Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) Masters of literary parody Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield struck their heftiest nugget of comic gold (so far) with this ambitious theatrical romp. In the first act, 36 of Shakespeare's 37 plays are given swift send-offs: Titus Andronicus as a cooking show, all the comedies as one play, Othello as a rap and so forth. That leaves the second act free for an in-depth and seriously deranged version of Hamlet, complete with an audience-participation performance of Ophelia's inner monologues. Director Carolyne Hood wisely uses the entire Grandel Theatre to increase hilarity, while actors Brendan Allred, James Enstall and David Cooperstein keep the comic bits flowing nonstop. This St. Louis Shakespeare presentation is performed August 14 and September 4 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $18 to $22. Call 314-534-1111. (Deanna Jent)

Footloose Choreographer Dana Lewis keeps the feet moving with sharp, athletic choreography in this energetic Stages St. Louis production. Ben Nordstrom is irresistibly charming as the new kid in town who courts the predictably naughty preacher's daughter (played by the beautiful Juliana Ashley Hansen). Their love story is contrasted with the crises faced by the Reverend Moore and his wife, compellingly played by Bill Lynch and Kari Ely. As the adults face their painful past, the kids win the right to dance, and all the production elements come together for a dazzling finale. Through August 21 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets $20 to $42 ($10 rush for students and seniors). Call 314-821-2407. (DJ)

Free to Be...You and Me Reviewed in this issue.

The History of Bowling Reviewed in this issue.

The Sound of Music You already know that this Rodgers and Hammerstein perennial is sentimental and predictable. But to see it acted well, as it is in this concluding production of the Muny season, is to be reminded that the show is also deftly structured and pithily written. Robert Westenberg is properly stern and effectively empathetic as the imperious Captain von Trapp, and Tina Maddigan stands out as a delightfully winsome sixteen-going-on-seventeen Liesl. But, as it should, the evening truly and completely belongs to Maria. In her Muny debut, the captivating Kate Baldwin delivers a perfect-pitch performance. Not only is she in total control every minute she's onstage, but she's also clearly having fun, and her fun is contagious. Baldwin takes an old chestnut and transforms into an evening that's younger than springtime. And can she yodel! Performed through August 14 in Forest Park. Tickets are $8 to $58 (free seats also available). Call 314-534-1111. (Dennis Brown)

St. Nicholas This offbeat ghost story about a Dublin theater critic who falls under the spell of a coven of blood-sucking vampires is guaranteed to send chills down your spine on a hot summer night. Spearheaded by Joe Hanrahan's riveting portrayal of a vitriolic scribe who is afraid of the dark, St. Nicholas was the RFT's choice as "Best One-Person Play" in 2004. Now it's back, again directed by Sarah Whitney, and again offering playgoers the opportunity to savor the best kind of Irish blarney, in the form of a spooky yarn in which the rich, descriptive, salty language commands the listener's attention. Performed by After Midnight through August 14 at HH Studio, 2500 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood. Tickets are $15. Call 314-487-5305. (DB)

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