Romeo and Juliet Reviewed in this issue.
[title of show] The plot of Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen's [title of show] is the back story of [title of show]'s genesis. Two struggling actors named Hunter and Jeff (Ben Nordstrom and Benjamin Howes) write a musical about making a musical on a three-week deadline in order to enter the finished piece in a theatrical festival. The actors point out structural flaws in the script, make jokes about missing lines and sing songs about wanting to sing great songs. The show could easily veer into "look how cute and clever we are" chicanery, but the persistent and nasty honesty of the script elevates [title of show] above fluff. The songs are tuneful and funny, rife with dirty language and disparaging comments about Broadway's penchant for factory-made musicals populated by proven stars rather than great performers. Nordstrom and Howes are excellent as the relentless dreamers: charming and fallible and very human. Stephanie D'Abruzzo gives a knockout performance as the outwardly tough Susan, who thinks she's given up on show biz and her childhood dreams; her counterbalance is Amy (Heidi Justman), who's making a living but not living the dream. Presented by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis under the direction of Victoria Bussert through February 7 in the Emerson Studio in the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $42.50 to $54. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. — Paul FriswoldOngoing
Love Song John Kolvenbach's comic drama about Beane (Aaron Orion Baker), a man who is so emotionally shuttered and psychologically fragile as to be invisible even in daylight, is at times overwritten and just this side of overwrought. When a hard-bitten gamine named Molly (Sarah Cannon) burgles his apartment, she also steals his heart, and Beane finally takes notice of the world he's been ignoring. His nascent joy burbles over into the life of his sister Joan (Lavonne Byers) and her husband Harry (John Pierson), improving their relationship. Byers and Baker work together beautifully; she's protective of Beane and frustrated by him — a classic big sister. Some scenes take too long to develop for too little payoff, but script flaws don't deter director Jason Cannon. His deft handling of the penultimate scene between Beane and Joan is a tender and sharply honest moment between siblings who at last see and understand each other. Presented by St. Louis Actors' Studio through January 24 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $25 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-458-2978 or visit www.stlas.org. (PF)
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