Southern Baptist Sissies Del Shores' comic drama about growing up gay and Southern Baptist in Texas preaches a little bit to the choir, but that's by design. Shores knows his audience and supplies it with validation, along with some gentle criticism. So while gay Baptist Mark (James Slover) rails against the church's hypocrisy, barfly-cum-Greek chorus Peanut (Michael Shreves) laments the foolishness of a life wasted by hiding in gay bars. Shreves is hysterical, a catty and lecherous wit who destroys the audience at least twice. Slover and Drew Pannebecker (who plays the self-denying T.J.) are the soul of the play, however. Pannebecker's militant abnegation of his true self is fraught with tension — how long can he keep it up? — while Slover's slow-burning defiance of the church becomes a valiant rebellion by the end, one that sends us home with a manifesto to love one another better and more honestly. Presented by Citilites Theatre under the direction of G.P. Hunsaker through March 27 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 314-773-1879 or visit www.citilitestheatre.com.
— Paul Friswold
Ongoing The Baltimore WaltzPaula Vogel's satire about the early days of the AIDS crisis revolves around a first-grade teacher, Anna (Kate Frisina), who develops a case of full-blown Acquired Toilet Disease (ATD) and then resolves to spend the time she has left seeing the sights of Europe — from her back. She and her traveling companion/brother Carl (Stephen Peirick) make a winning duo, but the satire is underdeveloped owing to uneven pacing and the cursory nature of Frisina's performance. What could be biting commentary becomes instead a gnawing dissatisfaction by the time the lights come back up. Presented by Muddy Waters Theatre under the direction of Jerry McAdams through March 20 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors and military personnel). Call 314-799-8399 or visit www.muddywaterstheatre.com. (PF)