High Society Here's yet another stage adaptation of a popular movie musical. (In this instance, that 1956 Cole Porter musical was itself an update of a stage play, Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story). The only real lure here is the Porter music. On opening night the cast of this Hawthorne Players production waged a ferocious battle with overly loud songs (performed by a cadre of fifteen offstage musicians) -- and lost. Especially in the early going, Porter's numbers were so jarring, they might as well have been written by Ted Nugent. Throughout the auditorium hearing aids were begging for mercy. What is the appeal of such loud, offstage music anyway? Even if the performers were only accompanied by a single piano, at least they'd be heard. But to have to endure this kind of dissonance frustrates actors and audience alike. Performed by Hawthorne Players through August 28 at Florissant Civic Center Theater, 1 Civic Center Drive, Florissant. Tickets are $14 in advance, $16 at the door. Call 314-921-5678. (Dennis Brown)
The Last Five Years Jason Robert Brown's award-winning musical uses opposing timelines to tell the story of a doomed relationship. Cathy (April Lindsay) reveals her version via a series of flashbacks, while Jamie (Todd Schaefer) starts with their first date and moves onward toward the end of their marriage. It's I Do, I Do meets Betrayal, with the audience putting together the puzzle. The highlight of the production is the one scene the couple shares: "The Next Ten Minutes" is a joyous duet, filled with hope. Unfortunately, it comes about halfway through the 80-minute show, and things don't go anywhere after that. It's hard to know whether to blame the play or the production; in many ways the criss-crossing conceit is more interesting in concept than in reality. Presented by the Washington Avenue Players Project through August 27 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $15. Call 314-412-5107. (Deanna Jent)
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