Bus Stop Set in a Kansas diner where several weary travelers are trapped overnight during a blizzard, William Inge muses over the bewildering agony of green love in a dated, homily-filled romantic comedy that should no longer work but still does. As Cherie, the Ozark chanteuse who's trying to escape the clutches of a rambunctious Montana cowboy but is really trying to run from her own past, Katie Consumas delivers a concentrated performance of bold choices. There's nothing subtle here; Consumas is out on a limb every minute. She must have gotten a lot of support from director Peter Mayer, because it all works. Her Cherie is foolish and poignant and an utter delight. As her ardent pursuer, Jared Sanz-Agero livens the evening with a heaping dose of swagger and determination. There's nothing wrong with this beguiling production that wouldn't be solved by a larger playing space. Performed by Avalon Theatre Company through October 21 at the Union Methodist Church, 3543 Watson Road. Tickets are $25 ($20 for students and seniors). Call 314-351-6482 or visit avalontheatre.org. Dennis Brown
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Tennessee Williams once said that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof asks this question: "When your time comes to die, do you want to die in a hot-bed of lies or on a cold stone of truth?" But that question is not asked in Cameron Ulrich's staging for Muddy Waters Theatre, and owing to the lack of direction, this Cat possesses neither pace nor build. Two of the central roles are miscast: Jan Swank plays the profane Big Daddy Pollitt as if he were Grandpa Walton, while Patty Ulrich takes the teeth out of Maggie, Big Daddy's tigress of a daughter-in-law. Joel Lewis, as Big Daddy's son Brick, does his best to pick up the pieces. Lewis, at least, gives us a character with an arc, depicting a smoldering, seething son whose anger devolves into self-contempt in Act Two and finally, at play's end, collapses into despair. Through October 20 at the Theatre at St. John's, St. John's United Methodist Church, 5000 Washington Place (at Kingshighway). Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-540-7831 or visit www.muddywaters theatre.com. (DB)
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change An intrepid group of local producers is trying to make a long-run go of this sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell. They just might pull it off, because as staged with verve by St. Louis theater veteran Bobby Miller this musical revue is rambunctious, breezy and just ribald enough to keep viewers chortling from beginning to end. An ideally suited ensemble (Michael Jokerst, Alan Knoll, Chopper Leifheit, Lee Anne Mathews, Laurie McConnell, Rosemary Watts) cavorts through a fast-paced evening of mostly humorous skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. Sitting through the show is like chewing a wad of bubble gum: After a few hours it begins to lose its flavor. But the sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun both onstage and in the audience bespeaks success. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, 635 Westport Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529. (DB)
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