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Friday, October 21, 2011

GOD OF CARNAGE • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

All of us have, at some point, had one of those, "Man, what an effed up evening that was!  What the hell just happened?" kind of experiences.  This play is kinda like that.  Written by Yasmina Reza and translated from French by Christopher Hampton, it opened on Broadway in 2009, scoring Tony Awards for best play, best actress and best direction.

The Raleighs are getting together at the Brooklyn home of the Novak's because the Novak's son has had two teeth knocked out as a result of a playground fight with the Raleigh's kid.  <-- Yes, really long sentence.  Alan Raleigh (Anthony Marble) is a lawyer, constantly interrupting the proceedings with cell phone calls about a drug he's representing that has recently been found to cause some bothersome side-effects.  His wife Annette (Susan Louise O'Connor) deals in wealth management.  Veronica Novak (Eva Kaminsky) is writing a book about Darfur, and her husband Michael Novak (Triney Sandoval) sells domestic hardware.  They meet each other with the best of intentions, but with the help of ample amounts of rum, these four upper-middle class adults jettison their civilized guises to expose their untamed and wickedly universal selves underneath.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

NUTS • St. Louis Actors' Studio

Ooo, I love a good courtroom drama.  And there's a fine one going on right now at the Gaslight Theater, kicking off St. Louis Actors’ Studio's season.  Possibly best known for its 1987 film adaptation starring Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss, Tom Topor's NUTS… you know what I mean… opened as a play off-off Broadway in 1979 and transferred to Broadway the next year.  The play all takes place inside a courtroom in New York's Bellevue Hospital, and although the play itself can seem a bit static at times, the dynamic performances from the high-caliber cast within it are anything but.  It’s three acts with two intermissions, but once the first act gets going, the rest of the show flies by.

The play begins on the day of Claudia Faith Draper's sanity hearing (a compelling Lara Buck).  She's a high-priced call girl who has been indicted for manslaughter.  She claims she killed one of her clients in self-defense, but the state is trying to have her declared mentally unfit to stand trial.  The state's witness, her arrogant psychiatrist Dr. Rosenthal (Steve Callahan), has determined that Claudia is a paranoid schizophrenic and should be hospitalized for her own good, and for the good of the state.  Her mother and stepfather, Rose and Arthur Kirk (Donna Weinsting & John Contini), fearing that the details of Claudia's profession would be exposed in an embarrassing public trial, side with the state.  Claudia insists that she's completely sane, and is equipped with an explicit understanding of the law.  She knows that if she is denied the right to stand trial, because of the way New York's "Mental Hygiene Law" works, she could possibly be committed for up to 17 years.  Claudia is going up against the system, and even though she has the help of her public defender, Aaron Levinsky (William Roth), she seems pretty much on her own.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

THE WHO'S TOMMY • Stray Dog Theatre

Take a young boy, nullified into a practically catatonic state by witnessing a violent act at home, abuse from a vile uncle and a vicious cousin, a pinball machine, a rise to messianic fame and some kick-ass rock music -- what do you get?  You get THE WHO'S TOMMY, Stray Dog Theatre's strikingly ambitious season opener.

Pete Townshend and The Who's double concept album is considered by many to be one of the first rock operas.  It is at any rate, one of the best known, and it attained massive success when it was released in 1969.  1975 brought a star-studded psychedelic film version, and then a Broadway musical adaptation in 1993 (Alice Ripley made her Broadway debut in it) that won Tony Awards for original score, scenic design, lighting design, choreography, and direction.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

THE ADDAMS FAMILY • The Fox

The Addams Family began in 1938 as a series of single panel cartoons published in The New Yorker, created by cartoonist Charles Addams.  Since then, they have been adapted into a television series, an animated series, and films.  So, it was just a matter of time before it ended up as a staged Broadway musical, right?  This show has been re-tooled for the national tour, and it kicks off The Fox's Broadway series.

Musicals that have been adapted from popular franchises don't tend to fare too well with NYC critics, and it opened last year to some nasty reviews, but who the hell cares about theatre reviews anyway?! …Oh wait...

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