Man of La Mancha Director Edward Coffield has crafted an exceptionally focused and emotionally powerful version of Man of La Mancha in which every moment, every action, relays the central theme: We can do good, so why don't we? Joneal Joplin makes a commanding Don Quixote, and his Miguel Cervantes is an equally impressive and distinct characterization. Both men are courtly, charismatic and committed to a life of imagination. Joplin is aided immensely by Christopher Hickey's opera buffa Sancho, who is gloriously common without being simple. Julie O'Neill's turn as Aldonza is dramatically potent, though her singing voice sounds strained at times. Musical director Ross Bell and the orchestra give a vibrant and nuanced performance, helping the entire ensemble to deliver one of the finest productions of a musical you'll experience. Presented by Insight Theatre Company through August 22 at the Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall High School, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Tickets are $20 to $30. Call 314-239-9040 or visit www .insighttheatrecompany.com.
— Paul Friswold
That Championship Season Ever so occasionally an American play crystallizes an era. Jason Miller's blistering account of the twenty-year reunion of four high school pals who won the state basketball championship is a metaphor for the cynical 1970s. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about the emptiness of distant dreams foreshadows the pervasive distrust of authority that took root during the Watergate scandal. Championship is infrequently staged today, which makes this Dramatic License production all the more welcome. The dialogue remains crisp and pointed. In a mostly solid cast, Kevin Beyer's mesmerizing portrayal of the volcanic Coach is a thundering portrait of bigotry. Through August 22 at Dramatic License Theatre in Chesterfield Mall (291 Chesterfield Mall Drive, Chesterfield). Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors). For information call 636-220-7012 or visit www
— Dennis Brown
Psychopathia Sexualis Sensitive painter Arthur (Tom Lehmann) can't perform sexually unless he has his father's argyle socks close at hand. After six fruitless years of therapy, his analyst Dr. Block (Michael Juncal) has stolen the hosiery ten days before Arthur's wedding to Lucille (Susan Arnold Marks). John Patrick Shanley's sitcom setup blossoms into classic farce, thanks to Juncal's maniacal portrayal of the good doctor. He's a whooping, crowing loon, climbing on furniture and shredding the psyche of Arthur's friend and initial sock retriever Howard (Steven Peirick) with lascivious relish. It's up to the brash and endearingly Texan Lucille to save her fiancé — and as fine as Juncal and Peirick's session is, Marks vs. Juncal is a true heavyweight clash of egos and intellects. Directed by Marsha Hollander Parker and performed by Citilites Theatre through August 22 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $18 to $20 ($15 to $17 for students and seniors). Call 314-773-1879 or visit www.citilitestheatre.com. (PF)