So what if it's not a three-day weekend — it's still packed with stuff. See Circus Flora in Grand Center. Catch the American premiere of a new opera based on Kafka's classic The Trial. Or maybe just drink your ass off along the riverfront. There's something for everyone in St. Louis this weekend; the only way you can possibly go wrong is to stay home and miss the fun.
Here are our picks for the eight best things to do in St. Louis this week — and the week beyond.
1. See a play about a gossip columnist
Sidney Falcone is a press agent in need of a client when he encounters a talented, unknown piano player named Dallas. Dallas doesn't need a PR guy, but he does need someone to convince his girl, Susan, to commit to their relationship. Sidney's at a loss until he discovers Susan's brother is none other than J.J. Hunsecker, the kingmaking gossip columnist. J.J. offers Sidney a deal: Keep tabs on Susan and make sure she doesn't get attached to that ivory-tickling bum, and J.J. will take Sidney to the stars. The Marvin Hamlisch and John Guare musical The Sweet Smell of Success takes audiences back to McCarthy-era New York for a ride through the sleazy underworld of the power elite. New Line Theatre presents The Sweet Smell of Success at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday (June 1 to 24) at the Marcelle Theatre (3310 Samuel Shepard Drive; www.newlinetheatre.com). Tickets are $15 to $25.
2. Experience Shakespeare in the park
Leontes has everything a man could want. He's the King of Sicilia, he and his beautiful wife are expecting another child, and his childhood friend Polixenes is visiting. Polixenes plans to return home soon (he is the king of Bohemia; his people need him), but Leontes wants him to tarry longer. Leontes asks his wife Hermione to talk Polixenes into staying, and she succeeds. And then Leontes, in a fit of male pique, loses his royal marbles. Convinced Polixenes consented to Hermione because the two are having an affair, Leontes imprisons his wife, has his new daughter abandoned in the wild and orders the murder of Polixenes. When Leontes calms down, he regrets everything — only it’s too late. Hermione died in prison, his daughter is gone and Polixenes is dead. All that's left for Leontes is grief. But what if all his advisors and subjects had more sense and compassion than their king, and some of his victims survived? Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale begins as a tale of woe and ends with a chastened king who has learned temperance and kindness. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents The Winter's Tale at 8 p.m. every night except Tuesday (May 31 to June 25) at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park (Fine Arts and Government drives; www.sfstl.com). Admission is free.
3. Hail the return of Circus Flora in Grand Center
Would it be possible to experience summer in St. Louis without Circus Flora? No one wants to find out. The one-ring circus sets up in Grand Center at the start of June, acting as a de facto starter's pistol for the season's fun. This year's show, Time Flies, is inspired by the fourth dimension — time itself. Acrobat Sasha Harrington, juggling champion Kyle Driggs and the always-popular Flying Wallendas will take you with them as they travel through space and time, magically making you feel like a kid again. New this year is equestrienne Heidi Herriott, who teams up with dancer Andrea Murillo to unveil the world's first tango performed by a human and a horse. Circus Flora does it all in the Circus Flora Big Top (Samuel Shepard Drive and North Grand Boulevard; www.circusflora.org) from June 1 to 25. Tickets are $10 to $50.
4. Drink up at the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival
If you want to gauge what's happening right now in the St. Louis craft beer scene, the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival should be your first stop. The outdoor beer party features more than 50 regional breweries, which will be offering samples of more than 100 beer styles. Kirkwood Station Brewing Company, 4 Hands Brewing, Heavy Riff Brewing, White Rooster — these are only a small sampling of the professional brewers that are participating, with a large contingent of home brewers on hand as well. Your ticket gets you into one session of the festival — either from noon to 4 p.m. or from 6 to 10 p.m. — as well as a commemorative tasting glass and unlimited samples. Both sessions take place along the riverfront (Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard; www.stlbeer.org), and tickets are $45 to $125. You must be 21 or older to attend.
8. Catch a (wonderfully) strange film at Schlafly Bottleworks
Summer is the perfect time for a road trip, and Amy Blue and Jordan White are experiencing one for the ages. She's obnoxious even for a speed freak, and he's terrified of having sex for fear of contracting AIDS. Together they roam an endless landscape of convenience stores — until they pick up Xavier Red. He's mysterious and sexually available, and he ratchets up the violence level quite a bit. Greg Araki's 1995 film The Doom Generation is the middle piece of his "teen apocalypse trilogy," and it's packed with unexpected cameos. Margaret Cho, Perry Farrell, most of the band members in Skinny Puppy and Parker Posey all make appearances. The Webster Film Series presents The Doom Generation as part of its Strange Brew series. It screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; www.webster.edu/film-series). Tickets are $5.