Anything Goes Summer stock is alive and well in Rolla. An array of appealing young actors buoys Cole Porter's perennially popular shipboard musical with energy and enthusiasm. Among the standouts, Benjamin Britton brings unrestrained talent to the irrepressible Billy Crocker, and Amanda Williford's ingénue has a singing voice with the clarity of pure water. Talented director Nick Eilerman (who did a knockout job this spring with You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Webster University) is still too inexperienced to fully mine this show's riches. He is indebted to guardian angels Pamela Reckamp, who does a swell job singing most of the classic tunes ("I Get a Kick Out of You," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow") and Alan Knoll, whose dopey Moonface Martin delivers the comedy. Performed through June 24 at Cedar Street Center in Rolla. Tickets are $20 and $18 ($10 for students). For tickets and directions, call 573-364-9523 or visit www.ozarkactorstheatre.org.
Circus Flora: Marrakesh Ostensibly the plot for this year's version of St. Louis' very own one-ring circus is inspired by the old Charlie Chan mysteries, but it seems to be more closely linked to the board game Clue. None of which matters at all. Better to ignore the plot and devote your energy to being dazzled by the spectacle: high-wire and trapeze artists, equine acrobats, Aleysa the human Slinky, an endearing dog act, even an elephant. Bring it all together under one tent, and the result is too much high-flying fun to be pinned down by words. Through June 24 in the tent adjacent to Powell Hall in Grand Center. Tickets are $8 to $30. Call 314-531-6800 or visit www.circusflora.org.
Guys and Dolls Frank Loesser's paean to Broadway has lost its sense of direction. This Black Rep staging might as well be set in New Orleans as in Times Square. The classic musical about the search for the perfect crap game is at its brightest in individual performances among them, Roz White Gonsalves' long-suffering Miss Adelaide, Sophia Stephens' plaintive Sister Sarah and singing gamblers Drummond Crenshaw and Kelvin Roston Jr. But it's J. Samuel Davis' infectiously entertaining Sky Masterson that saves the night. Every time Davis enters, he's like a Saint Bernard to the rescue. Performed through June 30 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $27.50 to $40 ($5 discount for students and seniors; $10 rush seats available for students 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
I puritani Reviewed in this issue.
La traviata Opera Theatre offers a sumptuous setting for Verdi's tragic tale of love, redemption and death. In her "dream role," Ailyn Perez applies a buttery, full-timbred soprano to some of opera's richest and most evocative melodies. Tenor Dimitri Pittas, Alfredo to Perez's Violetta, melds voices effortlessly and naturally with the diva and with baritone James Westman, who plays his father. Bring plenty of Kleenex for Violetta's death scene. Through June 23 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $29 to $95. Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org.
A Little Night Music Even before the first note of Stephen Sondheim's lush waltz-time music is heard, as hues of turquoise and aqua light bathe the stage in cool anticipation, there's a sense that something magical is about to happen. It does. Sondheim's least-produced great musical receives a jaw-dropping, pitch-perfect production from Stages St. Louis. Directed with uncharacteristic restraint by Michael Hamilton, this witty, civilized and stylish fable about sexual follies on a smiling summer night is so elegant and sumptuous, the musical feels as if it's playing out in the center of a precious Fabergé egg. The entire cast excels, but none more so than Kari Ely. As Desiree Armfeldt, the Swedish actress who rediscovers romance when she least expects it, Ely finds the wit, irony and rue that define the evening. If you haven't seen Night Music in a while, prepare to be reminded of how thoroughly satisfying a mature musical can be. If you've never seen it, you couldn't hope for a more exquisite introduction. Through July 1 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $46 ($43 for seniors; rush seats for students and seniors $15 at the door). Call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.org.
The Mikado Stage director Nick Canty ups the ante on Gilbert & Sullivan's operetta by modernizing the plot, wryly resetting the action in contemporary Japan. The chorus gains Godzilla, a sumo wrestler and a guy in a Pokémon suit, while Nanki-Poo is reborn as an Elvis impersonator and somehow it all works. The production flies on an unintrusive updating of W.S. Gilbert's torrent of punny lyrics and excellent performances: Patrick Miller is smooth as Nanki-Poo and Katherine Jolly twitters and chirps as Yum-Yum with schoolgirl glee, but Matt Boehler as Poo-Bah and Myrna Paris as Katisha steal the show. This Mikado is breezy entertainment for opera buffs and newcomers alike. It's even kid-friendly. Through June 23 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $29 to $95. Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org.
Oklahoma! Reviewed in this issue.
You Can't Take It With You Enjoying these dizzy shenanigans is the next best thing to riding the Faust Park carousel nonstop for two hours. The Pulitzer Prize-winning screwball comedy by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman offers an ingratiating view of an eccentric Depression-era American family as reflected through the prism of a fun-house mirror. Stray Dog Theatre's eighteen-actor ensemble plays the high jinks straight, which lends a sense of credibility to the incredulous yet ever-endearing tale of the nutty firecracker-making, ballet-dancing, Erector-set building Sycamore family. This three-act smile is the perfect antidote for a hot summer night. Performed through June 24 at Clayton High School's Little Theatre, 1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org.
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