Funny Girl Farah Alvin stuns in this revival of the musical bio of Ziegfeld Follies showgirl Fanny Brice. Yes, it's dinner theater, but it's probably the best show in town. Director Richard Carrothers parades pleasure after pleasure: Alvin's witty-patter songs, numbers from the Follies, amusing scenes of Brice's family. (As her mother, KC's Jeanne Averill connects hard with each line.) Brice falls in love, and in the big seduction scene, song, story, and performance coalesce with force and emotional clarity. The second act turns a little mopey, but the show rallies at the end, and the dramatic ambition is appreciated. Through Aug. 28 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster in Overland Park, 913-649-7469. (Reviewed in the August 4 issue)
Sad Hotel Another interesting selection from the Minds Eye gang, who at the very least have great taste. This time, it's David Foley's account of Tennessee Williams' early-'60s breakup with a male lover. Turns out that years of failure, addiction and consorting with hustlers (this one played by Bryan LaFave, who was adorable as the killer in The Why) don't help out in relationships. Minds Eye big shot and erstwhile Rocky Horror narrator Craig Aikman is playing the master playwright; Aikman's a grand comic performer, and the chance to see him stretch is intriguing. Through Sept. 3 at the Alcott Arts Center, 180 S. 18th St. in Kansas City, Kan., 913-897-2348.
The Seagull Lots of levels of strangeness here. This play, the one Chekhov considered his comedy, teems with the despair and ennui that was turn-of-the-last-century Russia's principal export, and its plot turns upon an inept performance of a play within a play that teems with despair and is authored by -- who else? -- a depressed Russian. In the real world, we have high school kids (no strangers to nameless despair themselves) tackling one of the greatest, wisest works of one of the most depressed Russians of them all. Impressed as we are with Rockhurst's ambition, here's hoping that when the production gets to that play within the play, we can tell what's supposed to hurt and what isn't. Aug. 25-26 at Rockhurst High School, 9301 State Line Rd., 816-363-2036, ext. 235.
Troop Train Treachery More event than show, it's parts mystery, comedy, history lesson, parlor game, quiz show, and fourth-wall-smashing happening. Not to mention charming. You sit at your table, nosh on your bread and chat with actors done up for a 1943 train ride from Union Station. Soon, a corpse is found, a course arrives, and we're instructed to assist in the investigation as we eat. Some audience members even get to perform meaty parts, sometimes stealing a scene from the funny Mary Gay Rogers and Toby Crawford. Glendora Davis spoons endless complications into her story, but she also adds dashes of local history (burlesque and spies!) and some near-trenchant observations about a woman's role in yesterday's world. Through Sept. 17 at Union Station Café, 30 West Pershing, 816-813-9654. (Reviewed in the August 4 issue)