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Story: World War II has ended, but American GI Jerry Mulligan is not returning from the European theater. Instead, he\u2019s decided to remain in Paris to pursue his career as an artist. Fellow soldier Adam Hochberg is staying in Paris also, where the musical composer hopes to strike a triumphant chord in his own life.

They form a Three Musketeers camaraderie with their French pal Henri, who yearns for a career as a singer despite pressure from his parents to work in the family\u2019s lucrative textiles business. Henri has another secret as well: He\u2019s in love with a young ballerina named Lise Dassin, whose Jewish family was protected by Henri\u2019s parents from the Nazis during the occupation of France.

Jerry is befriended by a wealthy American patroness named Milo Davenport, who wants to sponsor his work as well as pursue a more personal relationship with the young painter. For his part, though, Jerry finds himself smitten by that same ballerina Lisa, unbeknownst to Henri. Of course, Adam is attracted to the talented dancer as well.

It\u2019s one for all, all for one and every man for himself in the pursuit of amour in the City of Lights. Who will win and who will not?

Highlights: The musical version of An American in Paris swept up four Tony Awards for its 2015 incarnation. This first national touring version shows exactly why: An American in Paris is an effervescent, ever moving, constantly changing theatrical treat that whisks an audience away for an entertaining adventure that remains charming and radiant throughout.

Other Info: Author Craig Lucas penned the book for this two-act, two-and-a-half-hour musical that was inspired by the 1951 Academy Award-winning film which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and featured Kelly\u2019s dazzling dance moves and his sizzling choreography.

Both the musical and the movie feature the tunes of composer George Gershwin and his lyricist brother Ira, and each contains a lengthy ballet sequence built around George Gershwin\u2019s 1928 composition, also known as An American in Paris.

The musical originally opened in Paris in December 2014, then began its Broadway run in 2015, closing late last year after more than 600 performances. This first national tour is being presented at the Fox Theatre by Dance St. Louis and Saint Louis Ballet.

Garen Scribner and Sara Esty star in the roles of Jerry and Lise, reprising their efforts on Broadway. Scribner is a triple threat, dancing seemingly effortlessly to director Christopher Wheeldon\u2019s fluid choreography, singing with a sure, steady voice many of the classic Gershwin songs and turning in a convincing performance as the American searching for artistic identity in post-war Paris.

Esty, whose twin sister Leigh-Ann Esty assumes Lise\u2019s role in January 22 and 26 evening performances, demonstrates accomplished terpsichorean skills as the quiet but confident Lise. Her character is committed to marrying Henri out of obligation, but Lise knows that she is in love with Jerry instead. Esty\u2019s dancing is accentuated in many of the show\u2019s choreographic highlights.

Etai Benson nails the role of the acerbic pianist Adam, making a nod to Oscar Levant\u2019s portrayal of the part in the movie. His part is one of several plot changes written by Lucas for the musical: Adam is obviously Jewish (as is Lise), and unlike the movie he makes a direct, albeit clumsy, romantic overture to the ballerina of his dreams.

Nick Spangler sparkles in the role of the handsome Henri Baurel, who longs for a career in musical theater that runs counter to the plans of his stiff, formal parents. There\u2019s also a thread referencing Henri\u2019s latent homosexuality, another departure from the film used here for comic banter between the three pals.

Emily Ferranti plays Milo with a softer touch than the more worldly, cynical approach by Nina Foch in the film, while Lucas also adds speaking lines for Madame Baurel and Monsieur Baurel, played winningly here by Gayton Scott and Don Noble, respectively.

It should be noted that the role of Jerry will be played by Ryan Steele at matinee performances on January 22, 26 and 28.

The technical genius of the presentation cannot be understated. This show flows effervescently from one number to another, as the scene changes themselves are undertaken magically with the ingenious assistance of the projections incorporated by scenic designer Bob Crowley and projection designer 59 Productions.

Scenes of Parisian nightlife, cafes, clubs, streets, landmarks, the River Seine, you name it, are adapted in eye-popping fashion into the fluid dances engineered by Wheeldon in his masterful direction and Tony Award-winning choreography.

Natasha Katz\u2019s Tony Award-winning lighting explodes in visually stunning fashion on numbers such as the Act I finale, Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture, as well as the breathtaking title ballet near the conclusion. Crowley\u2019s colorful costumes play a substantial role in the ballets as well as numerous other numbers that pay homage to such Gershwin classics as I Got Rhythm, \u2018S Wonderful and They Can\u2019t Take That Away From Me.

Jon Weston contributes the hustle-and-bustle sound design, while Rob Fisher adapted, arranged and supervised the lush musical score, which includes Tony Award-winning orchestrations by Christopher Austin, Bill Elliott and Don Sebesky (the latter not mentioned in touring production credits). Music director/conductor David Andrews Rogers leads a spirited ensemble that meshes flawlessly with the performers onstage.

You won\u2019t find a better example of how projection designs have become increasingly sophisticated in their contributions to the work onstage than this high-spirited, high-kicking and excellent rendition of An American in Paris.

Musical: An American in Paris

Group: Touring Company

Venue: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand

Dates: Through January 29

Tickets: From $25 to $88; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

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

Photos courtesy of Matthew Murphy

"}, {"id":"d17ed1d8-1113-5982-a226-a0339de57b95","type":"article","starttime":"1484848800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T12:00:00-06:00","priority":45,"sections":[{"arts-and-culture":"arts-and-culture"},{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Brew U","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/article_d17ed1d8-1113-5982-a226-a0339de57b95.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/brew-u/article_d17ed1d8-1113-5982-a226-a0339de57b95.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/brew-u/article_d17ed1d8-1113-5982-a226-a0339de57b95.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Bryan A. Hollerbach","prologue":"Clayton\u2019s Craft Beer Cellar is offering a truly heady educational experience.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["craft beer cellar","cicerone certification program","abbey spencer","brandon nickelson","ryan nickelson"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671","description":"","byline":"Photo by Sarah Conroy","hireswidth":1769,"hiresheight":1171,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/7b/67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671/5880ec9a93941.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"503","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/7b/67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671/5880ec9a91d61.image.jpg?resize=760%2C503"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"66","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/7b/67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671/5880ec9a91d61.image.jpg?resize=100%2C66"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"199","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/7b/67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671/5880ec9a91d61.image.jpg?resize=300%2C199"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"678","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/7b/67be0e55-ee32-5f39-8eb6-409aadf8c671/5880ec9a91d61.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C678"}}},{"id":"9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8","description":"Abbey Spencer","byline":"Photo by Sarah Conroy","hireswidth":1203,"hiresheight":1723,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/eb/9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8/5880ec9b056c3.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"531","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/eb/9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8/5880ec9b04901.image.jpg?resize=531%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"143","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/eb/9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8/5880ec9b04901.image.jpg?resize=100%2C143"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"430","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/eb/9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8/5880ec9b04901.image.jpg?resize=300%2C430"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1467","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/eb/9eb0c07d-f3c9-5a85-bdc1-d4de750b66e8/5880ec9b04901.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1467"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"d17ed1d8-1113-5982-a226-a0339de57b95","body":"
\"craft
craft beer cellar

With its chalk-dusted blackboard, fundament-unfriendly stools and plain wooden benches, Abbey Spencer\u2019s classroom, at a glance, might conjure a latter-day school-centered painting by The Saturday Evening Post\u2019s Norman Rockwell, but for the topic Spencer teaches.

That topic? To quote the nation\u2019s greatest autodidact on it, Homer J. Simpson: \u201cBeeeeer!\u201d

Spencer works at Craft Beer Cellar, the Clayton zymurgic mecca owned and operated by Brandon Nickelson and his brother, Ryan, where her duties include teaching (nonconcurrently) beginning and intermediate classes on Homie\u2019s m\u00e9tier, in which participants face the arduous task of doing standard student stuff and sampling suds of all sorts.

In that capacity, she brings an impressive credential to the table \u2013 or, as the case may be, the tap. Like Brandon Nickelson, Spencer holds the title of Certified Cicerone through Chicago\u2019s Cicerone Certification Program, whose website identifies it as \u201cthe industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service.\u201d

The common noun cicerone \u2013 which, according to a handy dictionary, derives from the name of the classical Roman orator Cicero \u2013 roughly coincides with the term sommelier from the world of fine wine.

\u201cThe reason we started doing it was to explain the Cicerone Certification Program,\u201d Nickelson notes of the cellar\u2019s educational offering.

Spencer, who emphasizes that the cellar\u2019s classes have no formal affiliation with the Cicerone Certification Program, echoes her employer on the matter.

\u201cWhen I interviewed with Brandon before I started, I told him it was something I was interested in,\u201d she says. \u201cI have a lot of teaching in my background, and it was something I wanted to bring to Craft Beer Cellar.

\u201cAnd I think Brandon had it in his mind that he also wanted that here as well, so it was the two of us coming together at the right time at the right place to make that happen.\u201d

\"craft

Abbey Spencer

Prior to that, Spencer adds, she\u2019d been running a monthly women\u2019s beer club with a similar educational component. In Chicago, where she lived before moving here eight years ago, Spencer also served in an educational capacity with a nonprofit welcoming new immigrants to the community there.

\u201cIt was fun, and I think it really set me up for loving the education, the teaching \u2026 ,\u201d Spencer relates. \u201cI learned a lot about how to teach English and how to teach in general. I fell in love with the teaching aspect. I had a blast.

\u201cI loved that job so much, but obviously, I found beer, and that became my thing.\u201d She pauses to laugh. \u201cTeaching about beer is just a little more up my alley.\u201d

Spencer briefly explains the underpinnings of both the cellar\u2019s four-week beginning class, whose latest session concluded toward the end of autumn, and its latest eight-week intermediate class, which is slated for later this winter (although no current date is scheduled).

\u201cThe Cicerone Certification Program has a syllabus for the first level and the second level \u2026 ,\u201d she says. \u201cAnd I rearranged each syllabus for a more teaching-style format, so it made sense to do it for a two-hour class session over four weeks.\u201d

Spencer supplemented those resources with \u201cword clouds,\u201d self-tests and other material in \u201ca huge culmination of me pulling resources from Cicerone Certification Program and [its] resources that [it] suggested, and then I would try to create as much as I could.\u201d

Spencer cites spatial limitations of her extemporaneous classroom as one of the biggest challenges of teaching at the cellar, especially for a class of 14 (the largest class she\u2019s taught to date).

\u201c[Craft Beer Cellar\u2019s] bar traffic has picked up so much,\u201d Spencer says. \u201cWhen I\u2019m trying to teach on an evening, and the bar\u2019s busy, it\u2019s not an ideal location for classes. I would say for a Level 1 class, I like 10 people; it\u2019s perfect. It\u2019s a little bit big, but not so big that I can\u2019t handle it, even on a busier bar night.

\u201cNow, as for my advanced-level class, we get so in depth on these very scientific conversations, I prefer those classes to be six or seven [students]. It\u2019s easier if I can have us all at one table versus me yelling down to a 10th person at the end of the table.\u201d

Level 2 classes, Spencer adds, involve much more scientifically oriented discussions and collaboration than do Level 1 classes, which focus on beer characteristics, glassware fundamentals, general equipment upkeep and so forth. Given their intensive nature, Level 2 classes also require a minimum number of enrollees.

As her biggest all-around challenge, Spencer mentions satisfying all of her students\u2019 individual goals in either the beginning classes or the intermediate classes.

For her biggest specific challenge, though, she addresses niceties of Level 2.

\u201cThat class is teaching to the upper limits of my knowledge,\u201d Spencer confesses. \u201cI am a Certified Cicerone, but I\u2019m teaching that advanced-level stuff, and it\u2019s a course in which every week, I study for hours to make sure I have the most current information \u2013 because a lot of the information is still being researched, and I need to keep up to date. So I\u2019m constantly researching, looking at new articles, making sure I\u2019m teaching appropriate things.\u201d

Level 2 involves another potential complication, she continues.

\u201cA lot of the people [who] are coming to my Level 2 class have more knowledge than I do about specific topics,\u201d Spencer says. \u201cAnd I\u2019m very humbled about that. I\u2019m very aware of that. When I teach this Level 2 class, I know I\u2019ve got head brewers coming in. I\u2019ve got restaurant owners coming in [who] have been in the beer industry for years.\u201d

Warmly, she returns to Level 1.

\u201cIt is so fun to teach people [who] are newly into beer and excited about learning about it,\u201d Spencer says. \u201cAnd I give them a beer \u2013 it\u2019s the change from my first week to my fourth week.

\u201cMy first week, I give them a beer and ask them to describe it. And they\u2019ll say, \u2018Uh, smells like beer.\u2019 And I\u2019m like, \u2018Yeeeah.\u2019 And then I give them all these resources and tools, and by the fourth week, they can break it down \u2013 like grain, citrus, smells like graham crackers\u2026

\u201cTo see that transition in Level 1 classes, that\u2019s my favorite thing.\u201d

In the final analysis, despite the innate frothiness of the cellar\u2019s educational offerings, Spencer stresses that neither she nor her students view those offerings as \u2026 well \u2026 beer and skittles.

\u201cThat first hour I take really seriously, and I put a lot of time and effort into it, and I think they get that vibe from me,\u201d she says. \u201cWe\u2019re not just goofing off and drinking beer together. We\u2019re going to learn something awesome, and then we\u2019re going to drink beer together \u2013 and we\u2019re going to learn from [one another].

Craft Beer Cellar, 8113 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314-222-2444, clayton.craftbeercellar.com

-----------------------------------------------

Sidebeer: A Toast Farewell

It should both sadden and gladden former students of Abbey Spencer to learn that later this winter she\u2019ll be leaving Clayton\u2019s Craft Beer Cellar, where her duties over time have included teaching both beginning and intermediate classes on beer.

Spencer will be departing to launch a St. Peters brewery called Third Wheel Brewing.

\u201cI have a small equity in the company, but I\u2019ll be the head brewer there,\u201d she says. \u201cI\u2019m currently working with my partners to get that up and running. We\u2019ve applied for all of our licensing and everything like that. \u2026

\u201cWe\u2019re really pushing for a March opening. At the time, we\u2019ll probably only have two to three beers on draft, but at the end of the day, I\u2019m hoping we have 15 to 20 beers on at any one time.\u201d

Spencer also hopes to continue her pedagogical duties at the cellar as long as possible. Even then, Brandon Nickelson notes that he himself likely will continue the classes in Spencer\u2019s absence and until an adequate replacement is found.

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\"ThePalmTreesHiRes-01.jpg\"
ThePalmTreesHiRes-01.jpg

Palm trees make up the theme at Cherokee Street\u2019s newest eatery. The Palm Trees opened in December, featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. Guests will find fronds featured in everything from the restaurant\u2019s d\u00e9cor to the complimentary dates served with Arabic coffee at the start of each meal.

The concept fills the building previously occupied by the original location of Revel Kitchen, embellishing the space\u2019s sleek wood and white-tile interior with colorful imported tapestries, intricately woven decorative baskets and vibrant photographs of owner and chef Fedaa Alsadeq\u2019s native country of Saudi Arabia.

There, Alsadeq explains, her grandparents tended to palm tree farms, making use of everything from the plants\u2019 sweet fruits to their resilient branches. Alsadeq\u2019s restaurant is a fitting homage to her family, featuring traditional recipes inspired by her grandmother\u2019s cooking.

Alsadeq is originally from Virginia, but was raised in Saudi Arabia, later earning an advertising and communications degree back in the U.S. Last year, she relocated to Kenton, Missouri, with her husband, Osama Almoerfi, who worked as an engineer in the area.

After much cooking praise and encouragement from friends \u2013 as well as several trips to St. Louis to pick up halal meat and groceries \u2013 Alsadeq decided to make the move to the city for her culinary debut.

\u201cWe want to provide a whole experience with the food and the environment,\u201d Alsadeq says, explaining that the space features two dining rooms. One seating area features typical table seating, while the other offers Saudi-style seating on cushions for family-style dining on the floor.

When asked what sets Saudi Arabian food apart from its similar Mediterranean counterparts, Alsadeq says, \u201cWe usually prefer lamb or goat meat, and the main seasoning in our food is mostly cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, cumin and dried citrus. The style of cooking gives our food a unique taste that I think is not available in other cuisines.\u201d

From the menu, choose from specialties such as mandi, a dish made up of smoky lamb or chicken marinated in special sauce and served with raisins, almonds and fried onions atop basmati rice. Another highlight is authentic kabsa, which features the same choice of proteins cooked in meat broth.

Appetizer options include familiar Middle Eastern mainstays such as hummus, baba ganouj, grape leaves and falafel. Sandwiches such as shish tawook (grilled chicken) and beef kebab also are available as well as soups, salads and stews. An okra stew, for instance, features okra cooked in a beef broth with tomato paste and garlic. All of which sound like perfect options before catching Lines in the Dust at The Black Rep.

The Palm Trees, 2837 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314-226-9243

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Story: Dan, an aspiring novelist, writes obituaries for a London newspaper to pay the bills. One day he helps a young woman whose leg is injured when she is hit by a car, accompanying her to a nearby hospital. She is briefly treated by a dermatologist named Larry and then released.

The young woman, Alice, and Dan befriend each other and begin a relationship, even though Alice tells Dan that when she falls out of love with someone she quickly moves on. A year later Dan has written a novel whose main character is based on Alice, a carefree stripper whose parents were killed years earlier in a car crash.

While having his picture taken for publicity by a professional photographer named Anna, Dan aggressively pursues the married woman, who initially rebuffs him. When Dan enters an internet chat room that caters to \u2018virtual\u2019 sexual encounters, he links up with a man who turns out to be Larry.

Posing online as a woman, Dan suggests that Larry meet \u2018Anna\u2019 (the name he gives to Larry) at the aquarium. When Larry visits the aquarium, the real Anna coincidentally is there and soon realizes that the embarrassed Larry has been tricked by Dan.

Over the course of several scenes the four characters enter and exit a series of heterosexual relationships between each other, while all four develop a greater understanding of who they, their lovers and their adversaries really are.

Highlights: Director Tom Martin coaxes several fine performances out of his perceptive cast to capture the essence of Patrick Marber\u2019s modern morality tale in this current production by Theatre Lab at the new .ZACK Incubator venue in Grand Center.

Other Info: Marber\u2019s two-act drama won the 1998 Olivier Award for Best New Play in London and was nominated in 1999 for a Tony Award for Best Play for its Broadway production. The film version in 2004 was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Jude Law, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts.

Closer is a gritty, grimy examination of four contemporary people whose morals are as fleeting as their romantic attention spans. Marber\u2019s writing expertly conveys the ambiguities and uncertainties of this self-centered quartet, whose focus primarily is on their own sexual and emotional gratification at the expense of their respective partners.

Anna comes the closest to being someone an audience can root for, although Alice\u2019s innate honesty shows her to be more decent than her intellectual superiors. As for the two men, Marber doesn\u2019t paint a very flattering portrayal of either.

Reminiscent of Harold Pinter\u2019s similar work, Betrayal, the key to Closer is the arc of self-destruction on which Marber builds his character portrayals. Director Martin is always at his best unearthing the sundry aspects of human nature, frequently the nether side, and guiding his performers in precise portrayals that accentuate less flattering but spot-on character traits. He does so here with flair and insight.

There\u2019s wonderful work by all four players. Larissa White is perhaps the most radiant of them all, both in her clipped Cockney accent and in her direct approach to Alice\u2019s relationships, regardless of the consequences. Alice is a survivor, something White conveys steadily and surely throughout her performance.

While her intellectual skills don\u2019t equal those of her counterparts, Alice\u2019s animal instincts prove superior in this \u2018survival of the emotionally fittest\u2019 landscape that is dominated by a haunting portrait of Alice shot through Anna\u2019s penetrating lens.

Gabrielle Greer depicts Anna as a professional woman who appears more self-assured and accomplished at first impression than she eventually proves to be. She\u2019s convincing in showing Anna\u2019s odd choices in capitulating to two men who see her more as a conquest than an equal, albeit something Anna can handle.

Andrew Michael Neiman and Brock Russell savvily succeed in showing the shallowness of their respective characters, Larry and Dan. In the lurid world described by Marber they are two men whose ongoing lust and carnal desires underscore their emotional immaturity, something both Neiman and Russell convey in the piques of their respective characters.

Their meetings on stage resonate with a killer instinct to destroy the competition regardless of the cost, while their relationships with Alice and Anna are fraught with jealousy and various bouts of insecurity that exacerbate already tenuous situations.

Mark Wilson\u2019s scenic design includes a series of projections (set up beyond stage right by the players for various scenes) on a back wall and some simple props of furniture to serve as a bench at an aquarium, a hospital waiting room, Larry\u2019s office, etc., all of which Wilson lights judiciously.

Marcy Weigert\u2019s costumes are highlighted by Alice\u2019s garish garb and Anna\u2019s working attire, while Martin adds a rather funky sound design that may represent the discordant notes in the characters\u2019 lives.

Marber\u2019s ironically titled Closer is a thoughtful dissertation on too many modern relationships whose shallowness is belied in the playwright\u2019s deep musings. Theatre Lab\u2019s perceptive presentation will keep you thinking throughout about what it all means.

Play: Closer

Company: Theatre Lab

Venue: .ZACK Incubator, 3224 Locust Street

Dates: January 19, 20, 21, 22

Tickets: $25; contact www.metrotix.com, 534-1111 or Theatre Lab\u2019s Facebook page

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

Photos courtesy of Jason Foizey

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Story: Single mother Denitra is disappointed when she can\u2019t send her daughter to a charter school near their New Jersey home. Because she is unimpressed with the quality of education at her daughter\u2019s neighborhood school, she enrolls her instead in a suburban school district.

As fate would have it, Denitra previously befriended Dr. Beverly Long, who is the principal at the school her daughter now attends. Beverly is under the false impression that nurse\u2019s aide Denitra is an attorney, something Denitra fostered in their initial meeting at an open house at a home for sale in the district.

When the school district\u2019s Board hires a consultant named Mike DiMaggio to determine how many of its students are attending the school illegally, his results pose a major problem not only for Denitra but for Beverly as well. Retired cop Mike brings his own set of prejudices to the assignment but also reminds Beverly that \u201cthe law is the law.\u201d

Faced with her own repercussions if she doesn\u2019t respond swiftly to the results Mike has uncovered, Beverly finds herself straddling a line between friendship and professional obligation that provides no easy answers.

Highlights: Playwright Nikkole Salter\u2019s two-act drama, set in 2010, resonates with a story that is as contemporary as today\u2019s headlines, addressing race and the lack of equality of educational opportunities for all children. Fine performances by the cast under the careful direction of producing director Ron Himes accentuate the nobler intentions of Salter\u2019s timely albeit sometimes stilted script.

Other Info: There are many strong elements to Salter\u2019s story, primarily in its plot construction and overall view of American education. On the other hand, too often the dialogue seems a bit strained and unnatural, sounding more \u201cstagy\u201d than authentic in its cadence and conversational tone.

Nonetheless, Lines in the Dust succeeds in several aspects of its presentation. Dunsi Dai\u2019s scenic design, e.g., ingeniously features a row of desks lying sideways at the front of the set, with a screen in the background on which Gordy Van Es\u2019s projections make cogent comments of their own.

This is especially and subtly noticeable in the second set of slides Mike makes for his delivery to the Board after Beverly points out some of his covertly racist implications in his initial draft. Es further underscores the personal tragedies of inequitable education in photos that accompany Beverly\u2019s recommendations to the Board following Mike\u2019s introduction.

Dai\u2019s set also includes a massive billboard filled with notes in Beverly\u2019s busy office as well as some modest furniture in Denitra\u2019s small apartment. Linda Kennedy\u2019s costume design features smart business outfits for Beverly, some more utilitarian garb for Denitra and the casual attire Mike favors.

Sean Savoie\u2019s lighting complements the harsher moments of the play, while Katherine Slovinski\u2019s props flesh out the \u2018busy\u2019 atmosphere of Beverly\u2019s office as well as some of the old-school touches preferred by Mike, such as a box of cookies from an old Italian bakery in the much-changed neighborhood where Mike was raised. Casey Hunter provides a jarring sound design that favors shrill jazz motifs, but perhaps that\u2019s the point for such a challenging subject.

Salter\u2019s story features three characters who don\u2019t align easily with stereotypes often brought to mind in less impressive scripts. Confrontations between Beverly and Mike, or between Denitra and Beverly or even between Mike and Denitra lead to constructive development in the psychology of all three characters. In an era when name-calling and \u201clines in the dust\u201d are increasingly emphasized, Salter\u2019s plot and character development are refreshingly intelligent, despite the sometimes unsatisfying dialogue.

Himes elicits solid performances from his trio of players, including Cherita Armstrong as Beverly, John Contini as Mike and Evann DeBose as Denitra. Each of them works well in scenes with the other two players, and pacing of the show should improve with subsequent performances.

A shake of the head by Contini when Mike\u2019s opinions are challenged, a streak of righteous indignation by Armstrong when Beverly is balancing her choices and a sharp defense of Denitra\u2019s position by De-Bose when confronted with her character\u2019s transgressions all carefully shape each of their characters in honest and believable fashion.

Salter does a fine job depicting three recognizable characters who resonate with traits we\u2019ve all noticed through the decades in which black citizens have struggled to have access to the same tenets of basic education as most whites have benefited from in their individual pursuits of happiness.

Lines in the Dust may not provide any pat answers, but it does effectively offer some prodding hope for the future.

Play: Lines in the Dust

Company: The Black Rep

Venue: Edison Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. at Washington University

Dates: January 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29

Tickets: $15-$40; contact 534-3810 or www.theblackrep.org

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

Photos courtesy of Stewart Goldstein

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\"healthy
healthy cocktails

Now that the holidays have come and gone and 2017 has dawned, many of us are buckling down and working on making our New Year\u2019s resolutions reality. One of the most common promises we make to ourselves at this time of year is to eat and drink better. So this month, I\u2019m presenting a few techniques for whipping up some healthier tipples, as cocktails are usually heavy on calories and light on nutrition.

Very generally speaking, \u201chard\u201d spirits have a calorie count of 60 to 70 calories per ounce. (Of course, this number will vary and can be higher depending on the spirit and the proof.) In contrast, wines tend to be 25 to 30 calories an ounce, so try using a vino as the base in your next cocktail.

Keeping things as simple as possible \u2013 and always using real ingredients instead of commercial mixes \u2013 also will help keep the calorie count down. Many classic cocktails contain just a few ingredients \u2013 booze, sugar, citrus, bitters \u2013 and, as such, are comparatively low in calories. For example, a Sazerac has just 2 ounces of whiskey (about 120 to 150 calories) and half an ounce of simple syrup (25 calories or so). But of course, the best way to keep the calories at bay is to imbibe in moderation. \u00a0

Mango Bellini Serves | 1 |

This twist on the brunch favorite substitutes mango pur\u00e9e for peach and adds a bit of bitters for bite. (I use a mango concentrate called El Sembrador, available at Jay International on South Grand Boulevard.)

| Preparation | Pour mango pur\u00e9e in a flute. Add bitters and top with sparkling wine. Stir gently to incorporate. Serve. \u00a0

------------------------------------------------

Sherry Cobbler Serves | 1 |

The following drink has been around at least since the golden age of cocktails, the mid-1800s. This version is adapted from a recipe from eminent cocktail historian David Wondrich.

| Preparation | In a mixing glass, shake sherry, sugar and 3 orange slices with ice. Pour unstrained into a large rocks glass over crushed ice. Top with 2 orange slices, and serve.

------------------------------------------------

Bloody Mary Serves | 1 |

Another brunch go-to, bloody marys are naturally lower in calories as long as tipplers forgo crazy bacon garnishes. Also, avoid premade bloody mary mixes that typically jack up sodium content. I personally like to substitute gin for vodka, which is called a Red Snapper.

| Preparation | Between 2 large mixing tins, roll all ingredients with ice until chilled. Pour into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with whatever strikes your fancy; serve.

\u00a0------------------------------------------------

Berry Smoothie Cocktail Serves | 2 |

Fresh fruit, coconut milk and sparkling wine equal a refreshing and easy cocktail.

| Preparation | In a blender, combine berries, coconut milk and honey; blend until smooth. Pour into a large rocks glass. Top with sparkling ros\u00e9 wine. Serve.

------------------------------------------------

Sazerac Serves | 1 |

This New Orleans classic keeps things supersimple, with warm flavors that lessen winter\u2019s chill.

| Preparation | Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe, then discard. In a mixing glass, add remaining ingredients except lemon twist; then add ice and stir. Strain into absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Express lemon twist over drink, and then discard peel. Serve.

"}, {"id":"e4866963-e438-5771-a24f-8f6d3ca29564","type":"article","starttime":"1484244000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-12T12:00:00-06:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"arts-and-culture":"arts-and-culture"},{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Dinner & A Show: Himalayan Yeti","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/article_e4866963-e438-5771-a24f-8f6d3ca29564.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dinner-a-show-himalayan-yeti/article_e4866963-e438-5771-a24f-8f6d3ca29564.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/dinner-a-show-himalayan-yeti/article_e4866963-e438-5771-a24f-8f6d3ca29564.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Mabel Suen","prologue":"South City recently welcomed a new restaurant that features Indian and Nepalese dishes, with a lunch buffet that\u2019s bound to become popular.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["himalayan yeti","south city","dinner & a show"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64","description":"","byline":"Photo by Mabel Suen","hireswidth":1695,"hiresheight":1222,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/74/b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64/586c2d73beede.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"548","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/74/b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64/586c2d73bced7.image.jpg?resize=760%2C548"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"72","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/74/b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64/586c2d73bced7.image.jpg?resize=100%2C72"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"216","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/74/b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64/586c2d73bced7.image.jpg?resize=300%2C216"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"738","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/74/b74db658-7301-587a-affa-674a60614e64/586c2d73bced7.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C738"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"e4866963-e438-5771-a24f-8f6d3ca29564","body":"
\"HimalayanYetiHiRes-01.jpg\"
HimalayanYetiHiRes-01.jpg

South City recently welcomed a new restaurant that features Indian and Nepalese dishes, with a lunch buffet that\u2019s bound to become popular. The restaurant in question, Himalayan Yeti, opened its doors in the stand-alone space previously occupied by 3J Sandwich and Noodle.

The concept comes from family members Dipak and Prem Prasai, who worked on the culinary side of hotel management in their native Nepal before spending time as cooks for Carnival Cruise Line.

After relocating to St. Louis five years ago following a stint in San Francisco, Dipak gained additional experience at Rasoi in the Central West End. At Himalayan Yeti, he takes the helm in the kitchen, while Prem manages the front of the house.

\u201cWe\u2019re making this food so people can get a taste of Nepal,\u201d Prem says. \u201cYou can\u2019t find it in other restaurants. At Himalayan Yeti, guests will find familiar Indian dishes alongside Himalayan specialties.\u201d

According to Prem, the primary flavor profiles and spices of northern Indian and Nepalese cuisine \u2013 among them key components like coriander, cumin and turmeric \u2013 are quite similar, but the cooking techniques vary, with freshly ground spices added at different intervals throughout the process, resulting in subtly different dishes.

At Himalayan Yeti, guests can personalize any dish from the menu to their liking in either style with mild, medium or hot spices. During the day, dining\u2019s casual, with the full bill of fare as well as the buffet available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for $9.99 plus tax.

Staples on the buffet include chicken tikka masala, vegetable korma and saag paneer. Other dishes rotate daily and include everything from goat curry and vegetable pakora to biryani and noodles.

In the evening, the room transforms into a fine-dining setting with full service. The restaurant seats around 60 guests, with spaces for 30 more available on the patio in warmer seasons.

Choose from unique options such as the house signature appetizer: Himalayan momo, or a dumpling filled with ground chicken, minced onions, cilantro, garlic and spices, all served steamed or fried. From a list of tandoor-cooked offerings, choose from barbecued chicken, lamb, seafood and more.

Various soups, salad and breads also are available, followed by entr\u00e9es divided by central components: seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetables. From the specials menu, choose from savory Nepalese dishes such as charcoal-roasted marinated meats and Himalayan thali, or platters, served with rice, dal, vegetable curry, saag, mula achar, gundruk achar, karela and papadum with your choice of chicken or goat. With such a wide selection, Himalayan Yeti makes the perfect stop before seeing All My Sons from The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

A full bar now in the works will feature standard bottled beers in addition to Himalayan wines, Indian beers such as Taj Mahal and Kingfisher, and more.

Himalayan Yeti, 3515 S. Kingshighway, St. Louis, 314-354-8338, himalayanyetistlouis.com

"}, {"id":"d5177aff-55be-58ae-98ac-be33681c4c14","type":"article","starttime":"1484244000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-12T12:00:00-06:00","priority":35,"sections":[{"arts-and-culture":"arts-and-culture"},{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Ready Readers: Firing Kids\u2019 Imaginations","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/article_d5177aff-55be-58ae-98ac-be33681c4c14.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/ready-readers-firing-kids-imaginations/article_d5177aff-55be-58ae-98ac-be33681c4c14.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/ready-readers-firing-kids-imaginations/article_d5177aff-55be-58ae-98ac-be33681c4c14.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Sheila Oliveri","prologue":"With many cold weeks ahead, canny parents and other caregivers should anticipate lots of indoor time with children proclaiming boredom.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["ready readers"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"c5602cc9-e178-5349-a5b1-f8b502fb91e5","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"260","height":"326","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/56/c5602cc9-e178-5349-a5b1-f8b502fb91e5/586be08c38bc8.image.jpg?resize=260%2C326"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"125","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/56/c5602cc9-e178-5349-a5b1-f8b502fb91e5/586be08c38bc8.image.jpg?resize=100%2C125"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"376","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/56/c5602cc9-e178-5349-a5b1-f8b502fb91e5/586be08c38bc8.image.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1284","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/56/c5602cc9-e178-5349-a5b1-f8b502fb91e5/586be08c38bc8.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"1a2ac7d1-8e07-5684-abbf-d3410d12ca95","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"402","height":"500","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/a2/1a2ac7d1-8e07-5684-abbf-d3410d12ca95/586be08c5140f.image.jpg?resize=402%2C500"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"124","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/a2/1a2ac7d1-8e07-5684-abbf-d3410d12ca95/586be08c5140f.image.jpg?resize=100%2C124"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"373","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/a2/1a2ac7d1-8e07-5684-abbf-d3410d12ca95/586be08c5140f.image.jpg?resize=300%2C373"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1274","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/a2/1a2ac7d1-8e07-5684-abbf-d3410d12ca95/586be08c5140f.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"d5177aff-55be-58ae-98ac-be33681c4c14","body":"
\"Use
Use your imagination

With many cold weeks ahead, canny parents and other caregivers should anticipate lots of indoor time with children proclaiming boredom. Rather than turning to a TV or a tablet, though, make magic come alive with your child \u2013 all you need is a book and imagination!

Author/illustrator Nicola O\u2019Byrne\u2019s Use Your Imagination (But be careful what you wish for!) weaves bits of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale into a contemporary story to excite the imaginations of readers both young and old.

The book\u2019s cover delightfully depicts a young, trusting bunny gazing at the shadow of a toothy wolf. Instead of impersonating a granny, though, the wolf pretends to be a librarian, promising to end the bunny\u2019s boredom by helping him write a story. The wolf instructs the budding author, \u201cThere\u2019s only one way to begin a story \u2026 Once Upon a Time!\u201d

The carnivorous canine subsequently tries to steer the developing story to an ending that will leave him feeling full, but finds things don\u2019t always go as he\u2019d like \u2013 the rabbit\u2019s imagination leads to an out-of-this world banishment for the lupine librarian.

O\u2019Byrne\u2019s illustrations pleasantly abound with white space atypical of picture books. Also, she shows main characters in soft, muted tones, but other creatures and settings in bright, bold hues. Finally, the text itself almost acts as a character, with different fonts creatively used to match the story\u2019s tone.

All in all, the masterful use of white space, color and typography in Use Your Imagination make it a joyous read.

\"The
The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff \u2013 credited to the publisher (Parragon Books) and illustrated by Gavin Scott \u2013 constitutes another favorite fairy tale, invariably available in many versions and soon to be shared with the 10,000 children in the Ready Readers program.

The story, of course, opens with the eponymous goat brothers munching grass on a hill, then setting their sights on a meadow across a bridge. Guarding that bridge, though, is a terrible, smelly, green troll, whom the goats must outsmart.

Scott\u2019s illustrations should appeal to all ages. Each goat has his own unique appearance and personality, allowing parents and other caregivers to use different voices when reading the story aloud. Also, though the text describes a frightfully gruesome creature, Scott\u2019s troll looks more silly than scary, so even the youngest listeners oughtn\u2019t be spooked.

The refrain \u201cTrip, trap, trip, trap\u201d as the brothers cross the bridge should invite children to take part in telling the tale, and likewise, the troll\u2019s booming \u201cWho\u2019s that tripping over my bridge?\u201d should encourage them to envision themselves as the warty, hairy, stinky troll.

The story resolves according to tradition, with a happy ending for the Billy Goats Gruff \u2013 and the troll\u2019s fate left to the imagination.

A great opportunity for families to experience a live-action contemporary re-imagination of The Three Billy Goats Gruff will come during Ready Readers Winter Story Fest on Feb. 12 at Clayton High School. The original play, conceived and performed by the wildly inventive and physically gifted members of Circus Kaput, forms part of Ready Readers\u2019 20th-anniversary celebration. For more information, visit readyreaders.org.

At Ready Readers, we know that \u201cKids Who Read Succeed!\u201d Reading aloud daily provides a strong foundation for early literacy. If you enjoy reading and sharing the magic of books, please consider becoming a volunteer for Ready Readers and reading aloud to a classroom of preschool children in an underserved area of St. Louis. Visit readyreaders.org for more information.

"}, {"id":"fe6f42ae-d781-11e6-9869-13011cc24503","type":"article","starttime":"1484086380","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-10T16:13:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484087228","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"'Menopause the Musical' Returns to Westport Playhouse: Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_fe6f42ae-d781-11e6-9869-13011cc24503.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/menopause-the-musical-returns-to-westport-playhouse-review/article_fe6f42ae-d781-11e6-9869-13011cc24503.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/menopause-the-musical-returns-to-westport-playhouse-review/article_fe6f42ae-d781-11e6-9869-13011cc24503.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: Four women meet at Bloomingdale\u2019s in New York City, initially strangers to each other who are jostling to pick up the best deals on merchandise. Quickly, though, they bond, even though they are four different types: a businesswoman, a soap opera star, an \u201cearth mother\u201d hippie type and a homemaker from Iowa.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["playhouse at westport plaza","menopause the musical","menopause","musical","theater","review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"ed4a5fae-d781-11e6-8fb1-67f8d370ed5a","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"760","height":"289","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/d4/ed4a5fae-d781-11e6-8fb1-67f8d370ed5a/58755c634f519.image.png?resize=760%2C289"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"38","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/d4/ed4a5fae-d781-11e6-8fb1-67f8d370ed5a/58755c634f519.image.png?resize=100%2C38"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"114","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/d4/ed4a5fae-d781-11e6-8fb1-67f8d370ed5a/58755c634f519.image.png?resize=300%2C114"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"390","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/d4/ed4a5fae-d781-11e6-8fb1-67f8d370ed5a/58755c634f519.image.png"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"fe6f42ae-d781-11e6-9869-13011cc24503","body":"

Story: Four women meet at Bloomingdale\u2019s in New York City, initially strangers to each other who are jostling to pick up the best deals on merchandise. Quickly, though, they bond, even though they are four different types: a businesswoman, a soap opera star, an \u201cearth mother\u201d hippie type and a homemaker from Iowa.

As all of them are of a \u201ccertain age,\u201d they establish an easy rapport as they discuss common topics including cravings for chocolate, hot flashes, sexual escapades, loss of memory and other happenings in their lives, as well as the change of life itself.

Throughout their adventures at Bloomingdale\u2019s they describe their humorous reactions to predicaments in parodies written to the music of popular songs primarily from the \u201860s, \u201870s and \u201880s, eras most familiar to each of the ladies.

Highlights: A popular show at a previous incarnation of The Playhouse at Westport Plaza, Menopause the Musical returns hoping to recapture the magic that enabled it to enjoy an extensive run a decade or so ago. Reprising the cast from its 2006 production, Menopause the Musical is an easy-going, fun-loving romp that pokes fun at middle-aged women as well as the music that was part of their generation.

Other Info: The one-act, 90-minute musical is chockfull of recognizable tunes coupled with wry lyrics written by author Jeanie Linders, who gives each member of the cast a chance to shine while warbling amusing parodies of songs such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Stayin\u2019 Alive, Heat Wave, The Lion Sleeps Tonight and many, many others.

For a lampoon of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, e.g., the cast (Laura Ackermann, Marty K. Casey, Lee Anne Mathews, Rosemary Watts) becomes an impromptu band playing a variety of novelty instruments as they bemoan their troubles getting a good night\u2019s rest. As for the music itself, background accompaniment in recorded version is performed by Michael Dubay on keyboards, drummer Don Meoli and Jonathan Rem on bass.

The use of pleasurable devices is described amusingly to the tune of Good Vibrations, while hot flashes are the humorous spark for a take-off on the old standard, Heat Wave. Songs including Sign of the Times and Puff the Magic Dragon (Puff, My God, I\u2019m Draggin\u2019) also are spoofed entertainingly thanks to Linders\u2019 clever lyrics and the comic delivery of the four performers.

Casey returns in her role as the \u201cProfessional Woman,\u201d Ackermann is back as the \u201cEarth Mother,\u201d Mathews offers another turn as the \u201cSoap Star\u201d and Watts reprises her part as the \u201cIowa Housewife.\u201d They enjoy an easy chemistry with each other that transfers to their performances, allowing an audience to benefit from their camaraderie as well as their vocal and comedic talents.

Judi Mann also is back as full understudy and dance captain for the quartet, introducing the show and getting patrons in a good mood with some amusing raffles while imparting the usual requests regarding mobile phones and recording devices.

The skits remain entertaining as far as they go, but Menopause the Musical can become diluted and a bit tired after too many viewings, or so was my reaction to this current version.

The simple but effective set is designed by Bud Clark, while the myriad outfits adorning the women are courtesy of costume designer Sue Hill. Ryan Patridge provides lighting and the sound design is by Steve Shapiro.

Seth Greenleaf directs in straightforward fashion, with choreography for some pleasing little dance numbers on the diminutive stage supervised by Daria Lynne Melendez. Alan J. Plado is responsible for music supervision and additional arrangements.

Menopause the Musical was a long-lasting hit at Westport back in 2006 and now it\u2019s back for a run of slightly longer than a month this time around. If you enjoy \u2018oldies\u2019 from the LP era as well as the still vibrant and energetic performances of this cast, you\u2019ll likely have a romp at Menopause the Musical.

Musical: Menopause the Musical

Company: Emery Entertainment/Jack Lane

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: Through February 12

Tickets: $60; contact metrotix.com or 534-1111

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

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Story: Joe Keller has made a good life for himself. He lives with his wife Kate and son Chris in a nice home in the town (most likely in Ohio) where he owns and operates a factory. Just a few years earlier that plant made parts for airplanes used by the American military in combat during World War II.

Tragically, Joe and Kate\u2019s oldest son Larry was reported missing in action during the war when the plane he was flying disappeared. Although grateful that younger son Chris returned home from the war, Kate continues to hope that Larry also will one day reappear, just as occasional stories in the newspaper indicate other combat veterans have done.

This is a point of consternation for Chris, who is in love with Larry\u2019s fianc\u00e9e, Ann. He\u2019s invited his former neighbor back to town to propose to her, but there are considerable problems, including his mother\u2019s insistence that Ann wait for Larry to return.

Ann and her family left town after her father and Joe were put on trial for supplying defective parts to the military, which led to the deaths of 21 pilots during World War II. Joe was exonerated, claiming he didn\u2019t know about the bad parts, while his subordinate, Ann\u2019s father Steve, was convicted and sent to prison.

Now Ann is scheduled to visit the Keller family at the same time that her brother George has discovered shocking information from their father about Joe\u2019s true involvement in the company\u2019s decision to forward defective materials. Exactly what kind of homecoming will this be for Ann and the Kellers?

Highlights: The Rep continues its 50th anniversary season with a searing, richly satisfying production of one of the best plays by one of America\u2019s greatest playwrights. Arthur Miller\u2019s beautifully written tragedy put him on the nation\u2019s literary map in 1947, following the black-and-white wartime years with a litany of grey-hued questions that presented an often unflattering mirror to America\u2019s victorious face.

Other Info: The Rep often begins the calendar year with a \u2018heavy\u2019 drama that offers considerable food for thought after the abundant confections of the holiday season. In his program notes, artistic director Steven Woolf writes that \u201cIn our anniversary season, it was important to include a play by one of the most influential American playwrights of any generation.\u201d

Miller\u2019s words continue to be relevant in the 21st century, asking tough questions about morality and ethics that present no easy answers. His two-act drama was inspired by a newspaper article about a real aeronautical plant whose executives knowingly provided defective parts to the military that led to the deaths of American soldiers.

The driving force of profits in capitalism, and the need for business owners to succeed and thrive whenever possible, served as the catalyst for Miller\u2019s unflinching look at the repercussions of such a philosophy. His words, though, go beyond the political and into the hearts and minds of everyday people who often struggle to differentiate between right and wrong, actions and consequences.

The current presentation at The Rep solidly conveys Miller\u2019s probing thoughts under associate artistic director Seth Gordon\u2019s careful and studied direction. While action in the two acts is confined to the patio and back yard of the Keller home, Gordon\u2019s players utilize entrances from the sides and back to \u2018stretch out\u2019 the play\u2019s dimensions. Pacing is impeccable as Gordon keeps a steady focus on the players and their rapt dialogue.

Michael Ganio\u2019s handsome set design includes a two-story home in the rear, delicately illuminated by lighting designer Peter Sargent in key dramatic moments, and a well-appointed back yard including patio furniture and a picket fence as well as a recently-felled tree heavy with symbolism.

Costumes designed by Myrna Colley-Lee appear accurate down to minute details, whether Joe\u2019s droopy T-shirt, Ann\u2019s stylish hose or Chris\u2019 dapper duds for his planned night on the town with Ann. Rusty Wandall provides a subtle sound design with some jarring jazzy elements that presage impending doom for the Kellers and unexpected troubles for the nation.

Patrick Ball\u2019s searing performance as Chris leads Gordon\u2019s meticulously assembled cast. Ball embodies all of the frustrations and doubts of the younger generation in this Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers have unknowing and relentless consequences. His portrayal moves capably between Chris\u2019 euphoria in his love for Ann to his anguish about his family\u2019s past.

John Woodson expertly portrays the familiar Miller protagonist, the hard-working family man Joe whose hidden villainy is revealed slowly and with well-presented complexity in Woodson\u2019s wide-ranging performance. Margaret Daly ups the ante in her role as the long-suffering Kate, capped with a terribly poignant moan in the play\u2019s climactic scene.

Mairin Lee offers a rich interpretation of Ann, showing her full love for Chris as well as her determination to leave a sordid family past behind her, demonstrating Ann\u2019s own considerable resilience when plagued by Kate\u2019s unrealistic demands. Zac Hoogendyk makes a powerful appearance as Ann\u2019s angry brother George, who softens just a little in Kate\u2019s sugary sweet reunion with him before a few careless words turn everything upside down.

The fine supporting cast that fleshes out this microcosm of post-war America includes Ana McAlister as spunky neighbor lad Bert and Jim Ireland as the Keller neighbor and town physician, Dr. Jim Bayliss, a man who endures his marriage by acknowledging that he lives \u201cin the usual darkness,\u201d a starkly stunning phrase by which Miller defines the quiet desperation of so many.

Amy Hohn brings out the small-minded nastiness of Bayliss\u2019 wife Sue, while Emily Kunkel and Grant Fletcher Prewitt portray the simple-minded but genial neighbors Lydia and Frank Lubey.

All My Sons resonates as strongly in this troubled time in American history as it did when it propelled Miller to fame, fortune and controversy 70 years ago. It makes you think and wonder how you yourself fit into an imperfect world.

Play: All My Sons

Company: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

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

Dates: Through January 29

Tickets: $18-$81.50; contact 968-4925 or www.repstl.org

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

Photos courtesy of Jerry Naunheim Jr.

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\"CircaSTLHiRes-01.jpg\"
CircaSTLHiRes-01.jpg

In Des Peres, a new restaurant and tavern recently debuted with a decidedly St. Louis theme. Circa STL opened in late October, featuring area memorabilia and an American-food menu with plenty of traditional local dishes.

The concept fills the 5,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Zydeco Blues, outfitted from wall to wall with owner Brian Walsh\u2019s collection of local kitsch and treasures. Walsh has compiled the veritable museum of St. Louis-themed eye candy over nearly 45 years.

\u201cI\u2019ve always loved St. Louis history. I\u2019ve lived here my entire life, and no one\u2019s ever done a strictly St. Louis place,\u201d Walsh says. \u201cI\u2019ve been talking about it for years. I retired and said, \u2018I\u2019m going to do this.\u2019\u201d

The casual, family-friendly eatery offers seats for around 300 guests, with nostalgia around every corner. Walsh and his wife, Sheila, once owned an antique shop in Old Town Florissant and, in Circa STL, put their background in salvaging and refurbishing historic items to use.

Display cases and framed pieces define the space, featuring area manufacturers, sports teams and more. Many collectibles predate Prohibition.

\u201cIt\u2019s like going to a museum of St. Louis history, and you don\u2019t have to leave to get a bite to eat or something to drink,\u201d Walsh says.

Chef Melissa Molden heads the kitchen, which features a variety of appetizers, soups and salads, entr\u00e9es, pizzas and sandwiches. Choose from area favorites such as homemade toasted ravioli \u2013 an oversized breaded and fried pasta shell filled with beef, cheese and spinach, served with marinara dipping sauce.

Other regional highlights include a barbecue pork steak sandwich with coleslaw and St. Louis-style thin-crust pizza. Specialty topping options include a meat lover\u2019s pie and a white pizza with alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, tomatoes, spinach and onions topped with mozzarella and Provel.

The kitchen also re-creates another classic: Famous-Barr\u2019s French onion soup. Additional highlights included pan-seared cod with lemon aioli, stuffed mushrooms and chicken modiga, which features chicken coated in Italian bread crumbs that is grilled and topped with a mushroom-cream sauce.

On the dessert menu, guests will find a St. Louis mainstay: gooey butter cake. From the bar, choose from a dozen beers on tap, an extensive wine list and cocktails with a local twist. With so many options, Circa STL makes a perfect eatery before catching one of the many shows in this season\u2019s theatrical lineup.

\u201cAll I wanted to do was get my collection out in the public and share it,\u201d Walsh says. \u201cThe d\u00e9cor is outstanding, and the food and staff are great, too.\u201d

Circa STL, 1090 Old Des Peres Road, Des Peres, 314-394-1196, circa-stl.com

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\"AAIP
AAIP Tour 0147.jpg

Now that we\u2019ve bid 2016 so long and welcomed a bright, shiny new year, St. Louis Theater Circle members are making nominations for its annual awards ceremony (March 21 at the Skip Viragh Center for Performing Arts at Chaminade).

Meanwhile, many local professional companies are getting 2017 off to a rousing start. Herewith, a preview of just some of the shows scheduled to be performed from January through March:

The Black Rep presents Lines in the Dust from Jan. 11 to 29 at Washington University\u2019s Edison Theatre. Nikkole Salters\u2019 drama focuses on a woman searching for a way to get her daughter a better education than in their underperforming neighborhood school. The troupe then moves to Harris-Stowe State University for August Wilson\u2019s Seven Guitars, which runs from March 29 to April 23.

First Run Theatre, which presents original works most often by local playwrights, continues its 2016-17 season with Caleb King\u2019s drama Prometheus\u2019 Dream, termed \u201ca modern retelling of Frankenstein.\u201d The show, which runs from Jan. 13 to 22 at De Smet High School, looks at the troubling relationship between a controversial doctor and his test subject, \u201cAdam,\u201d when Adam begins to rediscover parts of his past and regains a sense of self.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre is the place from Jan. 17 to 29 for An American in Paris, the four-time Tony Award-winning musical from 2015 about \u201can American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city,\u201d featuring music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and inspired by the Academy Award-winning movie.

That\u2019s followed from Feb. 7 to 19 by Something Rotten, the just-closed Broadway musical comedy about the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, and their desperate efforts to write a play that can compete with their contemporary rival, William Shakespeare. Then, the Roundabout Theatre Company appears from March 7 to 19 for a 50th-anniversary presentation of Cabaret in an interpretation shaped by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall. Motown the Musical then takes the stage from March 21 to 26.

At Emerson\u2019s Bar & Grill, jazz and blues icon Billie Holiday is the subject of Lady Day, a portrait of the late singer\u2019s struggles with addiction, racism, love and loss, and her ability to mine humor from hardship and the transformative power of song. Alexis Roston portrays Holiday in the Feb. 17-March 4 presentation by Max & Louie Productions at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

The Midnight Company will present Donal O\u2019Kelly\u2019s comic thriller Little Thing, Big Thing from Jan. 27 to Feb. 11 at Avatar Studios, 2675 Scott Ave. Joe Hanrahan and Rachel Tibbetts star in this tale of a nun sent on a mission by a frightened child in Nigeria to deliver a roll of film to a mysterious man in Dublin and her encounter with an Irish ex-con who accidentally joins her on the dangerous assignment.

Rohina Mahlik\u2019s play Yasmina\u2019s Necklace had its world premiere in Chicago last January. From Jan. 27 to Feb. 12, Mustard Seed Theatre stages this tale about a young man whose quest to hide his cultural identity is challenged when he meets a beautiful woman from his Iraqi father\u2019s homeland.

Intimate Apparel, a drama about a black seamstress in early 20th-century New York City who secretly loves a Hasidic shopkeeper, is coming from New Jewish Theatre from Jan. 26 to Feb. 11. That\u2019s followed from March 16 to April 2 by Never the Sinner, a drama by Jonathan Logan about Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two handsome, intelligent and wealthy young men who committed the \u201cCrime of the Century\u201d in 1924.

New Line Theatre continues its 26th season with a production of the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical Zorba from March 2 to 25 at the Marcelle Theater. Zorba is based on the 1946 novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis and its 1964 film version, as well as letters from the real-life Zorba found by Kander and Ebb. The musical focuses on the title character, his philosophy of living life to the fullest and a dramatic, emotional, tragic but life-affirming encounter with a young man and love.

The Peabody Opera House has a busy schedule this winter, starting with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which plays from Jan. 27 to 29. The Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods has a one-night engagement on Feb. 19, followed, on March 2, by Let It Be, a what-if reunion concert by the Beatles on October 9, 1980, the occasion of John Lennon\u2019s 40th birthday.

Menopause the Musical returns to The Playhouse at Westport Plaza for an extended run from Jan. 5 to Feb. 12. That\u2019s followed by the jukebox musical Pump Boys & Dinettes from Feb. 14 to 19 and then the comedy Graeme of Thrones, which runs from Feb. 22 to 26. A comic takeoff on Disney princesses, Disenchanted!, will play from Feb. 28 to March 5, and then Cannibal: The Musical takes the stage from March 9 to 12, followed by The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? from March 14 to 26 and One Funny Mother from March 30 to April 2.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis continues its 50th-anniversary season on the Mainstage with productions of the classic Arthur Miller drama All My Sons from Jan. 4 to 29, followed by Harper Lee\u2019s classic To Kill a Mockingbird from Feb. 8 to March 5 and the one-act jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet, about a jam session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, from March 15 to April 9.

In its Studio Theatre, The Rep presents the two-character play called Constellations, described as \u201ca vibrant collision of love and theoretical physics,\u201d from Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, and then The Royale, a drama loosely based on early 20th-century black boxer Jack Johnson and his fight for recognition in a prejudiced world, from March 8 to 26.

From March 10 to 12, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble presents the Aphra Behn Emerging Artists\u2019 Showcase, a festival of new plays written and directed by promising female artists including Shualee Cook, Erin Renee Roberts, Alyssa Ward, Kate McAllister, Hannah Ryan and Kristin Rion. The short plays, ranging between 10 and 30 minutes, are presented each day of the festival as part of the troupe\u2019s Season of Adaptation.

Saint Louis Shakespeare continues its 32nd season with a presentation of The Comedy of Errors by the Bard from March 31 to April 9 at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan Ave.

St. Louis Actors\u2019 Studio continues its 10th-anniversary season with a production of The Way We Get By, Neil LaBute\u2019s play about a man and a woman who wake up together and then begin to wonder how much they really know about each other and how much they actually care about what anyone else thinks. The Way We Get By runs from Feb. 10 to 26 at the Gaslight Theater.

Next onstage at the Tower Grove Abbey is Stray Dog Theatre\u2019s presentation of the classic Henrik Ibsen 19th-century drama A Doll\u2019s House, about a woman who learns in what esteem \u2013 or lack thereof \u2013 she\u2019s held by her husband when she is being blackmailed. A Doll\u2019s House runs from Feb. 2 to 18.

Tesseract Theatre returns to its new home, the .ZACK Incubator in Grand Center, when it teams with V-Day St. Louis to present The Vagina Monologues from Feb. 3 to 12. Prior to that, Theatre Lab presents its third full-length production at its new home \u2013 the same .ZACK Incubator, at 3224 Locust St. \u2013 with a presentation of Patrick Marber\u2019s 1997 drama Closer, which focuses on four lives intertwined over the course of 4\u00bd years. Closer plays from Jan. 13 to 22.

The American premiere of South African playwright Joanna Evans\u2019 The Year of the Bicycle takes the stage courtesy of Upstream Theater from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand Ave. The drama centers on the relationship between two children from very different backgrounds growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.

West End Players Guild continues its 106th season with The Ice Fishing Play, a comedic look at a funny pastime that also delivers some important lessons about life, in a production that runs from Feb. 10 to 19 at the Union Avenue Christian Church on Enright Avenue one block north of the intersection of Delmar and Union.

And Winter Opera continues the celebration of its 10th-anniversary season with Gioachino Rossini\u2019s La Cenerentola conducted by Kostis Protopapas, artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara, on Jan. 27 and 29. Winter Opera then concludes its season with a presentation of Georges Bizet\u2019s Carmen, conducted by Darwin Aquino, on March 3 and 5. All performances take place at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at Chaminade.

As you can see, the winter calendar\u2019s chockfull of goodies for the artistically adventurous \u2013 so brave the elements and prepare yourself for some fine theatrical experiences.

"}, {"id":"42044533-08dd-5e7c-b63c-b05e13af8f5d","type":"article","starttime":"1483639200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-05T12:00:00-06:00","priority":35,"sections":[{"arts-and-culture":"arts-and-culture"},{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Art & Soul: Jennie Hible","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/article_42044533-08dd-5e7c-b63c-b05e13af8f5d.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/art-soul-jennie-hible/article_42044533-08dd-5e7c-b63c-b05e13af8f5d.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/art-soul-jennie-hible/article_42044533-08dd-5e7c-b63c-b05e13af8f5d.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Bryan A. Hollerbach","prologue":"Through no particular apathy or antipathy, eco-friendliness and artistry, for most interlocutors, scarcely pair, perforce \u2013 yet such a pairing constitutes one of the manifold felicities of Jennie Hible\u2019s work.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["art & soul","jennie hible"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672","description":"","byline":"Image courtesy of Jennie Hible","hireswidth":1736,"hiresheight":1193,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ad/5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672/586293cc14ab7.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"522","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ad/5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672/586293cc0d7c0.image.jpg?resize=760%2C522"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"69","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ad/5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672/586293cc0d7c0.image.jpg?resize=100%2C69"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"206","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ad/5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672/586293cc0d7c0.image.jpg?resize=300%2C206"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"704","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ad/5adb57ea-1f6f-59c2-a5fd-f655713b8672/586293cc0d7c0.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C704"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"42044533-08dd-5e7c-b63c-b05e13af8f5d","body":"
\"Art
Art and Soul January 2017 image

Through no particular apathy or antipathy, eco-friendliness and artistry, for most interlocutors, scarcely pair, perforce \u2013 yet such a pairing constitutes one of the manifold felicities of Jennie Hible\u2019s work.

The untitled bowl showcased here, which has a diameter of 10\u00bd inches, exemplifies that work in recycled glass. (Hible, who lives in St. Peters, notes in passing that she also works with \u201cart glass, glass that is made specifically to be fired in a kiln\u201d and that St. Charles\u2019 Dwell in Design offers certain of her pieces for purchase.)

The mere image of that bowl may well spark an almost visceral response in the reader, a compulsion to cradle between one\u2019s palms its gorgeous, pebbled surface, which looks luminescent and (altogether counterintuitively) warm. It emanates palpability.

Funnily, Hible admits her artistic calling commenced not at the kiln but at the easel.

\u201cMy grandmother was a painter, but I would always find myself becoming frustrated trying to \u2018stay within the lines,\u2019\u201d she says. \u201cIronically enough, I now paint \u2013 abstract only \u2013 but when I enrolled in a beginning glass class, I found my true passion.

\u201cTypically, I don\u2019t set out to produce pieces about a specific subject or matter. I draw much of my inspiration from water, the environment, animals and abstract pieces.\u201d

The bowl depicted here suggests a certain fluidity, to be sure. Images of other works by Hible, meanwhile, back her mention of the environment and abstractionism \u2013 some of her abstract works recall the delightful vivacity of Spain\u2019s Joan Mir\u00f3 \u2013 and all appear behind a website front page titled Black Dog Brown Dog Art, which sports a splendidly stylized paw-print logo and photos of two canines (one black, the other \u2026 well, guess).

Regarding environmental concerns, it also should come as no surprise that last year she took part in a juried exhibition in the seventh annual Nature and Wildlife Exhibit at Florida\u2019s St. Augustine Art Association from July 23 through August 28.

\u201cAt one point, I started becoming fascinated with recycled glass,\u201d Hible continues regarding her work. \u201cIt makes me crazy to see all the old shower and patio doors that end up in the landfill.

\u201cThe score of the lifetime was my mom arranging for me to get all the sheets of glass from a school trophy case that was headed to the trash. It\u2019s awesome having a hobby that not only eliminates waste but also allows me to create unique and beautiful items for others to enjoy.

\u201cGlass is rewarding, challenging and very frustrating at times \u2013 but that\u2019s part of the fun.\u201d

To learn more about our featured artist, visit blackdogbrowndogart.com.

St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to bhollerbach@laduenews.com with \u201cArt and Soul\u201d in the subject line.

"}, {"id":"a637b846-d119-11e6-a2d6-3babfa639cc1","type":"article","starttime":"1483381860","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-02T12:31:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1483382186","priority":40,"sections":[{"features":"arts-and-culture/features"}],"application":"editorial","title":"'The Book of Moron' Is Pretty Smart: Theater Review","url":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/article_a637b846-d119-11e6-a2d6-3babfa639cc1.html","permalink":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/the-book-of-moron-is-pretty-smart-theater-review/article_a637b846-d119-11e6-a2d6-3babfa639cc1.html","canonical":"http://www.laduenews.com/arts-and-culture/features/the-book-of-moron-is-pretty-smart-theater-review/article_a637b846-d119-11e6-a2d6-3babfa639cc1.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"by Mark Bretz","prologue":"Story: Robert Dubac holds forth for 90 minutes expounding on the search for truth in this complicated and often less-than-brilliant world. His analysis of reason is a journey taken by the narrator, who along the way meets characters named \u201cHis Voice of Reason,\u201d \u201cHis Common Sense,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Moron,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Child,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Asshole\u201d and \u201cHis Scruples.\u201d Each attempts to influence Robert, or \u201cBob\u201d as he is known to his friends.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["robert dubac","stephen wright","george carlin","the book of moron","playhouse at westport plaza","comedy","theater","review"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e","description":"Illuminated empty theatre and stage","byline":"Leonard Mc Lane","hireswidth":1242,"hiresheight":776,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/06/f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e/586a9b446c8e3.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"760","height":"475","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/06/f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e/586a9b446aeb2.image.jpg?resize=760%2C475"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"62","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/06/f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e/586a9b446aeb2.image.jpg?resize=100%2C62"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"187","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/06/f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e/586a9b446aeb2.image.jpg?resize=300%2C187"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"640","url":"http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/laduenews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/06/f06ab23e-d118-11e6-983a-5b0c520bcb9e/586a9b446aeb2.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C640"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"a637b846-d119-11e6-a2d6-3babfa639cc1","body":"

Story: Robert Dubac holds forth for 90 minutes expounding on the search for truth in this complicated and often less-than-brilliant world. His analysis of reason is a journey taken by the narrator, who along the way meets characters named \u201cHis Voice of Reason,\u201d \u201cHis Common Sense,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Moron,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Child,\u201d \u201cHis Inner Asshole\u201d and \u201cHis Scruples.\u201d Each attempts to influence Robert, or \u201cBob\u201d as he is known to his friends.

Highlights: The recently reinvigorated Playhouse at Westport Plaza concluded the first half of its 2016-17 season with an amusing session hosted by comedian Robert Dubac. His rapid-fire delivery and intellectual observations brought to mind what Stephen Wright might be like on steroids, with mostly humorous results.

Other Info: Dubac\u2019s show, sub-titled If Thinking Were Easy Everyone Would Do It, actually was too much of a good thing. At nearly 90 minutes, it really is about 15 minutes too long, at least as presently constructed. While his talent level is undeniable and his material is very amusingly conveyed, it\u2019s somewhat repetitive and could probably be enhanced by streamlining the show just a bit.

Still, when Dubac mentions that he has a Ph.D. in communications, you\u2019re inclined to believe him based on the caliber of the material he\u2019s written for this one-man presentation. Using just a chalkboard and a few minor props, Dubac is able to keep an audience entertained and even educated if they\u2019re paying close enough attention.

It\u2019s material that apparently is updated regularly, too, since he had numerous references to the recent presidential election. The show is funny from the get-go, when Dubac\u2019s voice intones about proper theater etiquette for this rendition of The Book of Moron. \u201cIf you\u2019re here thinking that you\u2019re going to see The Book of Mormon, this show is specifically for you.\u201d

Dubac\u2019s delivery can accelerate to staccato-style pacing, so much so that he\u2019s well on to the next joke while you\u2019re still contemplating something he said moments earlier. As mentioned above, his cerebral approach to humor brings to mind comic Stephen Wright, as well as George Carlin as noted by one of my colleagues upon reflection.

He even avoids crude and vulgar humor for the most part, keeping it at a low level in comparison with many modern comedians, and then primarily for impact. He\u2019s also able to demonstrate a magic trick or two that impresses someone as easily swayed as myself by legerdemain.

Dubac invited the audience to stay behind afterward while he worked on a new act he\u2019s getting ready to premiere on Sirius, the syndicated radio channel. Meanwhile, he\u2019ll return to The Playhouse at Westport Plaza March 14-26 with another show, The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?

If that appearance is anywhere near as good as The Book of Moron, get your tickets early for a high-octane, fun-filled evening.

Play: The Book of Moron

Company: Emery Entertainment/Jack Lane

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: Run concluded

Tickets: $60; contact metrotix.com or 534-1111

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

"} ]