Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stray Dog Marks 10 Years with a Smart Revival

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stray Dog Marks 10 Years with a Smart Revival

Article excerpt

Never underestimate the power of a good script.

Gary F. Bell, the founder and artistic director of Stray Dog Theatre wanted to include "Six Degrees of Separation" in the troupe's 10th anniversary season because it was the first show that Stray Dog staged. Not many people are likely to remember; 10 years ago, the show went up in a tiny dance studio in the Central West End, a place that could accommodate only an "intimate" audience.

Stray Dog moved around for a while before it settled into its permanent home, the Tower Grove Abbey. Bell and his crew invested plenty of "sweat equity" in the old church, turning it into a spacious, charming theater. From "Angels in America" to "Psycho Beach Party," Stray Dog has flourished there.

But Bell resists pigeonholes. Presenting both musicals and straight plays, Stray Dog offers plenty for adventurous theatergoers. But it also does right by the traditional audience, staging work by Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, even Moliere.

"Six Degrees of Separation" John Guare's wry look at Manhattan sophisticates belongs to that group, and it would be understandable if Bell wanted to revive it just for the sake of sentiment. But it works because it's such a smart, insightful script.

An elegant art dealer, Flanders Kittredge, and his shrewd wife, Ouisa, (Gerry Love and Sarajane Alverson, as upper-crusty as a pair of scones) are entertaining a wealthy friend (Robert Ashton) whom they hope to involve in a syndicate to purchase a Cezanne. They're making dinner plans when the doorman bursts in with a wounded young black man, Paul (Greg Fenner).

They don't know him. But he's well-dressed, and he says he's friends at Harvard with the Kittredge children. He says he was just mugged.

Well, they aren't bigots! Of course, they take him into the Upper East Side extravaganza they call home. …

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