American Buffalo Reviewed in this issue.
Menopause The Musical This sassy musical revue parodies songs of the '60s and '70s, focusing on issues of aging and hormone imbalance (to give you an idea: A disco medley includes "Night Sweating" and "Stayin' Awake"). Sandra Benton is a powerhouse singer whose Tina Turner brings down the house. Brooke Davis scores with "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Lee Anne Mathews delivers a sultry "Tropical Hot Flash," while Rosemary Watts has fun with the raciest number, a tribute to self-love. The only problem with music director Joe Dreyer's slick 90 minutes is that it's too loud. 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.
Picture Perfect This foray into forgiveness, a chronicle of a weekend reunion among the feuding members of yet another dysfunctional family, receives its premiere production at the hands of First Run Theatre. According to his playbill bio, DJ Sanders has written more than twenty plays. This must be one of his early ones, because it reveals the flaws of the novice writer: too much on-the-nose exposition, too many in-your-face confrontations. Viewers are expected to care about characters they never meet, which is a tricky challenge for even the most accomplished playwrights. At least the script is not overwritten. All wounds are healed in just 90 minutes and that includes the intermission. Performed through August 26 at DeSmet Jesuit High School, 233 North New Ballas Road, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $12 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-352-5114 or visit www.firstruntheatre.com.
Thom Pain (based on nothing) Will Eno's acerbic monologue play claims to be "based on nothing," but the familiar opening line of Thomas Paine's The Crisis "These are the times that try men's souls" certainly captures the spirit of this work. Performed by Joe Hanrahan (no stranger to one-man shows), Thom Pain begins as a stand-up routine but moves slyly into an intriguing examination of the struggles of life. Staged in a downstairs room at Café Balaban, this After Midnight production battles the distracting noises of the restaurant. The deliberately disjointed script ranges from macabre tales of childhood woes to heartfelt deliberations on true love. Director Larry Dell matches Hanrahan's deadpan delivery nicely with the text, but some parts that need to seem spontaneous seem scripted, and the emotional climax lacks intensity. Through August 26 at Café Balaban, 405 North Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $15. Call 314-487-5305 or visit www.midnightcompany.com.