Stage Capsule Reviews
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. Through April 23 at Union Station’s City Stage, 30 West Pershing Rd., 816-235-2700. (Reviewed in our Oct. 27 issue.)
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat We’ll take Dolly Parton’s plainspoken “Coat of Many Colors” (lord, we’d even take Godspell) over Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Old Testament bombast any day of the week, but few modern shows have as many devotees as this one. Still, if it’s your kind of thing, this stripped-down Olathe production may be a godsend: It’s impossible to cram all of Sir Andy’s over-the-top awfulness into the intimate Chestnut Fine Arts Center, meaning that, by necessity, some of that Dolly simplicity might shine through and save things. Through April 9 at the Chestnut Fine Arts Center, 234 N. Chestnut St., Olathe, 913-764-2121.
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.
Say Goodnight, Gracie Overland Park’s thoroughly professional and often sparkling dinner theater offers this wistful one-man show about the life of George Burns. Suspended in a limbolike state after his death, the play’s Burns (Joel Rooks) is unable to gain admittance to heaven until he, according to press materials, “gives the Command Performance of his lifetime for God.” Through April 9 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster in Overland Park, 913-649-7469.
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.