[ {"id":"447915b0-10ce-11e7-98f5-b7599ef400a9","type":"article","starttime":"1490386380","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:13:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1490387163","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"'Motown the Musical' Is Soundtrack for the '60s and '70s: Musical Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_447915b0-10ce-11e7-98f5-b7599ef400a9.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/motown-the-musical-is-soundtrack-for-the-s-and-s/article_447915b0-10ce-11e7-98f5-b7599ef400a9.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/motown-the-musical-is-soundtrack-for-the-s-and-s/article_447915b0-10ce-11e7-98f5-b7599ef400a9.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":8,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: In 1938, 8-year-old Berry Gordy Jr. witnessed the thrill his parents experienced when American boxer Joe Louis defeated German fighter Max Schmeling in a heavyweight bout. 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Broadway credits include Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act. He has toured nationally with several shows including Dreamgirls and his one-man show The Eve of Jackie Wilson. Chester has received many awards including the NAACP Theatre Award, and has been presented the key to the city of his hometown of Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. READ MORE \u2228 ALLISON SEMMES (Diana Ross) Thrilled to be traveling the nation with this show! Chicago Native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown The Musical (Florence Ballard) and The Book of Mormon (Nabalungi u/s, Swing). Other credits include The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. Allison is a recipient of the BroadwayWorld Chicago award for Best Female Lead, and an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for READ MORE \u2228 JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn\u2019t be happier living his dream. God is good y\u2019all. Broadway/N.Y.C.: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin\u2019s White Christmas, Dreamgirls. Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Check jarranmuse.com for the complete resume. \u201cThank you to Mr. Gordy, Charles and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage every night; to the Motown legends that lived the story we are telling; to KMR for representing me and to my family and friends for being there. I LOVE READ MORE \u2228 DAVID KAVERMAN (Smokey Robinson) is honored to make his Equity and National Tour debuts with Motown! Native of Ohio. Favorite credits (Regional): Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Carousel, Chicago, Godspell, & Disney Cruise Line. Proud graduate of Otterbein University (BM) & the Manhattan School of Music (MM). Eternal thanks to Mr. Gordy & Wojcik|Seay Casting. Shout out to The Mine, his superMama, Manda, and invaluable friends & teachers who have given him the world! Love. Instagram: @deighvidk. www.davidkaverman.com CJ WRIGHT (Young Berry Gordy/Young Stevie Wonder/Young Michael Jackson) is an 11-year musician from Upland CA, is beyond excited to join the Motown cast and make his national tour debut. He has appeared in a commercial, print, voice overs, and has performed in local theater and venues. He would like to thank his family and friends who have supported him along this amazing journey. RAYMOND DAVIS JR. (Young Berry Gordy/Young Stevie Wonder/Young Michael Jackson) Long John's Silvers commercial. Healthcare Training Video. Won Indiana's Got Talent singing contest. Grand prize winner at Indiana Black Expo singing contest. WTHR-13 Circle Of Lights annual show performing in front of over 100,000 people. MICHELLE ALVES (Ensemble) Broadway /National Tour: West Side Story (Anita 2012-2014), Carmen, RENT, Hairspray, Godspell, Hair, Chicago, Nine; Ricky Martin, Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Nelly Furtado; Grammy/Billboard Awards; LA Broadwayworld Best Featured Actress in a Musical Winner (Anita-2013). www.michellemalves.com MALCOLM ARMWOOD (Ensemble) National Tour: Smokey Joes Cafe (Adrian). Regional: Grease (Teen Angel), Show Boat, Ragtime, Hairspray, Kiss Me Kate. ECU alum! Praises to God for his continuous blessings! Thanks Dad, Mom, Mckenzie, family and friends for all the love and support. ERICK BUCKLEY (Swing) Broadway/national tours: Les Mis\u00e9rables (Valjean); The Addams Family (Uncle Fester); The Full Monty (Dave); The Phantom of the Opera (Piangi); Kiss Me, Kate (Gangster #1); Grease! (Roger). Favorite roles: husband to Robin, dad to Miranda. DARILYN CASTILLO (Ensemble) is thrilled to join the Motown Family! CCNY, LAMDA. The Lion King (Nala Cover). West End: Taming of The Shrew & Duchess of Malfi. Love to mom, dad, Mel, Roderick, Avalon. JUDITH FRANKLIN (Ensemble) Houston Texas Native. Regional: Dreamgirls, Memphis The Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Company Tours: Todrick Hall's Straight Outta Oz, Tyler Perry's Madea On The Run Grateful! @judithfranklin. JEREMY GASTON (Ensemble) National/International Tours: Sister Act 1st national (Eddie u/s, Curtis u/s, TJ u/s), Shrek (Donkey), Smokey Joe's Caf\u00e9 (Victor u/s), We Will Rock You (Britney), Jesus Christ Superstar (Priest u/s), Sunfish (Monk). Jeremiah 29:11 @JeremyAllynGaston ALYSSA V. GOMEZ (Swing) A NY Native, Alyssa is delighted to join the company of Motown! Regional: In The Heights (Nina), Rent (Mimi), American Idiot (Whatsername). BA Emerson College. Much love to mi familia! GARFIELD HAMMONDS (Ensemble) is elated to join the Motown family! Fave Credits: Kiss Me, Kate (Nat'l Tour), Ragtime (Coalhouse), Smokey Joe's Cafe, Big River. Love to Chris and Mom. Thanks Bobbie! ROD HARRELSON (Swing) Proud AEA member! Originally from Greensboro, NC., trained/studied at UNC-Chapel Hill. \"Golden Rule\" at all times. Love and thanks to God and family - always for Cynthia! JARED HOWELTON (Ensemble) Proud AEA member! Originally from Greensboro, Credits include: International Tour - Shrek the Musical (Donkey), Off-Broadway - Urinetown (Bobby Strong) Regional Theatre: Utah Shakespeare Festival 2014 Season, The Wagon Wheel Theatre 2013 Season. LOUIS JAMES JACKSON (Ensemble) International Tour: SHREK The Musical (u.s. Donkey & perf'd/Papa Bear). Regional: Beauty and The Beast (Ensemble)-Ogunquit Playhouse. Dance: Luna Negra Dance Theater, DanceWorks Chicago. The Ailey School. ELIJAH AHMAD LEWIS (Ensemble) Broadway: Motown. Off Broadway: Mama I Want To Sing, Sing Harlem Sing. Tours: Motown (1st Nat) Mama I Want To Sing (Japan). Music: Mario, Ariana Grande, Mary Mary, Madonna. @eal360 for more information visit eal360.com RAMONE OWENS (Ensemble) Broadway; Motown. Off-Broadway; Finian\u2019s Rainbow (Irish Rep) Regional: Disney\u2019s Aladdin, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Man of La Mancha. Countless thanks to God, his family and The About Artist Agency. B.F.A., Boston Conservatory. Psalm 16:8 DEVIN PRICE (Ensemble) Born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. Graduated from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, MI, with BFA Musical Theatre (MT '15). Special thanks always to God, Family and Friends. ALANA RANDALL (Swing) Toronto native thrilled to be joining the Motown family! Off-Broadway/Tours: Vagina Monologues (Jerry Orbach), Dirty Dancing, The Wizard Of Oz. Theatre: West Side Story, Hairspray, Hair, High School Musical. TV: Series regular on Hellcats (CW). Love to family & Bloc NYC. TAVIA RIVE\u00c9 (Ensemble) is thrilled to join the Motown family! Favorite credits include: Hairspray, Seussical, All Shook Up. Thanks to Wojcik|Seay, Brian Graziani, and my amazing parents. Glory to God! @TaviaRivee MATTHEW SIMS JR (Swing) Graduate of AMDA. International performer for Carnival Cruise Lines. Wailin\u2019 Joe in Memphis, Leroy in Hairspray, and The Band Leader in the NAACP Award winning musical, Recorded In Hollywood. KIMBERLY ANN STEELE (Ensemble) Favorite credits: Hair (Hollywood Bowl), Kiss Me, Kate! (Pasadena Playhouse), Carrie: The Killer Musical Experience (Los Angeles Theatre), Spring Awakening (UCLA), A Night with Janis Joplin (Capital Repertory/Barter Theatre). DOUG STORM (Ensemble) Broadway: Motown, Les Mis\u00e9rables, Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dance of the Vampires, Chess in Concert. Off-Broadway: Bat Boy (original cast). Other: Disney\u2019s Tarzan, Because of Winn Dixie. DANIEL ROBERT SULLIVAN (Ensemble) Over 1000 performances as Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. Author of award-winning play Prospect High: Brooklyn, and theatrical memoir Becoming a Jersey Boy. Say hello at DanielRobertSullivan@gmail.com! GABRIELLA WHITING (Ensemble) Previous credits include; National Tours: Saturday Night Fever (Candy). Regional: Sister Act (Michelle/ Delores u.s), Sweet Charity (Helene) RENT(Mimi). Big thanks to mom for always being so supportive. GALEN J. WILLIAMS (Swing) Favorite past credits: Motown the Musical (Broadway) Passing Strange, Three Little Birds. Huge thanks to my loving family, amazing friends, and my stellar team at Apex Talent Group! B.F.A., Howard University. RICARDO A. ZAYAS (Ensemble) Brooklyn, NY. Honors graduate Fordham. \"25 to Watch\"-Dance Magazine. Dance: Ailey II, Lar Lubovitch, LINES Ballet, Metropolitan Opera, Shen Wei. Theater: In The Heights, Queen of the Night, West Side Story (Carnegie Hall), Broadway's Hamilton. CREATIVE BERRY GORDY, JR. (Book) Berry Gordy, Jr. is the founder of Motown, the hit-making enterprise that nurtured the careers of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, and many other music greats. The \u201cMotown sound\u201d reached out across a racially divided, politically and socially charged country to transform popular music. The year 2009 marked an international year-long celebration of Motown\u2019s 50th Anniversary. Mr. Gordy is also a songwriter, boxer, producer, director, innovative READ MORE \u2228 CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT (Director) Charles Randolph-Wright has a diversified career in directing, writing, and producing for theater, film, and television. Theater directing credits include the record-breaking musical Sophisticated Ladies (starring Maurice Hines) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined at Arena Stage, the 75th Anniversary international tour of Porgy and Bess, Brian Stokes Mitchell in Love/Life (Lincoln Center), Daniel Beaty\u2019s Through the Night and Emergency, the national tour of Guys and Dolls, Blood Knot ( READ MORE \u2228 PATRICIA WILCOX (Choreographer) Broadway: Motown the Musical (Astaire Award for Best Choreography on Broadway 2013) and A Night with Janis Joplin. Off-Broadway/National Tours: Children\u2019s Letter To God, Bowfire (and PBS Television Special), Blues in the Night (NAACP Image Award nomination), Seussical. Co-Conceiver and Choreographer: A Marvelous Party (LA Drama Critics Circle Award, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Award, Elliott Norton Award, JEFF Award). Selected Regional: Seattle Rep, The Old Globe, Pasadena READ MORE \u2228 WARREN ADAMS (Choreographer) Warren Adams is an award-winning Producer, Director, Choreographer and an adjunct professor at NYU and Princeton University in the theater department. His production company WalkRunFly Productions is currently co-producing the Broadway Play Of Mice and Men starring James Franco and the Broadway Musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris. Adams won the 2013 Fred Astaire Award for Best Choreography on Broadway for Motown. He recently directed the film documentary Africa Straight Up and READ MORE \u2228 ETHAN POPP (Music Supervision/Orchestrations/Arrangements) 2013 \"Best Orchestrations\" Tony Award Nomination for Motown The Musical and 2014 Grammy Nomination as producer of the Original Cast Recording of Motown The Musical. Television: \u201cSmash\u201d (music supervisor, music producer, arranger, orchestrator), \"A Capitol Fourth\" (PBS), \"The 2013 Tony Awards\" (CBS), \u201cThe 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards\u201d (FOX), \u201cThe Tonight Show With Jay Leno\u201d (NBC), \u201cThe 2009 Tony Awards\u201d (CBS), \u201cLate Night With Conan O\u2019Brien\u201d ( READ MORE \u2228 DAVID KORINS (Scenic Design) David Korins is a New York based scenic and production designer for theater, film, opera, television, concerts, festivals, residential and commercial spaces and immersive experiences. His Broadway credits include Annie, Bring It On, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, Magic/Bird, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange and Bridge and Tunnel. He has also worked extensively both Off-Broadway and regionally. David's opera credits READ MORE \u2228 ROD LEMMOND (Associate Scenic Design) Rod Lemmond has been Senior Designer and Partner at David Korins Design since its inception. He has been the Lead Associate on more than 200 shows and projects over the past 10 years. His Broadway credits include Annie, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, Magic/Bird, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange and Bridge and Tunnel. Rod has also worked extensively both off-Broadway and regionally and on TV, commercial & READ MORE \u2228 ESOSA (Costume Design) Broadway: Porgy and Bess (Tony Award nomination), Topdog / Underdog. Off-Broadway: Second Stage: Water by the Spoonful; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lucille Lortel Award); Trust; Crowns. MCC: Break of Noon (Geffen Playhouse). Delacorte: The Capeman. Public Theater: Juan and John, Father Comes Home from the Wars, Romeo and Juliet. NYTW: The Misanthrope, All That I Will Ever Be. Regional: La Jolla/Center Theatre Group: American Night; Arena Stage: Ruined, Cuttin\u2019 Up, Senor Discretion Himself (Helen Hayes Award READ MORE \u2228 NATASHA KATZ (Lighting Design) Natasha Katz has designed extensively for theater, opera, and dance. Recent Broadway credits: Once (Tony Award\u00ae), Follies, Sister Act, Elf, The Addams Family, The Little Mermaid, The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (Tony Award), A Chorus Line (revival), Spelling Bee, Tarzan, Aida (Tony Award) and Beauty and the Beast. Other designs include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Royal Ballet), Buried Child (National Theatre, London), Cyrano (The Met), Carnival of the Animals (NYCB), Don Quixote (ABT); EFX! (Las READ MORE \u2228 PETER HYLENSKI (Sound Design) Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award nominated. Selected Broadway designs include: Shrek the Musical (New York, US Tour, London), Rock of Ages (New York, London, Toronto, Australia, US Tour, Las Vegas), The Scottsboro Boys, Lend Me A Tenor, Elf, Wonderland, Cry-Baby, The Times They Are A-Changin\u2019, The Wedding Singer, Sweet Charity, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Little Women, Brooklyn. Other credits: Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas, Ragtime (London), Rocky das Musical Hamburg), How To Train Your Dragon, Walking with READ MORE \u2228 DANIEL BRODIE (Projection Designer) Daniel's projection and video designs made with love include Jekyll and Hyde (Broadway), Basil Twist's Rite of Spring and Arias with a Twist, Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Music projects include collaborators such as Bonnaroo Music Festival and singer Kanye West. Daniel has also been a guest lecturer on projection at Yale University and Winthrop University. For Caitlin, Inky, and BBC. www.brodiegraphics.com WOJCIK/ SEAY CASTING (Casting) Tours: \u201cVocalosity\u201d, \u201cFlashdance\u201d, \u201cNice Work If You Can Get It\u201d, \u201cJekyll & Hyde\u201d (National & Korean), \u201cDreamgirls\u201d (Korean tour), \u201cJoseph\u2026.Dreamcoat\u201d, \u201cOklahoma!\u201d and \u201cA Chorus Line\u201d. Off Broadway includes: \u201cOthello: The Remix\u201d, \u201cThe Portal\u201d, Tennessee Williams\u2019 \u201cThe Two Character Play\u201d , \u201cHandle With Care\u201d, \u201cTriassic Parq\u201d, \u201cNational Pastime\u201d & \u201c666\u201d. Regional includes: Riverside Theatre, Arvada Center, Tuacahn, Stages St. Louis, Theatre Aspen & The Engeman Theatre. TV & Commercial. www.wscasting.com CHARLES G. LAPOINTE (Hair & Wig Design) Broadway: Clybourne Park, Newsies, The Columnist, Magic/Bird, Bonnie and Clyde, The Mountaintop, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Merchant of Venice, Memphis, Henry IV, The Rivals, Cymbeline, Lombardi, Fences, Looped, Miracle Worker, Superior Donuts, 33 Variations, Guys and Dolls, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, The Color Purple, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Good Vibrations, The Apple Tree, A Raisin in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Lieutenant of Inishmoor, Radio Golf, READ MORE \u2228 BRYAN CROOK (Co-Orchestrator/Additional Arranger) Bryan Crook is a producer, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist for Broadway, TV and films. He is an executive producer of Special Guest Music Productions. In addition to playing woodwinds for The Book of Mormon on Broadway, his recent work can be heard on Ice Age 4 (FOX), \u201cSmash\u201d (NBC), The 2011 Billboard Music Awards and The 2011 Emmy Awards. Other show credits include Rock of Ages, Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, Legally Blonde and Spelling Bee. His most READ MORE \u2228 ZANE MARK (Dance Arranger) Broadway: Leap of Faith, All Shook Up, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Never Gonna Dance, The Full Monty, Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk (Tony and Grammy nomination) Bubblin\u2019 Brown Sugar and The Wiz. Off-Broadway/Regional: Pippin, Frog Kiss, Crowns, The Brother Sister Plays, Ray Charles Live, Imagine Tap, Radiant Baby, George Wolfe\u2019s Harlem Song (Audelco Award), Thunder Knocking On The Door, Insurrection, and Betsy Brown. Film: The Dancer Chronicles, Lackawanna Blues, Frances Ford Coppola\u2019s The Cotton Club. JOSEPH JOUBERT (Music Director/Conductor) Credits as orchestrator, arranger, conductor, producer, musical director include Broadway\u2019s Nice Work If You Can Get It, Leap of Faith; Caroline or Change; The Color Purple; Billy Elliot. Off-Broadway: Violet, Three Mo\u2019 Tenors; Three Mo\u2019 Divas. TV: \u201cWe Shall Not Be Moved;\u201d \u201cMacy\u2019s Fireworks 2010.\u201d Film: Nights in Rodanthe. Recording: Fantasia\u2019s \u201cI\u2019m Here;\u201d Century Men\u2019s Beautiful Star; Total Praise, Broadway Inspirational Voices\u2019 Great Joy. Accompanist/arrangements include Patti Labelle, READ MORE \u2228 KEVIN MCCOLLUM (Producer) Kevin McCollum received three Tony Awards for Best Musical for In the Heights (2008), Avenue Q (2004), and RENT (1996), which was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and made into a major motion picture. He also produced The Drowsy Chaperone (five 2006 Tony Awards), Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme (two 2002 Tony Awards), the revival of Ragtime (2009), West Side Story (2009), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (2011), [title of show] (2008), the debut stage production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and the READ MORE \u2228 DOUG MORRIS (Producer) Doug Morris is widely considered the most influential executive in the music industry. Currently Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment, the world\u2019s second largest music company, he has worked in many different capacities over his career with some of the most popular and influential artists of the past four decades, including The Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Pete Townsend, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler, Tori Amos, INXS, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder and U2, among many others. He is READ MORE \u2228 SELECT YOUR LANGUAGE: Get an e-copy of the book Motown The Musical is based on, Berry Gordy's \"To Be Loved\" For the first time on DVD, own the acclaimed Motown 25 TV special and share in the spectacular night when Motown stars came together to celebrate their legacy Don\u2019t miss Chris Clark\u2019s \u201cMotown Legends\u201d exhibition, currently on display at every tour stop. MERCHANDISESTUDY GUIDEPARTNERS \u00a9 2017 MOTOWN THE MUSICAL. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy Raymond Luke, Jr. and Bryan Terrell Clark photos by Joan Marcus. All other photos by Andrew Eccles.","byline":"Joan Marcus","hireswidth":3647,"hiresheight":5231,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/ed/eed01594-0fe9-11e7-8259-d3b3cb9bf8ce/58d3feb2b88ba.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"530","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/ed/eed01594-0fe9-11e7-8259-d3b3cb9bf8ce/58d3feb2abb59.image.jpg?resize=530%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"143","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/ed/eed01594-0fe9-11e7-8259-d3b3cb9bf8ce/58d3feb2abb59.image.jpg?resize=100%2C143"},"300": 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Story: In 1938, 8-year-old Berry Gordy Jr. witnessed the thrill his parents experienced when American boxer Joe Louis defeated German fighter Max Schmeling in a heavyweight bout. Gordy Jr. was determined to bring happiness to others in a way much like he saw in his parents\u2019 faces at news of that epic sporting event.

With a loan of $800 from his family, Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records in early 1959 in his home city of Detroit and names his new company \u201cMotown.\u201d Despite a failed marriage and his departure from a steady job working in an auto manufacturing plant, Gordy\u2019s family lends him the money so that he can pursue his dreams as a songwriter and budding entrepreneur.

Invaluably assisted by a fledgling songwriter and singer named Smokey Robinson, Gordy builds a recording empire that spotlights emerging black talents whose popularity transcends marked racial lines in the music business and America itself. Stars are made of such talents as The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Robinson himself.

When the luminaries gather to celebrate Motown\u2019s 25th anniversary, however, in Gordy\u2019s adopted base of Los Angeles, their mentor balks at the celebration at a time when his empire is crumbling after years of star defections to other companies and increasingly brutal corporate competition. Will the founder of the empire even attend the celebration?

Highlights: The soundtracks of the \u201860s and \u201870s are the strength of this paean to Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records. Nearly 60 tunes from that era accentuate the show\u2019s strength in this touring production presently playing The Fox Theatre.

Other Info: Unfortunately, the story-telling is weak in this musical about Gordy and how he formed a business empire by bridging the gap in popular music between black and white audiences. Gordy himself wrote the script, based upon his book To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown, and one gets the sense that this is a sanitized version of events that happened along the way.

While Gordy isn\u2019t especially good in the prose department, he is unquestionably musical royalty when it comes to songwriting and his uncanny knack for spotting superior talent in other artists such as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and on and on.

He built all of those acts into superstars primarily in the 1960s and 1970s from his home in Detroit, and he did it when the Civil Rights movement was in its infancy, at least at Motown\u2019s birth in 1959. The touring production intersperses musical moments with sobering newsreel footage on the background screen in Daniel Brodie\u2019s lively projection design, while the sound design of Peter Hylenski includes speeches by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Another problem with Motown the Musical is that almost all of the nearly 60 tunes -- most of them hits written by Gordy, Robinson and the songwriting magicians known as Holland, Dozier and Holland \u2013 are delivered in abbreviated fashion. That\u2019s too much of a tease for fans who remember the heyday of Motown and delight in so many of those foot-tapping, finger-snapping songs.

In any event, there are several good performances in this presentation lovingly directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, who has helmed versions of Motown the Musical on Broadway and in London\u2019s West End as well as this touring version. Reprising their roles are Chester Gregory as Gordy from the Broadway production and Allison Semmes and Jarran Muse as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, respectively, from the first national tour.

Semmes bears a physical resemblance to the young Ross and has a voice with an uncanny similarity to the one-time Primette and Supreme who later rose to individual stardom after she became Gordy\u2019s love interest as well as one of his many talent discoveries.

Muse has some of the show\u2019s best moments, especially when he\u2019s soulfully exploring troubling social issues in tunes such as Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) and What\u2019s Going On?, which were written by Gaye.

Gordy\u2019s personal triumph is an impressive American success story, but his script is just too weak to bridge the time between musical numbers. Gregory is fine as the entrepreneurial Gordy, as is David Kaverman as Smokey Robinson, but the characters in the musical are too often two-dimensional, inhibiting the actors as they portray their parts.

The show\u2019s real strength is the singing of the large cast on myriad showcase numbers recognized by older audience members, as well as the infectious choreography designed by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams and staged by Schele Williams. Ethan Popp is musical supervisor and arranger for the many musical moments.

David Korins\u2019 colorful set provides efficient and effective scene changes for \u2018Hitsville USA\u2019 as well as TV studios where the stars sing their showcase numbers for the likes of Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark. Costumes designed by Emilio Sosa smartly capture the changing looks of the Motown decades, while Natasha Katz\u2019s lighting enhances sundry numbers.

The cast also includes Raymond Davis Jr. and CJ Wright alternating as the youthful Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, complete with snappy dance moves by the latter.

The expansive ensemble is quite capable contributing to the sound track as Mary Wilson (Tavia Rivee), Martha Reeves (Judith Franklin), Mary Wells and Cindy Birdsong (LaTrisa Harper), Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder (Elijah Ahmad Lewis), Florence Ballard (Gabriella Whiting), Levi Stubbs (Malcolm Armwood) and David Ruffin (Garfield Hammonds), among others.

Michelle Alves, Jeremy Gaston, Jared Howelton, Louis James Jackson, Ramone Owens, Devin Price, Kimberly Ann Steele, Doug Storm, Daniel Robert Sullivan and Ricardo Zayas complete the entertaining cast.

Gordy doubtless wanted to please as many fans as possible by shoehorning in more than 50 Motown classics. Maybe a revue would work better than a so-so book to accompany the rock standards he created.

Musical: Motown the Musical

Group: Touring Company

Venue: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand

Dates: Through March 26

Tickets: From $25 to $95; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

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

Photos courtesy of Joan Marcus

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\"File_ArtMuseum1.jpeg\"
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Abruptly, thanks to Pikazo, the whole world can now go Andy Warhol.

More specifically, the St. Louis-based smartphone app allows users to experiment with digital photos \u2013 effectively melding selfies or other snapshots with widely divergent \u201ccloud\u201d-based visual inputs like still other snapshots, classic paintings or random images \u2013 and approximate, say, Marilyn Diptych, the 1962 serigraph from the wiggy U.S. pop nonesuch who gave the world 15 minutes of fame.

Co-founding Pikazo (a slantwise take, of course, on the surname of the Spaniard Pablo Picasso, perhaps the single most influential visual artist of the 20th century) were the husband-and-wife team of Karl Stiefvater and Lisa Donahue with Noah Rosenberg, who Donahue notes in passing has since departed the startup.

\u201cIt took about a month to program, and we\u2019ve been building on it ever since,\u201d she says of Pikazo, which depends on artificial intelligence (a.k.a. AI) and some major cybernetic mojo courtesy of her spouse, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis. \u201cKarl was the sole developer originally.\u201d

Since its November 2015 launch, Donahue estimates, 250,000 users have downloaded the app, with about 1,000 also downloading \u201ca holiday gift to our Pikazo users,\u201d the related Coloring Book app. The ancillary app lets users input photos, output new versions of those photos as faceted paint-by-numbers-style black-and-white printouts and revisit the childhood glories of that Crayola box of 64 crayons (with its famous built-in sharpener).

In discussing Pikazo, Donahue \u2013 who herself holds a Washington University Bachelor of Arts degree, incongruously, in Italian and drama \u2013 often flashes an impish wit. \u201cThat\u2019s kind of been a question of the ages, right?\u201d she says when asked about her personal definition of art. \u201cStill working on that.\u201d

That impishness seems apt in the context of Pikazo, whose website sports the clich\u00e9-based slogan \u201cJoin the art world, no beret needed\u201d and mentions Bob Ross of The Joy of Painting (a man and a PBS TV series not exactly exalted by fine artists), leading Donahue to note that \u201cPikazo has its serious side as well as its fun side \u2013 as well as a few other sides.\u201d

\u201cFor one thing, we believe that it\u2019s a highly useful app for content creation that fills the wide gap between paying a designer to make original art and simply downloading something from Shutterstock,\u201d she continues, referencing the global tech company that markets, among other things, creative visuals under license. \u201cIf you can make your own piece of original art, there are a million empty rectangles that are suddenly fillable.

\"File_000.jpeg\"
File_000.jpeg

\u201cThen on the other hand, our users are making beautiful creations with it. We\u2019d be hard-pressed to say they aren\u2019t artists, considering the beauty that we\u2019re seeing come out of their phones.

\u201cThen another aspect is that the app itself is just fun to use. We have a Facebook Pikazo Salon where our users come to display their work, hold style competitions and make friends. We also bring our Pikazo photo booths to events \u2013 we\u2019ll be at SXSW this year, turning people into art.\u201d (Donahue here is referencing the annual multiday Austin, Texas, bash devoted to media of all sorts and more formally known as South by Southwest.)

To illustrate Pikazo\u2019s illustrative capabilities, Donahue offers an anecdote.

\u201cOne of our early testers, a programmer with no artistic training, used the app to combine a picture of President [George W.] Bush with a picture of an exploding tower from 9/11,\u201d she relates. \u201cThe result rendered Bush\u2019s smirk as a fireball. We\u2019d argue that\u2019s art, and [Pikazo] allowed that tester to make something he otherwise never would have been able to do by himself. But of course, not everything that comes out is art. That makes the app like a paintbrush \u2013 it can be used to make art. It can also be used to paint rooms.\u201d

In service to its visual wizardry, Pikazo boasts a vast digital catalog of styles and effects called \u201cReadymades\u201d \u2013 in homage to the japes of France\u2019s perennial artistic bad boy, Marcel Duchamp \u2013 which Donahue defines as \u201cwell-tested groups of styles that are a good jumping-off point for new users until they start finding their own styles. Usually, once you start playing around with Pikazo, everything you see becomes a style you want to photograph and try out.\u201d

She also touts Pikazo\u2019s functionality as a primary differentiator between it and other, seemingly similar interfaces.

\u201cWith other apps, you can take any photo and filter it, \u00e0 la Instagram, using one of a few pre-optimized styles available in the app \u2013 that\u2019s pretty much it,\u201d says Donahue. \u201cUsing Pikazo, you can combine any two images, any two images at all \u2013 one subject, one style. Flip them around and try it again. Style the same subject with all sorts of patterns. Use the same style on each member of your family. Infinite choices and combinations are available to the user.

\u201cWhile some combinations may perform \u2018better\u2019 than others, those choices are still up to the user, and the definition of a successful Pikazo is therefore intentionally subjective, which, in my humble opinion, is a game changer in terms of a defense for \u2018But is it art?\u2019\u201d

That functionality demands the major cybernetic mojo cited earlier, she adds.

\u201cThe back-end complexity and computational power required to process each combination \u2018to order,\u2019 in real time, are comparatively intense,\u201d Donahue says. \u201cRather than filtering or overlaying, Pikazo \u2013 by necessity of its mission to make any two previously unknown inputs become one new creation \u2013 must paint/build/create/generate \u2013 we haven\u2019t quite agreed on a verb yet \u2013 a brand-new image every time. It takes a few minutes to process using supercomputers in the cloud and then sends the finished piece to your phone.\u201d

\"File_Fox.jpeg\"
File_Fox.jpeg

Given some of the effects Pikazo achieves, informed readers may well wonder if its algorithms incorporate a randomizing element or something similar, a suspicion Donahue next addresses.

\u201cWhile it doesn\u2019t include a specific randomizing function, no two Pikazo works will ever come out the same, just as two drawing students, even if given the same assignment \u2013 and even if they tried \u2013 will never produce two identical works,\u201d she says. \u201cUsing the app, try submitting the same subject and style combination two different times, then compare the results.

\u201cThere\u2019ll be some interesting small differences. [For] example, the AI puts eyeballs where it feels eyeballs should go. Whether this happens because the AI simply confuses eyeballs, mouths and their respective placements as we understand those or because there are more complex matters of perception and artistic interpretation at play is a different question.

\u201cWe\u2019re pretty sure it\u2019s mostly the former, though the app will try its best to create art, given its limited idea of what art is.\u201d

In light of Pikazo\u2019s reliance on AI, Donahue ably fields an inquiry into whether the app could foster AA \u2013 artificial aesthetics.

\u201cAbsolutely yes,\u201d she replies. \u201cThen again, what determines aesthetics? A lot of people would say that it\u2019s what is evoked in a person by art.

\u201cSometimes, we forget to consider artificial aesthetics because throughout our day-to-day operations, we\u2019re immersed in its considerations. For better or worse, we\u2019ve focused on bringing the magic to the consumer \u2013 the client with a problem to solve \u2013 more than considering it academically.

\u201cThat being said, we\u2019d love to see Pikazo in the scholar\u2019s toolbox and to actively participate in related research projects.\u201d

In a similar vein, when asked how she\u2019d argue against Pikazo as just a conceptual refinement of, say, Thai elephants and other nonhuman \u201cartists\u201d that putatively paint, Donohue responds quite thoughtfully.

\u201cI think it\u2019s wrong to compare Pikazo to an artist,\u201d she replies. \u201cIt\u2019s an artist\u2019s tool, not the artist himself. It does blur the distinction by using artificial intelligence, but at the end of the day, there\u2019s still a human being at the helm directing the show.

\u201cThat said, the day of an entirely automatic artistic system is quickly approaching. For example, the case of a neural network trained to recognize \u2018good\u2019 art. It\u2019s created from a huge body of works that humans have rated from 1 to 10 on the \u2018good art\u2019 scale. So it has some \u2013 limited \u2013 concept of what good means. Then it uses Pikazo to randomly generate 1,000 pieces and chooses one that scores a 10. Is that art?

\u201cThat\u2019s a fascinating question with no simple answers \u2013 it\u2019s the artistic equivalent of the Turing test,\u201d she concludes, referring to the famed 1950 cybernetic protocol developed by the polymath Alan Turing to judge a device\u2019s ability to mimic or exhibit human intelligence.

Ultimately, Donahue addresses how the Pikazo team might respond to credentialed fine artists who take umbrage at having their expertise and endeavors reduced to the equivalent of a few screen taps.

\u201cWe totally get that,\u201d she says. \u201cFor one thing, we are artists ourselves. \u2026 We don\u2019t think that this new evolution of art takes the place of traditional artistry, though it can stand alongside in the same way that digital music can stand alongside rock-and-roll.

\u201cConsider an analogy to photography. Did the invention of the photograph \u2013 which takes only a single click \u2013 diminish the work of hand-painted portraiture? At the time, some painters may have thought so. But after 100 years, we see that each art form has evolved along their own paths, responding to and evolving from each other.

\u201cIt needn\u2019t be a competition.\u201d

Pikazo, 3407 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, pikazoapp.com

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"}, {"id":"6a29f237-340f-5c3b-aaea-695ebd85912e","type":"article","starttime":"1490288400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-23T12:00:00-05:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: The Blue Duck","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_6a29f237-340f-5c3b-aaea-695ebd85912e.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-the-blue-duck/article_6a29f237-340f-5c3b-aaea-695ebd85912e.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-the-blue-duck/article_6a29f237-340f-5c3b-aaea-695ebd85912e.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"The Blue Duck, which opened in Maplewood in mid-February, features self-proclaimed classic comfort food with a twist.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["the blue duck","dinner & a show","maplewood"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb","description":"","byline":"Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1753,"hiresheight":1182,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/a0/6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb/58caa7521c4dc.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"512","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/a0/6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb/58caa7521a5a3.image.jpg?resize=760%2C512"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/a0/6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb/58caa7521a5a3.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"202","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/a0/6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb/58caa7521a5a3.image.jpg?resize=300%2C202"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"690","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/a0/6a0c70b8-b6bc-5dc7-99bb-db2dacb181eb/58caa7521a5a3.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C690"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"6a29f237-340f-5c3b-aaea-695ebd85912e","body":"
\"The
The Blue Duck

The Blue Duck, which opened in Maplewood in mid-February, features self-proclaimed classic comfort food with a twist.

The 4,200-square-foot space, previously occupied by Monarch, features a full bar and a dining room with seats for 125. Aesthetically, a farmhouse-like feel highlights rustic industrial touches with complementary blues and oranges.

The first location of The Blue Duck debuted in Washington, Missouri, seven years ago, before moving to a riverfront location in 2013. The restaurant\u2019s new iteration features the same casual, family-friendly atmosphere under the direction of owner Chris Rayburn; his wife, pastry chef Karmen Rayburn; executive chef Jordan Knight; and bar manager Adam Anglin.

\u201cIt\u2019s new American food that\u2019s all over the board,\u201d Knight says. \u201cWe have influences from Mexican, Korean and Southern food, and try to shoot for really high quality. We\u2019ll be doing more experimenting here. It\u2019s a bit more adventuresome and playful. If it sounds like fun to us, we\u2019re going to try it out.\u201d

The full-service lunch and dinner menu includes favorites established over the years, such as the DLT, which features in-house cured and smoked duck breast, lettuce, tomato and honey-chipotle mayo on sourdough. Among the seven sandwiches on the menu, another highlight involves pastrami steamed buns \u2013 rye steamed buns, short-rib pastrami, pickled cabbage, cucumber kimchi and red miso Russian dressing.

Starters include fried pork belly bites, cashew chicken wings and falafel balls. A soup and salads are available, and entr\u00e9es include seared trout, vegetable risotto and mac \u2019n\u2019 cheese with braised short-rib marmalade, herbed bread crumbs, bacon and confit shallots.

Knight hopes to offer more vegetarian and vegan dishes in the future, such as a take on the BLT with beets instead of bacon, paired with smoked green tomato jam, mustard greens and smoked scallion vinaigrette.

The Blue Duck also offers a variety of signature sweet treats. \u201cWe\u2019re going with comfort classics for the desserts, such as French macarons and fried hand pies,\u201d Karmen Rayburn says. \u201cWe\u2019re also doing a smoked apple cinnamon steamed bun that\u2019s a take on our smoked apple bourbon pie in Washington.\u201d

The bar offers six beers on draft, as well as a selection of cans and bottles, and other libations include The Blue Duck\u2019s popular hillbilly sangria, made with Pinckney Bend whiskey. So whether for simply a cocktail or a comforting dish, The Blue Duck would make a perfect pre-performance destination for those wishing to catch Million Dollar Quartet from The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

The Blue Duck, 2661 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314-769-9940, blueduckstl.com

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\"Wine\"
Wine

2015 ERATH PINOT NOIR \u2013 OREGON

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir

Owner/Winemaker: Dick Erath and Gary Horner

Aged: 25% in new French oak with medium toast on barrel

Approximate Retail Price: $18

TASTING NOTES:

Color: Light red cherry

Aroma: Baked berry pie

Taste: Cherries, red currants, red plum, balanced acidity with soft tannins

Dick Erath, one of the early pioneers in Oregon wine country, purchased the first vineyard site in the Chehalem Mountains in 1968. After completing his course work at the University of California, Davis, Erath relocated his family to the red hills of Dundee, Oregon. The following year, he planted 23 different varietals of vines and found that pinot noir (for which Erath is best known today) flourished. By 1972, Erath produced his first commercial wine, with 216 cases.

Winemaking is relatively new to Oregon, with adventurists setting up shop in the 1960s. Willamette Valley runs along the 45 degree global latitude, which is also famous for other wine regions such as C\u00f4tes du Rh\u00f4ne, France, and the Italian Piedmont.

Another pioneer, David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards, brought his wines to a competition in Paris in 1979 and placed third among pinot noirs. The following year, Robert Drouhin of the famous Burgundy domaine winery invited Eyrie wines back to the competition, where the pinot improved to second place, heralding Oregon as a world-class pinot noir-producing region.

Winemaker Gary Horner joined Erath from Oregon\u2019s Bethel Heights Vineyard, where he honed his own winemaking skills from 1988 to 1992. Horner is known for his skill in grape clone selection, suited to particular vineyard sites to bring out the best fruit to enable him to make the best wine. Horner has had his hand in many projects from Benton-Lane Winery in Oregon, Avatar Partners in Napa Valley and Washington Hills Cellars in Washington. He believes making wine is a process, and many impurities can affect that process, so Horner also believes in utilizing modern technologies to help bring out the best.

One cannot talk about Oregon without talking about terroir and why winemakers desire to settle there. Oregon has a temperate climate with good rainfall and enough warmth to ripen the grapes; it is similar to parts of Europe, with many cool-climate grapes grown here. Pinot noir has excelled in Oregon and is often said to be a style that is between Burgundy and California.

Food Pairings: This vintage pairs well with lighter-flavored foods such as roasted pork, risotto, pasta, chicken simmered with mushrooms and red wine, and grilled salmon.

Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves and Downtown at the MX.

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Story: In 1924 two brilliant young students from Chicago met at the University of Chicago and became fast friends. Nathan Leopold was not yet 20 but already had completed an undergraduate degree and was planning to enroll at Harvard Law School. Richard Loeb had been the University of Michigan\u2019s youngest graduate at age 17 and was still a teenager when he met Leopold.

The two young men shared a physical attraction to each other as well as a fascination with crime. Loeb was obsessed with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the German\u2019s concept of ubermenschen (supermen), that some individuals with superior intellects enabled them to rise above the laws and rules observed by \u201caverage\u201d people.

Loeb proposed that the two commit a random murder simply for the thrill of it and the excitement of duping the police. After months of planning they kidnapped a boy named Bobby Franks and murdered him, burying his body in a place they considered too obscure to find and then contacting Franks\u2019 family with a phony ransom demand.

Leopold and Loeb eventually were caught, though, and put on trial for murder. Famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow represented the pair and decided to have them plead guilty so that he could direct his energies to the sentencing hearing held by the judge. The \u201ccrime of the century\u201d ended with the killers being condemned to life imprisonment plus 99 years, thus escaping the death penalty in a ground-breaking decision.

Highlights: John Logan\u2019s comprehensive and absorbing drama is being given a taut, compelling interpretation by director Rick Dildine and a top-notch cast in the current production at New Jewish Theatre, one that will linger with an audience long after leaving the theater.

Other Info: Never the Sinner was Logan\u2019s first play, written in 1985 at age 24. He\u2019s gone on to win a Tony Award for Red as well as Oscar and Emmy nominations for The Aviator and Gladiator, among others. He also penned the drama Hauptmann about the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh and his wife.

So, Logan has a penchant for the dark and macabre as well as an eye for brilliance and superiority, all traits that merge in this study of two wealthy and intelligent young men who, according to a psychiatrist at their hearing, were incapable of committing the heinous offense of murder on their own but became a deadly duo when combined.

Dildine coaxes magnetic performances out of Pete Winfrey as Loeb and Jack Zanger as Leopold. Winfrey especially has Loeb come across as a seriously mis-wired sociopath, shockingly comparing the murder of Franks to the killing of a bug for scientific study. At other times, Winfrey\u2019s Loeb becomes unhinged by the fact that his mother not once sees him at the trial nor visits him in jail.

Zanger portays Leopold as the more studious and apprehensive of the pair but also a teen fascinated with the allure of the roguish Leopold. The latter is described by the vapid tabloid reporters of the day as causing more than one female heart to flutter. Both performers cut dashing figures in the fancy suits costumed by Michele Friedman Siler, who furnishes more utilitarian garb for the various reporters and a crumpled look for Darrow.

The drama unfolds on a fascinating set designed by Peter and Margery Spack that is populated with sundry paintings of birds, especially ones of prey, alluding to Leopold\u2019s budding national reputation as an ornithological expert as well as the deadly instincts of the defendants. The paintings rise high above the wooden floor where the trial itself occurs, with players sitting on chairs off to the sides when not involved directly in dialogue.

Maureen Berry lights everything as through a prism of investigation, alternating the set between shards of light and darkness, with the spotlight on characters in the trial. Somehow, Margery Spack\u2019s props seem to include newspapers with actual headlines addressing the \u201ccrime of the century.\u201d Michael Perkins adds the sober sound design.

Most impressive is John Flack as the renowned Darrow. Intentionally stooped to indicate Darrow\u2019s advancing age as well as his world weariness, Flack\u2019s pained expressions carry the weight of the sage\u2019s wisdom and Darrow\u2019s exhaustive and ingenious approach to representing his reprehensible clients. He\u2019s particularly impressive as Darrow grapples to understand any possible motives.

Eric Dean White plays the overly sensitive prosecuting attorney Robert Crowe, who chafes at the notoriety that follows his older adversary Darrow. Maggie Conroy, Will Bonfiglio and John Reidy are in fine form as sundry scribes breathlessly writing down the words of these cold-blooded killers-turned-celebrities, not much different from today\u2019s reality TV. Reidy also has an amusing turn as a tongue-tied witness who obviously parrots testimony that\u2019s been spoon-fed to him until Darrow trips him up.

Dildine\u2019s program notes refer to Never the Sinner as \u201ca love story.\u201d In a bizarre, twisted way it is exactly that. Most often, though, it\u2019s a troubling and fascinating tale about two talented youngsters who threw away their freedom when they joined together to follow their worst impulses to tragic ends.

Play: Never the Sinner

Company: New Jewish Theatre

Venue: Wool Theatre, Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive

Dates: March 22, 23, 25, 26, 29, 30, April 1, 2

Tickets: $39.50-$43.50; contact 442-3283 or newjewishtheatre.org

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Eric Woolsey

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Story: Rising young rock \u2018n\u2019 roll star Carl Perkins is rehearsing in the Sun Records studio at the Memphis Recording Service owned and operated by Sam Phillips. The latter, who opened his business in 1950 at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, has invited a piano prodigy named Jerry Lee Lewis to sit in on the session, much to Perkins\u2019 annoyance.

Phillips also is expecting another of his \u201cboys,\u201d Johnny Cash, to stop by. That\u2019s a big deal because Phillips is about to reward Cash with a three-year contract to replace the one that is expiring. What he doesn\u2019t know is that Cash already has agreed to join Columbia Records, and by departing follow in the footsteps of another of Phillips\u2019 prot\u00e9g\u00e9es, Elvis Presley.

When Elvis unexpectedly shows up with his girlfriend on that afternoon of December 4, 1956 with a Christmas present for his former boss, Phillips realizes he may have something special happening. He calls the Memphis Press-Scimitar, which sends a reporter and photographer to document the four young stars at their impromptu jam, which Phillips has recorded.

A story in the daily newspaper the next day refers to the \u201cMillion Dollar Quartet\u201d who filled the Sun Records studio with music, life and a spirited time that one fateful day. It\u2019s an event that spans emotions from Phillips\u2019 reaction to Cash\u2019s news to the producer\u2019s realization that his instincts and his \u201cboys\u201d have revolutionized the music world with their brand of playing called rock \u2018n\u2019 roll.

Highlights: The Rep caps its historic 50th anniversary season with a rollicking rendition of this jukebox musical that recalls the first and only time four legendary pioneers of rock \u2018n\u2019 roll performed together, if only briefly. At times, The Rep\u2019s presentation of Million Dollar Quartet seems more like a concert than a musical, an infectious good time woven around a fascinating story.

Other Info: Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux wrote the book of Million Dollar Quartet, which was first presented in Florida in 2006. A long-running production opened in Chicago in 2008 and eventually eclipsed 2,500 performances before closing in 2016. Additional productions ran in Seattle, on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in London\u2019s West End as well as a national tour.

The touring version played The Fox a few years ago as a one-act, 90-minute piece. The Rep\u2019s rendition runs in two acts and for more than two hours as it devotes more time to the story behind the session, increasing the dramatic impact. The intermission seems rather abruptly and arbitrarily placed but the story picks up easily enough in Act II.

Hunter Foster, who originated the role of Sam Phillips in the Broadway production, is directing his fifth rendition of this lively jukebox musical. He uses all of the spacious, double-decked set designed by Adam Koch as well as stage entrances and exits to focus as much on the show\u2019s dramatic and comic moments as the music itself.

Koch\u2019s scenic design features two sides of the Memphis Recording Service that open up, a la at a street intersection, to reveal the Sun Studio within. The second level features large, plain windows in the background, the kind you\u2019d expect at an auto parts store, which Phillips explains was the building\u2019s original purpose. Koch puts the recording devices in a back room behind the area where the musicians perform.

Lauren T. Roark\u2019s costumes fit the personalities of the various characters, from the wild outfit sported by Lewis to the somber black clothes favored by Cash, a handsome blazer worn by Phillips and, of course, blue suede shoes sported by Perkins that represent his signature tune.

Kirk Bookman adds dazzling lighting at the show\u2019s \u2018concert\u2019 finale, Bart Fasbender provides background sound design and John Michael Presney is the production\u2019s focused music director.

This rendition of Million Dollar Quartet features an especially strong performance by James Ludwig as Phillips, who reveals the undying passion and belief the impresario has in this new style of music that he knows is derived from the souls and sorrows of impoverished black musicians from the South.

Ludwig serves as the show\u2019s narrator, speaking often from the apron of the stage to explain how his \u201cboys,\u201d all Southern and mostly poor, could find such depth in their music. His performance anchors the dramatic aspect of the play.

Sky Seals portrays the respectful and devoted Cash, who yearns to sing the gospel numbers at Columbia that Phillips vetoed at Sun. His deep, rumbling voice lends credence on Folsom Prison Blues and the sweet, simple Down by the Riverside as well as backup to the others.

Dominique Scott channels the unbridled passion and free-wheeling expression of the piano-pounding Lewis, who may be married to two women at the same time and who definitely doesn\u2019t lack for self-confidence.

Presney doubles as the stiff-necked Perkins, who chafes over the fact that Elvis sang Blue Suede Shoes on Ed Sullivan\u2019s national TV show, and that Presley\u2019s adoring fans believe that he wrote the song, too. Like the other band members, Presney\u2019s accomplished musical skills make the show sizzle with flair and flash.

Ari McKay Wilford has Elvis\u2019 patented swivel down pat, although he appears shorter than the King. He captures Presley\u2019s innate decency and humility, though, which works well in underscoring the respect these musicians had for Phillips.

Ryah Nixon does a fine job as Elvis\u2019 girlfriend Dyanne, fashioning a sultry version of Fever and a lively I Hear You Knockin.\u2019 Eric Scott Anthony portrays Carl\u2019s brother Jay Perkins on bass and Zack Cossman brings pulsating percussion sounds to the set as Fluke.

After Lewis, Perkins and Cash do a down-home version of Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, Presney informs the audience that the songwriter of that tune, Chuck Berry, was forced by his recording company to change the title from Brown-Skinned Handsome Man. The day after that opening-night performance, St. Louis' famous native son Berry died at his St. Charles County home at age 90.

It was fun hearing Phillips\u2019 singers do a number of songs from the era, many of them not theirs since their careers were just getting started. The show ends with a rocking, infectious delivery of numbers that definitely is more concert than musical.

Million Dollar Quartet is a fitting end to The Rep\u2019s financially prosperous and critically acclaimed season. There\u2019s a whole lotta shakin\u2019 goin\u2019 on that set.

Musical: Million Dollar Quartet

Company: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Venue: Browning Mainstage, Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road

Dates: Through April 9

Tickets: $28-$91.50; contact 968-4925 or www.repstl.org

Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Jerry Naunheim Jr.

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Story: Bobby is confused. His girlfriend Julie has left him and he has no clue as to why. If he thinks back to what he has said and done, perhaps there\u2019s a reason or two along the way. But Bobby is a guy and he isn\u2019t used to tuning into his sensitive side.

So, he enlists the aid of several mentors who have their own thoughts and opinions about the differences between men and women. There\u2019s the tell-it-like-it-is Colonel who pulls no punches when he informs Bobby what\u2019s at stake in the ongoing battle of the sexes. At the other end of the spectrum is wise French lover Jean-Michel, who carefully drags on a cigarette while sharing his philosophy about the \u2018fairer sex\u2019 with his dutiful student.

Fast Eddie is all about seizing the moment and letting the lady know she\u2019s in for a good time, while ancient Mr. Linger reflects upon his 123 years while he fishes for the perfect woman -- a mermaid. She\u2019s out there somewhere, he says, and as long as he\u2019s fishing for her he\u2019s still living. And then there\u2019s Ronnie Cabrezi, whose reckless advice is certain to be more trouble than help.

Fortunately for Bobby, he is regularly interrupted in his confused state by the female Voice of Emotion emanating from the right side of his brain, which is clean as a whistle as opposed to the cluttered left side, where his male buddies hang out. This is opposite what it should be, Bobby surmises. But can Bobby figure out what it takes to win back Julie?

Highlights: Robert Dubac, whose Book of Moron kept audiences in stitches when he performed that show at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza in December, has returned with a vengeance with this silly, smart and satirical look at the differences between men and women.

Other Info: Like Book of Moron, The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? is a one-man show written and performed by Dubac. In one act and 90 minutes he sets up his very clever premise and keeps his audience entertained and informed at a dizzying pace throughout.

Having said that, this show might work better at about 75 minutes, as it often trudges over familiar territory traversed earlier in the monologue. There\u2019s no disputing, however, Dubac\u2019s considerable talent. He\u2019s very smart and he sets up his premise in stellar fashion, using both sides of a blackboard at stage right where he ingeniously draws together myriad thoughts and observations that ultimately reach one bright conclusion.

Dubac is an expert story-teller and also an accomplished stand-up comedian, and both elements come into play in The Male Intellect. His set design is an amusing mishmash of assorted junk at stage left, representing the left, \u2018male\u2019 side of the brain, cluttered with a coat rack, knickknacks of all sorts and a refrigerator stocked with beer, one of which is always open for Bobby to swizzle.

Bobby informs the audience that men are focused on just a few basics, primarily sex and booze. They\u2019re not into this sensitive, feely stuff, so his Female Voice needs to constantly remind him that there are certain buzz words that resonate with women.

Those are \u2018sense of humor,\u2019 \u2018communicate,\u2019 \u2018honesty,\u2019 \u2018passion\u2019 and \u2018sensitive.\u2019 Oh, and there\u2019s one word most important of all, he learns. It also starts with an \u2018s\u2019 and it\u2019s the name of Julie\u2019s cat. If only he could remember what that word is.

Dubac moves effortlessly between Bobby and the other characters, quickly donning a garment or twitching a shoulder to indicate the arrival of the Colonel or Jean-Michel or Mr. Linger, etc. He does it all smoothly and consistently. On opening night he worked the name of a woman in the front row into several bits of the routine along the way to the amusement of everyone.

His observations wisely point out the foibles of men and the strengths of their counterparts, although he may stumble a bit here and there, for all I know. What\u2019s certain is that, like Book of Moron, Dubac proves with The Male Intellect that he\u2019s a very funny guy, quite an intelligent thinker and a fine comic artist constantly honing his craft.

There\u2019s nothing oxymoronic about that.

Play: The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?

Company: Emery Entertainment/Jack Lane

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: March 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26

Tickets: $50; contact metrotix.com or 534-1111; discounts available

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Playhouse at Westport Plaza

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Angela Zeng

Our nation collectively is drowning in a riptide of high-fructose corn syrup, often overcharged with caffeine and chemicals, and Angela Zeng wants to throw Americans a life preserver.

Zeng serves as the chief executive officer of the startup beverage company Karuna, which she founded with her husband, Dr. Shawn Hu. She characterizes him as \u201ca well-respected and experienced medical oncologist in St. Louis who has provided us with in-depth knowledge in medical and nutritional sciences, guided our ingredient selection and optimized the nutritional composition of our products.\u201d

Like her co-founder, Zeng herself can lay claim to fairly impressive credentials. More specifically \u2013 and intriguingly if incongruously \u2013 she holds a Ph.D. in pathology from Saint Louis University\u2019s School of Medicine, with a focus on cell motility and its relationship to cancer.

Assisting the couple at Karuna are Dr. Zebin Wang and Dr. Xi Wu, both of whom earned their doctorates in food science from Indiana\u2019s prestigious Purdue University. The former, Zeng says, \u201cplayed a key role in our product development,\u201d adding that he also \u201cworked as a research scientist/senior research investigator for DuPont Nutrition & Health for over 10 years\u201d; the latter recently joined Karuna as its research-and-development/production specialist.

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So, let\u2019s pop the cap and drink deeply, shall we?

\u201cI have always had the idea of developing a line of healthy food products based on ancient East Asian recipes,\u201d Zeng relates of the process of conceiving and actualizing Karuna. \u201cWhat has motivated me to finally start the company was seeing some disturbing trends in the natural-food market, especially the recent rise of cold-pressed juice products, which not only often contain high levels of added sugar but also create a huge amount of waste of valuable food plants and natural resources.

\u201cThe Karuna brand was created about a year ago, after we developed the prototype of our first product, a [mung] bean sprout and Aronia berry drink, by utilizing two highly renewable natural ingredients with proven health benefits. This Karuna signature product highlighted our success in combining ancient healing wisdom with modern nutritional science while shouldering our social and environmental responsibilities as a natural food producer.\u201d

Regarding theoretically similar offerings from, say, Naked, Bolthouse Farms or Evolution Fresh, Zeng briefly contrasts Karuna and its potential competitors regarding felicities of mouthfeel.

\u201cFrom the beginning, we wanted to make sure that all our products had a genuinely natural taste that comes directly from the food ingredients themselves without adding any sugar or \u2018natural flavors,\u2019\u201d she says. \u201cMany current natural drinks on the market are so-called \u2018formulated\u2019 products that are made of various protein and food extracts. Those products have to rely on added sugar and many other additives to generate consistency and simulated flavors. That has given those products a rather chalky taste and texture.

\u201cIn contrast to those products, all of our shakes and drinks come from simple food ingredients in their natural forms, without any added sugar or artificial materials. They offer a uniquely pleasant taste, with layers of flavor reflecting the synergy among the different natural plants in our drinks.\u201d

Ah, yes \u2013 those natural plants. In the context of nature-based, nutritional beverages like Karuna\u2019s, St. Louisans who know, say, cherries and bananas and blueberries might feel qualms about some Karuna ingredients \u2013 qualms that Zeng addresses.

Take mung bean sprouts, for instance. \u201cDescribed in many ancient folk medicine literatures, mung bean sprouts have been widely consumed in many Asian countries for their \u2018detoxifying\u2019 benefits,\u201d Zeng says. \u201cNowadays, they\u2019ve become more and more popular with consumers around the world, and you can find them in virtually all grocery stores. They\u2019re often used in salads or served as a low-carb and high-protein vegetable dish.\u201d

Zeng then cites herbalists and scientists alike regarding mung bean sprouts\u2019 use in treating various complaints (upset stomachs, for instance) and metabolic merits (antioxidants, for example).

Consider, as well, Aronia berries, not exactly an offering likely to rival raspberries and blackberries at the corner smoothie joint.

\u201cAronia \u2013 chokeberry \u2013 is a native North American plant [that] has long been used in many Native American folk remedies to combat colds and other infections,\u201d Zeng relates. \u201cIt truly is a nutrition powerhouse by all standards. The Aronia berry has the highest content of antioxidants among all fruits. In addition, the Aronia berry is rich in potassium, vitamin C, magnesium and iron.

\u201cPreliminary studies of Aronia berry in cells and animal models have linked its positive effects on treating chronic inflammation, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease; infection, such as urinary tract infection; and heavy metal intoxication.

\u201cThe reason that Aronia berry hasn\u2019t been widely consumed is largely due to its astringent taste. Thanks to Karuna\u2019s proprietary blending technique, the fusion of mung bean sprout and Aronia berry juice has generated a pleasant and refreshing flavor that\u2019s very unique. More importantly, this drink has capitalized on those incredible nutritional benefits and created a super detox drink with the power of antioxidants, protein and iron.

\u201cIt\u2019s a drink the market has never seen before, and we did it without any added sugar or synthetic materials.\u201d

Another Karuna ingredient unlikely to grace parfaits in area Dairy Queen Blizzards anytime soon: the longan.

\u201cStories about the longan berry are legendary, and it used to be a sacred fruit served exclusively to the emperors and royalties in many Asian countries,\u201d Zeng says. \u201cThis flavorful tropical fruit is thought by many to promote qi and blood, which mean \u2018energy\u2019 and \u2018endurance\u2019 in traditional Chinese medicine. Rich in vitamins B and C, iron, copper and other minerals, the longan berry is known to provide antioxidant effects, help blood cell production and bone strengthening, and prevent eye disease.\u201d

Finally, although most Missourians appreciate standard soybeans, certain Karuna offerings haze the landscape, oddly enough, with overspecificity by citing black soybeans.

\u201cRich in protein, fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, iron and other minerals, the soybean has been an integral part of people\u2019s daily diet in Asia and many other parts of the world for thousands of years,\u201d Zeng says. \u201cIt\u2019s one of the very few plants on earth that contain all the essential amino acids that are equal to animal proteins. Among all soybeans, the black soybean is arguably the healthiest because of its antioxidant, rich, dark surface and high protein content. Numerous studies have linked black soybeans to potential benefits in lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease and reducing inflammation.\u201d

As Karuna\u2019s chief executive officer, she next sketches some fairly forward-looking plans for its first five years. \u201cOur current focus is to ensure a successful launch of the Karuna brand in the St. Louis market while preparing to enter regional and nationwide retail chains in a six- to 12-month period,\u201d Zeng says of her company\u2019s products, which can be purchased at select Dierbergs Markets, United Provisions and Whole Foods Market.

\u201cIn order to meet the rapidly evolving needs of American consumers, we\u2019re actively developing new products to expand our appeal. We anticipate a round of fundraising by the end of the year and [then] building another production facility in the metro St. Louis area.\u201d

The company\u2019s name, incidentally, derives from the Sanskrit term karu\u0101, a concept important in Buddhism.

\u201cI think that it\u2019s important to point out that, at the core, Buddhism is more about a philosophy rather than a strict religious doctrine,\u201d Zeng says. \u201cThe four fundamental lifelong pursuits in Buddhism are, first, to show kindness and mercy to everything around you, maitr\u012b; secondly, to be compassionate towards people, animals and all living things, karu\u0101; thirdly, to find happiness and joy from all aspects of a person\u2019s life, mudita; and finally, to seek equanimity, balance and peace with the world you\u2019re living in, upeksha.

\u201cAll of these are what people from every religion and background would be striving for, and that\u2019s exactly why Buddhist philosophy has such broad appeal. We believe that practicing karu\u0101 \u2013 to show compassion toward our own health and others\u2019 well-being, to care about animals and the environment around us \u2013 is the message of our brand that will resonate with everyone in our society.\u201d

Finally, treating Karuna products with a blanket recusal, Zeng names her personal go-to beverage.

\u201cKombucha is the drink I grew up with and is one of my favorites,\u201d Zeng confesses, referencing various fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened tea drinks that reportedly originated in northeast Asia more than two millennia ago. \u201cMy parents used to make kombucha at home, which is a much stronger version than those currently available on the market.\u201d

Then, with CEO canniness, Zeng adds, \u201cI also like [other] tea drinks, and we\u2019re working on developing a unique line of Karuna tea products.\u201d

Karuna, 2600 Clark Ave., St. Louis, mykaruna.com

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Story: Leonard Vole is an amiable enough chap, but he always seems to be looking for work. So, it appears to be his good fortune when he inherits the estate of an older woman, Emily French, whom he had befriended after a mishap befell Emily on a London street.

Vole claims to be unaware of the inheritance. After all, he tells Scotland Yard that his regular visits to Emily were strictly of a hospitable nature, since he already is married to a foreign woman named Romaine. Nevertheless, when French is found murdered, Vole is charged with her killing by Inspector Hearne.

Taking on Vole\u2019s defense is noted attorney Sir Wilfrid Robarts, assisted by Vole\u2019s solicitor Mr. Mayhew. Robarts is a legendary name at London\u2019s famous \u2018Old Bailey\u2019 court in the year 1953, noted for his keen understanding of the law as well as human nature. Sir Wilfrid and Mayhew agree that the genial if impoverished Vole is innocent of such a ghastly offense and are pleased to represent him.

But who is Emily\u2019s killer? Is it her loyal maid Janet Mackenzie, who was her original heir apparent until Emily changed her will after she met Leonard? Is it Voles\u2019 mysterious wife Romaine, who seems less than enraptured with her husband? Is it Leonard himself? Or is it someone more obscure, perhaps the burglar who apparently invaded Emily\u2019s home the night of her killing?

In other word, whodunit?

Highlights: Kirkwood Theatre Guild brings back a reliable chestnut from famed writer Agatha Christie with this leisurely, old-fashioned yarn that is peppered with several appealing performances.

Other Info: Christie, who has sold more books than anyone except William Shakespeare and The Bible, wrote this effort originally in 1925, first as a short story and then as a play. She changed the ending three decades later to make it more appealing to her own individual tastes. Billy Wilder directed a film noir version a few years later.

Director Dani Mann has an apparent deep and abiding respect for Christie, to the ultimate detriment of this production. Its three acts and two intermissions creep along at a pace that initially is charming but eventually proves plodding and tedious, coming in at just under three hours.

Mann does elicit a number of well-delivered performances that enhance the effort and offset mediocrity in some minor roles. Chief among these is Will Shaw\u2019s properly mannered performance as the erudite barrister Sir Wilfrid. Shaw\u2019s delivery is precise and carefully shaped in the manner of a stereotypical upper-class Brit. \u00a0He plays well off of David Hawley\u2019s earnest if unimpressive Mr. Mayhew, who serves primarily to agree with Sir Wilfrid.

Jeffrey Wright is a delight as Leonard, sporting a right fine British accent and appearing every bit the proper chap who might befriend most anyone, sharing a pint and a jolly good laugh along the way. In contrast, Heather Sartin deliciously mines the role of the devious and mysterious Romaine, guardedly selecting her words and carrying her posture in secretive mannerisms to keep Leonard\u2019s attorneys guessing about her true motives.

Ken Lopinot entertainingly chews up the scenery as the veteran prosecuting attorney Mr. Myers, rolling his eyes and reacting in exasperated fashion to any surprises that come his way in the courtroom. Scene-stealing Julie Healey extracts every ounce of humor and indignation in the role of Emily\u2019s starchy maid, Janet Mackenzie, throwing in a right fine Irish accent to boot.

Annalise Webb is entertaining as Robarts\u2019 vacuous secretary Greta, while Tim Callahan has a number of amusing moments as the long-suffering Justice Wainwright. Richard Hunsaker does well as the overly careful coroner Dr. Wyatt and Jason Klefisch finds the humor in the testimony of the nervous Mr. Clegg.

The cast also includes Robert O. Stevenson as Carter, Steve Garrett as Inspector Hearne, Rahul Mehta as the court clerk and Kevin Arnold, James Twickler, NoreenAnn Rhodes, Anna Werner, Kris Mohler, Jim Wamser, Frank Lewis, Mike Bisch in the ensemble, with Sally Sinclair as the \u201cYoung Woman.\u201d

Merrick Mohler\u2019s scenic design works both as a law office and, when turned around and enhanced, as a courtroom to accommodate the drama\u2019s four scenes, enhanced by Judy Lewis\u2019 properties design and Susan Wolff\u2019s set decoration. Sarah Porter does double duty, sharply dressing the players in her period costumes and also refining make-up and hair. Lighting is by Nathan Schroederm with Amanda Jackson adding sound design.

At the Sunday matinee, there were seemingly half a dozen times when someone\u2019s mobile phone rang in the theater. Obviously, the request before-hand to silence cell phones was ignored by too many people, aggravating the audience and probably annoying the cast as well.

If the players can memorize three hours\u2019 worth of dialogue, it\u2019s to be hoped that audience members can heed a simple request to turn off beeping devices. That hope springs eternal.

Play: Witness for the Prosecution

Group: Kirkwood Theatre Guild

Venue: Reim Theater, Kirkwood Community Center, 111 South Geyer Road

Dates: $20; contact 821-9956 or boxoffice@ktg-onstage.org

"}, {"id":"e0156d27-73ee-5c1b-a7a5-7dc68ed9fe1e","type":"article","starttime":"1489683600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-16T12:00:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1489684691","priority":40,"sections":[{"dining":"arts-and-culture/dining"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: Yiro/Gyro","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/article_e0156d27-73ee-5c1b-a7a5-7dc68ed9fe1e.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-yiro-gyro/article_e0156d27-73ee-5c1b-a7a5-7dc68ed9fe1e.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dining/dinner-a-show-yiro-gyro/article_e0156d27-73ee-5c1b-a7a5-7dc68ed9fe1e.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"Immediately dispelling any pronunciation misconceptions, brothers Mirza and Merim Imamovic cut right to the chase with the fun, phonetic name of their latest restaurant, Yiro/Gyro.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["gyro","mirza imamovic","merim imamovic","the gyro company"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1677,"hiresheight":1235,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/b1/fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594/58c2e6af0b417.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"560","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/b1/fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594/58c2e6af095e4.image.jpg?resize=760%2C560"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"69","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/b1/fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594/58c2e6af095e4.image.jpg?crop=1665%2C1155%2C0%2C74&resize=100%2C69&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"208","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/b1/fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594/58c2e6af095e4.image.jpg?crop=1665%2C1155%2C0%2C74&resize=300%2C208&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"710","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/b1/fb1d6949-9338-5925-a043-b6777b8df594/58c2e6af095e4.image.jpg?crop=1665%2C1155%2C0%2C74&resize=1024%2C710&order=crop%2Cresize"}}},{"id":"bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1662,"hiresheight":1247,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/b6/bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5/58c2e6afc6716.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"570","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/b6/bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5/58c2e6afc57e3.image.jpg?resize=760%2C570"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/b6/bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5/58c2e6afc57e3.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/b6/bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5/58c2e6afc57e3.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"768","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/b6/bb6b1af9-379b-55fc-bb3c-d0bf900a8bd5/58c2e6afc57e3.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C768"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"e0156d27-73ee-5c1b-a7a5-7dc68ed9fe1e","body":"
\"YiroGyroHiRes-01
YiroGyroHiRes-01 (1).jpg

How do you pronounce gyro, exactly?

Immediately dispelling any pronunciation misconceptions, brothers Mirza and Merim Imamovic cut right to the chase with the fun, phonetic name of their latest restaurant, Yiro/Gyro. The Bosnian natives have been making Mediterranean street eats since opening The Gyro Company with their mother in south St. Louis nine years ago; a second location opened in south St. Louis County two years ago.

Last year, though, their Yiro/Gyro debuted in downtown St. Louis proper, albeit with an approach slightly different from their previous restaurants\u2019.

\u201cWe always wanted to be downtown, but never thought it was busy enough,\u201d Mirza Imamovic, Yiro/Gyro co-owner, says. \u201cIt\u2019s a lot more vibrant now than a few years ago, so we decided to give it a go.

\u201cIt\u2019s very similar to our South County store \u2013 the same gyro meat, the same pita bread and things like that \u2013 but we just wanted to make it even faster for the lunch crowd downtown. People can come in there and be in and out in 15 minutes. We try to make everything assembly-line-style.\u201d

The 2,300-square-foot space, which Imamovic says previously housed a jewelry store, got a modern makeover from a college friend, with 49 seats available in the gray-and-green dining room. Fresh herbs line the walls, along with framed photos of family and friends from both locations of the Gyro Company. A patio seats an additional 16 patrons.

The Imamovic brothers designed the menu by using all the tricks of the trade learned from their mother, including recipes they grew up eating. Their most popular dish, the d\u00f6ner kebab, mixes beef and lamb cooked vertically on a gyro spit. The tender meat is sliced off and sandwiched between fluffy Bosnian Lepinja bread (made locally at Basic Bakery) with homemade garlic sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and red cabbage. Imamovic says his and his brother\u2019s version of this street food, most popular in Germany, was the first of its kind in St. Louis.

To order at the fast-casual restaurant, approach the counter and select a specialty item like the d\u00f6ner kebab. Alternatively, go with the Zemech Bowl, which contains fragrant basmati rice, grilled chicken, tomatoes, sumac onions, cucumbers, chickpeas and tahini sauce. Otherwise, the Classic Gyro features \u201cyiro\u201d slices with lettuce, tomatoes, sumac onion and tzatziki sauce on pita bread \u2013 a great treat before catching Cabaret at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Unlike The Gyro Company\u2019s menu of completely preset items, Yiro/Gyro lets diners personalize plates. Build your own meal by choosing from base options including pita, basmati rice and lettuce, and then pick from proteins like grilled chicken, \u201cyiro\u201d slices and falafel, with topping options including Israeli salad, vinaigrette and Sriracha ranch.

So go for the tried-and-true options, or pick and choose \u2013 but whatever you do, just be sure to enunciate!

Yiro/Gyro, 750 Locust St., St. Louis, 314-925-8152, yirogyro.com

\"YiroGyroHiRes-03.jpg\"
YiroGyroHiRes-03.jpg
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Story: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble (SATE) last weekend presented three new plays written and directed by female artists. The production included Deflowered by Erin Renee Roberts, Life Ever After by Alyssa Ward and The Music of the Goddess by Shualee Cook.

Other Info: The Aphra Behn festival is named for the British spy, playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer from the Restoration era. As one of the first English women to earn her living by writing, Behn broke cultural barriers and serves as a literary role model for later generations. SATE presented a play titled Or in 2015 that focuses on the life of Aphra Behn.

The three works in the showcase each had comic elements, albeit depicted in very different ways. Roberts\u2019 effort, Deflowered, uses the Book of Corinthians in the New Testament, according to program notes, \u201cas the foreground for her abstract interpretation of the loss of one\u2019s virginity and the discovery of love\u2026The piece contains a \u2018choose your own adventure\u2019 ending that mirrors the different experiences of love, which begs for more than one viewing.\u201d

Perhaps. Roberts\u2019 mute presentation was well received by most in the audience, and included several clever touches, such as a \u2018floral\u2019 wedding gown courtesy of Elizabeth Henning\u2019s whimsical costume design and a blender used by Flowers\u2019 character to immerse herself in the experience. For me, though, it was performance art that is in the eye of another beholder. Sophie Powell directed this brief excursion into humor.

In Alyssa Ward\u2019s Life Ever After, a young woman is confused and surprised to find herself being interrogated by some nameless bureaucrat. Poor Liz actually committed suicide and now is being questioned by Agnes, who has been toiling away in purgatory for several hundred years as a welcoming clerk of sorts.

This initial scene is reminiscent of scenes from\u00a0Beetlejuice, but here Ward veers off into another humorous area: Liz can return to Earth in a new body, oblivious to her past, although a memory may pop up in a dream or such. Given that scenario, she returns for another go at life.

Nicole Angeli filled Liz with equal doses of confusion and melancholy but also with a renewed sense of hope. Her character was helped immeasurably by the amiable Agnes, who was played amusingly by Elizabeth Van Pelt, especially in a scene where Agnes diagrams Liz\u2019s potential next moves. Kate McAllister directed the entertaining piece in breezy, engaging fashion.

Best of the three works was Shualee Cook\u2019s The Music of the Goddess. In it, Apollo, the god of music, engages in good-natured debate with Electra, in Greek mythology the daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra.

They observe from afar the plight of Clara Reisenberg, a child violinist prodigy from Russia in the early 20th century who later immigrated to America with her family. When Clara develops tendinitis she is forced to give up her career, thwarting her considerable musical talent. Enter Glitch, a fairy-like creature who magically introduces Clara to Leon Theremin, a Russian inventor who patented a device called a theremin in 1928.

It\u2019s an electronic musical instrument that features two metal antennae which can be controlled by a musician\u2019s hands via oscillators without actually being touched, with one hand shaping the instrument\u2019s frequency and the other its volume. The adult Clara Reisenberg Rockmore became proficient at mastering the instrument\u2019s potential.

Cook\u2019s story is fascinating and well worth stretching into a full-length play. It\u2019s a humorous, compelling and intoxicating blend of history and fantasy, incorporating mythological figures and historic individuals into its intriguing tale.

Kristin Rion directed the piece with a flair to match the script, utilizing the Centene floor for the arrival of the puckish Glitch (a musical term of its own), with a \u2018heavenly\u2019 realm for the gods at stage right and a cozy performing area for the musicians at stage left.

The piece featured impressive work by Lex Ronan as the gifted Clara; John Wolbers as the futuristic, innovative musician and inventor Theremin; Michael Pierce as the acrobatic, magical Glitch; Carolyn Sealy as the wise and understanding Electra; and Chris Ware as the good-natured, laid-back Apollo.

Ben Lewis\u2019 lighting design was especially effective on the Goddess piece, which also featured clever props courtesy of Rachel Tibbetts and Ellie Schwetye. Pamela Reckamp served as dialect coach. Sophie Powell and Griffin Trapp provided the pulsating sound design for Deflowered, while Sean Binkley and Rion added the beguiling sound design for The Music of the Goddess. McAllister furnished the appealing sound design for Life Ever After, which may have included tunes by Paul Simon.

SATE\u2019s initial Aprha Behn Emerging Artists\u2019 Festival was successful in presenting opportunities for female artists and nurturing captivating ideas.

Play: Aphra Behn Emerging Artists\u2019 Showcase

Company: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

Venue: Centene Center for the Arts

Dates: Run concluded

Photos courtesy of Joey Rumpell

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Story: The sixth annual Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBTQ Plays addressed the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning people. The festival was targeted to a diverse and mature audience.

Highlights: An overflow audience on opening night welcomed eight plays of approximately 10 minutes apiece, covering a variety of comic and serious themes and genres. With these works, That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital Voice, with the sponsorship of Pearl Vodka, have produced a total of 50 new plays in St. Louis, many of which were world premieres.

Other Info: Joan Lipkin, producing artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company, and Darrin Slyman, CEO and partner of Vital Voice, wrote in a program note that after six years they \u201care now taking a break to figure out how we can best continue to serve the community in these changing times.\u201d

For its sixth year, Briefs presented eight plays, four of which were directed by women. Another, Trial and Swear, is written by McKenzie Moser, a student at Webster University and the recipient of the third annual Ken Haller Playwrighting Competition for LGBTQ and Allied Youth.

The vignettes covered serious topics, often in comic situations in five of the eight stories. The more dramatic selections included Our Friends by Lipkin, Danny Boy by Theresa Masters and Trial and Swear by Moser.

In Our Friends partners Samantha and Alison try to come to grips with the tragic murders of nearly 50 patrons at a gay Orlando night club in 2016. Lipkin played Alison, who fears that the killings signal a new wave of hate crimes against gays and lesbians. Judi Mann portrayed Samantha, Alison\u2019s partner who consoles her long-time lover in stressful times. Lipkin also directed the piece.

Masters\u2019 work, Danny Boy, focuses on the realization by Daniel and Spencer that they are going to be responsible for the care of Daniel\u2019s homophobic father, who has suffered a stroke. Christopher Limber directed a trio of nicely acted performances, including Daniel John Kelly as Daniel, who is miffed that his sister has punted parental care to him due to her residence in a distant state. Troy Hargrove portrayed Daniel\u2019s understanding partner Spencer and Gerry Love played the mostly mute role of Bernard, with a touching surprise ending.

In Trial and Swear, lesbian teen Jade is miffed at the flirtatious ways of her best friend Lanie, who seems to welcome Jade\u2019s advances while at the same time turning her away in frustration. Gad Guterman directed a pair of good performances by Kiah McKirnan as Jade and Delaney Piggins as Lanie in this original piece by Webster University student McKenzie Moser.

The opening skit was also the show\u2019s best number. In Gaga, director Ryan Scott Foizey captured the bizarre humor of playwright Jon Fraser in this wacky story about two older gay men who encounter a pair of younger gays who speak only in proper names, one-name identifications of celebrities like Lady Gaga or Adele.

Steve Callahan found the humor in Roger, the more inquisitive of the older pair, and Daniel John Kelly had a grand time bringing out the grammatical frustrations of his exasperated partner Harold. Andrew Kuhlman and Tielere Cheatem were a hoot as the fast-talking, inside-joking Brandon and Michael.

In Lisa Konoplisky\u2019s Straight Up, a lesbian weary from a failed relationship finds an unexpected ally in a straight man when she strolls into a tavern and sidles up to the bar. There\u2019s a good deal of humor in the piece, more guy/gal than straight/lesbian, as the woman reluctantly responds to the queries of the thick but amiable man.

Director Pamela Reckamp mined the plentiful laughs available in this quick piece, courtesy of fine acting by Alice Kinsella as the bedraggled gal and Shane Signorino as the slow-on-the-uptake guy.

In Shannon Geier\u2019s Twenty Questions, brothers Don and Ken sit in a waiting room while the former\u2019s wife undergoes a sex change operation to match her identity as a man. Carl Overly Jr. does a nice job as the overly patient Don, who answers an annoying number of questions by the well-meaning but simple-minded Ken, played amusingly by Jaz Tucker. Sarah Lynne Holt\u2019s careful direction allows the characters to offer their own observations about the procedure as well as allusions to their mother\u2019s thoughts on the matter.

Reprised from last year\u2019s festival is When Oprah Says Goodbye, a charming piece by Dan Berkowitz which pairs two old friends in a nursing home, decades after one of them had entered into a lesbian relationship with a woman loved also by her friend.

Director Fannie Belle-Lebby directs at an easy-going pace, allowing Thomasina Clarke to ham it up as Rose, a veteran resident at the home with a penchant for watching Oprah Winfrey and General Hospital each weekday. Peggy Calvin does well in a touching performance as Julia, Rose\u2019s former friend now focused on reconciliation given their circumstances. Mary Hardcastle played a young nurse impervious to the elder women\u2019s past.

The evening concluded with Daniel Hirsch\u2019s Last Night at the Cherry Pie, a two-character effort in which Terry and Pam, long-time owners of a gay bar, reminisce while Pam cleans up the day after the bar\u2019s swan song prior to its conversion into low-rent housing.

Director Marty Stanberry utilized the wide .ZACK Incubator stage to strew sundry trash about, giving Donna Weinsting plenty of cleaning up to handle while Pam (Weinsting) and Terry (Rich Scharf) talk about the good old days, with a bit of a surprise ending to send everyone off smiling.

Lipkin and Slyman deserve credit for marshaling the forces of many artists to package so many fine efforts in the half-dozen years of Briefs\u2019 run. It\u2019ll be interesting to see how they top this well-attended and respected offering.

Play: Briefs

Company: That Uppity Theatre Company

Venue: .ZACK Incubator, 3224 Locust Street

Dates: Run concluded

Photo courtesy of Briefs

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Story: Jay \u201cThe Sport\u201d Jackson dominates the boxing world in the early 20th century with both his prowess and charisma. He can whip anyone in the ring, and yet he is frustrated by his lack of opportunities. As a black man in Jim Crow America, his athletic superiority fuels anger and resentment among the white majority.

While Jackson hones his skills under the dutiful eyes of his trainer, Wynton, his manager Max beats the bushes to find opportunities for Jackson to prove his dominance in the \u201csweet science.\u201d After he\u2019s defeated all rivals, Jackson sets his sights on the world heavyweight championship and retired, legendary boxer Bernard Bixby.

Steadfastly pursuing possibilities against all odds, Max finally coaxes an agreement from Bixby\u2019s representatives: The champ will box Jackson for a whopping 90 percent of the box office take. Max and Wynton bristle at the one-sided condition, which Max says can be negotiated down to a more reasonable figure, albeit one still favoring Bixby.

Jay, however, vetoes their suggestion and orders Max to take the ludicrous number. Sometime between 1905 and 1910 Jay \u201cThe Sport\u201d Jackson knows that it\u2019s his time to make history. But an unexpected visit by his sister Nina shortly before the \u201cfight of the century\u201d causes Jackson to ponder what a victory by him over the white champ might portend not just for him but for every black American in the aftermath of hatred and violence that could erupt.

Highlights: The Rep closes its Studio season with an exhilarating, pulsating production of Marco Ramirez\u2019 taut drama, which blends choreography and social commentary into a searing and affecting cautionary tale.

Other Info: The Royale, which takes its title from a harrowing story told by Wynton to Jay shortly before his biggest bout, is a brilliantly conceived and executed story told in starkly arresting fashion. It premiered in Los Angeles in 2013, was performed in London in 2015 and in New York City last year, where it garnered an Outer Circle nomination for Best Play.

The one-act, 75-minute drama is inspired by the life of legendary boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American fighter to win the world heavyweight championship. Ramirez\u2019 taut, tingling tale is similar to an actual boxing match, with its brief scenes described as \u201crounds.\u201d

Brian Sidney Bembridge\u2019s scenic design is an immersive experience of its own, with tattered ropes lining the perimeter of one side of the stage. The square performance space itself is a bare, raised platform viewed from seats on the other three sides of the \u2018ring.\u2019

Bembridge also has conceived a stylized and persuasive lighting design that hones in on the players at key moments, such as Jay\u2019s match against Fish, a determined and talented young man who later becomes his sparring partner, the repetitive snapping of photos at a bout or the climactic scene in which Nina represents Jay\u2019s conflicted psyche.

Equally crucial to the success of Ramirez\u2019 lean, powerful script is the riveting, staccato \u201cmovement and body percussion\u201d created by Stephanie Paul for this presentation. It\u2019s essentially a hard-driving, relentless choreography that combines abrupt foot-stomping and hand-clapping to propel the drama\u2019s action to breathtaking effect.

Christine Pascual adds to the look and feel of the work with costumes that represent the Teddy Roosevelt era, while Mikhail Fiksel\u2019s sound design underscores the primal sounds of a boxing ring bell, a vintage phonograph and a pioneering radio as well as the raucous noise of a fight crowd.

Stuart Carden\u2019s astute direction takes advantage of the wide stage, although there are moments when his positioning of cast members blocks the vantage point in areas of the audience. Still, his pace is as invigorating as the performances that populate this pulse-pounding presentation.

Ramirez\u2019 dialogue is poetic as Max intones the sounds of an announcer proclaiming the majesty of the athletes in the ring. As Max, \"the world's only inter-racial fight promoter,\" Lance Baker comes across as an oily and slick depiction of a white man hawking the wares of his black boxer.

Baker convincingly conveys Max looking out for his own interests as well as Jay\u2019s, accentuating the manager's dichotomy with his crude description of \u00a0Jay\u2019s challenge to a white man being akin to a grizzly bear getting in the ring with the \"championship Negro boxer.\"

Samuel Ray Gates delivers a compelling performance as the worldly wise trainer Wynton. Gates carefully crafts the role to show us how Wynton knows the ropes, so to speak, all too well. His delivery of the trainer\u2019s vivid recollection of his days as a young man who would be thrown into a match known as \u201cThe Royale,\u201d opposite many other manipulated black youths, underscores the awful truths of racism and prejudice in that era.

Akron Lanier Watson stalks the center of the stage in the pivotal role of Jay, a bright athlete who can spar casually with an often hostile press while setting his sights on his chance to prove he\u2019s the best at what he does, regardless of skin color. Watson\u2019s performance not only utilizes his powerful physique but emphasizes Jay\u2019s sharp intellect and his drive for his skills to be recognized.

As Nina, Bria Walker offers a harsh contrast to Jay\u2019s steady optimism, pointing out to her single-focused brother the brutal ramifications his potential championship may have on his nephews back home as well as other black citizens whose color may become an even more punitive target for hateful whites fueled by their anger as well as their own ignorance to seek revenge.

Bernard Gilbert brings passion and persuasion to the role of Fish, another fighter with considerable potential who takes an opportunity as Jay\u2019s sparring partner to learn what he can about boxing, both inside and outside the ring.

Webster University Conservatory students Maalik Shakoor and Jarris Williams add their skills comprising the ensemble, which Carden moves seamlessly in the background.

The Royale is a stunning theatrical achievement that skillfully delivers a sobering and stunning tale in explosive, knock-out fashion.

Play: The Royale

Company: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Venue: Emerson Studio Theatre, Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road

Dates: Through March 26

Tickets: $52-$67.50; contact 968-4925 or www.repstl.org

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

Photos courtesy of Jay Gitchoff

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\"leslie
leslie laskey1

Interviewing local artist Leslie Laskey, frankly, prompts a degree of trepidation verging on terror.

That feeling in no way stems from any personal failing of Laskey, a professor emeritus of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis.

Rather, it arises from the suspicion that the 96-year-old landmark with legs has seen and done more than any four men half his age \u2013 and the realization that he remains quite vital and creative despite having been born, in southwestern Michigan, before the Great Depression.

With a well-fed Australian Cattle Dog named Louie \u2013 \u201cthe boss of the house,\u201d the home\u2019s supposed owner remarks with a small smile \u2013 Laskey occupies a stately Central West End brownstone whose entrance two small obelisks flank and whose exterior northeastern wall bears a bust of Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger (he of infamous \u201cEt tu, Brute?\u201d fame from Shakespeare\u2019s Julius Caesar).

After the better part of four diversified decades at Washington University, Laskey, hilariously, reduces his m\u00e9tier, simply, to \u201cbasic design. I taught \u2013 I painted, did sculpture, woodcuts.\u201d

Of his ongoing work, Laskey (with tongue perhaps a bit in cheek) confesses, \u201cI\u2019ve been painting at least 50 years, and so I know a little bit about it. I do a lot of discovery in what I do. I like to paint. I like doing collage. I like working at a small scale, and I also like working large.\u201d

Aptly, at the time of the interview, Clayton\u2019s Bruno David Gallery was spotlighting an exhibition of Laskey\u2019s recent work \u2013 incredibly, his ninth such in that showcase \u2013 entitled \u201cDuets.\u201d Just as aptly, the exhibition, which opened on Jan. 12, closed on the 18th of February \u2013 the second month of the year, as well as the one containing Valentine\u2019s Day, the annual celebration of couples.

\u201cI find a rhythm, and then I let it take me where I\u2019m going,\u201d says Laskey of his conceptual process, his hands swooping and fluttering like mating avians as he does so. \u201cI listen to it. It\u2019s like the \u2018Duets.\u2019 I would start with an area, and I find out how much room I have.

\u201cAnd then I find out, well, what am I going to do in this room? And when we\u2019re talking about duets, I find the magic of two or finding out what two are. So I have multiple images, then two of them match. There\u2019s always a puzzle.\u201d

An enormous puzzle \u2013 albeit a pleasant puzzle \u2013 surrounds the fact that Laskey even survived to find such rhythms and ensorcell local art aficionados with them.

More specifically, as a member of the U.S. armed forces during World War II, Laskey took part in D-Day, the historic June 6, 1944, amphibious start of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France.

Beyond being equipped with weapons and other gear as a combatant, Laskey relates that he served a supplemental function in that historic assault. \u201cI was taking photographs, and I lost my cameras in the invasion,\u201d he recollects. \u201cA halftrack pulled the straps of my cameras, and I dropped them right off the beach. \u2026 \u201d

Had the straps held, Laskey continues, the military vehicle\u2019s back continuous track likely would have harmed or even killed the extemporaneous cameraman \u2013 literally embedding him in Omaha Beach.

\"leslie
leslie laskey 2

\u201cWe had been floating around in the channel, back and forth, to delay the landing, to perplex the Germans,\u201d he says of the history-making adventure. \u201cAnd so we were in not very good gut shape \u2013 we were puking our guts out.\u201d

After living through both the invasion and the war, biographical material on Laskey from the Bruno David Gallery states, \u201cHe studied at Indiana University and at the Institute of Design in Chicago (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) with founder and American Bauhaus pioneer L\u00e1szl\u00f2 Moholy-Nagy,\u201d referring to the German art school that operated from 1919 to 1933 and combined the fine arts and crafts.

Thereafter came Laskey\u2019s 35-year tenure at Washington University, where he continues to maintain a pedagogical profile. By way of example, Laskey mentions still periodically participating in \u201ccrits\u201d \u2013 critiques \u2013 and charrettes (basically timed, collaborative planning/design sessions involving problems and solutions related to proposed architectural or other projects).

Otherwise, Laskey remains astonishingly vivacious, both physically and mentally, at an age when too many people succumb to infirmity or ennui, transforming themselves into invalids with assistance from, say, television or rosy nostalgia instead of continuing to engage with life.

In short order, for instance, he mentions walking more than a mile each morning; voices an offhand recommendation for The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, a biochemistry-based New York Times best-seller published just this past January; and alludes to the difficulty of staging art exhibitions in St. Louis.

For a few moments, Laskey dwells further on \u201cDuets,\u201d which ranged from a delicate 9.75- by 11.5-inch collage on paper, whose vivacity of color (a jubilant orange) if not its tangrammatical angularity recalled Henri Matisse\u2019s great Jazz, to a black-and-argent stainless steel sculpture towering 8 feet tall.

Reflecting Laskey\u2019s impish wit, the collage and the sculpture shared the title Duet \u2013 like four more works in the exhibition. Other titles incorporated phrases such as duo and, charmingly, billet-doux or differentiated between works with numerals: Duet I, Duet II, Duet III, Duet V (but no Duet IV) and a wholly incongruous Duet 12.

Regarding the largest of the \u201cDuets\u201d works \u2013 the 8-foot-tall sculpture, majestically displayed during the exhibition in Gallery 2 \u2013 Laskey admits to a fondness for working in metal. \u201cI did little studies, like folded pieces of paper,\u201d he says, \u201cand it got bigger, and it got bigger. And I decided, \u2018Well, how big can I make this?\u2019\u201d

With assistance from a retired friend with equipment capable of machining sheet steel roughly a quarter of an inch thick, the answer to that question eventually led to Duet \u2013 or rather, that particular Duet.

\u201cIt\u2019s a way to think,\u201d Laskey relates of his process of conception and creation. \u201cI find a problem \u2013 I discover a problem. I start thinking with my hands, and I try to find a parallel. Then, suddenly, I have a name \u2013 so it\u2019s \u2018Duets\u2019? What does that mean? \u2026 And eventually, I can work on the whole stream of ideas.\u201d

In context, Laskey\u2019s process sounds analogous to St. Louis poet T.S. Eliot\u2019s critical concept of the objective correlative or to leitmotifs in opera and other musical works.

\u201cIt\u2019s a challenge,\u201d he says. \u201cIt has to have a theme that I can work with, expand, so long as I work. I just can\u2019t externalize. I have to work at a still life because of something else.\u201d

At the highest levels, Laskey\u2019s aesthetic may well recall the great English Romantic poet John Keats\u2019 \u201cOde on a Grecian Urn\u201d: \u201cWhen old age shall this generation waste, / Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe / Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say\u2019st, / \u2018Beauty is truth, truth beauty\u2019 \u2026 \u201d

\u201cI don\u2019t really like talking about the work,\u201d Laskey ultimately confesses. \u201cI think you have to, in a way, hear what you\u2019re seeing, and you have to see what you\u2019re hearing.

\u201cPeople ask, \u2018Well, how long did that take you to do?\u2019 Well, I don\u2019t care, and I have no idea. The idea is, it\u2019s the doing that\u2019s the joy. That\u2019s the way it should be. And you look at [a finished piece], and you say, \u2018This works. Now it\u2019s done with. It fits here or belongs there in this sequence.\u2019\u201d

"}, {"id":"2dc8a749-2d12-5274-8b63-eaac83ff9f07","type":"article","starttime":"1489082400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-09T12:00:00-06:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"columns":"arts-and-culture/columns"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Countdown to Spring with These Children's Books","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/article_2dc8a749-2d12-5274-8b63-eaac83ff9f07.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/countdown-to-spring-with-these-children-s-books/article_2dc8a749-2d12-5274-8b63-eaac83ff9f07.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/columns/countdown-to-spring-with-these-children-s-books/article_2dc8a749-2d12-5274-8b63-eaac83ff9f07.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Sheila Oliveri","prologue":"As spring nears, nature once more comes alive, and Ready Readers has just the right books to ready your family to discover the season\u2019s wonders.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["ready readers","children's books"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"392008a9-d2f6-533e-b7ab-309b00ca527f","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"500","height":"453","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/92/392008a9-d2f6-533e-b7ab-309b00ca527f/58b9ac2110814.image.jpg?resize=500%2C453"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"91","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/92/392008a9-d2f6-533e-b7ab-309b00ca527f/58b9ac2110814.image.jpg?resize=100%2C91"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"272","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/92/392008a9-d2f6-533e-b7ab-309b00ca527f/58b9ac2110814.image.jpg?resize=300%2C272"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"928","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/92/392008a9-d2f6-533e-b7ab-309b00ca527f/58b9ac2110814.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"88f01754-d3d9-5a3d-8cee-a69ea639f50f","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"375","height":"499","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/8f/88f01754-d3d9-5a3d-8cee-a69ea639f50f/58b9ac20ee541.image.jpg?resize=375%2C499"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"133","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/8f/88f01754-d3d9-5a3d-8cee-a69ea639f50f/58b9ac20ee541.image.jpg?resize=100%2C133"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"399","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/8f/88f01754-d3d9-5a3d-8cee-a69ea639f50f/58b9ac20ee541.image.jpg?resize=300%2C399"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1363","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/8f/88f01754-d3d9-5a3d-8cee-a69ea639f50f/58b9ac20ee541.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"2dc8a749-2d12-5274-8b63-eaac83ff9f07","body":"
\"Bear
Bear Counts

As spring nears, nature once more comes alive, and Ready Readers has just the right books to ready your family to discover the season\u2019s wonders.

This month, the organization will gift copies of Bear Counts by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman \u2013 one book that celebrates spring \u2013 to 10,000 children living in low-income communities around St. Louis.

In Bear Counts, Bear\u2019s world is bursting with color and buzzing with life, as he and his friends Mouse, Hare, Badger, Gopher and others romp, swim and swoop while counting treasures in the trio of habitats forming their woodland environment.

The variety of animals depicted allows young readers a chance to observe each beast\u2019s physical characteristics, noting both their similarities and differences. Kids also should visually devour Chapman\u2019s lush two-page picture spreads, filled with funny, friendly critters. After turning a given page to see vignettes of objects and creatures found in a setting, children should eagerly return to the extended spread to locate such objects and creatures in the larger picture.

As in all the books in the Bear series, Wilson\u2019s flowing rhymes should encourage children to read along, anticipating their turn to repeat the refrain, \u201cNumbers, numbers everywhere. Can you count along with Bear?\u201d

Also, the brilliant colors with which Chapman highlights number words and numerals appear on the front cover and inside end pages, allowing yet another opportunity for matching.

A second captivating counting book that should appeal to toddlers through preschoolers comes from author/illustrator extraordinaire Eric Carle. Carle\u2019s first solo foray into picture books, 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, originally appeared in 1968, a year before his classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

\"1,
1, 2, 3 to the zoo

At first glance, wordless books like 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo might seem to have limited appeal to growing youngsters. But parents and others who have experienced the delight of observing imaginative children \u201creading\u201d to themselves can attest to the confidence sparked by such books.

Every interaction should provide a new opportunity for children to notice fresh details, focus on additional attributes and tell a different story. Parents who may be daunted by the thought of coming up with their own story might want to relay the action through a specific character\u2019s point of view \u2013 or, in the case of Carle\u2019s book, use as narrator the little mouse found on each animal page.

The joyous colors of the menagerie in 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo should incite excitement as children enjoy this wordless introduction to numbers, counting and addition. Carle\u2019s painted collage art looks distinctively vibrant and appealing.

As a bonus, an interesting second story unfolds as the zoo train grows at the bottom left of each new animal page. The gatefold spread at the end of the book beautifully unites all the zoo scenes, perfect for visualizing the setting as a whole. Parents should appreciate bringing this book along on zoo trips, thumbing through the pages during train rides from one destination to another and perhaps prompting the best animal expedition ever.

At Ready Readers, we know that \u201cKids Who Read Succeed!\u201d If you enjoy reading and sharing the magic of books, please consider reading aloud to a classroom of preschool children in an underserved area as a Ready Readers volunteer.

"} ]