Blood Wedding Reviewed in this issue.
God of Carnage Reviewed in this issue.Ongoing
Nuts Claudia Draper, a high-end prostitute, has been charged with manslaughter for the murder of one of her clients. Claudia (Lara Buck) is eager to take her chances with a jury in a court of law, but the state of New York prefers that she be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. This 1980 courtroom drama by Tom Topor chronicles the hearing that will determine Claudia's sanity. The three-act play (complete with two intermissions) gets off to a sluggish start, as medical testimony is introduced. But when Claudia's parents take the stand in Act Two, the stakes heighten, and the audience is rewarded with indelible performances by Donna Weinsting and John Contini. Lovers of good acting would have to be nuts to miss work of this high caliber. Produced by St. Louis Actors' Studio through October 23 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $25 ($20 for students and seniors). Call 314-458-2978 or visit www.stlas.org. — Dennis Brown
The Who's Tommy Justin Been's stylish and exhilarating production of The Who's Tommy is a treat for the eyes and ears as well as a balm for the soul. Pete Townshend's reworking of his album-based rock opera strips away much of the messianic trappings of deaf/dumb/blind pinball wiz Tommy Walker, and instead focuses squarely on Tommy's emotional journey. Antonio Rodriguez carries much of the story as the adult Tommy, giving full voice to the iconic songs — "See Me, Feel Me" and "I'm Free" — while illuminating the character's struggles with sexual abuse, hero worship and how to convince people that we're all miracles with strange talents and the potential to inspire. The ensemble is likewise a knockout — the mass chorus during "Christmas" is gorgeous, and their rendition of "Sensation" soars. The only drawback to this production is that you have to wait till the end before you can stand up and cheer; although when that moment comes, the pay-off is worth it. Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through October 22 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. — Paul Friswold