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Stage Capsule Reviews

Our critic weighs in on local theater.

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Blue/Orange The Unicorn Theatre takes on race and medical bureaucracy in British playwright James Penhall's preachy Blue/Orange. The arguments between two psychiatrists (one rivetingly played by Brian Paulette) about a black patient on the cusp of discharge aren't without merit, but Penhall stuffs too many issues in the bag without giving any one of them fair play. Jamaly Allen's performance as the hallucinating patient is mannered and unintentionally funny, as is the artificially newsworthy declaration by the older doctor about himself and his colleagues: "Maybe we're the sick ones." A crashing bore. Through May 23 at the Unicorn, 3828 Main St., 816-531-7529.

Forbidden Broadway The Theater League is resuscitating this sendup of Broadway with a mix of parodies old and new at Union's Station's City Stage. Lampooning stage icons from Ethel Merman to the dark, ambisexual revival of Cabaret are Forbidden Broadway veterans such as Cathy Barnett, Don Richards and Becky Barta. They've all done the show for many years but are still expert at milking laughs from such things as the poverty chic of Les Miserables. Through August 1 at Union Station, 30 West Pershing Rd., 816-460-2020.

The Killings at Kamp Tittekaka Late Night Theatre has put aside its gender-bending interpretations of movies like Carrie for an original Ron Megee script about a serial killer terrorizing a group of horny pubescent kids at a summer camp in the late 1950s. Employing a workable blend of Late Night veterans and newcomers, Killings at Kamp Tittekaka contains such alternative-theater staples as raunchy double entendres and gratuitous scenes of the cast in its underwear. And it's no surprise that the funniest bits are the meanest and most socially inappropriate, including the thrashing of "the boy with polio" and a dig at The Passion of the Christ that would really piss off Mel Gibson. Through May 29 at Late Night Theatre, 1531 Grand Ave., 816-235-6222.

Liliom Director Lillian Groag's new translation of Ferenc Molnar's play from the turn of the last century is ultimately beautiful, thanks to a mostly strong cast and superb contributions from lighting designer Victor En Yu Tan and set designer Nayna Ramey. Groag's handling of the material is assured. The show could tumble away from her and become overly saccharine, but it never does. The title character's temper and idleness are presented at face value -- he's a batterer, but there's a bit of charm in him. What Groag might take another swipe at is the exposition-heavy first act. If you know the story only from its musical adaptation, Carousel, you don't know the story. Through May 23 at the Missouri Repertory Theatre, 4949 Cherry St., 816-235-2700.

Marx Madness Having staged the Marx Brothers' vehicle Coconuts and a musical salute to their patented silliness called A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, the Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. returns to the well. Marx Madness samples classic bits from movies such as Duck Soup and adds original music to a story about three middle-aged actors who rediscover their comic edge at the bottom of vaudeville trunk. Tim Cormack, who has tackled Groucho before from more of an actor's sensibility than that of an impersonator, returns as the bespectacled hysteric. Through June 3 at the Metcalf South Shopping Center, 9635 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, 913-642-7576.

Menopause the Musical Until the last twenty minutes of what is essentially a musical-comedy salute to hot flashes, the jokes in this production are stale or stolen outright. And reading between the lines reveals not-so-funny insight into such social embarrassments as water retention and marital infidelity. So it is without warning that the show later takes a measurable turn into the joys of self-pleasure. The cast, especially Chavez Ravine, is pardonable, managing to reheat these leftovers. With her tangy, delicious Tina Turner take-off, Ravine -- a terrific singer with mammoth stage presence -- steals the show without an ounce of regret. Through June 27 at American Heartland Theatre, 2450 Grand Ave., 816-842-9999.

The World Goes 'Round Quality Hill Playhouse's version of the off-Broadway hit celebrating the talents of John Kander and Fred Ebb is dominated by Teri Adams, who reveals a welcome maturity and emotional nakedness in her singing. Her torch songs are almost unbearably sad, and in hilarious duets with Karen Errington (including "Class," regrettably cut from the film Chicago), she fine-tunes her skills as a gifted comedienne. Costars Stephanie Nelson, James Andrew Wright and Charles Fugate round out the cast; their group numbers elevate the show to a rousing night of Broadway history. Through June 6 at Quality Hill Playhouse, 303 W. 10th St., 816-421-1700.

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