Bat Boy: The Musical You've read about him in the Weekly World News; now see the Bat Boy live in this energetic New Line Theatre production. The hilarious-yet-heart-wrenching story of prejudice, true love and dead cows is anchored by Todd Schaefer: As the fanged protagonist, he combines detailed physical work with an impressive vocal range to make Bat Boy's journey completely believable. As the family that adopts the Bat Boy, Deborah Sharn, April Lindsay and Matthew Korinko create compelling characters, while the versatile Brian Claussen, Stephanie Brown, Aaron Allen, Nicholas Kelly, Jeffrey Pruett and Christine Brooks bring an entire town (and forest) to life. Director Scott Miller's slick staging keeps the story in sharp focus, maintaining a difficult balance between the script's campy comedy and its genuine emotion. through March 18 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $15-$18 ($10-$15 for children, students and seniors; $8 student rush seats available five minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-1111 or visit www.geocities.com/newlinetheatre.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas There's lots of goodwill in this rambunctious-yet-piquant saga about the demise of Miss Mona and the Chicken Ranch. A scathing satire about television and hypocrisy, some of the material might be a little raunchy for "the Jesus crowd," as they are labeled here, but the show has been staged with carefree abandon by Dennis E. Shelton. At the head of a spirited cast, Linda Waters effectively plays Mona in bold strokes, and Glenn Guillermo dances a wicked sidestep as the Governor. Whorehouse is nearly 30 years old, and the older it gets the more prescient it becomes. More than merely entertaining, Carol Hall's delicious songs and the savvy script by journalist Larry L. King and Peter Masterson elevate the show into a slice of Americana more authentic than Oklahoma! Performed by Curtain Call Repertory Theatre through March 5 at the Carousel House in Faust Park, 15185 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield. Tickets are $13 ($15 at the door). Call 636-346-7707.
Broken Glass It is 1938. In Brooklyn, Sylvia Gellburg is so distraught over the persecution of Jews in Germany that she becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Her behavior confuses and angers her husband Phillip, a Jew who prefers the company of WASPs. For much of the evening Arthur Miller has constructed an intriguing mystery: Will Sylvia walk again? Will Phillip own up to his own heritage? But the playwright cannot unravel his own conundrums without resorting to teaching and preaching. If the evening leaves a muted impression, that's no fault of the production, which at its best is stunning. As the confused husband, the totality of Kevin Beyer's performance is breathtaking, and Lavonne Byers' Sylvia matches him almost scene for scene. Performed through March 5 by the New Jewish Theatre at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $22-$24 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit newjewishtheatre.org.
Johnnie Taylor Is Gone A jukebox in the Golden Zodiac Lounge is playing "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time." But there's no going back for this seedy north St. Louis bar that, just one sale away from hip-hop, is little more than a haven for memories. The old regulars pass the time reminiscing, especially about blues singer Johnnie Taylor, who once visited the Zodiac when his limo broke down. In the St. Louis premiere of this elegy to a lost generation, the challenge for playwright-director Gregory S. Carr is to keep so much talk moving. Thanks to an energetic cast, he meets the challenge. Performed by St. Louis Community College-Forest Park through March 5 at the Mildred E. Bastian Center for the Performing Arts, 5600 Oakland Avenue. Tickets are $4 ($2 for students and seniors). Call 314-644-9386.
Little Women When the highest acclaim an audience member can muster is "Act Two was a lot better than the first," that's faint praise indeed. But it's true. Midway through the second half of this musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's enduring 1868 novel about the March family, the story finally cuts through the thicket of exposition and allows the audience to care about the characters onstage. There are even some affecting songs late in Act Two. But in addition to mostly forgettable music and lyrics, mistakes have been made here. It was wrong to restructure the plot in order to build up Jo's reluctant suitor, the Professor (persuasively played by Andrew Varela). And why is so much energy so utterly wasted on acting out Jo's terrible stories, when there's not enough time to flush out the good parts of Alcott's classic? Kate Fisher is a vibrant Jo, but she has to work really hard for precious little payoff. Performed through March 5 at the Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $20-$58. Call 314-534-1111 or visit www.fabulousfox.com.
Lucky Stiff Millie Garvey's clever choreography combined with Michelle Siler's imaginative costumes and Gary Wayne Barker's fluid direction make this Saint Louis University production nearly as much fun as hitting a blackjack. Moving between Atlantic City and Monte Carlo, the story sets bland British shoe salesman Harry on an adventure with the stuffed corpse of his uncle (the folks who made Weekend at Bernie's stole that plot device). With $6 million at stake, a myopic woman with a gun and a pissed-off optometrist on his trail, it should be no surprise that Harry manages to find true love. Strong performances by Nichole Fischer as Annabel, Lynn Zimmers as Rita and Andy White as Vinnie. Weak vocal work and slow pacing mar some scenes, but the well-staged conclusion ties up everything nicely. Through March 4 in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall (on the SLU campus). Call 314-977-3327 or visit www.slu .edu/theatre.
Relativity A young African-American genetic researcher must choose between loyalty to her activist mother, who supports a radical theory that blacks are genetically superior to whites, and loyalty to her boss, a prominent scientist who opposes everything the mother stands for. Viewers are assaulted by a grab bag of buzz phrases melanin science, unified race theories, bioethics debates but do we learn much about any of these issues by play's end? The cast is fine enough, but the real passion here is not in the words; you'll hear it in the compelling drum work by Arthur Moore, who sits high on a platform almost out of sight, bridging scenes, commenting on the action and occasionally even becoming the action. Performed through March 5 by the Black Rep at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17-$40 ($10 student rush seats available ten minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit www .stlouisblackrep.com.