The Fantasticks Reviewed in this issue.Ongoing
Desire Under the Elms Director Jerry McAdams picks a deliberate path through Eugene O'Neill's tale of the Cabot family's disintegration. Act One unspools with stately grace, allowing Peter (Ben Richie), Simeon (Chris Jones) and their half-brother Eben (Franklin Killian) to slowly reveal the fractures in their relationship. Richie and Jones make an entertaining team, while Eben, a seething ball of spite, twitches and sputters with indignant rage against the cruelty of their absent father, Ephraim (Jim Anthony, powerful and excellent). When the three discover Ephraim has a new wife, Abbie (the very good Patty Ulrich), the brothers depart for California. Ephraim is feeling his age (he's in his seventies, Abbie's in her thirties), and he lays out the arc of his life in a speech that is beautifully melancholy, while Abbie obliviously brushes her hair. She has fallen in love with Eben. Her seduction of him is nauseating and brilliantly performed, the perfect lustful counterbalance to Ephraim's lonely monologue. A fine story, well told — and depressing as hell. Presented by Muddy Waters Theatre through March 28 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard (in the Big Brothers Big Sisters building). Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, seniors and active-duty military personnel). Call 314-799-8399 or visit www.muddywaterstheatre.com. (PF)
Gutenberg! The Musical! What the world needs now is a new musical about fifteenth-century German inventor Johann Gutenberg, and Bud Simon and Doug Davenport are just the team to write it. Bud and Doug (Ben Nordstrom, Steve Isom) are currently performing a reading of their bizarre new musical at the Ivory Theatre. Not only is this bare-bones backer's audition a constant delight, but in between the zaniness and spoofery the show finds time to acknowledge the importance of yearning. Because these two innocents care so deeply for each other and for theater in general, we in turn care for them. By evening's end they have become our newest best friends; the pleasure of their company is all ours. Performed by the Temporary Theatre Company through March 28 at the Ivory Theatre, 7622 Michigan Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($10 on Tuesday). Call 314-631-8330. (DB)
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