Fiddler on the Roof We've heard great things about Neal Benari's Tevye in this New Theatre import of the Broadway revival. The show that brought the shtetl to American pop, Fiddler deserves to be reclaimed from high schools and kitsch; it's the rare musical that means something to people who don't care about theater. I've heard "Sunrise, Sunset" reduce everyone to quivering lumps at more than one wedding. We won't even complain about having to shell out for dinner buffets were huge back in the homeland, right? Through Aug. 27 at New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster, Overland Park, 913-649-7469.
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 and 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, but mangling "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 90 minutes. Through Oct. 29 at the American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand, Crown Center, 816-842-9999. Reviewed in our July 13 issue.
The Talley Plays Talley's Folly, the moon-drunk romance set in late World War II is the first in Missouri playwright Lanford Wilson's trilogy concerning the Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri. It's named for a filigreed boathouse built years ago and now crumbling, a junk-shop marvel neglected by a family caught up in life and business. The Kansas City Actors Theatre is itself dedicated to the wonderfully impractical, producing all three Talley plays throughout the summer. Talley's Folly calls itself a waltz, and it starts breezily but builds to a swoon. Set 30 years later, Fifth of July gives us the Talleys in the '70s, coping with adulthood, Vietnam and what has become of American life. Good as Folly is, July is even better. Its rich script glances against great themes without fuss. The acting is every bit as good as Wilson's words, and director Mark Robbins strips the show of all artifice. Talley & Son, is somewhat cluttered in action and not always crisply acted. But it moves and thrills, particularly when it gives us the God's-eye view of history and how it shapes us. Through Sept. 3 at Union Station's City Stage, 18 W. Pershing Rd., 816-235-6222. Talley & Son reviewed in our Aug. 17 issue.
3 Guys: Unscripted This is further evidence that local improv mired for so long in the "Jan Brady and Greedo from Star Wars at a birthday party" pop-culture muck is getting over its Chicago-induced inferiority complex and daring itself to strive. A follow-up to last month's Two Guys: Unscripted, this one-time-only show's first half features top-shelf improvisers Bob Dusin, Tommy Todd and Steve Jones. Each lengthy monologue is based on a single audience suggestion, and we still giggle remembering the time we saw Jones pretend to be a guy who believed he was a falcon. Act Two throws the three of them together. Director Trish Berrong says, "It may be funny. It may be serious. Or both." We're just happy to see unscripted shows not revolving around guessing games. Sat., Aug. 26, at the Westport Coffee House Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania, 816-678-8886.