9 to 5 the Musical The first 45 minutes of this stage adaptation of the 1980 movie about three female office workers who seek revenge on their chauvinistic boss are light and frothy. There's humor in the script, and Dolly Parton's songs have the virtue of country music: They're simple and accessible. They're also underscored, so that you can actually hear what the singers are saying. But as the evening gets progressively louder, dead weight begins to drag down the early momentum. What works best — and keeps the amiable evening sharp from beginning to end — is the dry-ice delivery of Dee Hoty in the role played on screen by Lily Tomlin as the ringleader and brains of the office takeover. It is Hoty's gift (or curse) as a performer that she makes whatever musical she's in (and, lucky for us, she has been in several here in St. Louis of late) seem better than it is. Through February 20 at the Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $24 to $66. Call 314-534-1678 or visit www.fabulousfox.com. — Dennis Brown
Closer Reviewed in this issue.
Distracted Lisa Loomer's play about the wearying effects on a family whose son suffers from attention-deficit disorder is itself wearying. It amounts to little more than a grab bag of quips and clever asides, presented in a maddeningly staccato manner. The play's consideration of the maze that accompanies ADD is akin to a PowerPoint presentation of buzzwords and catchphrases, with a little toilet humor thrown in for laugh insurance. The audience seemed to like it a lot. Performed by Stray Dog Theatre through February 19 at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (DB)
Macbeth In the hands of director Paul Mason Barnes, this drama about regicide and power lust is revealed as a meditation on the shadowy lives of political figures and the manner is which the public becomes aware of their actions. Michael Ganio's set — a central stage flanked by a blood-red walkway and ringed on three sides by a wall of skewed, upright boards — enhances the sense of secrets leaking out, as Macbeth (Timothy D. Stickney, enthralling and magnetic) and Lady Macbeth (Caris Vujcec, a saturnine beauty with a steel spine) plan and commit multiple murders while faces and figures peek through the slats behind them. Barnes imbues the series of killings with an element of ritual; each is presaged by Macbeth stepping onto that crimson pathway while convincing himself of the rightness of his actions, a single spotlight making the planks — and the would-be king — glow with sanguine fury. Presented by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through March 6 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $15.00 to $70. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. — Paul Friswold
Round and Round the Garden Why don't more theaters stage Alan Ayckbourn plays? There are certainly enough of them. This particular lighthearted romp, set in the garden of a Victorian country home (lushly designed by Todd Shafer), is the conclusion of Ayckbourn's trilogy, The Norman Conquests, about the peccadilloes of a lovable loser who can't help falling in love with nearly every woman he sees. Here we learn that the misbegotten Norman is "a law unto himself," always his own worst enemy, always on the verge of being arrested for breaking and entering. The entire cast is a delight, and Mark Kelley in the lead role is especially droll. "I've never known anyone who can ruin an evening as thoroughly as he can," his sister-in-law suggests. Regardless, this particular evening is grand fun. Performed through February 26 at Black Cat Theatre, 2810 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood. Tickets are $25 ($20 for students and seniors). Call 314-781-8300 or visit www.blackcattheatre.org. (DB)
Ruined Reviewed in this issue.