Bluish A woman who grew up thinking she was Christian discovers that her long-deceased mother was Jewish. Overnight she realizes how wonderful life can be. Her Jewish fiancé isn't too thrilled, but hey, you can't have everything. Bluish is a didactic example of culturally specific theater. As New Jewish Theatre continues to emerge as one of the city's sharpest theater companies — a home to solid ensemble acting and good direction — it's time to go beyond its affinity for poorly written scripts that only get staged because the characters are Jewish. A more ambitious — indeed, even a more inclusive — agenda is in order. Through April 6 at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur. Tickets are $22 to $28 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283 or visit www.newjewishtheatre.org.
— Dennis Brown
The Cripple of Inishmaan Reviewed in this issue.
Death and the King's Horseman The first act is essentially a musical with live drummers, lavish costumes and gorgeous dance figures. The final act is absolutely a tragedy, as darkly affecting as the opening act is exhilarating. In between is the compass of the world, as an ancient culture based on personal honor and social responsibility runs headlong into a culture that finds such ideals cumbersome and alien. Director Segun Ojewuyi scribes playwright Wole Soyinka's narrative arc slowly, at times inexorably — and yet it never drags, thanks to a host of well-rounded performances that begins with Linda Kennedy's quietly powerful portrayal of a wise woman and Ron Himes' full-blooded turn as a nobleman who loves life to excess. Presented by the Black Rep through April 13 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43 ($5 discount for students and seniors; $10 rush seats available for students 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
— Paul Friswold
Ella Tina Fabrique brings a dazzling glow to her portrayal of jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald in this play-within-a-concert that strives to encapsulate a lifetime of song into one day in 1966. The music is a joy — Fabrique's interpretation of the Ella songbook is sometimes enthralling — but the script by Jeffrey Hatcher is shallow stuff. His prose is simply not on a par with the sublime song lyrics by Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. They are Ella's true authors. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 13 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16 to $63 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. (DB)
The Good Thief Reviewed in this issue.