Enchanted April Four miserably unhappy British women share a one-month lease on a medieval castle in Italy. Just as you would hope for in a cozy, feel-good story like this, the experience is transfiguring: By evening's end, love reigns supreme. This oversimplified stage adaptation of the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim tests our tolerance for sentiment; nevertheless, the production has many virtues, including a scenic design by Tim Poertner that tries to instill a sense of vibrancy that the words lack. As Lottie, the mystical life force who demands that happiness descend upon the palazzo, Julie Venegoni delivers a performance of substance and conviction. She takes a character riddled with incredulity and makes her endearing. Performed by Act Inc. through August 3 at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Center Theatre, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton. Tickets are $18 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-725-9108 or visit www.actinc.biz. (DB)
The Hollow There's been a murder (!). The deceased is the handsome and cocky Dr. John Cristow (Andy Asker), who dragged his dimwitted wife Gerda (Karen Wood) to the country manor of the blandly patrician Angkatell clan, headed by the sedate Sir Henry (Matthew Lindquist) and dotty Lucy (Maryann Pass), for a weekend getaway. Asker is convincing as the caddish Cristow, exasperated by the neurotic dullness of his wife and greatly taken with his own overbearing charms. As Gerda, Wood is a twitching bundle of uncertainty and stammered half-thoughts. Is it any wonder the good doctor was carrying on with flinty sculptress Henrietta, played solidly by Carla Brown? As with most Christie plays, the characters are cardboard cutouts; they stand here, they talk here. Everyone has a motivation for the murder, but honestly, the lot of them have no reason to mourn Cristow it's made painfully clear through the slow first act that everyone loathes him so why they bother to solve the mystery is the biggest mystery of all. Still, the second act does allow Maryann Pass' Lucy several opportunities to breeze into the room and trip off a few daffy lines with great charm. Without her, it would be a very dull time indeed. Performed by the Clayton Community Theatre through July 29 at the Concordia Seminary theater, 6501 Clayton Road, Clayton. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-721-9228 or visit www.placeseveryone.org.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change An intrepid group of local producers is trying to make a long-run go of this sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell. They just might pull it off, because as staged with verve by St. Louis theater veteran Bobby Miller this musical revue is rambunctious, breezy and just ribald enough to keep viewers chortling from beginning to end. An ideally suited ensemble (Michael Jokerst, Alan Knoll, Chopper Leifheit, Lee Anne Mathews, Laurie McConnell, Rosemary Watts) cavorts through a fast-paced evening of mostly humorous skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. Sitting through the show is like chewing a wad of bubble gum: after a few hours it begins to lose its flavor. But the sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun both onstage and in the audience bespeaks success. 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 $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529. (DB)
The Lion King This Disney juggernaut retains its profusion of color and movement. Dance, mime, puppetry and masks all performed by a cast of 49 actors fuse together to bring to life a riff on Hamlet (nasty uncle kills noble king; confused son must hear from Daddy's ghost before seeking revenge) removed to the African savanna. The show provides a dazzling immersion into the potentials of creative imagination. First-time partakers are in for a splendid treat, though repeat viewers might begin to see through the evening's incandescent shallowness. Performed through July 29 at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $28 to $75. Call 314-534-1111 or visit www.fabulousfox.com. (DB)
The Man With a Load of Mischief Reviewed in this issue.
Othello Reviewed in this issue.
The Pajama Game Reviewed in this issue.
Say You Love Satan Russian-literature grad student Andrew (Ben Nordstrom) risks his ever-lovin' soul for a fling with the very real and very muscular Son of Satan, Jack (Tyler Vickers). Slowly, insidiously, Jack's devil-may-care attitude and rakish charms lure Andrew away from the mundane world of academia and into a demimonde of fun, underground nightclubs and hot sex on demand. And so what if he's becoming more of a prick the more he gets pricked? Life's about finding pleasure, right? Not according to best friend Bernadette (Sarah Cannon), a tough cookie who recognizes genuine peril in Andrew's newfound love for the path of least resistance. As Jack's love becomes much more nefarious, Andrew comes to realize that maybe Bernadette is on to something. The upshot is a deadly showdown that involves a stolen baby, a midnight meeting with the Devil and Andrew's eternal soul it's "So fucking Scooby-Doo," as Andrew himself wryly notes. Funny, clever, fast-paced fun, and a heaping helping of beefcake to boot. Performed by HotCity Theatre Through July 28 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-289-4063 or visit www.hotcitytheatre.org. (PF)