Capsule Reviews 

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Menopause The Musical Who knew hormone shifts could be so much fun? An energetic cast of four women "of a certain age" sing and dance their way through parodies of popular '60s and '70s songs whose rewritten lyrics tackle night sweats, memory loss and mood swings. Laura Ackerman has great comic timing in her rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon," while Rosemary Watts has almost too much fun with her ode to sex toys ("You Are My Destiny"). Rochelle Walker does a great Tina Turner impersonation, and Lee Anne Mathews sings a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash." Designed to amuse and empower women who have "gone through the passage," the show ends with the audience joining the cast for a raucous kick-line celebration. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit www.playhouseatwestport.com.
— Deanna Jent

Via Dolorosa David Hare's travel diary about his time in the Middle East makes for a uniquely inquiring stage piece that is totally absorbing for every second of its intermissionless 90 minutes. Hare meets with Israeli and Palestinian theater directors and politicians, then recounts it all in gorgeously written reportage that has been so distilled that the prose shines with precision. He sides with neither the Jews nor the Palestinians; rather, he concludes, "We're all blind. We all see only what we want to." Jerry Vogel portrays Hare with directness and lucidity. In subordinating himself to the text, Vogel allows us to leave the theater cleansed by that rare, refreshing clarity that accompanies learning. Produced by the New Jewish Theatre through February 11 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $20 to $25 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit www.newjewishtheatre.org.


— Dennis Brown

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