The Best Things to Do This Weekend, May 19-21


No other road/No other way/No day but today. - PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG
  • No other road/No other way/No day but today.
This weekend, St. Louis is positively chock-full of great things to do. Catch the musical that changed musicals forever at the Fox. Watch some lovely ladies strip down to their skivvies (and then past that!) at the Show Me Burlesque Festival. See Opera Theatre St. Louis kick off its season with Madame Butterfly. And why not stop by downtown and hear some live music at the new and improved Kiener Plaza?

There's all that, and much more, in the coming days. Here are our picks for this weekend's best things to do.

1. Watch some great burlesque in south city
As the temperature climbs, St. Louis sheds its winter clothes and embraces the classic shorts 'n' sandals look. But the women and men of the Show Me Burlesque Festival don't need a seasonal change to take it off — an appreciative audience does the trick every time. The eighth installment of the popular burlesque extravaganza spreads across three days and multiple venues. The party officially starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Thaxton (1009 Olive Street) with the Speakeasy Soiree. At 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, Cherokee Street's 2720 (2720 Cherokee Street) hosts the Red Light District Revue. The candle is lit once again at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue) for the show-stopping Spectaculaire. This year's featured performers include Midnite Martini, Annie Cherry, Dirty Martini and Gurl Haggard; the roster changes from night to night. Visit to ensure you don't miss your favorite ladies and lads. Tickets start at $25 and go up to $120 for the VIP weekend pass good for all three shows.

2. View dance at the Sun Theater
Human beings mainly communicate through speech, but we also have other ways of knowing what's up. The way you stand when you say something, how you move your hands, the direction you face — all of these physical cues add another layer of context to what you're saying. Inspired by this everyday non-verbal communication, Karlovsky & Company Dance explores the world of silent speech in its new show, Louder Than Words. Artistic director Dawn Karlovsky's choreography uses gesture and stance to tell you what's going on. The troupe is joined by Sarah LaRose-Holland and her Kinetic Evolutions Dance Company for the performances, which take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 19 and 20) at the Sun Theater (3625 Grandel Square; Tickets are $15 to $20.

3. Witness a circus, Italian-style, in Brentwood
The European-style circus is no stranger to America anymore. Audiences are familiar with the more artistic performances and storytelling of the Old World and have even come to appreciate it. Cirque Italia has something you haven't seen: The centerpiece of the show is a 35,000-gallon tank of water that can create a curtain of rain or make dancing jets of water arc around and behind the aerialists. Cirque Italia brings its water circus to the south lot of the Saint Louis Galleria (1155 Saint Louis Galleria; for six shows only. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday; 1:30; 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday (May 19 to 21). Tickets are $10 to $50.

4. Sing along to Rent at the Fabulous Fox
Jonathan Larson's musical
Rent changed how people approached the form when it swept onto Broadway in 1996. Larson crafted a story about real people rather than creating a spectacle, using his characters — a group of twenty-something artists trying to make it without selling out — to connect with audiences in a way that descending helicopters and plummeting chandeliers could not. Two decades later, the show still resonates with audiences, so Rent is back on the road. The twentieth anniversary tour of Rent comes to the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; for five shows this weekend. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday (May 19 to 21). Tickets are $35 to $115.


5. Check out the new Kiener Plaza with a Saturday celebration

The venerable Kiener Plaza (Seventh and Market streets; has had a little cosmetic work done in the past year, and it can now serve as a small concert venue, a playground and a splash pad. One familiar "innovation" is the return of your old pal the Runner statue, which is back in its proper home. The new and improved Kiener Plaza opens with a two-day celebration, just in time for summer. At noon on Friday, May 19, there is a ribbon cutting and a performance by the Carr Lane VPA Middle School drum line. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 20, there will be a series of concerts by Acoustik Element, Borderline and Hobo Cane. Fredbird and his team will be present, and food trucks will be parked nearby. Admission to both days is free.

6. Cry your eyes out to Madame Butterfly

Cio-Cio-San is in love with the brave Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and agrees to marry him. Unfortunately, Pinkerton doesn't have the best intentions; theirs is a marriage of convenience as far as he's concerned, one that will only last until he leaves Japan. When he does leave, Cio-Cio-San believes he'll return to her and the son Pinkerton unknowingly fathered, and that they'll be a happy family. That dream is not to be. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its new season with Giacomo Puccini's terribly sad Madame Butterfly at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road; Madame Butterfly is performed seven more times in repertory through Saturday, June 24. Tickets are $50 to $129.

7. LOL at a Whisky Galore at Webster U

World War II is ravaging Europe, and its repercussions are felt even in the remotest parts of the Hebridean islands. On one, the Scots have finished the last of their stored whisky, and owing to rationing, they won't get more any time soon. Can the islanders gut out the war drinking only tea? Providence throws them a lifeline when a ship ferrying a large cargo of whisky goes down off-shore. Can they figure out how to get to the ship and "borrow" some of that liquid loot without running afoul of the local authority, Captain Waggett (Eddie Izzard)? Gillies MacKinnon's Whisky Galore! is inspired by a real-life incident that occurred during the war. The film screens at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (May 19 to 21) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; Tickets are $5 to $7.

The Battle of San Carlos: Epic.
  • The Battle of San Carlos: Epic.

8. Celebrate the defeat of those British bastards

In 1780, St. Louis was little more than a French trading town situated in Spanish-owned Louisiana. The outpost was swept up in America's Revolutionary War when Spain allied itself to the American cause. The British took umbrage and decided to attack Spain indirectly through a proxy force of Native Americans led by a handful of British soldiers. Fort San Carlos, a single tower intended to be part of a larger defense fortification, became the rallying point for a small Spanish Army contingent and a rag-tag collection of French, Native American and free black farmers. This small force successfully fought off the British attack, saving little St. Louis from going up in flames. The Battle of Fort San Carlos happened May 25, at what is now the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets. That long-ago fight is commemorated Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; Dr. Bob Moore of the National Park Service and author Stephen Kling will discuss recent research on the little-known history of St. Louis' only Revolutionary War battle. Admission is free.

9. Ogle a young Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit

Forty years ago saw the release of one of the most iconic films in American cinema. No, not Star Wars — Hal Needham's Smokey and the Bandit. Burt Reynolds stars as the hot-shot driver known, after his CB handle, as "the Bandit," who runs interference for his trucker pal Snowman (country music legend Jerry Reed). Snowman is hauling a trailer full of illicit beer across the Southeast to win a bet with Big Enos and Little Enos (Pat McCormick and Paul Williams, respectively). It'd be a cake-walk for our heroes, except irascible county sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) refuses to give up his pursuit of "that sumbitch" Bandit. Turner Classic Movies (yes, really) presents two special 40th anniversary screenings of Smokey and the Bandit this week. You can see it locally at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday (May 21 and 24) at the Marcus Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; Tickets are $12.50.

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