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St. Louis Stage Capsules 

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

My Secret Language of Wishes Vanika Spencer renders a sensitive and poignant portrayal of a disabled, seizure-prone African American child at the center of a custody dispute. But the script by Cori Thomas that begins as a potential courtroom drama keeps changing focus until finally it ends up spinning its wheels and going nowhere. Act One, when the exposition is laid out, is not without interest. But Act Two, which puts the custody fight on the back burner to dwell instead on an attorney's lesbian relationship, is strictly for those who enjoy watching actresses impersonate waterworks. Through April 19 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43. Call 314-534-3810 or visit — Dennis Brown

The Ugly One Hold on to your hat (and mirror). This breathless black comedy from Germany about the universal obsession with physical beauty delivers a wild and crazy ride. There is nothing conventional about The Ugly One, nor does it allow the viewer to watch complacently from the sidelines. For starters, you have to listen — carefully — because the four terrific actors (Charlie Barron, Michelle Hand, Terry Meddows, Ben Nordstrom) change roles without changing costumes. The viewer becomes a participant in the process, which makes the 55-minute evening that much more exhausting, exhilarating and downright fun. Performed by Echo Theatre Company through April 19 in Theatre 134 at the ArtSpace at Crestwood Court (formerly Crestwood Plaza), Watson and Sappington roads. Tickets are $15 (students two for $20). Call 314-225-4329 or visit (DB)

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