Chuck Lavazzi is the producer for the arts calendars and senior performing arts critic at 88.1 KDHX, the local correspondent for Cabaret Scenes magazine, the host of The Cabaret Project’s monthly open mic night at the Tavern of Fine Arts, and entirely to blame for the Stage Left blog at stageleft-stlouis.blogspot.com. He’s a member of the Music Critics Association of North America and the St. Louis Theater Circle.
Chuck has been acting, designing sound, and occasionally directing theatrical productions since roughly the Bronze Age. His one-man show Just a Song at Twilight: the Golden Age of Vaudeville, presented at the Missouri History Museum, was the opening production of the West End Players Guild’s 101st season. He has also appeared with Stray Dog, Metro Theatre Company, The Rep, Midwest Lyric Opera, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, St. Louis Shakespeare, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, and even the St. Louis Symphony, where he narrated Peter and the Wolf. He and his lovely wife Sherry live in a house that’s older than both of them put together in the historic and utterly charming Soulard neighborhood.
Union Avenue Opera has a hit on its hands with a very solid production of Puccini's tale of men (or one man, anyway) behaving badly, MADAMA BUTTERFLY. Ann Wazelle is a strong and tragic Cio-Cio-San (a.k.a. Butterfly), Mathew Edwardsen is very effective as the callow Pinkerton who is far too late deveolping a conscience, and Debra Hillabrand is a very sympathetic Suzuki. Robert Garner rounds out the fine principal cast as Sharpless, the only male character with any sense of decency. The orchestra sounds great, a few minor opening night blips not withstanding, and the chorus is superb. Sets and costumes (the latter by Teresa Doggett, the hardest working woman in show business) are a lovely thing to behold. I'll have a full review at the 88.1 KDHX site later this weekend; meanwhile, surf over to unionavenueopera.org for more information. MADAMA BUTTERFLY runs through July 21st.
Who: Gitana Productions
What: SOY YO! (I AM ME!) AN AFRO LATINA SUITE
When: Tonight and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 3.
Where: The Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand
This is the first in a weekly series of theatre recommendations for the coming weekend. The opinions expressed herein are not those of anyone except me. Me, ME, I tell you!
R-S Theatrics presents a FUNRAISER CABARET on Saturday, July 13, at 8 PM. "Part cabaret (with songs performed by cast members of the upcoming production of Parade) and part sketch comedy show (featuring Poor Richard’s Dry Fuss), the FUNraiser is guaranteed to be a fun evening. Where else can you enjoy a Lady GaGa medley with a cabaret-twist, learn about the secret life of ninjas, and bid on a silent auctions with items ranging from inflatable furniture to a baseball signed by Stan Musial?" My take: R-S is a classic example of a small professional theatre company that is willing and able to tackle new and/or unusual material, such as Bill Cain's 9 CIRCLES from last summer. "It is a rare play," wrote Andrea Braun in her review for 88.1 KDHX of the R-S production of 9 CIRCLES, "that dares to challenge us and our assumptions as much as this one does, and the experience of it is profound. If you doubt theatre’s power to disturb your universe, 9 CIRCLES should change your mind." R-S is an outgrowth of the now defunct Soundstage Productions, which specialized in staged readings of new scripts. The performance takes place at Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind Avenue. For more information: r-stheatrics.com
Now gearing up for its 23rd season, New Line Theatre is a remarkable and possibly unique St. Louis arts institution. Committed exclusively to musicals, New Line is noted for bringing new shows to local audiences as well as for mounting unconventional productions of classics. The new season, for example, will include the regional premiere of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Jonathan Larson’s RENT, and the regional premiere (“straight from Broadway” per New Line) of HANDS ON A HARDBODY.