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Capsule Reviews 

Dennis Brown, Paul Friswold and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

After the Fall After the Fall Reviewed in this issue.

The Dance on Widow's Row Four widows seek to jump-start their love lives by throwing a party for the town's most eligible bachelors: It'd be easy to dismiss The Dance on Widow's Row as the stage equivalent of a chick flick. But Samm-Art Williams' script lays bare the universal nature of loneliness and longing, and director Ron Himes is wise enough to give these moments as much emphasis as the laughter. And there is much laughter. Erik Kilpatrick as Newly Benson would steal the show, were it not for the fact that the entire cast is strong enough to steal scenes right back. Linda Kennedy's Simi Jackson is equal parts tough and vulnerable; the effervescent joy Lisa Harris imparts to Lois Miller masks an iron will. Presented by the Black Rep through May 20 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $27.50 to $40 ($5 discount for students and seniors; $10 rush seats available for students 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit — Paul Friswold

Lucky Stiff Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's madcap musical farce requires quite a bit of disbelief to be suspended. Young shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon (Michael Richardson) will inherit $6 million from his Uncle Tony — but only if he takes Uncle Corpse (unflinchingly played by Michael Bentz) on a weeklong tour of Monte Carlo. If Harry fails to keep to the schedule, the money goes to a dog charity — which has sent a spy, Annabel Glick (Leah Norris), to catch Harry out if he slips up. Further complicating matters are sister-and-brother duo Rita LaPorta (Merryl Crivelli) and Vinnie DiRuzzio (John Reidy); she's Tony's girlfriend — and his murderer. The supporting cast is marvelous; If Lucky Stiff has a flaw, it's that Harry and Annabel are so sane compared to everyone around them. Presented by the Kirkwood Theatre Guild through May 12 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood. Tickets are $18. Call 314-821-9956 ext. 1, or visit (PF)

Menopause The Musical Who knew hormone shifts could be so much fun? An energetic cast of four women "of a certain age" sing and dance their way through parodies of popular '60s and '70s songs whose rewritten lyrics tackle night sweats, memory loss and mood swings. Laura Ackerman has great comic timing in her rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon," while Rosemary Watts has almost too much fun with her ode to sex toys. Rochelle Walker does a great Tina Turner impersonation, and Lee Anne Mathews sings a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash." Designed to amuse and empower women who have "gone through the passage," the show ends with the audience joining the cast for a raucous kick-line celebration. Through May 20 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

Songs from the Tall Grass If you missed the recent Fontbonne University production of Quilters, here's an opportunity to see it again. Tall Grass is a different show, but it covers much of the same territory — hardships and simple joys on the prairie, from the Civil War to the start of the twentieth century and — casts the same kind of patriotic spell. (This show does add a few new wrinkles of its own, most notably in emphasizing the role of immigrants in settling Middle America.) Barry Thornell makes for an effectively agreeable narrator, and he's charmingly assisted by a cast of thirteen who all enjoy the stories they're telling. It's a music-filled evening — and one that reminds us how music can fill out otherwise solitary lives. Through May 13 at the Alton Little Theater, 2450 North Henry Street, Alton, Illinois. Tickets are $18 ($8 for students). Call 618-462-6562 or visit — Dennis Brown

What's Wrong with this Picture? Reviewed in this issue.

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