Stage Capsule Reviews
The Giver It’s Junior’s First Utopian Nightmare down at the Coterie, where shows made for kids are often better than the adult-content theaters in staging, style and intelligence. Coterie shows are shorter, too, and more likely to make a point. This time, director Jeff Church takes on Lois Lawry’s Newberry-winning novel about a “perfect” future in which peace and politeness reign and individuality is punished — a future that is the triumph, one presumes, of southern Johnson County. Through Feb. 25 at the Coterie Theatre in Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-474-6552.
Leaving Iowa The Heartland is marketing this sweet and funny meditation on family and loss as a rambunctious, Vacation-style road-trip comedy. But Leaving Iowa is original and engaging, avoiding every feel-good cliché while still making us feel good. It’s evocative of stars over the boondocks, of corn in endless rows, of family road trips that you probably endured as a kid, and of grown-up drives that return us to places that may not be as we remember. Playing a young girl, Jessalyn Kincaid is wildly funny; Jim Korinke does his trademark twinkling as the dad; and Craig Benton’s everyman likability holds the show together. Too bad Ken Remmert, playing a succession of broad, bowlegged idjits, shows up every 15 minutes to wreck things. Through Feb. 25 at the American Heartland Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-842-9999. (Reviewed in our January 18 issue.)
Music of the 1940s We’re not expecting much different from Quality Hill Playhouse’s first cabaret revue of 2007, which is part of why the show sounds so appealing: the big hits of the ’40s, performed by pianist and master of ceremonies J. Kent Barnhart and his rotating coterie of gifted singers. This time, they revel in the American songbook’s most rewarding decade, promising “It Had to Be You” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” Through Feb. 19 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 West 10th Street, 816-421-1700.