New This Week:
St. Louis University Theatre presents Arthur Miller's The Crucible Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm, November 29 - December 2. "The 1953 Tony Award winner for Best Play is a powerful drama about the Salem witch trials. The story of one Puritan community reveals the destruction caused by mass hysteria and socially sanctioned violence." Performances take place in Xavier Hall, 3373 West Pine Mall. Ticket through metrotix.com or 314-534-1111. For more information at slu.edu/utheatre.
My take: In a 1989 New York Times article reflecting The Crucible, Arthur Miller wrote, "Political movements are always trying to position themselves against the unknown-vote for me and you're safe." The relevance to contemporary politics could hardly be more obvious. Inspired in part by the 20th century witch hunts of the late Senator McCarthy, the play is a searing indictment of the power of mob mentality and the moral corruption of politicians who feed on it. Today the mob is on the Internet and social media, but the intellectually disreputable process is the same. I don't think it's coincidental that the last couple of years have seen a reawakening of interest in this work.
|All is Calm|
Photo by Ann K. Aurbach
Mustard Seed Theatre presents the acappella musical All is Calm Thursdays through Sundays, November 15 - December 16. "Join us in celebrating the power of peace in this acapella musical based on the true story of soldiers during World War I who for one night, put down their arms and played soccer instead of exchanging bullets." Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.
My take: All is Calm has become an annual winter tradition at Mustard Seed. With a script by Peter Rothstein and musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, this story of the remarkable Christmas truce of 1914—a spontaneous outbreak of peace that occurred at multiple points along the trenches in France—combines splendid and often quite complex acappella singing with readings of letters from soldiers and other historical documents. At a time when opportunistic politicians are pushing an agenda of hate, fear, and eternal war, this is a play that everyone needs to see. As we used to ask back in the 1960s, "what if they gave a war and nobody came?
R-S Theatrics presents Every Brilliant Thing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays a 7 pm through December 2. "When a six-year-old starts a list of every brilliant thing in life to encourage her despondent mother, little does she know that the list will take on a life of its own and thread its way throughout the girl's life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this one-woman show reminds us to celebrate the beauty in our lives and in those we love." Performances take place at black box theatre at The Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center. For more information: r-stheatrics.com.
My take: Looking for reasons to be thankful this weekend? Turn off the TV (especially the news) and consider this heart warming one-actor show at R-S. "Every Brilliant Thing," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News, "is a short, sweet and satisfying sojourn taken by the audience with its friendly and reassuring narrator down a road readily identifiable to virtually everyone."
The Playhouse at Westport Plaza presents Shotspeare Thursdays through Saturdays through December 8. "Shotspeare is equal parts bacchanal and classical theater. Harkening back to the actual time of Shakespeare where audience members (groundlings) were boisterous and partook in the show. Think Drunk History meets The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, hosted by the Gazillionaires English major nephew." The Playhouse at Westport Plaza is at 635 West Port Plaza. For more information: playhouseatwestport.com.
My take: More interested in comedy? If audience participation is your thing, consider the return engagement of this Shakespeare-themed evening of semi-improv comedy. "Shotspeare," writes Ann Lemmons Pollack, "is way not just for Shakespeare buffs. In fact, I’m sure that some Deeply Serious Shakespeare-ophiles will be Deeply Offended by it. But rowdy, indeed bawdy humor was common in Elizabethan times. Shotspeare fits right into that." And as they say in Hamilton, don't throw away your shot.