The Daughter of the Regiment Reviewed in this issue.
Mass Appeal First staged in 1980, Bill C. Davis' two-character drama about a complacent older priest and a firebrand of a seminarian has been undercut by current events. The conflict surrounding the young aspirant, Mark Dolson (played with edgy spark by Dylan Duke), is his polyamorous past, and how it may keep the monsignor from denying him the collar. In light of revelations about how the church handled its actual sex scandals, this sticking point now seems false, and so the play's impact is lessened. Still, as a story of two men finding in each other something they both lack, Mass Appeal continues to succeed. The genial, emotionally disconnected Father Farley (Alan Knoll) remains familiar and suitably weak, unable to resist another drink, another sidestep, another concession. Knoll and Duke spar well, but it's in the quieter moments that they both shine. While attempting to impart the finer points of sermon writing, Fr. Farley drops his joking pretense and challenges Dolson to consider the congregation not as sinners who need to be goaded to a more heavenly state, but "as they are"; Duke's face crumples in quiet pain at his own arrogance, Knoll smiles warmly and the two men reveal something secret about themselves. Presented by Dramatic License Productions through June 12 at Dramatic License Theatre, 291 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield. Tickets are $22 to $25. Call 636-220-7012 or visit www.dramaticlicenseproductions.org.
— Paul Friswold
The Montford Point Marine The spirit of Memorial Day continues through June in the world premiere of Samm-Art Williams' emotional story about Robert Charles Wilson, who in July of 1943 was among the first African Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marines. The still-segregated Marines trained their black enlistees in Montford Point, North Carolina. The action, an amalgam of drama and comedy, plays out in 1993 on the 50th anniversary of Robert's enlistment, as well as in flashbacks to the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. In a Capra-esque account of dreams deferred, we see Robert's pride in breaking barriers as well as the toll that accompanied that pride. The cast includes Linda Kennedy as Robert's wife, Chauncy Thomas as his son and Whit Reichert in three supporting roles. The script makes enormous demands on the actor who plays Robert, and J. Samuel Davis rises to the challenge with a portrayal of range, depth and variety. Performed by the Black Rep through June 26 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $47. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
— Dennis Brown
The Taming of the Shrew Reviewed in this issue.
Don Giovanni May was a tough month for sexual miscreants. The world's most feared terrorist was reduced to Osama bin Wankin', the former governor of California was exposed as the Sperminator, and the head of the International Monetary Fund turned political metaphor on its head: Rather than figuratively rape the African continent, as the Fund has been accused of doing for decades, he went and got himself indicted for physically raping an African. Appropriate, then, that Opera Theatre of St. Louis opened its 2011 season with Mozart's study of Don Giovanni's descent into Hell. Perfectly executed by conductor and Mozart expert Jane Glover, the Saint Louis Symphony and a superbly talented cast, the gorgeous score alone is worth the price of admission. Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto juxtaposes Giovanni's ruthless manipulation of those around him against wildly comic interludes, and the injection of modern elements (Giovanni kills the Commendatore with a pistol) adds a jagged edge to OTSL's production. Through June 25 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $120 ($15 for students, K-12 teachers and active military, subject to availability). Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org.
— Lew Prince