold

Evil Dead: The Musical Inspired by Sam Raimi's cult trilogy of Evil Dead horror films, Evil Dead: The Musical is unabashedly populist entertainment. Five teens go to a remote cabin for spring break, summon an evil spirit and spend the rest of the night killing one another in increasingly horrific ways — and they sing while they do it. The dialogue is terrible, the jokes are worse and the blood flows freely and frequently. It's great fun, especially with a cast that takes behaving stupidly so seriously. Gregory Cuellar plays leading man Ash with hammy intensity, Julie Venegoni plays his first love interest, Linda, with sweetness — until she becomes a murderous demon. Truth be told, director Chris Owens wrings furious and funny performances from the entire cast. Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through October 31 at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue. Tickets are $20 to $35 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (PF)

High Sister Jamison (portrayed by film star Kathleen Turner) is a triple threat: a nun, a recovering alcoholic and a social worker. The bullying sister meets her match when she's assigned to the case of a drug-addicted street hustler who might also be a child murderer. Beautifully lit and slickly designed, the Broadway-bound High turns out to be a formulaic evening in the guise of drama. As the raw production drags the viewer through a litany of debasement, it strives mightily to shock and surprise. Yet when the tumultuous evening is over, the biggest surprise might be how little you've actually felt. Through November 7 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $18.50 to $70. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. — Dennis Brown

 
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