St. Louis Stage Caps

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Dec 24, 2008 at 4:00 am

The Last Seder Richard Lewis delivers a bravely unsentimental performance as the patriarch of a suburban New York family who is slipping into the obscure reaches of Alzheimer's disease. His four daughters (Nicole Angeli, Carla Barresi, Michelle Hand, Ruth Heyman) arrive home for what they hope will be one last Passover Seder with Mom (Nancy Lewis) and Dad before his memory is completely lost. Alas, each daughter carries with her the baggage of unresolved crises. By evening's end there's enough turmoil frothing onstage for five bad plays rather than a single really good one. Author Jennifer Maisel has written a drama that is by turns both harrowing and shallow, and she apparently doesn't know which is which. Director Doug Finlayson does a herculean job of bringing a sense of life to so much contrived melodrama. At times he even succeeds. Produced by the New Jewish Theatre through December 28 at Clayton High School's Little Theatre, 2 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton. Tickets are $28 to $30 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit — Dennis Brown

Radio City Christmas Spectacular To see the gammy Rockettes (and what do you want in your stocking this week?) strut their stuff as Santa's reindeers or precision-drilling wooden soldiers can soften the heart of even the most churlish Scrooge. The ultimate chorus line, they are the principal reason(s) to see this quaintly old-fashioned holiday extravaganza. The revue also includes singers and Santas. Then, in a nod to tradition, it concludes with the "Living Nativity," a dumb-show reenactment of the birth of Jesus. Reverent it may be, but when the house lights come up and you realize the evening is over, and you didn't even get to cheer the Rockettes one last time, forget about Christmas carols. The song that echoes in your head is Peggy Lee singing, "Is that all there is?" Through December 28 at the Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $29.50 to $69.50. Call 314-534-1678 or visit (DB)

She Loves You! It's hard to explain why Elvis impersonators usually seem so tacky, yet Beatles re-creations — even when the re-enactors are a little long in the tooth — are full of joy. Perhaps it's because with the Beatles, music trumps personality. There's lots of music here, live and loud, to remind us of those vital years in the turbulent 1960s when every few months brought an astonishing new gift from John and Paul, even occasionally George. This revue attempts to take us into the studio for that celebrated first broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show, then it wants to re-create the excitement of a performance in Shea Stadium. But considering the confines of the West Port playing space, it works best if you think of it as a Las Vegas lounge act. She Loves You! is an orgy of ongoing melody, and on its own terms, is very satisfying indeed. Through January 4, 2009, at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44 to $48. Visit or call 314-469-7529. (DB)