Every single play by Arthur Miller can be represented by the image of a blindfolded Lady Justice being mounted from behind by a violently aroused donkey. As the beast noses under her robes and moves in, the Lady is startled, the Scales of Justice tip, then crash to the ground, and finally, Justice is officially screwed.
Miller's All My Sons presents a small group of characters who are bound to one another by love, guilt, anger and other messy emotions, in one big, terribly jumbled knot. Chris and Ann aren't just any couple in love; her husband went missing in WWII, and Chris is his brother -- it's an arrangement that sickens Chris' mother. Then there's Chris' father, who was involved in a deal that sent defective aircraft parts to the U.S. military during the war. His former business partner, Ann's father, is rotting in prison for the crime. Justice is served, Greek tragedy-style, in this melodramatic play, which is performed by the Off Center Theatre Company at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through February 15, at the Theatre at St. John's (located in St. John's United Methodist Church, 5000 Washington Avenue, 314-995-2679). -- Byron Kerman
Back in the mid-'70s, the idea of an all-saxophone jazz quartet was a relatively new one; 25 years later, the Rova Saxophone Quartet makes the idea seem as fresh and innovative as it did when the musicians first came together.
Perhaps this sense of newness stems from the quartet's reliance on a combination of composed pieces and improvised music; perhaps it's the broad spectrum of sound they conjure with their horns; perhaps it is merely the sheer inventiveness of the four minds involved that makes the music of Rova sound slightly ahead of -- or at least to the side of -- everything else. While Rova draws on the anti-constructions of free jazz (that most misused of terms) as often as it relies on composed pieces, audiences may find that differentiating between extemporaneous play and note recital is nearly impossible. Jon Raskin (baritone), Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino), Steve Adams (alto and sopranino and, since 1988, the "V" instead of founder Andrew Voight -- ROAA just doesn't sound as cool) and Bruce Acksley (soprano) refer to their style of play as "telepathic improvisation," shifting style and phrasing from song to song. They explore the percussive possibilities of the sax with sharply bitten yelps and squeals not unlike pizzicato-snapped guitar strings, and then they return to the melodic flow of four players in lockstep, only to break into matched duos that evoke noir-ish scenes of dark streets, late nights and the shuddering screeching of rain-slicked brakes. Then they're off again, drifting away on fluttering, moth wing-shaped notes, and you're left to wonder just where all that sound came from.
The New Music Circle brings the mystery of the Rova Saxophone Quartet to you, gentle music lover, at 8 p.m. at the Christman Studio (6014 Kingsbury Boulevard, 314-995-4963, www.newmusiccircle.org). Tickets are $6 to $12, and you'll kick yourself if you miss the chance to see them in this friendly, intimate space. -- Paul Friswold
Come Back for Seconds
Oliver Twist is one of Charles Dickens' most beloved novels, probably because we can't help but cheer for a kid escaping cruel orphanages and lax labor laws. The story has enjoyed great stage success since its publication in 1838, making the plot familiar even to those who might not enjoy hundreds of pages of long-winded fiction. Oliver!, the musical version of Oliver Twist, premiered in London in 1960 and has reappeared almost every decade thereafter. The show traces the adventures of the titular urchin, who is sold by his workhouse/orphanage after he commits the unthinkable crime of asking for a second helping of gruel. (Mmmmm, gruel.) Oliver escapes, meets the Artful Dodger (one of a band of merry pickpockets) and quickly finds himself on trial for a crime he didn't commit...and so it goes, full of twists and turns and smiling kids in ragamuffin chic singing cheerful songs about being down and out in Dickens' London.
Oliver! is performed at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard) February 10 through 22. Tickets are $20 to $54 and are available through MetroTix (314-534-1111 or www.metrotix.com). Visit www.oliverthemusical.com for more information. -- Mark Dischinger
Acclaimed St. Louis-based guitarist Ronald Radford shares his passion for the music and culture of the Iberian Peninsula, with the help of a talented singer/dancer, via the "Viva Flamenco" benefit concert at the St. Charles Community College History Expo.
The event kicks off with a silent auction in the campus' College Center (4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters) at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 for the general public and $3 for students and seniors; tickets can be purchased by calling 636-922-8050. -- Rose Martelli
All Eyes on "T"
Much like Tupac, Tennessee Williams continues to produce work from beyond the grave. His "lost play," Me, Vashya, written during his brief stay at Washington University, will be staged for the first time ever -- at the same school that awarded it only a fourth-place finish in the 1937 playwriting contest. Oh, the humanity. The "tragic farce" about a self-made munitions dealer will be performed at the Edison Theatre February 6 through 8 (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; call 314-935-6543 for times; $8 to $12). Read Dennis Brown's preview (p. 36) for insight and further entertainment. -- Paul Friswold