Sunny skies and perfect temps make this a perfect weekend to explore the city. Enjoy the best restaurants in Maplewood in one fell swoop at the Taste of Maplewood this Saturday, or catch a burlesque festival in various south-city venues on Friday and Saturday. For even more options, celebrate China at MoBOT, catch La Boheme at Opera Theatre St. Louis, or see experimental theater at Attitudes in the Grove.
What a weekend — and what a week, too.
1. Catch a burlesque show — or three
The seventh installment of the Show-Me Burlesque Festival features a cast of hundreds. The three-night extravaganza includes scores of burlesque artists from as far away as Germany and as close as St. Louis performing a different show each night beginning Thursday, May 19, at three venues. You'll see burlesque, boylesque, pole dancers, belly dancers and even a magician. Friday night's show is called Spectaculaire, and it starts at 9 p.m. at the Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue); the Red Light Revue is the final performance, and it takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday at 2720 Arts Center (2720 Cherokee Street). Tickets are $20 to $50 per show, or you can buy a festival pass ($65 to $120) good for all three shows.
2. See an acclaimed Japanese film
Sentaro works all day in his small shop, making dorayaki pancakes, a Japanese treat beloved for its sweet red bean paste filling. Unfortunately, his dorayaki are not that great — the commercially produced bean paste Sentaro uses is doing him few favors. He hires the elderly Tokue reluctantly — her age and slightly deformed hands are definite red flags — but his mood changes when he samples her home-made paste. Soon business is booming at the pancake shop, and both Sentaro and Tokue are happier than they've been in years. But everything changes when customers discover which disease has ravaged Tokue's hands. The Webster Film Series screens Naomi Kawase's drama Sweet Bean at 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday (May 20 to 22) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/film-series). Tickets are $4 to $6.
3. Get a (delicious) taste of Maplewood
We're in the delightfully comfy middle of spring now, which means the festivals come fast and frequently. The Taste of Maplewood is one such street festival that has everything you could possibly require. Food and drink? M-wood is home to numerous excellent restaurants, from Pie Oh My to Maya Cafe. Shopping options? The Book House, Larder & Cupboard and the highly anticipated Mauhaus Cat Cafe will all be selling goods during the festival. Music? The Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band, Power Play and Jeremiah Johnson Band are all on the bill. Taste of Maplewood takes place from noon to 9 p.m. today on Sutton Boulevard, just south of Manchester Road. For more information visit www.maplewood-chamber.com/taste-2016. Admission is free.
4. See theater in a nightclub — and a drag tribute to Cher
The St. Lou Fringe Fest isn't until August, but that doesn't mean you have to go without your alternative/experimental theater til then. Five-Fifths: The Age of Glam is a night of storytelling, spoken word and original theater that satisfies on all fringe-y levels. The main event is a single story told by five performing arts groups, each working in a different discipline. This year's cast includes the Black Rep, DJ Boogieman and Matthew Kerns, and the whole shebang is hosted by Sabine England and Loren D. A pop-up art show and gallery, Glitz and Gold, rounds out the evening with live painting by Vesna Delevska and original artwork by Nelson Perez, Thomas Park and Kari Pillow. Five-Fifths starts at 7 p.m. at Attitudes Nightclub (4100 Manchester Avenue; www.stlfringe.com). Tickets are $20 to $250. Stick around after the show for a special free drag tribute to Cher.
5. Cry your eyes out to Puccini at OTSL
Starving artists are thick on the ground in Puccini's opera La Bohème, poor in cash but rich in spirit. Rodolfo is a struggling poet whose life is turned upside down when he meets Mimì, a seamstress with a persistent cough. The two fall in love and enjoy endless nights in Paris, but Rodolfo's conscience gets the better of him: Mimì's cough is clearly consumption, and if he leaves her she'll be free to find a rich man to take better care of her. Can either of them really be happy if they're not together? The menace in Mimì's cough strongly implies that neither of them will be happy for long regardless. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its new season with Puccini's big, beautiful heartbreaker at 8 p.m. tonight at Webster University's Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road; 314-961-0644 or www.opera-stl.org). Tickets are $25 to $129. La Bohème is performed eight more times in repertory through June 25.
6. Experience Chinese culture at MoBOT
There might be only one place in St. Louis where you can see a 70-foot-long dragon who dances: Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; www.mobot.org). The annual celebration of China's people and culture takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (May 21 and 22), and opens with a grand parade led by a Chinese dragon and the Lion Dance and Drum team (the parade is repeated at 2 p.m. both days). The weekend includes marital arts demonstrations, performances by the incredible New Shanghai Circus and cooking demos by Chef Andrew Shih of Hot Wok. Admission is $5 to $12.
7. Marvel at The Shakespeare Show on the big screen
It's been 400 years and one month since Shakespeare died, which is a round enough number to celebrate with fanfare. The Royal Shakespeare Company marked the exact occasion with The Shakespeare Show, a special performance in the Bard's honor. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, his hotness Benedict Cumberbatch and the lithesome Rufus Wainwright all participated in the show, which was hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate. A mash-up of Shakespeare's best scenes with additional music and dance, the show is a fitting tribute to the original king of entertainment. Thanks to Fathom Events and BBC Worldwide North America, you can bask in the wonder of The Shakespeare Show at 7 p.m. Monday at the AMC Chesterfield 14 (3000 Chesterfield Mall, Chesterfield; www.fathomevents.com). Tickets are $16.22.
8. See the best team in baseball (still!) take on the Cubs
The Cardinals have been up and down this year, but you'd better believe the team will be fired up and ready to play when the Chicago Cubs come to town. The Cubs came out of the gate strong and are still leading the Central Division, but no matter; this is a rivalry game, so anything can happen. The Cubs are in town for a three-game series, with game times at 7:15 p.m. Monday, 6:10 Tuesday and 12:45 Wednesday (May 23 to 25) at Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Street; www.stlcardinals.com). It's worth noting that Tuesday's game is David Eckstein Bobblehead Day, but you need to buy a special Budweiser Bash theme ticket to get the collectible. Tickets are $20.90 to $230.