Falsettos What you get here is two for the price of one. These two one-act musicals by William Finn, written nearly a decade apart (1981 and 1990) bookend the Reagan '80s, as AIDS is ravaging the nation. The plot concerns a dysfunctional family in which the father has left his wife and son in order to live with a man who contracts AIDS. Sound like a downer? It's not. Finn's two one-acts are delightful and engaging. And this brash production is out to beat the band. It is so well staged and performed that there are moments when its sheer professionalism will leave you breathless with admiration. The ultimate effect is sublimely exhilarating and sadly stirring. Performed by the New Jewish Theatre through May 20 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus. Call 314-442-3283. (DB)
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change Reviewed in this issue.
Pretty Fire Linda Kennedy mines theatrical gold from Charlayne Woodard's autobiographical story in a production that exemplifies the adage "less is more." Taking us on a tour of her first twelve years in the world, touching on topics from premature birth to prejudice to church choirs, Kennedy pulls out all the stops. Deeply rooted in Christian faith, Charlayne's memorable family provides plenty of material for humorous and heartfelt stories, all energetically performed by Kennedy with spot-on detail. Director Elizabeth Van Dyke melds exacting character choices with powerful vocal work, wisely using Kennedy's strengths as an actress and storyteller. A tribute to the strength of family love and the power of faith. Through May 16 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Call 314-534-3810. (DJ)
Wait Until Dark A murder, a blind heroine, three increasingly dangerous criminals, lots of secret signals, a drug-filled doll and a final violent confrontation in the dark. The Webster Theatre Guild combines these ingredients to create an old-fashioned thriller (read: The good guys win in the end). Colleen Backer plays Suzy Hendrix with a good blend of innocence and intelligence. Matt Holtmann is suitably creepy as her most ominous antagonist, while Dan Brouk and Christopher Pickup provide interesting criminal variations. The action scenes are a little confusing -- but intentionally so. You'll be looking over your shoulder as you depart this second-floor venue (housed in an old home) and make your way back to your car. Through May 16 at 517 Theatre Lane in Webster Groves. Call 314-962-0876. (DJ)