St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Mar 5, 2008 at 4:00 am

Harvey Mary Chase's perennial mirthmaker about Elwood P. Dowd, the lovable drunk who spends his happiest hours in the company of an invisible six-foot pooka, has not lost its ability to elicit feel-good laughs. Jason Meyers makes for an affable Elwood. Some of the most rewarding moments are provided by Shawn White as the brusque orderly at the sanitarium where Elwood is to be admitted, and by Colleen Backer, who brings an original spin to the sanitarium's nurse. Usually this colorless role is played by a bland ingénue, but Backer is a holdover from an old Weber and Fields vaudeville sketch ("Oh doctor, oh doctor!") and adds a layer of lunacy that enlivens some of the script's more pedestrian scenes. Performed by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves through March 10 at 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-962-0876 or visit — Dennis Brown

Measure for Measure Director Sam Hack sets the action visually in the American '60s, with modern dress, a soundtrack by the Doors and a minimal Manichean set (a demonic martini sign hanging over one side and a stained-glass panel over the other) to further underline the good vs. righteous message. As the iron-fisted and rotten-hearted Angelo, Joe Wegescheide delivers an overtly creepy performance. Amy Schwarz's Isabella emanates purity and strength, and her clear voice and impassioned defense of mercy in the face of Angelo's perversion makes for a powerful, satisfying scene. Andy Akester brings a rumpled party-boy air to Lucio, providing many of the evening's biggest laughs. Colin Nichols' turn as Duke Vincentio is also solid, and he has a marvelous voice for Shakespeare. Presented by Clayton Community Theatre through March 16 at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road, Clayton. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-721-9228 or visit — Paul Friswold

'night, Mother Reviewed in this issue.

Parenting 101: A Musical Guide to Raising Parents This extended revue about the trials and tribulations of having children is yet another entry in the "you too can write a musical" sweepstakes. The sketches, whose subjects range from childbirth to the loss of a pet to shopping in toy stores, strive for jokes; the songs are full of puns. Some people enjoy this kind of in-your-face entertainment. But by the end of Act One, the only reason I could think of to return for Act Two was to see if the four energetic actors — who played the first act at the top of their lungs — would have any voices left by evening's end. It wasn't reason enough. Performed through March 16 at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $42.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit (DB)

The Prisoner of Second Avenue Reviewed in this issue.

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown Happiness is seeing the zillionth production of the Peanuts musical, yet you feel as if you're seeing the show for the first time. Freshness is the minor miracle that director Ben Nordstrom and his infectious Saint Louis University Theatre cast have wrought. The blanket-fixated Linus (Justin J. Leibrecht), his big sister Sally (Erin Almand), Beethoven-loving Schroeder (the sure-throated Anthony Heinemann) and the eternally bossy Lucy (Marcy Wiegert) are the constants in Charlie (Andy Hampton)'s oppressive existence, and they bemuse and infuriate us too. Then there is Snoopy! Katie McGee was cast for adorability. She's a charmer who waves valentines with the same coy panache as a Molière heroine working her fan. McGee is about to become the most pursued young woman on the SLU campus. Kudos too to choreographer Kristin Nordstrom, whose contribution goes far beyond the dance numbers and insures that the entire evening flows. Through March 8 in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall. Tickets are $10 ($9 for seniors and faculty, $6 for students). Call 314-977-3327 or visit (DB)