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Capsule Reviews 

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Broken Rainbows No more happy endings at the end of the yellow-brick road. This heavy-handed play is intended to be a catalyst for discussion among teens about a rainbow of issues, from racism to recycling. Mary Hall Surface's script, a series of contrived scenes about a Jewish teen and his newly divorced mom living in a mostly African-American apartment building, shows how prejudice and miscommunication can lead to disaster. Cue the counselors. The goal is noble; teens and adults should engage in frank discussions of difficult issues like these. But the often-wooden dialogue and the overly emotional escalation of events lends an air of "let's pretend" to a show that needs to be unflinchingly realistic to succeed. Of the performers, only Judi Mann conquers the material. This Spotlight Theatre production has one more public performance: February 19 at 11 a.m. at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are $8. Call 314-918-8424. (Deanna Jent)

Dancing on Air: The Katherine Dunham Story Vivian Anderson-Watt anchors a high-kicking Historyonics production. Anderson-Watt choreographed this loving tribute to dance pioneer Dunham and also performs several roles. Monica Parks cuts a striking figure as the Katherine Dunham, while Vernon Goodman's powerful dancing and the support of DeBorah D. Ahmed, Eric Connors and Jeremy Sher keep the beat moving. Dunham's rocky childhood experiences are interwoven with her adult accomplishments most successfully in the second act, with a simmering scene of sexual attraction between Parks and Sher and a beautifully staged confrontation between Dunham and her father. Act Two also features a mini-recital, showcasing some of Dunham's most famous dances. Drummers Arthur Moore and Sylvester "Sunshine" Lee, along with pianist Alerica Anderson, supply the rhythm and musical punctuation in this enjoyable performance. Through February 21 at the Des Lee Auditorium in the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($18 for seniors and MHS members, $10 for students). Call 314-361-5858. (DJ)

Defending the Caveman A sitcom-mentality stage play "experience" without the pesky problems of character relationships or plot. As a play, it's pretty good stand-up comedy -- especially for married couples who embody stereotypic gender roles. The solo character is a married guy trying to defend men from disdain. "It's not that guys are assholes," he explains. "They just come from a different culture." Creator Rob Becker romanticizes cavefolk as a model society: They respected and honored gender differences. Nobody called the cavewoman a bitch, nobody called the caveman an asshole (perhaps because language hadn't yet been invented?). Unfortunately the material doesn't really build. Cody Lyman (from Chicago's Second City) plays the Caveman. 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 $35-$39.50. Call 314-469-7529. (DJ)

The Retreat from Moscow Reviewed in this issue.

Stories About the Old Days Reviewed in this issue.

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