Friday, October 29, 2010

NEXT FALL • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Organized religion can be a bitter pill for many to swallow.  Particularly if you happen to be gay.  That's the underlying tension in the Rep's Studio Theatre opener NEXT FALL, fresh from a Broadway run where it played the Helen Hayes Theatre from March to July 2010, garnering 2 Tony Award nominations for best play and best direction of a play.

It centers around a modern gay couple, Adam and Luke.  Adam (Jeffrey Kuhn), is a neurotic, sarcastic but lovable New Yorker.  He's also an out and proud 40 year old atheist.  His partner of four plus years, Luke (Colin Hanlon), is a southern boy -- an aspiring actor in his 30's and a devout Christian, who has yet to come out to his parents.  He prays before he eats.  And after sex.  He also believes that we all sin and that his homosexuality happens to be his sin.  Hmm…  Modern "Odd Couple" anyone?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL • Stray Dog Theatre

Nothing says Halloween like $35 splatter seats!  At Stray Dog's production of EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL, a few extra bucks entitles you to seats in the first couple of rows (if you dare) and a white "I Survived the Splatter Zone" t-shirt, sure to be drenched with fake blood by the end of the show.

This musical send-up is based on Sam Raimi's cult-classic horror flicks, "Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead 2".  It ran off-Broadway in 2006 after enjoying success at Just for Laughs, a Montreal Comedy festival in 2004.  You don't have to be a fan of the Evil Dead films to enjoy this show though.  A vague familiarity with the horror/slasher genre is all you'll need.  I mean, when a story starts out with five college kids heading off to a remote cabin in the woods, you kinda know the deal.

Our ill-fated crew consists of our hero Ash, his girlfriend Linda, his little sister Cheryl, Ash's buddy Scott and his ditzy girlfriend Shelly.  Upon their arrival at the cabin, they discover a few "these will come in handy later on" weapons in the basement, a Book of the Dead left there by the previous occupant, a professor, and his audio recordings of incantations from the book, which of course they play back.  After that, all hell literally breaks loose.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

OEDIPUS KING • Upstream Theater

I kicked it up old school Friday, and I don't mean like a show from the 50's.  I mean like a show from 429 B.C., when OEDIPUS KING was written.  I felt compelled to read up on Greek tragedy a bit before seeing this show.  There were a few things I researched (and when I say research I mean surfing the net) that gave me a better footing when it comes to this stuff.  Here's what I learned -- Hubris is bad.  Dramatic irony is fun.  To be born is to know suffering and then die.  Oh, and don't mock the oracles.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HIGH • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (pre-Broadway run)

This play comes to the Rep in collaboration with TheaterWorks in Hartford Connecticut where it ran from July 2 to August 22, and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where it ran from September 4 to October 2.  Maybe St. Louis is lucky to be the last stop on the list -- HIGH is aiming for a Broadway run in 2011, resulting in much scrutiny and some significant rewrites since its opening in Hartford, so we can assume that the version we'll be seeing here will be very different from what was seen in Hartford.  Actually, the play may change while it's here in St. Louis.  The night I went, there was a post-show discussion and the director explained to us that there was a recent script addition that was omitted that performance.  That's how vigorously this play is being tweaked.  But don't get me wrong -- the fact that this show is a work in progress in no way implies that this is some half-baked idea of a play.  This show in its present form is tight and intense.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NOVEMBER • St. Louis Actors' Studio

The St. Louis Actors' Studio begins its fourth season with David Mamet's NOVEMBER.  Mamet's known for exposing the more corrupt under-belly of things, exploring the decadence people are capable of with a writing style that has come to be known as "Mamet speak", exemplified in plays like his 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner, Glengarry Glen Ross.  Mamet also co-authored the screenplay for the 1997 film “Wag the Dog” that like NOVEMBER, featured Oval Office hijinks and manipulations -- with the president hiring a Hollywood producer to stage a fake war to distract the public from a sex scandal.

So, it's days before the election, and a very unpopular incumbent president, Charles H. P. Smith, is in a dire situation.  His poll numbers are "lower than Gandhi's cholesterol".  When he asks his lawyer why people hate him so much his lawyer replies, "Because you fucked up everything you touched."  Not only that, but his political allies have pulled the financial plug and his devoted speechwriter is on vacation.  Smith is desperate to get re-elected and secure the funds for his presidential library, or at least leave the white house with a little cash in his own pocket.  What's a commander-in-chief to do?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I LOVE MY WIFE • New Line Theatre

Ah, the 70's.  Reminds me of my beloved chocolate brown corduroy blazer and my parents' misgivings about my insistence that I be allowed to stay up to watch "Maude".  It was also a time when many in the country turned their attention to getting their groove on -- threesomes, foursomes, who cares?  It was the swingin' 70's!  But can the friendship of 2 couples survive the influences of the sexual revolution?  That's what we get to find out in New Line Theatre's 20th season opener, I LOVE MY WIFE.

This was opening night and a few of the for real reviewers, like the people who really know their shit were there.  I got chills.  Okay not really, but you could feel everyone's anticipation to see this show, which hadn't been staged in St. Louis for many years, and that was cool.  I also must say, there were a couple of chicks behind me who apparently were not aware of the "Excuse me, the show has started.  STFU" rule.  Luckily for me, they sat somewhere else for the second act.  At one point early on when one of the couples was getting into bed, one of the girls said, "Oh my God.  Are they gonna get in bed together?"  …  Uh, really?  Did you enjoy your season at the Muny?  But I digress…