From Swan Lake to Wizard World to Hedwig, this weekend has it all going on. Make plans now!
Our top seven picks follow. Looking for art openings instead? We've got our picks for those right here.
1. Celebrate the joy of games at the Science Center
According to the popularly received wisdom of mothers, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye." But tonight at 6 p.m. at the Saint Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or www.slsc.org), no eyes will be endangered. First Friday: It's All Fun and Games celebrates the simple joys of all sorts of games, from classics like the hula hoop to board games and collectible card games, all the way through to TV game shows and video games. You can try your hand at the World Chess Hall of Fame's giant chess set, enter a trivia contest or thrill to classic episodes of Nickelodeon's Double Dare, Nick Arcade and Legends of the Hidden Temple. At 10 p.m. Edgar Wright's cult classic film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World screens in the Omnimax Theater (no charge). Admission to First Friday is free, but some activities require a small fee ($5 to $7).
2. See a classic ballet at the Touhill
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is one of the most famous ballets, but, thanks to the large number of revisions and variations the work has undergone since its 1877 premiere, it's not the best known. It only makes sense, though, that the story of a young woman being turned into a swan would have a certain mutability. Saint Louis Ballet presents its first Swan Lake since 2010 at 8 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (April 1 to 3) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949 or www.touhill.org). This version uses Tchaikovsky's score and artistic director Gen Horiuchi's choreography to tell the tragic story of how Princess Odette, who is cursed by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart to be a swan by day and woman by night, falls in love with handsome Prince Siegfried. Von Rothbart's daughter Odile uses trickery to foil their love and trap Odette forever in the body of a swan. There is one chance for the lovers to be united forever — it's not a happy ending, though. Tickets for Swan Lake are $22 to $51.
3. Suffer with Hedwig at the Tower Grove Abbey
In this world of lonely, sad people looking for a personal connection to make them feel whole, Hedwig stands alone. Born Hansel Schmidt, the East German native fell in love with an American soldier and agreed to undergo gender reassignment surgery so they could be married. But the doctor botched the operation and left Hansel with nothing recognizable as genitalia. So Hansel became the "internationally ignored song stylist" Hedwig, and now travels the world telling her story and performing with her band, the Angry Inch. John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's amazing musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch crash lands at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; 314-865-1995 or www.straydogtheatre.org) for a limited engagement. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (March 31 to April 16) and at 8 p.m. Wednesday (April 6 to 13). Tickets are $20 to $45.
4. Enjoy the fun of Wizard World
Wizard World is back, which means you're going to see a whole mess of li'l Batman and Doctor Strange cosplayers (what? we can dream) roaming around downtown this weekend. The pop culture convention takes over America's Center (701 Convention Plaza; www.wizardworld.com) from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday (April 1 to 3). In addition to the cosplayers there will be comic book creators (Danny Fingeroth! Rich Burchett! Geof Isherwood!), a couple of Doctor Whos (Matt Smith and David Tennant), the new Luke Cage (actor Mike Colter) and the original and greatest Incredible Hulk (Lou Ferrigno). Most of those folks will sign autographs for a fee, and some will appear for free at various panel discussions. In addition to the celebrities, numerous vendors of comics, films, gaming stuff and related ephemera will be eager to fill all the holes in your various collections. General admission is $39.95 to $90, with higher prices for meet-and-greets and VIP options.
5. Learn about the LBD at the Missouri History Museum
There was a time in America when wearing black was reserved only for those mourning the death of a loved one. When did black make the jump to evening wear, and then to everyday use? Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night, the new exhibition at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org), charts the hue's long journey to daylight through the most versatile of garments. The exhibit showcases more than 60 dresses from the museum's collection, offering a broad view of how women's fashions have changed. The tapered-waist, puff-sleeved "second-day dress" from 1895 (worn by a bride the day after her wedding) looks more uncomfortable and rigid than a mourning dress from the same decade, while the 1933 halter evening gown looks elegant and chic. What a difference 40 years, a world war and the flapper movement makes. Little Black Dress is open daily (April 2 through September 5). Admission is free.
6. Take a journey on the Silk Road
The Silk Road carried goods and trade items from China to Europe, which fostered the exchange of different cultures and artistic styles. One of the most prized of Eastern artistic items was the carpet. These textiles incorporated sacred symbols, tribal iconography and traditional patterns, depending on who wove them. A carpet made by Central Asian nomads doesn't look like one made by Indian artisans, despite Europeans lumping them all under the catch-all descriptor "Oriental rug." From Caravans to Courts: Textiles from the Silk Road, the new exhibition in gallery 100 at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org), features ten carpets that exemplify the high level of artistry and craftsmanship found in traditional Asian textile work. The exhibit is open Tuesday through Sunday (April 1 to August 21), and admission is free.
7. See a play based on .... The Simpsons?
The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted American prime-time TV show, which speaks to the hold the program has on our collective psyches. How much of our brain capacity is occupied by quotes from the show, misremembered or not? Anne Washburn's speculative drama Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, establishes a post-apocalyptic future in which The Simpsons is the only surviving form of entertainment. Survivors come together to recreate the episode "Cape Feare" (in which Sideshow Bob attempts to kill Bart, but is thwarted by his love for Gilbert and Sullivan) from the bits they can recall. Seven years after that night, their version of the show has attracted a new layer of poorly remembered pop-culture effluvium. Jump forward another 75 years and the story is the foundational myth of the people. The Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts presents Mr. Burns at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Stage III in Webster Hall (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7128). Tickets are $6 to $12.