Hamlet A Hamlet produced and directed by Jason Cannon, and starring Jason Cannon. Might this be the vanity theater production of all vanity theater productions? No. Bad luck impelled Cannon into the lead role late in the game. Brilliant acting elevates this show to a rarely experienced plane of theatrical wonder. Joneal Joplin, Lavonne Byers, Gary Wayne Barker and Terry Meddows create marvelous interpretations of the supporting characters, forming a rich backdrop against which Cannon's Dane struggles with his heart and his conscience. Cannon's inventive and restrained use of lighting and sound only increase the beauty of the performances. The much-ballyhooed universality of Shakespeare is in full flower here, as we are made to live another life, and feel another heart and soul as intimately as we feel our own. Through April 1 at the Black Cat Theatre, 2810 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood. Tickets are $20. Call 314-535-2216 or visit www.blackcattheatre.org. Paul Friswold
Menopause The Musical Who knew hormone shifts could be so much fun? An energetic cast of four women "of a certain age" sing and dance their way through parodies of popular '60s and '70s songs whose rewritten lyrics tackle night sweats, memory loss and mood swings. Laura Ackerman has great comic timing in her rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon," while Rosemary Watts has almost too much fun with her ode to sex toys ("You Are My Destiny"). Rochelle Walker does a great Tina Turner impersonation, and Lee Anne Mathews sings a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash." Designed to amuse and empower women who have "gone through the passage," the show ends with the audience joining the cast for a raucous kick-line celebration. Open-ended run at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44.50. Call 314-469-7529 or visit www.playhouseatwestport .com. Deanna Jent
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure Reviewed in this issue.
Stop Kiss Reviewed in this issue.
Woman Before a Glass Surely art enthusiasts everywhere are beholden to Peggy Guggenheim for amassing a world-class collection of modern art, but that does not make her a candidate for 95 minutes of intermissionless theater. Glynis Bell's sad, showy portrayal is impeccable and complete. She manages to wring every last drop of humor and pathos from an inch-deep script about a foul-mouthed, self-centered socialite whose reminiscences mostly dwell on sex. This is forgettable stuff. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 1 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $39 to $50 (rush tickets available for students and seniors, $8 and $10 respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.
Women's Minyan A woman has been shunned by her extremist-sect community in present-day Jerusalem. In a desperate effort to see her children, she submits to a tribunal composed of her friends and relatives. As the judgment goes on (and on), there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, so much so that by evening's end the women's minyan becomes a women's waterworks. Because the characters are not well developed, the ten actresses are required to draw on their own resources. Margeau Beau Steinau is full of brio and energy; Suzanne Greenwald provides persuasive force. But Nancy Lewis transcends the material to deliver a skillful performance of audacity and raw courage. Produced by the New Jewish Theatre through April 1 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $20 to $25 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit www.newjewishtheatre.org. (DB)