Ace Greater love hath no regional theater than that it transform itself into an out-of-town tryout venue for another regional theater. In a gesture of supreme generosity, the Rep kicks off its 40th season by exposing St. Louis viewers to all the problems in Ace, a new musical dreamscape about fathers and sons and free skies, presumably (and pointlessly) set in St. Louis in the 1950s. If you enjoy seeing a work-in-progress, this is the show for you, because it's likely being overhauled nightly. If you prefer to see a finished product, you'll have to travel to Cincinnati next month to see Ace at the Playhouse in the Park, where it will surely be a triumph. Through October 1 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $14 to $63 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot This highly original inquisition into the culpability of Judas I in the betrayal of Jesus of N is both witty and provocative. The irreverent courtroom drama, which is set in Purgatory and features an eclectic cast of characters ranging from Pontius Pilate to Mother Teresa to Satan, offers something to offend everyone. Yet the text is so good-natured that a spirit of inquiry supersedes the occasional lapses into impropriety. Although the production gets off to a brisk start, by evening's end the ultimate betrayal is not the one being debated but rather the one that playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis has foisted on his audience. By making the play much too verbose, the author has betrayed the viewer. We all deserve to be absolved of guilt for our occasional tune-outs. Produced by HotCity Theatre through September 23 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-289-4060 or visit www.hotcitytheatre.org.
Mahalia: A Gospel Musical Reviewed in this issue.
Menopause The Musical This sassy musical revue parodies songs of the '60s and '70s focusing on issues of aging and hormone imbalance (to give you an idea: A disco medley includes "Night Sweating" and "Stayin' Awake"). Sandra Benton is a powerhouse singer whose Tina Turner brings down the house. Brooke Davis scores with "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Lee Anne Mathews delivers a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash," while Rosemary Watts has fun with the raciest number, a tribute to self-love. The only problem with music director Joe Dreyer's slick 90 minutes is that it's too loud. 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.
The Oldest Profession Reviewed in this issue.
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