Mary Poppins If you only know the 1964 Disney movie adaption of the P.L. Travers stories, you're in for a big surprise, because this extravagant stage musical — bright and cheerful though it sometimes is — is darker and more mature than Uncle Walt likely would have approved. Which makes for satisfying theater for adults as well as youngsters. As the unfazed nanny who helps to heal a dysfunctional London family, the delightful Ashley Brown delivers a droll, understated, practically perfect performance that is in complete harmony with the evening's extended sense of magic and mystery. Although the evening is at least ten minutes longer than it need be, you'll surely be sorry when it's over. Through August 30 at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $28 to $75. Call 314-534-1678 or visit www.fabulousfox.com. — Dennis BrownOngoing
Something's Afoot Agatha Christie and her poisonous ilk receive a jolly send-up in this tuneful spoof inspired by Christie's popular kill-'em-off thriller, Ten Little Indians. At a country estate in rural England, several doomed manor guests (not to mention the staff) are too busy singing to notice the wealth of clues that might save their lives. As directed by Maggie Ryan, the modestly clever piece delivers an evening of merry summer fun. But when choreographer Lara Teeter is afoot — both in staging the songs and, we suspect, adding an overall sense of clean style to the piece — the show attains a delightful panache. The hard-working cast (highlighted by Janet Wells as an indefatigable amateur sleuth) probably wouldn't have to work quite so hard if the orchestra was reduced to a single piano and the microphones were returned to storage. Produced by Insight Theatre Company through September 8 at the Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall High School, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students, $15 for seniors). Call 314-556-1293 or visit www.insighttheatrecompany.com.
— Dennis Brown