St. Louis Stage Capsules 

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

The Fantasticks The world's longest-running musical should be a sure thing. All you have to do is keep this sublime parable about lost innocence simple, and it will work — as it has for a half-century now. But director Victoria Bussert has cutesied it up with all sorts of "improvements." Despite her mistaken vision, some of the individual performers shine through. As an impetuous young romantic, the charming Cory Michael Smith leavens his sincerity with an appealing humor. The object of his love, Stella Heath, is piquant and lovely. And Brian Sutherland brings a wise, knowing demeanor to the Narrator, who doubles as the romantic bandit El Gallo. Their well-sung songs ("Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "They Were You") remain sweet and tender. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 11 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $15 to $73 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15 respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit — Dennis Brown

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