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.)

Eve-olution The dirty economic secret of the last 40 years: American women, having secured the right to work, are now damn near required to do so, thanks to wage stagnation and families’ increasing inability to stay solvent on a single income. This sad truth may or may not factor in Eve-olution, Hilary Illick and Jennifer Krier’s group-therapy look at the compromises women must make in modern motherhood. Full Circle Theatre is proud of its commitment to social justice and welcomes a chance to get all pissed off about something. Through April 29 at the Dallavis Center, Avilla University, 11901 Wornall, 816-943-0909.

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.

Give ’em Hell, Harry Writer Samuel Gallu flatters Missourians for being — like his Harry Truman — straight-talking truth tellers, so it’s my duty to report that this show is a heap of hagiographic piffle, giving us a gabby Truman who jaws at us from the Oval Office like we’re squatting ’round the cracker barrel. The KC Rep’s production is impeccably staged, and Gary Neal Johnson is a marvel as Truman, but the script is rotten through and through, spending more time on lawn mowing than on atomic-bomb dropping and selling us a president who never made a mistake or had a regret. By nodding along, we buy into the same idiotic conviction that lets George W. Bush feel confident that a president — any president — might be infallible. Through April 23 at Union Station’s City Stage, 30 West Pershing Rd., 816-235-2700. (Reviewed in our Oct. 27 issue.)

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.

Jesus Christ Superstar Nothing we can say could stop the gospel according to Lloyd Webber from coming back so damn often, so we’ll just remark upon the show’s epic garishness and move on … except to point out that, though we get this show four times a year, its supposedly true-life inspiration hasn’t come back once. Maybe he’d hurry if he had better musicals to catch. That said, likable names stud the cast list, and the Barn Players (one of our oldest and best-regarded community theaters) earned raves recently for Stalag 17. Through April 30 at the Barn Players, 6219 Martway in Mission, 913-432-9100.

The Last Five Years Following one couple through the ups and downs of courtship, marriage and separation, The Last Five Years treats its material with thematic and narrative complexity. Each lover tells his or her story simultaneously: Trick is, he starts with the hookup, and she works back from the breakup. Director Steven Eubank is still young enough to be called a phenom, but lately he’s teaming up with established pros instead of going it alone — in this case, with TBA Players’ Ellen Miles. Through April 30 at Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Central, 816-784-5020.

Married Alive! Following the travails of two married couples, one just hitched and one just bitching, this world-premiere sketch-comedy musical digs into what folks do after “I do.” Laughs abound, some a little naughtier than the American Heartland typically offers, but the good stuff is almost outweighed by some undistinguished ballads and a pair of harebrained scenes that use smoke and gunfire to compare raising kids to life in a war zone. Married Alive! isn’t perfect, but committing to it doesn’t mean that you’re settling. Through April 23 at the American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand, 816-842-9999. (Reviewed in our March 23 issue.)

The Miracle Worker Here, again, the feel-good half of the Helen Keller story: how Annie Sullivan, inspired at a water pump, helped the deaf and blind girl connect with language. A human triumph, to be sure, but just for once could we have Keller’s later-in-life humane triumphs, such as anti-war activism or her fiery books and speeches attacking the exploitation of the working class? We thrill at the miracle that is Keller learning to speak but do our damnedest never to hear what she has to say. The play’s as good as you remember from high school, though. Through April 23 at Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 New Hampshire, 785-843-7469.

Categories: A&E