Play: Parenting 101

Group: Original New York Cast

Venue: Playhouse at West Port Plaza

Dates: Wednesday through Sunday through March 16

Tickets: $42.50; contact 314-469-7529, 314-534-1111 or

Story: The trials and tribulations of parenthood are described in humorous fashion from the birth of children to the birth of grandchildren in this two-act musical that incorporates familiar pop, rock and show tunes with lyrics appropriate to the ongoing challenges of child-rearing.

Highlights: Conceived by Emmy Award-winning writer Nancy Holson and her sister, Susan Holson, and co-written by Nancy Holson and Jay Falzone, Parenting 101 is sub-titled A Musical Guide to Raising Parents. That’s a suitable appellation for this amusing and entertaining look at the efforts of well-meaning parents to successfully raise strong-willed children. Falzone also takes on the roles of director and choreographer, and mostly succeeds, thanks to his clever dance routines and the tireless efforts of his players.

Jeff Brooks, Amanda Danskin, Lindsay Quinn and Stephen Smith have brought their successful show from New York City to St. Louis for a six-week run that capably demonstrates their inexhaustible energy and good humor. Oddly, on opening night they seemed relatively flat until a fire alarm triggered by some unnecessary smoke for a dream sequence caused a brief delay. When they resumed, they seemed re-energized, catapulting their performances to a higher and more engaging level.

The four players perform two dozen skits, including an hilarious bit with Amanda as a precocious 10-yearr-old putting all of her facial contortions into a rant against her absent mother titled I Will Always Hate You, a humorous variation on the Whitney Houston hit. Brooks is a delight as a roller-skating grandmother on Gramma Mia, while Quinn is terrific as a perfect babysitter in the dream sequence, For Your Guys Only.

Brooks and Smith are amusing as dads shopping for personal items for their daughters in the Talk Like a Girl number, while Danskin dons a superhero costume as a mom for all seasons on the I Need a Hero skit. From Tomorrow to Downtown to Tonight to It’s My Party (performed as It’s My Potty by toddler Danskin), the cast brings an infectious energy and ebullience to numerous parts in skits that showcase situations familiar to any parent.

Other Info: Falzone’s choreography makes utmost use of the compact stage, which is highlighted by the bright colors, simple shapes and props that emphasize a kid’s corner of the world designed by Dave Carr, nicely lit by Dominque Gallo. Elizabeth Payne provides an array of amusing costumes, while Josh Limpert offers a suitable sound backdrop. The polished and professional musical accompaniment off stage is performed by a rotating trio of musicians featuring either Kad Day or Paul Westcott on keyboards, Jeremy Pfeffer or Darrin Johnson on bass and Phillip Graves or Josh Costello on percussion.

Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.