Harry Hamm

The Repertory Theater of St. Louis is closing out their 2013-2014 season with a well-produced and very funny show on the main stage, and a chatty new production about family life in a company town in the Studio Theater.

On the main stage, the tried and true farce “Noises Off” had patrons rolling in the aisle, especially in the Act II.

Noises 2

Photo courtesy of The Rep

Veteran St. Louis actor Joneal Joplin makes his 92nd appearance in a Rep show in “Noises Off” . In this comedy about a lackluster theatrical troupe trying to put on a show in spite of themselves, he plays an aging alcoholic character actor portraying a bumbling burglar.  The show they are touring in is called “Nothing On.” There are elements of romance, misunderstandings and personality issues on stage and back stage. The frustrated director can only control them with a booming voice, a bottle of booze and a fine selection of four-letter words. (Careful. He may be sitting behind you in the audience.) Dale Hodges plays an exasperated maid and steals the show.

Noises 4

“Noises Off” is a roaring good time that sends the audience into fits of unrestrained laughter. Old-fashioned slapstick and outrageous comic characterizations make even a plate of sardines hilarious. “Noises Off” is like a good old friend who you never really get tired of visiting.

soups Laughs Are On At Noises Off

“Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” is onstage at The Studio Theater. It’s a talky new play about a family in a small Wisconsin town where the major employer is a factory that produces and packages cheese. It all takes place in the family’s kitchen where the annual town cookbook, a local fundraiser,  is being assembled.

Soups 1

When the well-to-do family who has always owned the cheese company decides to sell out to a Chicago conglomerate, it is sets off an economic panic in the town about lay offs. The father in the family we meet is elevated into management, which forces him to come to grips with the fact that he is now seen as anti-union and no longer “one of the guys.” Even his own daughter thinks Dad has betrayed his friends and former co-workers.

soups 2

“Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” is a new work given its world premiere by The Rep. It originated as part of The Rep’s Ignite! New Play Festival. As a work in progress, it is timely and very nicely written. I was very impressed with the voices in the cast and the manner in which the show portrayed what a lot of folks are experiencing these days, even though this show is set in 1976. “Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” is a tasty selection of new theater.



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