Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Man of La Mancha Set in a prison during the Inquisition, Man of La Mancha invokes a "think positive" approach to transforming your life: If you can Dream an Impossible Dream, you can survive. If you don't mind such a pie-in-the-sky worldview, New Line's production has much to recommend it. Powerful performances by Todd Schaefer and April Lindsey as Don Quixote and Aldonza provide the anchor, while supporting players Brian Claussen, Thom Crain and Jason Weitkamp pitch in with humor and haunting harmonies. Director Scott Miller's in-the-round staging is eye-catching, the lighting and musical work excellent. Be forewarned: Miller turns the evening into a kind of Survivor exercise for the audience, opting out of an intermission. Through October 23 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1527 Washington Avenue. Call 314-534-1111. (DJ)

Talley's Folly Reviewed in this issue.

Triple Espresso Move over, Nunsense and Forever Plaid. Here comes another crowd-pleasing phenom that's shamelessly determined to make you laugh. As this reunion of a 1970s musical trio plays out at the Triple Espresso nightclub, the evening is not so much a play as a series of set pieces. Some are more amusing than others, but if you ever wondered how the Three Stooges would attack Chariots of Fire, this is the show for you. The three performers (Patrick Albanese, John Bush and J.C. Cutler) effect a take-no-prisoners approach to the material; a viewer's best response is simply to surrender early and laugh along with the crowd. Through December 28 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Call 314-534-1111. (Dennis Brown)

Twelfth Night Reviewed in this issue.

The Woman in Black Richard Strelinger is marvelous in this slow-moving ghost story, taking on a handful of roles. We get lots of familiar spooky themes: a haunted house, revenge, dead children, a town afraid to talk about the horror and -- of course -- a ghostly woman dressed in black. Adapted from a novel by Susan Hill, the play features too many descriptions of the environment and not enough dramatic interplay between characters. Director John Shepherd moves the actors nimbly around the awkward platforms, but this production suffers from its cramped quarters. If you're a fan of old-fashioned thrillers and can endure the stop-and-start flow of the piece, you'll be satisfied by the "gotcha" ending and the eerie self-propelled rocking chair. Through October 31 at the Soulard Theatre, 1921 South Ninth Street. Call 314-368-7306. (DJ)

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