L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) Union Avenue Opera brings Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) to life in a sparkling, unpretentious and very funny production. Bubbly, petite soprano Victoria Botero as the fickle heroine, Adina, and brawny tenor Brian Thorsett as her rube suitor, Nemorino, lead a fine cast of talented singer-actors. They charm every bit of musicality from Donizetti's melodious score. Stage director Mark James Meier's deft comedic touch makes this brisk production the perfect potion for a hot summer's night. Performed July 18-19 at 8 p.m. at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $32 to $52 ($30 to $38 for students and seniors; $15 rush seats available for students 10 minutes before showtime). Call 314-361-2881 or visit www.unionavenueopera.org.
— Lew Prince
True West This production of Sam Shepard's 1982 duologue on Hollywood and fear is an experiment, intended to answer the question: Can you stage a play without a director? We're not far into Act One before that answer becomes self-evident: Yes, you can. But no, you shouldn't. You might as well assemble a movie without an editor. Someone needs to watch the production before the viewer does. Someone needs to point out that lighting cues should be faster and that the pacing between Andrew Byrd's struggling screenwriter and Robert Strasser's brutish brother needs to tell a story. A director's task is to translate a script into stage terms, to unify all the production elements into a consistent action. Although many things happen onstage, there is little action here. Performed by the Tin Ceiling through July 27 at the Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee Street. Tickets are $10. Visit www.myspace.com/thetinceiling or call 314-374-1511.
— Dennis Brown