St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Newly Reviewed
Acts of Love As the evening begins, we might think we're back on Golden Pond. Ed (Sean Ruprecht-Belt) and Sheila (Renee Sevier-Monsey), who have been married for twenty years, are reopening the summer lake cottage. Ed is a bit of a curmudgeon; Sheila appears to be more understanding. Nevertheless, life seems as tranquil as the lake at sunset. But with the arrival of Tom (Joseph Hosea), Ed's son from a previous marriage, and Tom's new girlfriend (Macia Noorman), lake life is going to get a little choppy. Here's a play (by Kathryn Chetkovichk) that you've probably never heard of. The less you know, the more intriguing the events will be, so don't expect to read about any of the secrets or surprises here. As staged by Robert Ashton, this contemporary melodrama plays out in a breezy hour that's easy to take in. Performed by West End Players Guild through April 10 at Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $18. Call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.
Dennis Brown

A Centennial Tribute to Tennessee Williams Reviewed in this issue.

The Death of Atahualpa Reviewed in this issue.

Eclipsed Danai Gurira's drama about four young women struggling to survive in war-torn Liberia drops you into a ramshackle armed camp and holds you hostage for the next two hours. There is no intermission, no respite from the mounting tension and terror in these women's lives, as they are used as sexual objects and menial servants by the never-seen "C.O." C.O.'s four wives have no names, instead calling one another by their number in the pecking order, but personalities still shine. Number 3 (Eboney Hutt) is vivacious and greedy, wanting to preserve her status as the current sexual favorite despite being heavily pregnant. No. 1 (Jessica Davie) is the steely voice of authority by dint of her long captivity, and No. 2 (Eboni Sharp) is the one who got away, now wielding a machine gun in the rebel forces and bringing gifts to the hut during her infrequent visits. Performances are strong throughout, especially Davie, who regains her humanity and her self in the smallest and most rewarding increments. Eclipsed is not an easy evening's entertainment, but it is thought provoking and heartbreaking and, ultimately, satisfying. Presented by Washington University's Performing Arts Department under the direction of Andrea Urice through April 10 at Washington University's A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard (in the Mallinckrodt Student Center), University City. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-935-6543 or visit ascc.artsci.wustl.edu/~pad.
Paul Friswold

Ongoing
Beehive The '60s Musical If you've never traveled on a cruise ship but have wondered what the evening entertainment is like, this blast of empty energy will give you a good approximation — and you probably don't have to worry about getting seasick. Beehive strives to immerse us in the happy nostalgia of female voices from the 1960s. Six chirpy performers sing songs made famous by everyone from Brenda Lee and Diana Ross to Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. Though the audience is urged to clap along, the arrangements all sound the same, the choreography pretty much looks the same and the ultimate effect is, well, monotony. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 10 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $18.50 to $73. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. (DB)

The Real McCoy Although Ka'ramuu Kush instills inventor Elijah McCoy with intelligence and a reserved dignity, this purported biography of the little-remembered Canadian designer of the self-lubricating steam engine (just one of his 57 U.S. patents) unfolds in an elliptical manner that leaves the viewer dissatisfied. There's an interesting story here, and we want to know more than playwright Andrew Moodie tells us. In its current state, The Real McCoy is a pleasant enough evening of theater. But it's not yet ready to be patented. Moodie has more work to do before it can move on to the next level of invention. Performed by the Black Rep through April 10 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $47. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org. (DB)

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown Gary F. Bell's production of this Clark M. Gesner classic replicates the success of its comic-strip source material, which is to say it retains a unique charm even after all these years. We experience a day in the life of Charlie Brown (James Cougar Canfield, who has a huge voice and a keen sense of when to mug and when to shrug), complete with lost baseball games, kite-eating trees and friends who are alternately rude and compassionate toward our hero. Marcy Wiegert plays eternal fussbudget Lucy with a bossiness that'll rattle your molars, and Chrissy Brooks is very good as Sally, a self-assured little girl given to explosive philosophical statements. But Ben Watts steals the show as Snoopy, playing the dog with the élan of an urbane jazz singer, his languid diction and rubbery dancing giving the false appearance of effortlessness. But you don't make a character this lovable without hard work. In fact, nothing during this immensely satisfying evening of joyful, funny theater feels false or labored. Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through April 9 at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors; $5 for kids age twelve and under). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (PF)

 
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