Stage Capsule Reviews
The Birds This crossdressed pantsing of Hitchcock’s classic gives us Late Night at its best … and worst. When the troupe members shake together Hollywood satire, chintzy drag glamour and bitchy wit in a cocktail of a half-dozen set pieces, the show’s a heady gas. Too often, however, this Birds substitutes showy pop references for actual jokes and relies heavily on the drag outrageousness of it all. There are still some good numbers, though, and Ron Megee, DeDe Deville and Bill Pelletier (as Hitchcock) almost get us through the dull patches. Through May 27 at Late Night Theatre, 1531 Grand, 816-474-4568. (Reviewed in our April 13 issue.)
Ferdinand the Bull Here’s what we know at this point: The bull is wicked cool, just like all the animals mustered up by the Coterie’s designers. Also, the divine Jessalyn Kincaid plays a pig. And Tim Scott, who killed so thoroughly in The Buddy Holly Story, now gets a chance to wow the elementary-school set. Expect flamenco music, bilingual dialogue and a lesson about bullying. Kids today don’t know how good they have it. Through May 21 at the Coterie Theatre, Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-474-6552.
Fools In the early ’80s, sentimental gagman Neil Simon (whose plays, we complain, are to Kansas City stages what Mao’s portrait was once to the walls of Chinese living rooms) squeezed an entire play from the best throw-away joke in Woody Allen’s Love and Death: the village idiots’ convention. Fools presents a European village whose inhabitants are afflicted with a curse of stupidity — naturally, it can be reversed if the right lovers get together. Expect big gags up front and crowd-pleasing tenderness as the curtain nears. Through May 20 at the Olathe Community Theatre, 500 E. Loula, 913-782-2990.
It Takes Two: Great Duets From Stage and Screen More cabaret tastiness from Quality Hill Playhouse’s J. Kent Barnhart, who, in addition to being an ace arranger and accompanist, is a disarmingly dry MC, a total charmer even when he’s haranguing a crowd for not having bought tickets for next season. As for the show, the title says it all — expect Gershwin, Annie Get Your Gun, Showboat and — ah, hell — a little Lloyd Webber. (Why, oh why, didn’t Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty ever get their genius duet “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” into a Broadway show?) Through May 21 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th St., 816-421-1700.
Mitch Albom’s Duck Hunter Shoots Angel Tuesdays With Morrie launched sentimental sportswriter Albom past the above-the-title crowd to his-name-is-the-title status, which clears things up for anyone who assumed this comedy about tabloid news must be Faulkner. The story, which concerns the media fallout when a pair of hunters become convinced they’ve shotgunned an angel, sounds like just the kind of soft satire that plays well at the American Heartland. Much more promising is that it’s directed by Missy Koonce, whose Bonanza was a wild treat last winter, and that the cast includes Scott Cordes and Nathan Darrow, two of Kansas City’s best. Through June 11 at the American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand, 816-842-9999.
Proposals Late-period Neil Simon lets up on the laughs and instead makes salvos toward real feeling — but nothing so raw it might spoil your New Theatre dinner. Proposals — a nostalgia-steeped take on summer in the Poconos of the 1950s — stands out from other wistful Simon plays in its inclusion of an honest-to-God black character, Clemma, who serves as maid for Simon’s quipping neurotics and as narrator for the rest of us. Yes, we sometimes joke about the threadbare celebs the New Theatre ships in for its shows, but if they keep getting folks like Jeffersons star Marla Gibbs, who stars as Clemma, we’ll happily shut the hell up. Through June 18 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster in Overland Park, 913-649-7469.
The Trip to Bountiful A chance to head back to Horton Foote’s great play about aching to head back home. That is, if your family lets you out of the house. Haunted by memory and what life is reduced to in old age, Foote’s 1953 drama gives us Carrie Watts, the not-long-for-this-world matriarch whose determination to set out and see her former hometown one time before she dies is one of those bits of drama that is so elegantly moving that we can say, unblushing, that it’s representative of the undimming power of the human spirit. Or something like that. Through May 21 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, 4949 Cherry, 816-235-2700.
Vote (Twice) for Murder More murder-as-an-appetizer interactive theater from the Mystery Train, the inventive local company that spices its comic mysteries with Kansas City history. In this case, it’s election time in the Prohibition era, with diners taking the part of passengers on a KC-bound train. As always, a corpse turns up, and everyone (including you, your date and your grandmother) is a suspect. The homegrown scripts tend to twist wittily, and audience contributions are often hilarious. And we’ve never guessed the killer. Thursdays through Saturdays through June 10 at the Hereford House Restaurant, 2 E. 20th St., 816-813-9654.