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St. Louis Stage Capsules 

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

Kiss Me, Kate This farcical account of flaring egos during an out-of-town tryout of The Taming of the Shrew is being given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the Rep. The show has been splendidly choreographed, costumed, designed, lit and orchestrated. Act One is great fun, and Act Two opens with sizzling ensemble work in the Cole Porter standard "Too Darn Hot" — which might be too darn good, because the story never regains its footing after that. But the know-how that has gone into this production is dazzling. Through December 28 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16 to $63 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit — Dennis Brown

Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold The prodigal nun has returned. Sister, that sweet authoritarian with whom St. Louis fell in love in Late Nite Catechism, is back. In the title role, Nonie Newton-Breen is a wonderfully effective comedienne who treads the delicate balance between affection and insult so deftly that she succeeds in making religion seem inclusive rather than exclusive. If the sheer act of indulging in happiness is enough to satisfy, then let the word go out that happy days are here again. Through December 30 at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41. Call 314-469-7529 or visit (DB)

Wicked At its snazziest, this high-octane retooling of The Wizard of Oz is filled with addictive pop songs by Stephen Schwartz and a very funny book by Winnie Holzman. The current production offers two terrific star performances that mesh beautifully together. Katie Rose Clarke's bubbleheaded Good Witch Galinda provides a vivacious and charming counterpoint to Carmen Cusack's Mona Lisa-like Elphaba, the admirable Wicked Witch of the West. Individually, each actress fills the stage with luster, overt and sedate. But when they're together, performing numbers like the roof-raising "Defying Gravity" and the beautifully simple "For Good," Wicked soars. Through January 6 at the Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $28 to $150. Call 314-534-1678 or visit Note: Additional tickets distributed by lottery two hours prior to each performance. (DB)

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