Stage Capsule Reviews
The Bad Seedling Late Night gives its standard treatment to ’50s horror flick The Bad Seed, the tale of a homicidal 8-year-old girl, here played by a 6-foot-tall man. Expect cross-dressing, sight-gags and lots of raunchy (and sometimes groaningly obvious) double entendres. But the show offers more than that. Ron Megee’s script rises above the schtick, and both Megee and Corrie Van Ausdal — a gifted comic actress born to play dress-up — stir big laughs. Unlike their insular Purple Rain awhile back, this show doesn’t rely on the audience’s familiarity with the original (or with Late Night) to win us over. Best of all are the dresses Gary Campbell has whipped up, especially Megee’s pinafores. Through July 30 at Late Night Theatre, 1531 Grand, 816-235-6222. (Reviewed in the July 7 issue)
Damn Yankees If what Lola wanted was another run-through of the old Abbot, Alder and Ross perennial, she’s in luck. (Maybe perennial is the wrong word. It’s more like a hazing, right? Summer can’t be called summer until it’s been wrung through this Faust tale.) But even if it’s dimmed with familiarity, its pleasures remain substantial: good jokes; a score you can hum along with even if you’ve never caught the show before; and, in “Two Lost Souls,” a song that’s as gorgeous as it is sentimental. Maybe a confused Tommy Shaw will show up and shred some. Weekends, July 22 through Aug. 7 at the Barn Players, 6219 Martway in Mission, 913-432-9100.
The Dinosaur Musical You trembled when the creatures in Jurassic Park learned to open doors, so what hope have we now that they’ve mastered the old one-two rock step? It’s family fun with thunder lizards as the Coterie explores the rift between vegetarian and carnivorous dinos. A pair of leaf-loving sauropods hole up in the Paradise Hotel — called, by director Ernie Nolan, an “art-deco heaven” — to sing, tell stories and deny their impending extinction. Through Aug. 7 at the Coterie Theatre at Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-474-6552.
From My Hometown is a good-hearted but lunkheaded show that seeks to pass off Crown Center as the Apollo Theatre. Young soul singers Philly, Memphis and Detroit — each from his namesake city and singing in its style — loiter in Harlem, round-robining through whatever oldies the producers can afford the rights to use. The three leads dazzle, especially Leonard Stalling’s Detroit, but only he has grit in the spirit of the original songs, and everyone is ill-served by arrangements and choreography that are much too showbiz. Otis Redding damn sure never made with the jazz hands. It’s all more about the tyranny of boomer nostalgia than anything else. Through Aug. 21 at American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand, Crown Center, 816-842-9999. (reviewed in the July 13 issue)
Funny Girl If your first thought is that the New Theatre Restaurant is probably safer taking on La Streisand’s Funny Girl than Yentl or Prince of Tides, wipe away the chintzy ’68 film version. Funny Girl is a show first and foremost, the hatched-for-the-stage story of early 20th-century comedienne Fanny Brice, played here by professional coastal pop chanteuse Farah Alvin, who will sing, dance and fall in love. Locals get to dance, too, we hear. They’ll also bus your table and take your order, secure in the knowledge that people who feed people are the luckiest people, except for the out-of-town stars put up in swank JoCo digs by dinner theaters. Through Aug. 28 at the New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster in Overland Park, 913-649-7469.
Let’s Do It Beyond melody and rhyme, the key to Cole Porter’s genius was his ability to make everything at once dirty and sophisticated. Before he wrote “Let’s Do It,” that biologists’ tour-de-force that isn’t really about falling in love, was it a word to giggle at? That Porter feeling — being sexy, grown-up and clever all at the same time — is what we used to call adult, back before video stores dirtied it up. Showcasing Jim Korinke, Melinda MacDonald and J. Kent Barnhart, Quality Hill’s revue tries to reclaim the word. Wear something nice. Through Aug. 7 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th St., 816-421-1700.
Sabrina Fair After making good with the challenging Proof, the Bell Road Barn Players lighten up with the romantic Sabrina Fair, as charming a show as anyone could ever hope for. But it’s Sabrina as in Audrey Hepburn, so even this easygoing fare is not without its challenges: Forget filling her shoes, what will they do about her lips, eyes and brows? And if there isn’t a team of hatmakers working around the clock, there will be hell to pay. The script is familiar but witty, with more bite on class matters than you might expect. Let’s wish for Bogart, not Harrison Ford. And Salem, the teenage witch’s cheap puppet cat. Through July 23 at the Bell Road Barn Players, 8700 River Park Dr. in Parkville, 816-587-0218.
Singin’ in the Rain Johnson County’s rag-tag bunch of misfits takes a crack at the greatest movie ever made. (That the pros out at Starlight will soon try it only adds to the Bad News Bears vibe.) The shows at Shawnee Mission Park’s Theatre in the Park are always enthusiastic, with strongish leads and plucky ensemble work, and they tend to zip right along. (If it’s not holding your attention, you could probably head over to the watch tower near the south entrance and score a nickel bag off some high schoolers.) Bring a blanket, bug spray and — just to be on the safe side — no knowledge whatsoever of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner. Through July 24 at Shawnee Mission Park, 17501 Midland Dr. in Shawnee, 913-631-1164.
Singin’ in the Rain Round two this summer for Hollywood’s Greatest Musical, a cutting satire sweetened with a romance that works best when the lovers aren’t on at the same time. This time, it’s staged by the out-of-town pros at Starlight, who boast impressive dancing pedigrees. They’re led by Jeffrey Denman, a Fred Astaire tribute artist and occasional Producers lead. In the please-wear-some-knee-pads Donald O’Connor role we have Michael Arnold, who won the Astaire Award for Best Male Dancer in a recent New York revival of 42nd Street. But this is a Gene Kelly show, more about sweat and hoofing and making them laugh and girls jumping from cakes than about gliding on air. July 25-31 at Starlight Theatre, 8601 Swope Pkwy., 816-363-7827.
The Why At last, a lash of danger in this summer of cheerful musicals. The Minds Eye crew — a daring bunch lugging ballsy shows all the way out to KCK — takes on this searing comic-tragic exploration of school shootings and the media. Author Victor Kaufold was only 18 when he finished his acute script. As teen Robert (Bryan LaFave) unloads to a counselor, the rest of the cast troop through, done up as all the recognizable types we see on TV after something like this happens: reporters, “experts,” victims, Eddie Vedder. This is satire with fangs — and heartache. Through Aug. 6 at Alcott Arts Center, 180 S. 18th St. in Kansas City, Kan., 913-897-2348.