St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Featured Reviews
Little Shop of Horrors "Feed me!" an insatiably bloodthirsty plant demands...and demands...and demands. Ever since this Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical spoof of 1950s science-fiction movies opened off-Broadway in 1982, it has been feeding theater coffers everywhere: Broadway, national tours, high school productions, community theater. Yet despite its familiarity, this goofy exploration of horticulture's dark demands can still feel fresh — especially when performed with the verve that Rob McClure brings to the lead role of Seymour Krelborn, ethically challenged nebbish and guardian of exotic plants. In his Muny debut, McClure fills the stage with an engaging assurance that keeps the show moving at a brisk pace. He gets solid support from Alli Mauzey as Audrey, the secret love of his drab life. If Mauzey is less ditzy than some who have preceded her in the role, her voice is strong, and her soaring Act Two duet with McClure, "Suddenly, Seymour," is one of the evening's high points. Raye Birk has fun with Mr. Mushnik, the owner of a Skid Row flower shop. And although he's offstage and unseen, Ken Page veritably cavorts through the verbal calisthenics that make Audrey II a lovably ominous carnivore. The brash, irreverent evening is happily over in less than two hours — and when was the last time you were out of the Muny before 10:15 p.m.? Through July 31 in Forest Park. In addition to the free seats, tickets are $10 to $68. Call 314-361-1900 or visit www.muny.org. — Dennis Brown

Shipwrecked! Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! is a giddy and affecting exercise in the seductive powers of artifice, in which the lines between form and function are blurred beyond recognition. Louis de Rougemont (Joneal Joplin), our hero, strides onstage to introduce himself. He then introduces his fellow actors — who happen to be his real-life son and daughter — by their real names, Jared Joplin and Jen Joplin; he briefly admonishes us about the nuisance of cell phones in the theater and then launches into the amazing story of his 30 years spent as a sort of demigod among the Australian Aborigines during the Victorian era. In Brechtian fashion the actors change costumes onstage, work as stagehands and provide the needed sound effects with no effort made at hiding the artificiality of the proceedings — and yet through the strength of their individual performances, we believe their shared story to be true. Joneal gives Louis an unprotected optimism that serves him as well as his sharp sense of humor. When challenged on the veracity of his adventures, he bristles with condescension — he lived this story; that gives him the final word on its truth. But did he really live it? Shipwrecked! ends with a projected photograph of the real life Louis de Rougemont actively proving the truth of one of his outlandish claims. Unbelievably, Joneal Joplin's reenactment of the photo seems more truthful, his face more determined, his joy more transcendent. The actor trumps the person, and the truth lies not in the details but in how well you tell your tale. Presented by Insight Theatre Company through July 31, under the direction of Wayne Loui at the Heagney Theatre, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $30. Call 314-556-1293 or visit www.insighttheatrecompany.com. Tickets are $25 to $30. — Paul Friswold

 
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