Thursday, 11 May 2017 18:53

Chuck's St. Louis theatre choices for the weekend of May 12, 2017

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"Small Craft Warnings" at the Tennessee Williams Festival "Small Craft Warnings" at the Tennessee Williams Festival Photo by Ride Hamilton

The Tennessee Williams festival is the big news this weekend, but there's also a classical comedy at Clayton Community Theatre that's relevant all over again. As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.


New This Week:


Born Yesterday

Clayton Community Theatre presents the comedy Born Yesterday Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., May 11 - 14. "In Garson Kanin's pointed and hilarious Born Yesterday, shady scrap metal king Harry Brock heads to Washington, D.C., determined to take the town by storm and buy his way to a business-friendly Amendment. Harry's only liability is the socially inappropriate behaviour and outrageously ignorant remarks of his showgirl lady friend, Billie Dawn, a beautiful woman with a deceptively simple facade. Harry hires the upright, idealistic newspaper man, Paul Verrall, to educate Billie. As Billie and Paul tiptoe towards a romance, and Billie absorbs Paul's knowledge and ideals, she begins to question the ways Harry has been using her." Performances take place at the Washington University South Campus Theatre. For more information, call 314-721-9228 or visit placeseveryone.org.

My take: This satirical comedy about a bully billionaire who expects to grab power in our nation's capital has suddenly become relevant again, and Clayton Community Theatre appears to be dong a good job with it. "[D]irector Sam Hack has created a resounding success," writes Steve Callahan at KDHX, calling the show "a happy evening of most solidly gratifying theatre...The casting of this production is sublime!"


 
Small Craft Warnings
Photo: Ride Hamilton

The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis presents Small Craft Warnings by Tennessee Williams opening through May 14. "An expansion of Tennessee Williams's earlier one-act play, Confessional, Small Craft Warnings is a kaleidoscopic pastiche of monologues delivered in a spotlight by each of the characters as the action around them becomes frozen and muted. Through them they reveal their loneliness and the emptiness of their existence." Performances take place at The .ZACK, 3224 Locust in Midtown. For more information: twstl.org.

My take: This late play is not necessarily the strongest of Willims's works, often coming across as more of a series of monologues than a fully realized play, but the Williams festival is doing well by it, with many notable local actors in the cast. "These may not be people we care about," observes Ann Lemmons Pollack on her blog, "but Williams manages to make us curious about them, which is about as far as most of us can go." Judy Newmark also has plenty of praise for the cast at Stltoday.com.


Will Mr. Merriweather Return From Memphis?
Photo: Peter Wochniak

The Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis presents Will Mr. Merriweather Return From Memphis? by Tennessee Williams running through May 21. "Local favorite Jef Awada directs the first professional production in fifty years of this intimate, funny, poignant play." Performances take place at Stockton House, 3508 Samuel Shepherd Drive in midtown. For more information: twstl.org.

My take: Here's another Williams oddity that's getting an innovative and much-praised presentation. Performed in Stockton House, a mansion just east of Powell Hall built in 1890 and now on the National Register of Historic Places (you've undoubtedly noticed it if you're a regular at the St. Louis Symphony), the production has the audience follow the actors through the rooms of the house. With cross-gender casting, dancing, and live music, this show "feels like the sort of nonrealistic fantasy Williams might have enjoyed himself," according to Judy Newmark at Stltoday.com.

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