St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical For a musical based on a porn flick, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is neither very musical nor very porny. Of the half-dozen or so songs in the show, only two "I Wanna Do Debbie" and "God Must Love a Fool" are noteworthy, and all sexual acts are simulated (while fully clothed, at that). At times it's a half-baked morality play, then it becomes an underwritten musical about the price of dreams, and for long stretches, it's a funny parody of the conventions of '70s porn. Good girl/naif Debbie Benton (Macia Noorman) tries to maintain her virginity while working to bankroll a trip to Dallas for a cheerleader tryout. Her rival is boyfriend-stealing bad girl Lisa (Rachel Hanks), who will do anything (with anyone) in order to stymie Debbie's dream. Director Robert A. Mitchell and cast are most at home with the comedic element, milking maximum laughs out of stiff acting and nonsensical scenes. The girls are always moments away from an orgy, their boyfriends (Chris Ayala, Reginald Pierre and Tom Lehman) are hard-ons in football pads and everybody is exceptionally dimwitted. Lehman and Pierre are excellent in multiple iterations of the horny boss-cum-sexual predator, with Pierre bringing down the house as a submissive librarian and a meek shop owner. Presented by NonProphet Theater Company through August 20 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 636-236-4831 or visit www.nptco.org. Paul Friswold

The Secret Garden
Peter Wochniak
The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden The Secret Garden opens with a whirlwind fifteen-minute stretch that takes us from India to England and up to a gloomy estate in rural Yorkshire; it's a dreamlike passage of music and brisk scenery changes that mirrors the confusion young Mary Lennox (Alexis Kinney) must feel at traversing the world after the death of her parents. Kinney's Mary is truculent, stubborn and only reluctantly interested in her new home, which is dominated by the brooding Archibald Craven (Peter Lockyer) and his incessant pining for his dead wife. Marsha Norman's adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel requires these two mourners to suffer independently before eventually coming to terms with each other, and Kinney and Lockyer spar with growing fondness as the show progresses. Lockyer is very good, particularly in his scenes with Kinney and opposite his scheming, jealous brother, Neville (Anthony Holds). Lockyer's defeated carriage and downcast eyes shroud a magnificent heart a fact that becomes evident when he and Holds reminisce in song about Archibald's wife ("Lily's Eyes"). Julie Cardia provides much-needed levity as the unstintingly cheerful maid, Martha. Cardia sustains a solid Yorkshire accent throughout; the same cannot be said for Joseph Medeiros as her brother, Dickon, but all is forgiven when he sings. He's got some set of pipes, and his full-throated duet with Kinney ("Wick") is quite the treat. The end, a touch rushed in its sudden development, is satisfying all the same. Presented by Stages St. Louis under the direction of Michael Hamilton through August 21 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Avenue, Kirkwood. Tickets are $15 to $55. Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.org. (PF)

 
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