The Fifth of July and Talley's Folly We met the Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri, in the stirring Talley's Folly, the moondrunk romance that kicks off Lanford Wilson's great trilogy and is running all summer long, so get out there, people. Set 30 years later, Fifth of July gives us the Talleys in the '70s, coping with adulthood, Vietnam and what had become of American life. Good as Folly is, July is even more promising: a richer script, starring the bulk of the Kansas City Actors Theatre's best and directed by Mark Robbins, a man so skilled, he could direct the Royals to victory. Through Sept. 3 at Union Station's City Stage, 18 W. Pershing Rd., 816-235-6222.
Geppetto & Son Handmade charm trumps corporate gloss when the Coterie Theatre teams with Disney itself for a world-premiere musical based on Pinocchio. New songs by Wicked and Godspell composer Stephen Schwartz certainly help, but it's the spirited performances Jessalyn Kincaid as a self-absorbed Blue Fairy, Charles Fugate as Geppetto, and a host of smiling kids and theater pros and homemade Coterie craftsmanship that keep this puppet dancing. Geppetto's not as thoughtful as most Coterie shows, and the lessons crammed in by writer David Stern are only Hollywood-deep, but director Jeff Church has again inspired the best from the Coterie's artistic staff: imaginative puppets and shadow play, costumes both grand and goofy, sound effects that delight and spook. Through Aug. 6, at the Coterie Theatre, Crown Center, 2450 Grand, 816-474-6552. Reviewed in our July 6 issue.
Menopause the Musical If you think you might enjoy this wildly popular mash-up of oldies revue, health-class filmstrip and View-style gabfest, then you probably will. It's a mostly painless evening, packed with songs you hear at weddings, highlighted by some big laughs thanks to strong comic actresses rather than Jeanie Linders' thin script. As the women belt boomer pop standards rewritten as menopause-specific parodies, the crowd whoops and hollers. Adapting "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" into a story about consigning husbands to couches is cute, especially when the leads jam along with the crack American Heartland band on wooden spoons and pepper mills. But mangling "Chain of Fools" into "Change of Life" or "I Got You, Babe" into "I'm No Babe, Mom" (a meter-be-damned complaint about how even the mothers of 50-year-olds still meddle) reveals some desperation to fill out the 90 minutes. Through Oct. 29 at American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand, Crown Center, 816-842-9999. Reviewed in our July 13 issue.
The Shape of Things Despite the allegations of misogyny from people who don't listen hard enough, the plays and films of Neil LaBute fairly scream, Why are people like this? LaBute's résumé boasts a buckletload of KU grad credits as well as In the Company of Men, which introduced the world to Aaron Eckhart. This show, almost certainly his best, inverts the clichés of romantic entertainment. He gives us romance as art in the most chillingly literal sense: An artist "sculpts" a new lover from her old one, wielding her powers of manipulation as chisel. Another tough-minded choice from the Wyandotte Players. Through Aug. 6 at the Performing Arts Center at the Kansas City, Kansas, Community College, 7250 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan., 913-449-2301.