Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) Here's a puzzler: Which testament is a bigger hoot, the Old or the New? If this unholy production is any indication, it's the New. Perhaps that's simply because by the end of Act One a viewer has become inured to all the tiresome puns, sophomoric humor and moronic songs reminiscent of what kiddies used to listen to on red plastic records. Or maybe it's because during Act Two the mood subtly shifts from "this is funny stuff, you should be laughing" to "we're all in this together." Once that attitude takes hold, a sweet sense of bonhomie pervades the irreverent evening. Randy Arndt, Steve Franklin and Brian McCalpin work hard to entertain us -- but not too hard, which is their (and our) ultimate salvation. Performed by K's Theatrical Korps through February 13 at St. John the Baptist Fine Arts Center, 4200 Delor Street. Tickets are $12 ($10 students and seniors, $6 children). Call 314-351-8984. (Dennis Brown)

Electra Reviewed in this issue.

Les Misérables After sixteen years in New York, this musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's saga of vindictiveness and redemption in nineteenth-century France is the third-longest-running show in Broadway history and claims to have been seen by more than 50 million people worldwide. What more can be said about this enduring smash hit, except maybe: Why? A minority opinion might suggest that the plot is difficult to follow, most of the music is dull, the lyrics banal. The set is so dark, it seems to be wrapped in a shroud. What little is visible appears to have been salvaged from a junk pile behind Laumeier Sculpture Park. The play might as well be a movie, because the performances have been bludgeoned into cinematic one-dimensionality. God bless those gluttons who enjoy attending again and again; for the rest of us, the show's original nickname, "the glums," seems truer than ever. Performed through February 13 at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $24-$62. Call 314-534-1111. (DB)

So to Speak Ancient people sat around fires telling stories (or so we're told). Today we blog, text-message, surf the Internet. The struggle to connect with other people amid rapid change and overstimulation emerges as the topic of the Washington Avenue Players Project's new ensemble-created "theatrical experience," created by actors Colin DeVaughan, Nick Kelly, Mo Monahan and Paul Gutting and directors Holly Gitlin and Todd Schaefer. The 70-minute piece mirrors the pace of daily life: Snippets of stories are interspersed with noise and movement, almost like someone's channel-surfing. Some images and stories are intriguing, but the experience ends up being more incidental than monumental. Perhaps the antidote to today's stress can be found in that ancient notion of narrative: A good story can go a long way in creating an intriguing night of theater. Through February 12 at the ArtLoft Theater, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $10. Call 314-412-5107. (Deanna Jent)

Twelve Angry Jurors Reviewed in this issue.

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