St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene.

Altar Boyz If Hedwig and the Angry Inch can make hay out of a tawdry rock concert, why not an evening that spoofs a touring Christian boy band? This Off Ramp version has been slickly staged by the show's original director, Stafford Arima. The "concert" itself is gently (if predictably) innocuous. The five-youth group is made up of stereotypes: a recovering alcoholic, the obligatory gay, the token Jew. Their "God is great" pop musical numbers are abetted by lots of flashy lighting and high-energy choreography that asks the burning question: How many ways can you improvise a cross? The willing audience is encouraged to clap along, and there's even the occasional amusing line. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through October 7 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $15 to $45 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit — Dennis Brown

Anton in Show Business Where better to set a theater spoof than in a prop room? Joe Heitman's charmingly cluttered scenic design (evocatively lighted by Lauren Wright) is inventive and surprisingly functional. And it gives you plenty to look at during the talky scenes when the action grinds to a halt. Watching this send-up of all things theatrical (overbearing directors, narcissistic actresses, pretentious critics) is like plugging in a string of old Christmas lights: Some still work, others do not. A San Antonio production of Chekhov's Three Sisters is an effective enough cord from which to hang all sorts of gags and jokes. But when the comedy starts spoofing itself (male roles being played by women) and then turns perfunctorily serious, the evening loses its way. Performed by the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts through October 7 the Emerson Studio Theatre in the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students and seniors). Call 314-968-7128 or visit (DB)

Corleone: The Shakespearean Godfather Reviewed in this issue.

Crazy for You For much of Act One, this lavish paean to the songs of George and Ira Gershwin is a glory to behold. It glides, swirls, tap dances and pick-axes its way from standard to standard, climaxing with the exuberant "I've Got Rhythm." The lithe dancers do wonderful work. David Elder makes for a charming leading man, and Julie Tolivar's rambunctious leading lady is equally appealing. Then Act Two arrives. It's a slow starter in every Crazy for You. But in this Stages St. Louis production, it never starts at all. How can one act be so pleasantly polished; the next, an endurance contest? Whatever the reason, by the time the umpteenth Gershwin song receives its umpteenth reprise nearly three hours after the evening began, you might find yourself wishing (albeit briefly) that George and Ira had never laid eyes on a piano. If only they'd taken their Uncle Leo's advice and opened a kosher deli. Through October 7 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $46 ($43 for seniors; rush seats for students and seniors $15 at the door). Call 314-821-2407 or visit (DB)

The Guys Twelve days after 9/11, a fire captain who lost several men at the World Trade Center is at a loss as to how to write several brief eulogies for the impending memorial services. "There's just not much to say," the traumatized captain mutters. Yet thanks to the probing help of a freelance writer (Leslie Wobbe), he is able to pay tribute to his fallen colleagues with the simplest eloquence. One of the most difficult challenges for any play is to make the audience care about offstage characters the viewers never meet. Anne Nelson's The Guys rises to the task. Throughout its 80 intermissionless minutes, a hush blankets the auditorium. Mark Abels' pointillist portrayal of the captain is a model of understated acting. Without once succumbing to sentiment, he makes us all witnesses to history. Performed by West End Players Guild through October 7 at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-367-0025 or visit (DB)

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change An intrepid group of local producers is trying to make a long-run go of this sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell. They just might pull it off, because — as staged with verve by St. Louis theater veteran Bobby Miller — this musical revue is rambunctious, breezy and just ribald enough to keep viewers chortling from beginning to end. An ideally suited ensemble (Michael Jokerst, Alan Knoll, Chopper Leifheit, Lee Anne Mathews, Laurie McConnell, Rosemary Watts) cavorts through a fast-paced evening of mostly humorous skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. Sitting through the show is like chewing a wad of bubble gum: After a few hours it begins to lose its flavor. But the sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun — both onstage and in the audience — bespeaks success. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, 635 Westport Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529. (DB)

Language of Angels Reviewed in this issue.