Stage Capsule Reviews

Cloud 9 Once again, UMKC’s theater department, which boasts budget and talent to rival any local theater, offers a show more daring than almost anyone else’s. Caryl Churchill’s lunatic inquisition into the late British empire pretzels time, place and gender to cover a century of sex and power in colonial Africa and Tony Blair’s London. Through Oct. 1 at Studio 116 in UMKC’s Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry, 816-235-6222.

The Fantasticks Likable chanteuse Amy Coady, A Night on the Town radio host George Harter and their like-minded cohorts at Musical Theater Heritage enter a second year of staging their favorite shows in concert-style performances. Eschewing sets and costumes, their dedication is to high-quality casts: For this run-through of the long-running but lightweight Fantasticks, they’ve mustered local favorites Ken Remmert, James Wright and Tim Scott. Through Sept. 24 at Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-221-6987

Ghost Train Set, as always, on a train passing through Kansas City’s rough-and-tumble past, this Halloween-themed puzzler is as much a party game as it is a play. Be ready to interact with improvising suspects or to be handed a script. Through Oct. 31 at Hereford House Restaurant, 2 East 20th Street, 816-813-9654.

Hairspray John Waters’ charming movie about a jolly, plus-sized teen bopping about on a ’60s dance show was beefed up by Broadway into a popular but edge-less night of showstoppers. Now that stage success is plodding toward Hollywood again for a second movie. Starlight gives Kansas City a chance to reacquaint itself with the awkward middle years of the show’s corporate lifespan: no longer a movie but not yet a blockbuster, this thing’s as odd a duck as its Tracy Turnblad, that spirited gal who just wants to dance. Through Sept. 24 at Starlight Theatre, 6601 Swope Pkwy., 816-363-7827.

Incorruptible Michael Hollinger’s farcical Incorruptible applies the ragtag-misfits-saving-the-frat-house formula to a 14th-century monastery. The humor is propelled by the attempts of an insolvent abbey’s holy brothers to drum up some miracles (or at least some publicity). All this results in lies, cons and much ado about the authenticity of blessed relics — literally, the bones of saints. Through Sept. 30 at Olathe Community Theatre, 500 E. Loula, Olathe, 913-782-2990.

My Brain Hurts II The itinerant comics of Full Frontal Comedy once again set up at Union Station’s lavish digs, this time to attempt another dash through the Chicago-minted 30-plays-in-60-minutes concept. This used to bug us back when Comedy City’s Monkeys With Hand Grenades so fruitfully worked the same territory once a month. But because the Monkeys have recently thrown more shit than fun, we’re hoping that Tina Morrison and company claim said territory and thoroughly mark it. But, really: Why the stopwatch gimmick? Don’t some ideas deserve more than two minutes? Through Sept. 30 at Union Station’s City Stage, 30 W. Pershing Road, 913-403-4340.

The Pillowman Double-stuffed with effects, gallows humor, narrative twists and scenes of nerve-fraying tension, Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman centers on a writer arrested and tortured by a totalitarian dictator’s thugs for crimes seemingly inspired by his short stories — fabulist horrors involving the murder of children. McDonagh is interested in making stories on the stage as visceral as those on the big screen; he’s helped here by sharp staging by director Joe Price and the Unicorn’s designers, and sharp performances from Nathan Darrow (as the writer) and Rusty Sneaery (as the writer’s mentally disabled brother). Through Sept. 24 at the Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main, 816-531-7529. (Reviewed in our Sept. 7 issue.)

Categories: A&E