Emma There's much to admire in Paul Gordon's adaptation of Jane Austen's 1816 novel about a young girl who takes to matchmaking because she has too much time on her hands. In addition to the evening's visual splendor, Gordon has composed a melodic score that's easy on the ears. But his script succumbs to the same trap that snarls too many musical adaptations of novels: In striving to cover too much plot, the events become homogenized. Nor does it help that the actors have been directed in such an affected manner that there's hardly a breath of life in any of these characters. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through November 2 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16 to $65 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15 respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Visit www.repstl.org or call 314-968-4925.
— Dennis Brown
She Loves You! It's hard to explain why Elvis impersonators usually seem so tacky, yet Beatles re-creations — even when the re-enactors are a little long in the tooth — are full of joy. Perhaps it's because with the Beatles, music trumps personality. There's lots of music here, live and loud, to remind us of those vital years in the turbulent 1960s when every few months brought an astonishing new gift from John and Paul, even occasionally George. This revue attempts to take us into the studio for that celebrated first broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show, then it wants to re-create the excitement of a performance in Shea Stadium. But considering the confines of the Westport playing space, it works best if you think of it as a Las Vegas lounge act. She Loves You! is an orgy of ongoing melody, and on its own terms, is very satisfying indeed. Through January 4, 2009, at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue at I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $44 to $48. Visit www.theplayhouseatwestport.com or call 314-469-7529. (DB)