Stage Capsule Reviews
Crash It’s been almost a year to the day since the European-style theater troupe Princess Squid Productions last staged a show. Called Furies, the 40-minute piece was kind of scholarly but also a moving and visually captivating tale about what it means to be an actor. One of that show’s creators and performers, Heidi Van Middlesworth, stars in the company’s new piece, Crash. Crash, also collaboratively composed, tackles gender, identity and “communication between the sexes, between performers and between them and the audience.” Opening Friday at the Next Space, 512 E. 18th St., 816-531-6639.
The Killings at Kamp Tittekaka Late Night Theatre has put aside its gender-bending interpretations of movies like Carrie for an original Ron Megee script about a serial killer terrorizing a group of horny pubescent kids at a summer camp in the late 1950s. Employing a workable blend of Late Night veterans and newcomers, Killings at Kamp Tittekaka contains such alternative-theater staples as raunchy double entendres and gratuitous scenes of the cast in its underwear. And it’s no surprise that the funniest bits are the meanest and most socially inappropriate, including the thrashing of “the boy with polio” and a dig at The Passion of the Christ that would really piss off Mel Gibson. Through May 29 at Late Night Theatre, 1531 Grand Ave., 816-235-6222.
Marx Madness Having staged the Marx Brothers’ vehicle Coconuts and a musical salute to their patented silliness called A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, the Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. returns to the well. Marx Madness samples classic bits from movies such as Duck Soup and adds original music to a story about three middle-aged actors who rediscover their comic edge at the bottom of vaudeville trunk. Tim Cormack, who has tackled Groucho before from more of an actor’s sensibility than that of an impersonator, returns as the bespectacled hysteric. Through June 3 at the Metcalf South Shopping Center, 9635 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, 913-642-7576.
Menopause the Musical Until the last twenty minutes of what is essentially a musical-comedy salute to hot flashes, the jokes in this production are stale or stolen outright. And reading between the lines reveals not-so-funny insight into such social embarrassments as water retention and marital infidelity. So it is without warning that the show later takes a measurable turn into the joys of self-pleasure. The cast, especially Chavez Ravine, is pardonable, managing to reheat these leftovers. With her tangy, delicious Tina Turner take-off, Ravine — a terrific singer with mammoth stage presence — steals the show without an ounce of regret. Through June 27 at American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand Ave., 816-842-9999.
Once on This Island: Prior to striking gold with Ragtime, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens crafted Once on This Island, an adaptation of Trinidadian author Rose Guy’s novel My Love, My Love, about class, color and cultural preservation. Though it wasn’t a huge hit on Broadway in 1990, the show has become a staple of youth-theater troupes like Kansas City’s Urban Youth Theater, which offers two performances Saturday at the Gem Theater on historic East 18th Street. Adding poignancy to the production is that it’s a salute to Southeast High School graduate Alvaleta Guess, who appeared in the Broadway tour of the show and such films as Dead Presidents before succumbing to breast cancer in 1996. Saturday, May 29, at the Gem Theater, 1616 E. 18th St, 816-931-3330.
The World Goes ‘Round Quality Hill Playhouse’s version of the off-Broadway hit celebrating the talents of John Kander and Fred Ebb is dominated by Teri Adams, who reveals a welcome maturity and emotional nakedness in her singing. Her torch songs are almost unbearably sad, and in hilarious duets with Karen Errington (including “Class,” regrettably cut from the film Chicago), she fine-tunes her skills as a gifted comedienne. Costars Stephanie Nelson, James Andrew Wright and Charles Fugate round out the cast; their group numbers elevate the show to a rousing night of Broadway history. Through June 6 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th St., 816-421-1700.