Trail of Tears Middle schoolers make for a tough crowd. They laugh inappropriately, they drop their cell phones and they go "whooo!" every time romantic leads behave romantically. And yet they also watch raptly as Cherokee man Chosen One (Christian Vieira) and his bride, Snow Owl (Ann Ashby), struggle to assimilate the encroaching white culture in 1830s Georgia, and they applaud enthusiastically when the show is done. Director Jason Cannon blends stylized movement and pantomime with some inventive props to great effect, and the cast is uniformly strong. Lakeetha Blakeney in particular does an excellent job of portraying a tough-talking settler and President Andrew Jackson, giving the latter a bucolic edge worthy of the flinty, straight-shooting Old Hickory. Written by Kathryn Schultz Miller and presented by Imaginary Theatre Company through April 3 at the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue (in Forest Park). Tickets are $6 ($5 for MHM members). Call 314-968-7344 or visit www.repstl.org/itc. — Paul Friswold
You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown Gary F. Bell's production of this Clark M. Gesner classic replicates the success of its comic-strip source material, which is to say it retains a unique charm even after all these years. We experience a day in the life of Charlie Brown (James Cougar Canfield, who has a huge voice and a keen sense of when to mug and when to shrug), complete with lost baseball games, kite-eating trees and friends who are alternately rude and compassionate toward our hero. Marcy Wiegert plays eternal fussbudget Lucy with a bossiness that'll rattle your molars, and Chrissy Brooks is very good as Sally, a self-assured little girl given to explosive philosophical statements. But Ben Watts steals the show as Snoopy, playing the dog with the élan of an urbane jazz singer, his languid diction and rubbery dancing giving the false appearance of effortlessness. But you don't make a character this lovable without hard work. In fact, nothing during this immensely satisfying evening of joyful, funny theatre feels false or labored. Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through April 9 at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors; $5 for kids age twelve and under). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (PF)Ongoing
The Real McCoy Although Ka'ramuu Kush instills inventor Elijah McCoy with intelligence and a reserved dignity, this purported biography of the little-remembered Canadian designer of the self-lubricating steam engine (just one of his 57 U.S. patents) unfolds in an elliptical manner that leaves the viewer dissatisfied. There's an interesting story here, and we want to know more than playwright Andrew Moodie tells us. In its current state, The Real McCoy is a pleasant enough evening of theater. But it's not yet ready to be patented. Moodie has more work to do before it can move on to the next level of invention. Performed by the Black Rep through April 10 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $47. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org. (DB)
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