St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out local theater.

A Clash of Swords

A Clash of Swords A Clash of Swords is the rather arbitrary umbrella title for two one-act plays that are quite different in ambition and impact. The irreverent opener, "Dragon's Lair" by Chris Cyr, is Spamalot for paupers. It's a medieval Police Academy that reveals two knights of the round table (Chris Wilson, Chris Make) as frat brats. Some of their dealings with the guileless Aloicious (the endearing Joey Walsh), who desires to become a knight, are downright uproarious. When the play's goal is to joust with our funny bones, it succeeds happily. Damien Samways' pirate tale "Blackbird White" has loftier ambitions. This spoof of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead takes too long to reveal its surprise — and even then you might wonder if the punch is worth the verbose buildup. Both plays are way too long, and neither one-act knows how to end. But they do succeed in providing an original evening of raffish diversion. Performed by the Tin Ceiling through July 22 at the Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee Street. Tickets are $8. Call 314-664-1161 or visit — Dennis Brown

Hello, Dolly! Reviewed in this issue.

The Lion King On its second visit to St. Louis, this Disney juggernaut retains its profusion of color and movement. Dance, mime, puppetry and masks — all performed by a cast of 49 actors — fuse together to bring to life a riff on Hamlet (nasty uncle kills noble king; confused son must hear from Daddy's ghost before seeking revenge) removed to the African savanna. The show provides a dazzling immersion into the potentials of creative imagination. First-time partakers are in for a splendid treat, though repeat viewers might begin to see through the evening's incandescent shallowness. Performed through July 29 at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $28 to $75. Call 314-534-1111 or visit www (DB)

Pride's Crossing Reviewed in this issue.

Sugar Eight years after he triumphed with Hello, Dolly! director-choreographer Gower Champion staged this musical adaptation of the Billy Wilder film comedy Some Like It Hot. But on this venture, Champion never found the answer to one key question: Why? The Broadway production ran for more than a year on pizzazz alone. Three decades later it works best as an antidote for those who crave a mindless musical but can't bear the thought of sitting through yet another Grease or Little Shop of Horrors. This Lyceum Theatre staging is efficiently professional and very easy to take. In the title role, Elena Gronlund is more reminiscent of a young Georgia Engel than Marilyn Monroe, but she makes the role of Sugar Kane, the dim singer in an all-girl band, sweetly appealing. As the aging multimillionaire on the make for a young bride, Whit Reichert is a constant delight. He doesn't play it the way Joe E. Brown did onscreen; Reichert is more in the mode of Bert Lahr — a cowardly lion without the fur. Reichert is old school, and when he's in peak form — as he is here — class is merrily in session. Through July 18 at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, on Main Street in Arrow Rock. Tickets are $30 ($28 for students and seniors; $14 for children). Call 660-837-3311 or visit (DB)

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