Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE BUTTERFINGERS ANGEL... • Stray Dog Theatre

William Gibson wrote this play with music in 1975 for his church, to be performed in their annual Christmas pageant.  The full title, "The Butterfingers Angel, Mary & Joseph, Herod the Nut, & the Slaughter of 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree", is Gibson's wacky take on the Nativity story -- perfect for this season of holiday offerings.

Beginning with the cast entering and singing the lyrics, "Fill the stage with bits of folly…" to the tune of "Deck the Halls", you get an idea of what the evening will hold.  The Annunciating Angel (Joseph Corey Henke) has been sent to earth, loaded down with a horn that he's not very good at playing and a script he's desperately trying to follow, with orders to give news of a very special birth that's about to take place.  Our butterfingers angel is a little on the clumsy side, but he's determined to see his task through to the end even though he's got his fair share of challenges, starting with immediate tension with a belligerent tree (Alyssa Ward), who winds up filling an important role in the story.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE MOUSETRAP • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The season's first snowfall this past week in St. Louis provided the perfect setting for the Rep's current production, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap”.  A month ago I mentioned that "The Woman in Black" was the second longest-running non-musical play in the history of London's West End.  Well, "The Mousetrap", at over 25,000 performances, is numero uno.  Originally a radio broadcast written in 1947 for Queen Elizabeth, it premiered onstage in 1952, and has been running ever since.  The plot is pretty simple -- guests at an English manor house are snowed in while there's a murderer on the loose, yet the production at the Rep elicits the play's snug, straightforward charm that displays why, after 60 years, this lesser play of Christie's is her most popular.

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