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Capsule Reviews 

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

The Barber of Seville Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opened its 31st season with a brilliantly subversive update of Gioacchino Rossini's most popular comic opera. Director Ken Cazan moves the tale of Figaro the scheming barber to the 1920s and turns it into a bawdy farce. Hugh Russell, Alek Shrader and Kate Lindsey as Figaro, Almaviva and Rosina lead a fine cast that pushes this opera to the postmodern edge. This self-mocking production walks a fine line between being an opera and commenting on the genre's stylized form, and has the grace to amuse us at the expense of the play without debasing Rossini's luscious melodies and gorgeous harmonies. Through June 24 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $29 to $105 ($10 for kids fifteen and under; $25 vouchers available for rush seats). Call 314-961-0644 or visit — Lew Prince

Bleacher Bums Hard to believe Bleacher Bums is 29 years old — so old that this celebration of baseball fandom (mercifully) even predates the Wave. Otherwise, that surely would be included along with all the other baseball clichés that fill these 80 energetic minutes. The show's framework is a Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field back in the era of Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith. The bleachers are filled with a rogue's gallery of compulsive gamblers, along with a blind play-by-play sports commentator and a sexy sunbather. Nicholas Kelly probably loses five pounds a performance as the manic Cheerleader. But without exception the entire cast, under the bullwhip direction of Richard Strelinger Jr., is so terrifically spontaneous, you'd think they wrote the show last week. Expect to have a joyful time (and don't forget to wear red). Performed by Hydeware Theatre through June 3 (the weekend the Cubs are in town!) at the COCA Black Box, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-368-7306 or visit — Dennis Brown

Dreamgirls Reviewed in this issue.

Hansel and Gretel Reviewed in this issue.

Julius Caesar Reviewed in this issue.

Menopause The Musical This sassy musical revue parodies songs of the '60s and '70s, focusing on issues of aging and hormone imbalance (to give you an idea: A disco medley includes "Night Sweating" and "Stayin' Awake"). Sandra Benton is a powerhouse singer whose Tina Turner brings down the house. Brooke Davis scores with "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Lee Anne Mathews delivers a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash," while Rosemary Watts has fun with the raciest number, a tribute to self-love. The only problem with music director Joe Dreyer's slick 90 minutes is that it's too loud. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit — Deanna Jent

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