Cats The fact that Cats continues to exist is proof that cats pay no heed to anything humans do, aside from opening cans; if they were aware of it, surely they'd sue for defamation of character, win a bundle and replace us all with small subservient dogs. For, you see, cats, unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber, understand what makes a good story. Despite several songs marred by a ghastly sounding synthesizer, and technical problems with microphones and some stage effects (most of the magic effects in "Mr. Mistoffelees" are mistimed or late), there are a few moments in Suzanne Viverito's production when individual performers rise above Webber's assault on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The dance company delivers a bracing tap dance for "The Old Gumbie Cat," Ken Page (of course) creates a stately mien and benevolent presence for Old Deuteronomy and Stephanie J. Block as Grizabella wrests the final chorus of "Memory" out of Webber's flaccid paws and makes it a torch song for the abandoned. Through July 25 at the Muny in Forest Park. In addition to the free seats, tickets are $9 to $66. Call 314-361-1900 or visit www.muny.org.
— Paul Friswold
It Had to Be You Reviewed in this issue.
Promises, Promises Reviewed in this issue.
The Taming of the Shrew Director Todd Pieper dresses up a straightforward production with a few Battle of the Sexes frills — a ring girl opens and closes each act, a bell signals the start of Katherina (Suki Peters) and Petruchio's (Andrew Keller) fights — but the real fun is in the performances. Peters plays Katherina as a smiling wolverine, throwing men around the stage and eliciting shrieks of fear by the mere arch of an eyebrow. Keller plays Petruchio as a dandy cockerel, prone to ludicrous posing but charming nonetheless; his ability to manhandle Peters while lucidly delivering his speeches is a marvel. This brawling pair is ably abetted by Grumio (Joshua Cook), a moon-faced servant of considerable dimness and comic agility. It's a boisterous spectacle, and you won't believe how quickly it passes. Presented by St. Louis Shakespeare through July 25 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $25 ($15 for students, $20 for seniors). Call 314-361-5664 or visit www.stlshakespeare.org. (PF)