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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

THE BOOK OF MORMON • The Fox

I admit -- at one point I doubted that this show would ever come to St. Louis.  I saw it a couple of years ago in my favorite city and thought it would be too controversial.  But hey, look at me with egg on my face!  It's here, and I think you should try to get tickets.  ASAP.

This blog will be a bit of a quickie because I blogged about it in NYC. (and you can read that here…), but let's go over some broad strokes anyway, shall we?

Winning a slew of awards in 2011, The Book of Mormon offended many, but proved to others that the creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, best known for their animated series, "South Park", know a little something about musical theatre.  Following the story of a couple of squeaky clean, young Mormon missionary trainees serving their time in Uganda, The Book of Mormon can be brash and blasphemous, yet the structure of it seems so "textbook book musical" to me.  Right?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

PSYCHO BEACH PARTY • Stray Dog Theatre

High camp is in store for those who check out Stray Dog's latest offering, Charles Busch's Psycho Beach Party, that debuted off-Broadway in 1987.  This lively romp fuses those old beach blanket surfer flicks with a little Alfred Hitchcock, and because it's Charles Busch, there's some drag thrown in for good measure.  Hooray!

Chicklet Forrest (Ben Watts) wants to be a surfer girl on the 1960's Malibu beach scene, but everyone sees her as just a kid.  In addition to this, she's got a little multiple personality issue.  Her most formidable personality is called Ann Bowman -- a femme fatale type out to bring everyone she meets under her sway.

At the start, while Chicklet is hanging out with her friends, the blonde sex-kitteny Marvel Ann (Suzanne Burke), and best buddy, the rather dorky Berdine (Anna Skidis), they meet Kanaka (Paul S. Cooper), the cool kid of the Malibu surf, and his pals, Star Cat (Zach Wachter), a psychiatry student turned surf-bum, and surfer hangers-on, Provoloney (Jake Ferree) and Yo-Yo (Paul Edwards) -- these two are too busy denying the feelings they have for each other.  But none of them take Chicklet's surfing aspirations seriously, until her alter-ego, Ann Bowman, makes an appearance in front of Kanaka.  After a few moments of confusion, this persona gets Kanaka's engines revving.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

SPEED-THE-PLOW • New Jewish Theatre

NJT’s third show of its 16th season features its first play by David Mamet -- Speed-the-Plow, directed here by Tim Ocel.  Debuting in 1988, this play, as many Mamet plays like American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, November and Oleanna do, looks at moral corruption and power -- exploring the dirty underbelly of human nature with rapid-fire dialogue and a generous sprinkling of "f" words.  Love…  In this case, the underbelly involves the big Hollywood movie-making scene and the trade-offs that are made, and what makes those trade-offs seem worthwhile.

Bobby Gould (Christopher Hickey) has recently started a new job as the head of production at a major Hollywood studio.  His friend Charlie Fox (Michael James Reed), who's never been quite as high on the totem pole, has all but secured a Hollywood hit-maker to do a film -- a “prison/buddy” flick, guaranteed to make a butt-load of money for Bobby and Charlie both.  Bobby's agreed to pitch it to his boss and have the studio green light the picture, but they’ve only got 24 hours to secure the deal.  While patting themselves on the back and Charlie dreaming of what it will be like to be a ridiculously rich man, they compare their future hit to a novel that Bob’s boss has asked him to read.  A “courtesy read” before they reject it.  It’s called, “The Bridge or, Radiation and the HalfLife of Society", written by an "Eastern sissy writer".  The novel concerns the end of the world with lofty notions about the decay of civilization.  Charlie and Bobby mock it for being too intellectual and abstract to have the makings of a blockbuster.

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